Damian Ruse, Head Coach at Semi-Pro Cycling, and Performance Director at Mobius Future Racing sits down to answer a few questions about the Plans.
Suitable for any time of year, including winter, our training plans have helped Semi-Pros around the world improve their performance by 8-10%.
Why does someone need a structured training plan?
Structured brings around a focus that everyone needs when looking to get fitter and faster. It also gives you the confidence that what you are doing in training is all geared towards a bigger goal and each day you are on the bike is actually building fitness in a specific way. Having a plan to follow will bring around improvements gradually which is always the best way to enable performance gains to be a long lasting and part of your performance in the months following. Without structure, you’re just sort of winging it and hoping it works – which, especially when you have limited time to train, really is a waste.
Can you move the workouts around within the plan?
Everyone will come up against different aspects that will interrupt the plan, be it illness, family or work. This is unavoidable and something that you shouldn’t worry or stress about if it is not a regular occurrence. You can move sessions around but be careful not to play catch up, i.e move missed sessions in one week to the following week which will reduce your rest periods. This normally brings around too much training stress that can cause overtraining (or “under resting” which is a better term).
If you need to move a session around during a week, try and make the amount of total rest scheduled for that week the same. And be sure to avoid clumping too many session together. Your sessions will become less productive and can become extremely tired after the block is over – and that won’t help you get back on track with the plan.
It’s winter. What if I can’t ride outside – can I do the workout inside?
Yes you can switch to inside. There are many benefits to riding indoors so this is a perfect alternative. The biggest issue is the longer endurance rides (normally on a Weekend) which can be up to 3hrs, this can be a long time on a turbo trainer and it can be pretty tough mentally to get through it. I recommend reducing the total volume by around 25% if you alternate the session to inside but be sure to maintain the intensity prescribed in that particular session.
Can I ride more than the plans says?
You can, but only as long as you can maintain the intensity we ask you to do. So, adding an extra 30-60minutes (or more) of endurance pace to any session is possible if you feel you can handle it. You can also add a 2-3 hour tempo ride if you feel recovered from the mid-week sessions and you can still do the Sunday ride as prescribed. If you start to feel fatigued, though, and can’t hit the intensity that the interval workouts, then you should back off again. Do be careful of adding volume in the first three weeks of the plan – you can be feeling good and then, with accumulated fatigue, hit a wall in week 5 that may be difficult to recover from over the rest of the plan. Don’t add any additional volume during the rest weeks – they are rest weeks for a reason. Please make sure you have the ability to do the other sessions as planned and avoid doing TOO MUCH, this is the key.
What kind of improvement can I expect after I'm done with a plan?
As everyone will be starting from a different fitness levels it is impossible to be accurate on exactly how much improvement can be made by each individual. People who are new to cycling we will see bigger gains in fitness compared to people who have already have been cycling for many years. This does not mean that experienced cyclist do not gain from plans but just that when people start a new activity they build fitness quickly. With more experienced cyclists, or those used to previous structured training, I would expect an increase of 5-10% at FTP power (only those with a powermeter or power on turbo will be able to accurately measure their performance gains). The biggest key to development is consistency and gradual lift in training stress which is done via total volume and intensity. There will be times when days and sessions need changed, but if you keep the general plan consistent you should start to see good improvements in many areas like recovery between sessions, getting up local climb quicker, taking more turns at the front with local bunchie, etc.
I’m racing at the moment – how would that fit into these training plans?
If you are racing, try and keep the overall structure of the plan the same and swap and endurance ride at the weekend with a race. Racing and endurance sessions work different areas, of course, but a 3hr training ride can bring around a similar training stress to that of a 2hr road race depending on the conditions. If you feel you have not recovered from a race at the weekend when performing the mid-week sessions then reduce one of the higher intensity sessions to a lower intensity or take an extra rest day to allow for a full recovery.
Do I really need a heart rate monitor or power meter to do these workouts?
No, you do not need either a heart monitor or a powermeter to do the plans as we have an accurate RPE scale for each training day. I would, however, very much recommend you use at least a heart rate monitor to make it more specific and get the most out of each session. You can get one relatively cheaply and it can be used in all training rides indoor and out.
I have my FTP number already. Can I use that or do I have to do the fitness test as instructed?
If it is a test that has been done in the recent past (i.e. previous 3 weeks) then yes this can be used to determine your ftp but I would still perform an ftp test regardless. I would use your previous FTP wattage/HR result as a bench mark to produce another test to gauge fitness, your FTP wattage can change a lot, by the way, while your FTP Heart tends to stay the same (while speed and distance covered increase), so be aware of this. The FTP test is a great workout out in itself also and something that you should get accustomed to as it is a great way to analyse fitness and development.