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  1. #1
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    High intensity, Conconi test and Ross books

    In my 2nd year of racing, vet level, 42years, New Zealand (summer here)
    I have small kids, and I work, as with most of us my training time is limited and involves commuting then racing on Saturdays (150-250km/week).
    Found the Ross book Maximum performance for cyclists.
    His approach is to determine aerobic threshold and lactate threshold using the Modified Conconi test (not hard to do), then his high intensity intervals are to work at your maximum for short periods with for eg 8 intervals and 3 sets.
    He's a sports physician and has referenced his conclusions and recommendations, it makes sense. I drew the graphs, worked out my parameters, planned my schedule then did it,
    The Hi intensity training is not a misnomer, it was so hard that I was nearly spewing at intervals 6 thru 8. I have done 3 intervals of this indoors so far and am now terrified of my bike and my indoor trainer. It better be doing me some good because it is so hard I am killing myself. I plan to step down the number of reps for my soft body, just so I can will myself to get on the bike again, and then slowly step them up if I can handle it.
    Anyone else out there tried this approach and ended up having nightmares about training? Any good results, or is it all pain, suffering and fear?
    From New Zealand

  2. #2
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    Short intervals lasting... how long?

    Maximum being... what? VO2max?

    What are you trying to accomplish? No training plan that makes me want to stay off the bike is a good training plan.

  3. #3
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    As Nomad says, what are you trying to accomplish?

    High intensity intervals are only going to peak you on whatever base you have. You'll see short term gains, but in the longer run you'll just burn yourself out. If your goal is to max out your power right now, go for it, but if your goal is longer term, I'd recommend a different training strategy.

    I don't know what the racing season is in NZ, but in the Northern Hemisphere I'd be concentrating on building quality miles at an endurance level right now. High intensity intervals should start shortly before the first serious races. Peak fast and burn out fast.

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    I have a similar situation as you. Married, with kids, full time job...
    Over on the mtbr boards there are several of us who follow the Morris plan. Do a search over there or check the off season primer I wrote in my sig line below.

    The main focus of the plan is on increasing maximum sustainable power. But I tweak it specifically for mountain bike racing. It involves a periodized plan that utlizes several different styles of intervals in the early season. It also incorporates a lot of rest as well.

    YMMV, but I find it to be time efficient and work well with the constraints of regular life.
    My training BLOG

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  5. #5
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    I didn't know much about different training plans. But I do know that my coworkers and I ride on our lunch hour. As we all have families and fulltime jobs 55-60 hours a week. Anyway these lunch time rides turn into hammerfests on most days of the week usually on the first hill we come to. Last summer I did a group ride with my bike club that was suppose to a very fast group. Anyway we broke off into two groups a fast group and a faster group I went with the faster group expecting to get blown off the back. We were cruising at about 22-23mph drafting and taking turns leading. It came to my turn to lead I took edged us up to 25-26mph in the drops eyes forward when I looked back to see who was with us after several minutes it was me and one other guy. I motioned him to take the lead he did till the first hill then he motioned me to take the lead. After the first hill I motioned him to take the lead he wouldn't. So I pulled away and blew him off the back on the next hill. We get back to the meeting point of the ride he says I was like a machine in the hills what do you do to get like that. And I told him about our lunch time hammerfests. Most people don't train like that. Sorry this got so long but I was trying to make a point. I think 1 day a week you need to ride till your eyes hurt.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by StillRiding
    As Nomad says, what are you trying to accomplish?

    High intensity intervals are only going to peak you on whatever base you have. You'll see short term gains, but in the longer run you'll just burn yourself out. If your goal is to max out your power right now, go for it, but if your goal is longer term, I'd recommend a different training strategy.

