– Fit­ness

Australian Mountain Bike - - Contents - WORDS: JENNI KING PHOTOS: ROBERT CONROY

Fi­nally the days are get­ting warmer and day­light hours have in­creased. Hope­fully you have man­aged to get some train­ing in over the cooler months and you can now build the foun­da­tions of the fit­ness re­quired for the sum­mer sea­son ahead. Now is a great time to work on build­ing your ‘base fit­ness’, par­tic­u­larly if you are plan­ning on a long sea­son of rac­ing. Those ath­letes who take the time to build strong foun­da­tions will last the sum­mer race sea­son a whole lot bet­ter than those who skip this im­por­tant phase. Base-phase train­ing is about in­creas­ing your en­durance, thereby im­prov­ing your car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tem. A typ­i­cal base-phase train­ing ses­sion would in­volve rid­ing for two or more hours at a steady pace (zone 2/En­durance). This type of train­ing will re­sult in in­creased cap­il­lary and mi­to­chon­dria growth, en­abling more oxy­gen to travel to work­ing mus­cles. While en­durance train­ing may not di­rectly make you faster, it will pre­pare the body for the de­mands of high in­ten­sity train­ing and rac­ing later in the sea­son. While the pro­fes­sional rid­ers may have enough hours in the day to clock up time in the saddle and build a strong base, most of us are much more lim­ited for time. Mainly I find that the ath­letes I coach can man­age to fit one longer ride in each week which is a great start! Gen­er­ally I would rec­om­mend in­creas­ing the du­ra­tion of this longer ride grad­u­ally through­out the 8-12 week base phase, from around two hours up to five hours. This of course de­pends a lot on the age of the ath­lete and the style of event they are train­ing for.

SUB-THRESH­OLD OR “SWEET SPOT” TRAIN­ING

So, what to do with the pre­cious few re­main­ing train­ing hours you may have? Gen­er­ally, dur­ing the week, work­ing ath­letes will have around one to two hours to fit a quick train­ing ride in each day. While train­ing in zone 2 for longer time pe­ri­ods will im­prove car­dio­vas­cu­lar fit­ness, train­ing for shorter pe­ri­ods of time in this zone will have very lit­tle ben­e­fit. In­stead I would rec­om­mend in­clud­ing in­ter­vals at sub-thresh­old pace. Sub-thresh­old zone train­ing is com­monly re­ferred to as ‘Sweet Spot’ train­ing. Ac­cord­ing to in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­o­gist, An­drew Cog­gan, your ‘sweet spot’ oc­curs at 88 to 94 per cent of your Func­tional Thresh­old Power (FTP), or roughly 95 per­cent of your Thresh­old Heart Rate (THR). In­clud­ing in­ter­vals at 100% FTP is one sure way to help lift your Thresh­old Power; but such train­ing is very tax­ing on the body and there­fore needs to be lim­ited in du­ra­tion and fre­quency. Drop­ping the in­ten­sity of the in­ter­vals to be within that sweet spot range will mean your body copes far bet­ter and there­fore you can in­clude more in­ter­vals. I rec­om­mend in­clud­ing at least six weeks of sub-thresh­old zone train­ing prior to rid­ing at and above thresh­old in­ten­sity.

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