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UNDERSTANDING YOUR
CYCLING STRENGTH PLAN

Our Cycling Strength Plans are the perfect complement to our Cycling Plans. There are 16 plans in all, representing a range of durations and challenging levels. To choose the right plan for you, consider both the length of the Cycling Plan you’re using and your strength training experience. Table 1 shows how the various Cycling Strength Plans align with our Cycling Plans. Table 2 offers guidelines for choosing the appropriate level.

 

TABLE 1

TABLE 2

Let’s look at an example. Suppose you have more than 1 year and less than 2 years of strength training experience and you are using the Gran Fondo Intermediate Course Level 2 Plan. In this case, you’ll want to combine your Cycling Plan with the 15-Week Cycling Strength Plan Level 1. Don’t worry if you discover that the plan you’ve picked is either too hard or too easy. Our Level Guarantee allows you to trade in your plan for a higher- or lower-level plan at no additional cost.

 

Warming Up

 

Before you begin each strength workout, warm up with a brisk walk followed by 3 sets of 5 quick Bodyweight Squats, resting 20 seconds between sets. Then perform 2 sets of 5 Half Squats using a 45-lb (22 kg) barbell, resting 40 seconds between sets. Now you’re ready to do some strength training!

 

Workout Structure

 

Correct execution of your strength workouts requires that you fully understand their structure. Let’s look at a specific example.

Required equipment: kettlebells or dumbbells

(2) Reverse Lunge – 3 RIR, 10RM (tempo: 2- 1-1-1)
(3) Dead Bug – 2 RIR (tempo: 1-2-1-1)

(2) Glute Bridge – 3 RIR (tempo: 1-2-1-2)
(2) Short Calf Raise – 3 RIR, 10% BW (tempo: 2-2-2-2)

(3) McGill Side Bridge – 1 RIR (tempo (1-1-1-2)
(3) Bird Dog – 1 RIR (1 rep = 8s/side)

 

Pick 1 or 2:

(2) Hip Flexor Knee Drive – 3 RIR, light band (tempo: 2-2-1-2)
(2) McGill Crunch – 1 RIR (1 rep = 10s hold)
(3) Bent Over Row – 3 RIR, 10RM (tempo: 1-1-1-2)
(3) Pushup – 3 RIR (1-2-1-1)
(3) Hamstring Bridge – 4 RIR (tempo: 2-2-1-3)

 

Required Equipment

The first item in each workout description is a list of required equipment. This list will change from one workout to the next, but in general, you will need access to a fully equipped gym to complete your Cycling Strength Plan. Here’s a complete list of required equipment:

 

  • Barbell

  • Cable

  • Weight Stack

  • Chin-Up Bar

  • Dumbbells

  • Exercise Bench

  • Foam Roller

  • Kettlebells

  • Plyometric Box

  • Resistance Bands

  • Slide Discs

  • Stability Ball

 

Set Sequencing

 

Exercises that are paired or grouped represent mini circuits. This means you are to complete one set of each rotation exercise, continuing to cycle through the paired/grouped exercises until you’ve done the total number of prescribed sets as indicated by the number in parentheses to the left of the exercise name. In the example given, the first two exercises will be done in this fashion:

 

1 set of Reverse Lunge

1 set of Dead Bug

1 set of Reverse Lunge

2 sets of Dead Bug

 

Each workout has a section of optional exercises. Choose any one or two of these and combine them with the last two exercises of the main set to create a mini-circuit. In the example given, the last two exercises in the main set are McGill Side Bridge and Bird Dog. Let’s say you decide to combine these with the Hip Flexor Knee Drive and the Push-Up exercises from the list of options. In this case, you will complete the workout in the following manner.