    I don't know what the racing season is in NZ, but in the Northern Hemisphere I'd be concentrating on building quality miles at an endurance level right now. High intensity intervals should start shortly before the first serious races. Peak fast and burn out fast.
    this is something else I have yet to see the science behind. Ross makes the point, which makes total sense and is supported by a fair amount of science, without contradiction to my knowledge, that working at VO2 max stresses your aerobic system as hard as it can be stressed and that Zone 2 rides are nowhere close in terms of stressing your aerobic system to force adaptation. Not that you don't get some training benefit from riding at any intensity, not that you don't need plenty of rest, particularly when you're doing high intensity. But Ross disproves this very common misconception -- that with intensity you are somehow doing a disservice to your aerobic development. At high intensities, you recruit all of your metabolic systems and all of your muscle fibers. The aerobic metabolizing slow-twitch fibers are not left out of the party just because you're working at high intensity. To the contrary, you are getting to the highest and best (aerobic) use, basically putting the lie to low intensity aerobic base training. Yeah, you need to work up to intensity. But once you can handle it, which he says takes a few weeks, maybe, not months as other well-respected coaches preach, then you can really develop and develop pretty quickly through intensity.
    I buy it. I know guys that ride with intensity all year round, and they're monsters. Setting aside mental burnout, which is a different problem, there just isn't any science behind flying in February, dying in July because of a lack of base training.

  7. #7
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    Bill,

    In theory, this is great practice. In fact, it's great practice for the average rider looking to improve or an above average rider looking to peak. Unfortunately, endless intervals still tax the ATP, or anaerobic state. This is great if you want to be glycogen depleted, and get used to both high lactate levels and low blood sugar. As intervals increase over the 2-5min range, your body will utilize more carbs and fat as its primary source of fuel.

    This is a good training program for short crits due to sprints and recovery portions of a track where your body needs to use energy fast and then recover fast. The bad news is that it won't work for upper-categorized riders. Although this has the ability to make a good classics specialist (one-day racer), this rider's competency in races lasting 2+hrs is nearly non-existent. His body just won't be able to utilize an important fuel source for the long haul: fat. This program is especially tragic for stage racers looking to be competitive over multiple days (in my case, Wisconsin/Illinois' Superweek comes to mind). This is where the "dying in July" idea comes into play. July is the TdF, July is Superweek, July is the most popular racing month for cycling. Over many stages, the body will not be able to recover from long, intense rides with which it is less efficient at dealing.

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    I don't know about the fat-burning and the whatnot and all, because, well, I don't. But the overarching principle of specificity of training leads me to believe that programs that begin with long days in the saddle are entirely appropriate for racers whose events require long days in the saddle. Many of my races are crits or small circuits of less than an hour. I'll do a few road races this year that may last 2.5 hours. Something that will work for me is not going to work for a guy whose races are 4 and 5 hours, including stage racing. What never made sense to me were the amateur racers whose events were in that 1-2 hour range going out and doing 4-5 hours of Zone 2 riding.
    I appreciate the measured tone of your response, which is not usually what you get when you challenge this sacred cow (for amateurs -- as I said, I think that long days in the early season are likely essential for pros and 1's and 2's whose events require those kinds of hours).

  9. #9
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    Andy Coggan has said that when he was racing he won some 5 hour races training no more than 1 hour at a clip, using a high-intensity approach. He still maintains that approach is adequate for races up to 4-5 hours in duration.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by normZurawski
    Andy Coggan has said that when he was racing he won some 5 hour races training no more than 1 hour at a clip, using a high-intensity approach. He still maintains that approach is adequate for races up to 4-5 hours in duration.
    Jo Planckaert who was a protagonist in the Belgian classics for several years (until he got popped for EPO) also trained relatively few hours. IIRC, he usually trained for just an hour or two with a long ride here and there. He thought all the 5+ hour training rides 99% of his competition were doing was largely a waste of time.

    Seems like to me the biggest adaptation to doing long rides is building up the tolerance to sitting on the bike for that long!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by iliveonnitro
    The bad news is that it won't work for upper-categorized riders. His body just won't be able to utilize an important fuel source for the long haul: fat.
    I'm not so sure about that. Fuel substrate use is affected by many things, primarily it is affected by your absolute work rate relative to your maximal work rate (for a relatively long time, i.e more than a few minutes and up). How you train to achieve that maximal work rate (high volume, relatively low intensity vs. low volume, high intensity) shouldn't really matter.

