Training

Train With Power: Use this 5 Week Plan to Supercharge Your Cycling

This plan will help to increase power output at lactate threshold targets and improve your time-trialing ability.

The use of power meters in cycling workouts is becoming more and more prevalent. Heart rate monitoring provides valuable information, but training with power gives you deeper insight into your cycling workouts. The more accurately you can evaluate your training intensity, the better you can push to your limits for increased adaptation.

This plan will help to increase power output at lactate threshold targets and improve your time-trialing ability.

Why Train with Power?

1. Wattage is a definitive measure of the work you performed. It is the most accurate way to assess the quality of your session.

2. You can learn to hold an exact wattage, which is effective for pacing intervals, time trials and especially races.

3. It is a great body education. Compare power output to other variables—climate, fatigue level, heart rate, diet, hydration, terrain, etc. See how your body reacts and learn how to maximize performances in different scenarios.

4. Feedback is immediate. You can see exactly what you are doing as you ride.

5. You can track your progress and create precise training zones that are definitive despite the other variables above. Test yourself every four to six weeks and see if your power output has increased. Subsequently, refine your training zones.

Prerequisites:

For this challenging plan to work, you must have built up to and completed several 2.5 to 3-hour base rides. Some bike interval training is also necessary prior to starting this plan. Six to eight prior higher intensity bike sessions with 10–15 miles total combined intervals are recommended.

Having already done one or two 1–2-hour races in your season ensures you are in a good place to be successful.

Take note:

„The plan will provide specific cycling guidelines and general indications for running and swimming.

„If possible, do the workouts in the order listed for maximum effectiveness. „Do all riding at Zone 3 and above in the aero position, except for “Power Starts.”

Pace Key

Aerobic Base Endurance (AER Base): Conversational pace to build your aerobic foundation, which will allow you to recover faster between intervals on speed days, and from day to day in your regular training. Power: Zone 1–2

Recovery Pace (REC’Y): Approximately the same as your aerobic endurance power output, but for shorter duration. Recovery pace encourages blood flow to repairing muscles, but is not hard enough or long enough to further tear you down. Power: Zone 1–2

Lactate Threshold (LT): Slightly above Olympic-distance race pace. Threshold boost sessions are a way to increase oxygen-carrying capacity and power output at threshold heart rate and race cadence. Power: Zone 4–5

Over Gear (OG): Lower cadence, high-resistance work. This strength builder is optimally performed on the trainer with lots of ten- sion, on a flat road into a headwind or on a moderate- grade hill. Interval sessions at lower cadences with added resistance will recruit more muscle fibers, helping to increase power output and to work on pedal stroke efficiency. Power: Zone 2–3

Power Starts (PS): Above LT pace to build dynamic strength and lactic acid tolerance. Starting from very low speed (less than 1 mph), stand on the pedals and accelerate as quickly as possible to maxi- mum sprint speed in 15–30 seconds. Note maximum and average watts for each short interval. Building speed and dynamic strength allows you to deal with shifting paces on race day if necessary, such as passing athletes on the bike or cresting a hill, and improves your ability to dissipate lactic acid quickly. Power: Zone 5

Get In the Zone

Having an accurate way of measuring intensity allows athletes to:

  • Perform fitness tests to track progression „Establish their precise training zones
  • Establish their precise training zones

Since power at LT is one of the most important determinants of cycling performance, it makes sense to organize the training-intensity zones based on a percentage of LT. You can get a good sense of your LT with a maximal, even-paced 25-mile time trial on the bike. Your lactate threshold will correspond with your average power output. Alternatively, you can determine LT by performing a 20-minute time trial and then taking 95 percent of your average power output as your LT. For example, if your average power during the 20-minute time trial was 200 watts, then your lactate threshold is 190 watts.

Once you know your power output at LT, you can establish your training zones.

Key: ’ =minutes | ” =seconds | RPM = revolutions per minute (Cadence) | (x’) = recovery | Zn = Zone (power zone) | WU = warm-up | CD = cool-down | TT = time trial | 

Download the PDF version of this training plan here 

Week 1

Monday
Day off

Tuesday
Bike 120′, LT. After a long WU, 4×30” PS (90”) Zn 5 on a moderate-grade hill. 15’ easy rec’y. 15’ (5’) at 90 RPM Zn 4, 4×3’ (3’) at 100–105 RPM Zn 5 on flat to rolling terrain. Performance Pointer: Allotting time for proper WU and CD is critical for high-intensity riding, injury prevention and optimizing recovery for the next day.

