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The Waite Endurance Testing Protocol

  • October 30, 2017
  • Blog

In a previous post, Testing: Anaerobic vs. Aerobic & Fatigue Resistance, we explained our testing philosophy. Through frequent testing we look to see improvements in power outputs over 6-12 weeks of training between testing. Our testing revolves around THREE different test durations:

  • One longer one at a specific sub-maximal aerobic heart-rate, to identify Aerobic Power.

  • Two shorter maximal efforts to identify ones Anaerobic Power.

We also introduced the concept of identifying your Fatigue Rate. This sheds light on where your aerobic fitness is compared to your top-end anaerobic power. With this data, we can then track improvements in power as well as improvements in fatigue resistance (ie. endurance). Through testing and training we attempt to maximize both ends for peak performance.

The goal with training is two-fold: maximize your power output & fatigue resistance. The tricky part is, improvements in one usually results in the decrease in the other; and what gets tracked, gets trained.

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Testing: Anaerobic vs. Aerobic & Fatigue Resistance

  • October 24, 2017
  • Blog

Before diving into another season of training on the bike, or jumping into serious training for the first time, it helps to know a few things about your current fitness as you get started. Testing on the bike has become common place for structured training. We’ll focus on the specifics of our Waite Endurance Testing Method here; but most testing protocols are intended to answer questions like these…

  • Where is my fitness at right now? Identify a baseline from which you plan to improve.
  • What are the best ways to spend my training time? In order to maximize your improvement.
  • What effort levels should you should be training at? Set your training zones.

There’s More to Power than Just FTP.

For many years, a rider’s FTP (Functional Threshold Power) has been the focal point of where a rider’s fitness. Percentages of FTP is also how many riders set their training zones. FTP works okay. It shines light on one area of fitness and can be re-tested again and again to check for improvement.

By definition, your FTP is the power you could sustain for one hour, full gas. I say could sustain because who’s going to go all-out for an hour to find this value? So it’s become common place to go hard for 20-minutes and subtract 5% from your average power. Pretty much the Gold Standard, and everyone accepts it. Even going all-out for 20 minutes is pretty tough on your own. For this reason, more recent models are doing one or two 8-minute intervals and subtracting 5-10% from those averages to estimate FTP. All said and done, these methods of FTP testing highlight one energy system (Vo2 max). On top of that, they calculate the FTP from a “one size fits all” percent reduction from the test effort. From here, it doesn’t tell you much else. Does it work? I suppose. However, if you’re like me, you would likely prefer more.

What if we said we can offer you another, possibly better, way to test on the bike to gain insight on your fitness, set zones, and track progress?

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Training Metrics: Power vs. Heart Rate

We get this question a lot regarding training metrics… What’s the better training metric: Power or Heart Rate?

Power-based training has risen to the status of “must have” for effective training for serious cyclists. Unfortunately, the use of heart rate as a training metric has been tossed aside by many. The power meter is a wonderful tool and one we strongly recommend. However, without the simultaneous use of heart rate you are only seeing half of the story

…our answer is: use BOTH metrics! 

Both Power & Heart Rate training metrics are needed for maximum effectiveness

Using one without the other is a mistake. Here’s why…

  • Power (watts) is the direct measurement of the amount of work that is being done. Many will say, “a watt is a watt, and watts don’t lie”. This is true, power is an absolute. You either have it or you don’t on a given a day. However, the effort required to produce those watts on any given day is effected by many variables. This is where heart rate comes in!
  • Heart Rate (bpm) is an indirect measurement of your bodies response to the work (power) being done. You might hear people poo-poo HR. They’ll claim that it’s affected by so many outside variables; such as sleep, hydration, elevation, temperature, fatigue and so on. But… why are these affects considered a negative attribute? When in fact, it’s these very affects wherein the value of training with HR comes in!

Let’s look at this example of a training block using both Power & Heart Rate training metrics…

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Off-Season Training

  • October 12, 2017
  • Blog

When Fall arrives most of us in the Northern Hemisphere are entering our Off-Season. So what exactly is the Off-Season? The term “Off-Season” can be a bit misleading to some. The Off-Season is not time taken off from training, but rather it is time taken off from racing. This all so crucial time away from racing allows you to focus more on your training to allow for bigger advancements in your overall fitness.

Here is how a year of training and competition looks to a committed, high level amateur or professional endurance athlete:

PRE OFF-SEASON: END OF SEASON BREAK

    • After a short 1-2 weeks of time off they’re ready to get back into training in their off-season. Take that ‘beach holiday’ or vacation to truly get away from the training.
    • Pro Tips: As a general rule of thumb, the older and/or lower training volume (ie. time crunched) the athlete, the shorter this break should be. If you only train 8-12 hours a week, you don’t need to take much of a break. Simply changing the type of training you do in the off-season will be enough of a change of pace. It is just too hard for most people to get back into ‘training mode’; and too much fitness can be lost if the break is too long. The younger or higher volume athlete may take up to 2 weeks off from training. These athletes will recover faster and have a higher fitness base to draw from.

THE OFF-SEASON

    • The Off-Season is the chunk of time sandwiched between your break (above) and the start of your race season (below). With the stress of racing and being “race fit” removed in their off-season, they can focus purely on training. Improving weaknesses and gaining a higher level of fitness for the next race season is the goal.
    • Pro Tips: Depending on the athlete and when his/her race season begins, the off-season can be as short as a couple months (ie. end racing in October and begin racing in February); or it can be several months (ie. end racing in September and begin again in April). Keep in mind that the longer your off-season the more time you have to train and improve. In turn, the greater improvement you’ll see in your racing ability the next season. Those athletes that can’t stay away from racing and pack their annual schedule from spring through fall are often the ones that don’t improve a whole lot from year-to-year; or they are getting paid to compete (and are already at the top of their game!).
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