    If there was any difference between the two types of training programs I would predict that it would be on a riders anaerobic work capacity.

    IOW, if rider A trains a high VO2max (probably a better measure would be functional threshold power, but the same principles would apply) by doing lots of short, high-intensity intervals and rider B trains to get the same high VO2max primarily by doing high volume work, there is little reason to suspect that if you exercised the two riders at 70% of their same VO2max that you would find the latter is relying more on fat vs. carbs than the former.

    Now if you then had each of them do a 1 min maximum effort, knowing nothing else, I'd put my money on the guy doing lots of intervals to produce more power.

  12. #12
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    I think amateur training has been way too influenced by pro training. When I first started racing, Greg Lemond's book was the big one, so we all worried about doing 500 mile training weeks, which in retrospect was pretty stupid for races that would be maybe 60 miles long. The Ross book is a good one for casting doubt on the LSD/base/zone2 endless mile routines and emphasizing the limiters that are more at play in amateur racing--relatively brief maximal efforts. But, the Ross HIT stuff won't really work without a power meter to establish the critical parameters-Tmax etc. It's possible to obtain these on a stationary trainer and only test these periodically.

    There's a list somewhere in the Ross book with most of the controlled studies on the effects of different interval regimes-I've researched this as well, and found there's just not much to base a program on (mainly due to simply the lack of enough good studies). ALso, a lot will depend on the specific profiles of individual riders-the sort of races they do, their limiters, etc. I'd rather train these than do the LSD type stuff, which also makes sense for the rest of us that have to balance training with other things.

  13. #13
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    Wingnut - I'm a Veteran Married With Children as well. I found the Ross HIT program too stressful. So much so, I was never able to do the sets of eight intervals at prescribed power on the second and third days and after two weeks had lost power in the Concini test. I'm just finishing a Morris-style rest week and planning on going back to the Morris SMSP program.

    Maybe an elite racer with a huge base developed over many years can handle Ross' level of intensity, but not me.

    I'm also concerned with the lack of transition between the lifting and interval phases. I now understand how the Morris-style endurance phase helps you transfer the strength gains made during lifting to the bike. I had a great lifting phase, but I don't feel it on the bike this year like I did last year when following Morris' program.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsvaughn
    I found the Ross HIT program too stressful. So much so, I was never able to do the sets of eight intervals at prescribed power on the second and third days

    I'm just finishing a Morris-style rest week and planning on going back to the Morris SMSP program.
    Glad to hear it's not just me, I have modified the Ross program, doing 3 instead of 8 HIT intervals, with 3 sets. This is still very hard, but at least I can sustain it.
    Have tried to get the Morris book, but it seems to be out of print, any websites/links u can point me to?
    From New Zealand

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by WingNut
    Glad to hear it's not just me, I have modified the Ross program, doing 3 instead of 8 HIT intervals, with 3 sets. This is still very hard, but at least I can sustain it.
    Have tried to get the Morris book, but it seems to be out of print, any websites/links u can point me to?

    The Morris book is out of print. The ones listed on Amazon used book sellers are quite over priced out of site.

    The only place it might be available is in local REI stores. Morris is thinking about revising it and selfpublishing but that won't happen for a specified amount of time due to agreements with the publisher.

    I have some general information on the program on my BLOG, see sig line below.