Run 30’ off the bike as 10’ at goal race pace, 20’ recovery CD.

Wednesday
Swim 2,000–3,000, include 1,000–1,500 total intervals working at goal race pace.
Bike 90’, Rec’y and technique. Include 5–8 x 1’ (1’) at 100–105 RPM, Zn 2, flat terrain.

Thursday
Bike 
90′, OG. Include 3×10’ (3’) as 3’ at 50 RPM, 3’ at 60 RPM, 4’ at 70 RPM. Performance Pointer: Stay in the same gear and, starting in Zn 2, gradually let your heart rate and power output rise as cadence rises. The harder you work, the greater the strength gains. You should be 10–15 beats per minute and 40–60 watts higher from the start to finish of each interval.

Friday
Swim 2,000-3,000, aerobic and technique-focused.

Saturday
Bike 120′, LT. After a long WU, 6×15″ PS (105″) Zn 5 on flat terrain. 15′ easy rec’y. 40′ TT in Zn 4-5 at 95-100 RPM on flat to rolling terrain. Performance Pointer: This 40′ TT is a great chance to test (or retest) your LT.

Run 30′ off the bike as 2×4′ (2′ jog) at faster than goal race pace, 20′ rec’y CD. Keep your transition less than 2′.

Swim 2,000–3,000, include 800–1,200 total intervals with pull buoy. If shoulders are sore or you’re new to pulling, be cautious by using small paddles (or none at all).

Sunday 
Bike 120-180′, endurance. 15′ Zn 1, the balance is Zn 2 at 75-95+ RPM on hilly terrain. Stay in your aerobars as much as possible.

Run 45-75′, endurance, rolling to hilly terrain.

Week 2

Monday
Day off

Tuesday
Bike 120′, LT. After a long WU, 5×30” PS (90”) Zn 5 on a moderate-grade hill. 15’ easy rec’y. 15’ (4’) at 90 RPM Zn 4, 3×4’ (3’) at 100–105 RPM Zn 5, on flat to rolling terrain.

Run 30’ off the bike as 10’ at goal race pace, 20’ rec’y CD.

Wednesday
Swim 2,000-3,000 include 1,000–1,500 total intervals working at goal race pace.

Bike 90’, Rec’y and technique. Include 5–8x 1’ (1’) at 100–105 RPM, Zn 2, flat terrain.

Thursday
Bike 90′, OG. Include 2×15’ (5’) as 3’ at 50 RPM, 5’ at 60 RPM, 7’ at 70 RPM. Start in Zn 2. Performance Pointer: The second interval will feel harder than the first. View interval No. 2 as your greatest opportunity to improve fitness.

Friday
Swim 2,000-3,000 aerobic and technique-focused.

Saturday
Bike 120′, LT. After a long WU, 8×15″ PS (105″) Zn 5 on flat terrain. 15′ easy rec’y. 2×20′ (10′) TT. #1 in Zn 4 at 90-95 RPM; #2 in Zn 4-5 at 95-100 RPM on flat to rolling terrain.

Run 30’ off the bike as 2×5’ (3’ jog) at faster than goal race pace, 17’ rec’y CD. Keep your transition less than 2’.

Swim 2,000–3,000, include 800–1,200 total intervals with pull buoy.

Sunday
Bike 120-150′, endurance. 15′ Zn 1, the balance is Zn 2 at 75-95+ RPM on rolling terrain. Stay in your aerobats as much as possible. Performance Pointer: Practice descending on your aerobars for free speed. Visually track the straightest possible line through the turns to maintain speed and increase safety.

Run 60–90’, endurance, flatter terrain.

Week 3 – Recovery Week

Monday
Day off

Tuesday
Bike 90′, rec’y and technique. Include 5–8 x 1’ (1’) at 100–105 RPM, Zn 2. Flat terrain. Performance Pointer: Avoid the temptation to do extra during a recovery week. Your biggest fitness gains come after full recovery from hard training blocks.

Wednesday
Swim 2,000-3,000, include 800–1,200 total intervals working at goal race pace.

Run 30’, rec’y.

Thursday
Bike 60′, OG. Include 2×8’ (4’) as 3’ at 50 RPM, 3’ at 60 RPM, 2’ at 70 RPM. Start in Zn 2.