    My copy is NOT for sale. It's my bible.
    My training BLOG

    training BLOG for a regular joe Married w/ children, Full time Job, No Genetic talent, wanna-be mountain bike racer

    Morris Training Primer

  16. #16
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    Great training primer

    Quote Originally Posted by ashwinearl

    I have some general information on the program on my BLOG, see sig line below.
    Great training primer, thanks for your post - earlier on I clicked on BLOG rather than the training primer, the primer is very helpful. Will keep hunting for Morris's book. Thanks again.
    From New Zealand

  17. #17
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    To his credit, ashwinearl's primer has all the mechanics of the Morris program that you need. IMHO.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by WingNut
    Glad to hear it's not just me, I have modified the Ross program, doing 3 instead of 8 HIT intervals, with 3 sets. This is still very hard, but at least I can sustain it.
    Have tried to get the Morris book, but it seems to be out of print, any websites/links u can point me to?
    I find this really interesting since I basically started doing some Morris-style blocks and recently took a step towards that which Ross recommends. But I did this independent of reading Ross. In fact, I just read the Ross chapter on HIT this morning on my ride into work. Ross makes mention of finding your comfort zone, of you can call this a comfort zone, which seems exactly like what I've done here. 8 HIT intervals will take some time to build to, for sure. But I don't think it's impossible. This is the first year I've done block training and my first back to back session was awful-brutal. Now I'm up to 4 days in a row. Training to train...

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    Quote Originally Posted by normZurawski
    I don't think it's impossible. This is the first year I've done block training and my first back to back session was awful-brutal. Now I'm up to 4 days in a row. Training to train...
    Just curious. How many years of cycling training (block or not) do you have? Annual milage? How long did it take you to work up to 4 days of 3x8 HIT?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsvaughn
    Just curious. How many years of cycling training (block or not) do you have? Annual milage? How long did it take you to work up to 4 days of 3x8 HIT?
    Well I've been riding for maybe 7 years, with annual mileage from 1000 to over 2000 depending on the year - peanuts for many/most here. This year will sorta blow that out of the water, but I measure hours and not miles now. It really only took me a few weeks to work up to the 4 days of HIT, and it should be noted that I don't have a PM so I'm not working precisely at the CP Ross talks about. Also, I guess I was unclear, but I haven't done the 3x8, but the adjusted series of 3x3 sets (or some mix of what I feel like that day, but generally a shorter rest period than work duration) mentioned earlier. Other details, I'm 35, just under 6-0 and 185 pounds and by most standards eat a very healthy diet. No alcohol currently. In general I do a fair to good job with recovery food. In my estimation I'm pretty good physically recovering from day to day. I generally notice a perceived increase in power as the block gets longer, even if it does get more painful (which seems to be normal). Also I spent the bulk of the winter - usually 5 days a week - with tempo and LT rides so I did "prime" myself for this early season series of blocks. Coggan has said blocks probably aren't going to be effective if you don't do a buildup of SST before them.

    All of that rambling is an effort to help you see where I'm at. Hope this helps.

  21. #21
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    Yes, that definitely helps. 1000-2000 miles is way more that I and, I believe, WingNut do. I think this may be key. Novices with less base, may have a hard time following Ross. Morris, in contrast, leaves the intensity up to you.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsvaughn
    Yes, that definitely helps. 1000-2000 miles is way more that I and, I believe, WingNut do. I think this may be key. Novices with less base, may have a hard time following Ross. Morris, in contrast, leaves the intensity up to you.
    Gotcha. Yeah, I think you need to have some base to start from. But you can build enough of a base in a few months I think. Once you have the base, and assuming you don't take the entire winter off, it's not necessary (IMO). But if you're a novice you will see huge gains riding a lot of miles at tempo. You don't really need to work on intervals just yet (again, IMO).

  23. #23
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    7000miles

    Quote Originally Posted by tsvaughn
    1000-2000 miles is way more that I and, I believe, WingNut do. I think this may be key..
    I commute daily and do on average 200km/week (120miles) last year did about 7000miles, my biggest year by far. It's mostly just hours in the saddle rather than having any plan to it.
    Brian
    From New Zealand

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by WingNut
    last year did about 7000miles.
    Brian
    Funny. I must want an answer so bad, I'm not reading normZurawski's post correctly. Last year, I did 3000 miles, a lot of it MTB. So there goes my theory...

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