Friday
Day off

Saturday
Bike 90-120′, endurance. 15′ Zn 1, the balance is Zn 2 at 75-95+ RPM on rolling terrain. Stay in your aerobars as much as possible.

Swim 1,500-2,500, include 600-800 total intervals with pull boy.

Sunday
Run 45-75′, endurance, flatter terrain.

Week 4

Monday
Day off

Tuesday 
Bike 120, LT. After a long WU, 6×30” PS (90”) Zn 5 on a moderate-grade hill. 15’ easy rec’y. 10’ (4’) at 90 RPM Zn 4, 5×5’ (5’) at 100–105 RPM Zn 5, on flat to rolling terrain.

Run 30’ off the bike as 15’ at goal race pace, 15’ rec’y CD. Performance Pointer: Regular short, fast runs off high-intensity rides quickly adapt your legs to transitioning. Maintain a smooth stride and high cadence.

Wednesday
Swim 2,000-3,000, include 1,000-1,500 total intervals working at goal race pace.

Bike 90′, rec’y and technique. Include 5-8 x 1′ (1′) at 100-105 RPM, Zn 2. Flat terrain.

Thursday
Bike 90′, OG. Include 30′ as 5′ at 50 RPM, 10′ at 60 RPM, 15′ at 70 RPM. Start in Zn 2.

Friday 
Swim 2,000–3,000, aerobic and technique-focused.

Saturday
Bike 150′, LT. After a long WU, 8×15′ PS (105”) Zn 5 on flat terrain. 15’ easy rec’y. 60’ TT in Zn 4–5. Run off the TT effort. Performance Pointer: Mentally segment the TT into quarters. The first quarter, pedal with smooth rhythm; second, generate power from your cadence using quads, hamstrings and glutes; third, keep desire high and power steady; and fourth, finish fast with guts and tenacity!

Run 30’ off the bike as 3×4’ (2’ jog) at faster than goal race pace, 16’ rec’y CD. Keep your transition less than 2’.

Swim 2,000–3,000, include 1,200–1,800 total intervals with pull buoy.

Sunday
Bike 120-180′, endurance. 15′ Zn 1, the balance is Zn 2 at 75–95+ RPM on hilly terrain. Stay in your aerobars as much as possible.

Run 45–75’, endurance, rolling to hilly terrain.

Week 5

Monday
Day off

Tuesday
Bike 120′, LT. After a long WU, 8×30” PS (90”) Zn 5 on a moderate-grade hill. 15’ easy rec’y. 8×4’ (4’) at 100–105 RPM Zn 5, on flat to rolling terrain. Performance Pointer: With all Zn 5 intervals this week, this is a great chance to push your LT up another notch.
Run 30’ off the bike as 15’ at goal race pace, 15’ rec’y for CD.

Wednesday 
Swim 2,000-3,000, include 1,000–1,500 total intervals working at goal race pace.

Bike 90’, rec’y and technique. Include 5–8x 1’ (1’) at 100–105 RPM, Zn 2, flat terrain.

Thursday 
Bike 90′, OG. Include 3×10’ (3’) as 2’ at 50 RPM, 3’ at 60 RPM, 5’ at 70 RPM.

Friday 
Swim 2,000–3,000, aerobic and technique-focused.

Saturday 
Bike 150′, LT. After a long WU, 8×15″ PS (105”) Zn 5 on flat terrain. 15’ easy rec’y. 4×15’ (5’) TT in Zn 4–5. Run off the last TT effort. Performance Pointer: If you can exceed last week’s 60’ TT average power by 4–8 watts, you have made significant gains.

Run 40’ off the bike as 3×6’ (4’ jog) at faster than goal race pace, 14’ rec’y for CD. Keep your transition less than 2’.

Swim 2,000–3,000, include 1,200–1,800 total intervals with pull buoy.

Sunday 
Bike 120-150′, endurance. 15’ Zn 1, the balance is Zn 2 at 75–95+ RPM on rolling terrain. Stay in your aerobars as much as possible.

Run 60–90’, endurance, flatter terrain.

Lance Watson, LifeSport head coach, has trained a number of Ironman, Olympic and age-group Champions over the past 30 years. He enjoys coaching athletes of all levels. Contact Lance to tackle your first Ironman or to perform at a higher level. For more training tips, visit LifeSport Coaching on Facebook or on Twitter at @LifeSportCoach.