 

1 set of McGill Side Bridge

1 set of Hip Flexor Knee Drive

1 Set of Bird Dog

1 set of Push-Up

1 set of McGill Side Bridge

1 set of Hip Flexor Knee Drive

1 Set of Bird Dog

1 set of Push-Up

1 set of McGill Side Bridge

1 Set of Bird Dog

1 set of Push-Up

 

Repetitions/Duration

 

The information to the immediate right of the exercise name tells you how many repetitions to complete or how long to do the exercise and how much resistance to use, if any. The following terms are used to convey this information:

 

Reps in Reserve (RIR) is the number of repetitions you have left before technical failure when completing a set. RIR allows you to work within a specific proximity to failure and structure a training block to increase either weight or reps each week, thus decreasing RIR. If you find that your RIR and completed reps decrease from set to set within a single workout, reduce your rep count by 1 in the following session. See Table 3 for a comparison between RIR and rating of perceived exertion.

 

Submax refers to the number of seconds that are left in reserve at the end of each set on isometric holds. Example: If you can hold the movement for a maximum of 15 seconds, then an exercise prescribed as “4s sub max” should be held for 11 seconds.

 

Individual sets of different exercises may be based on time, repetitions, or both. Here are examples of all three:

 

Time-based set example: “10s sub max”

 

This means you are to hold the position called for in the exercise for as long as you can minus 10 seconds, or 10 seconds short of failure.

 

Repetitions-based set example: “3 reps in reserve”

 

This means you are to perform 3 repetitions fewer than the maximum number you are physically able to complete, i.e., stop 3 reps short of failure.

 

Time- and repetitions-based set example: “10 x 5s each side alternating”

 

This type of instruction is relevant to exercises such as the Bird Dog that involve alternating movements in two directions or with each leg or arm. In this case, you will hold the first position for 5 seconds, then switch sides and hold the second position for 5 seconds, and repeat this sequence a total of 10 times.

 

In time-based sets, it’s okay to go a little closer to failure in the last set of a given exercise as long as you stop at the point where you begin losing posture or your form starts to deteriorate. Working out in front of a mirror will help you in this regard, but you should also go by feel and self-regulate, making any adjustments needed to ensure the workouts are hard but manageable.

 

A few exercises included in the plans use the following terms in prescribing intensity: sprint effort, tempo effort, interval effort, and easy effort. When given these instructions, perform the exercise to a level of fatigue that is consistent with your experience in cycling workouts of the same type. Table 3 offers additional guidelines for interpreting these intensity prescriptions.

TABLE 3

RESISTANCE TRAINING-SPECIFIC RATING OF PERCEIVED EXERTION

Resistance

 

Resistance is prescribed in a few different ways, depending on the exercise. For some exercises, the prescribed resistance is based on your 10RM, which is the maximum amount of weight you could lift 10 times with good form. If you don’t know your 10RM weight for a given exercise, start with a light weight and perform 10 repetitions. If the last rep does not require a maximal effort, add 10-20 lbs (5-10 kg) and perform another set, continuing until you find your 10RM.

 

For other exercises, the prescribed resistance is based on body weight. In the example workout given above, you will see “10% BW” to the right of the Short Calf Raise exercise. This is telling you to do the exercise using a weight that is equal to 10 percent of your body weight.

 

When no resistance information is given for a particular exercise, it is meant to be done as a bodyweight exercise (i.e., without external resistance). The Dead Bug, Glute Bridge, McGill Side Bridge, Push-Up, Bird Dog, McGill Crunch, and Hamstring Bridge exercises in the example workout are all bodyweight movements. However, if you can perform more than 15 repetitions of a particular bodyweight exercise, go ahead and add an external load of 5-10% BW to make it more challenging.

 

For band exercises, you will be instructed to use a light, medium, or heavy band. In the example workout, you are instructed to perform the Hip Flexor Knee Drive exercise with a light band.

 

Tempo

 

The information between parentheses to the right of the exercise name tells you how quickly to perform each repetition (i.e., the recommended tempo). Most exercises have four phases: eccentric, transition, concentric, and transition). The eccentric phase is the portion of the exercise where your muscles are lengthening under load. The first transition is the pause between the eccentric and concentric phases. The concentric phase is the portion of the exercise where your muscles are shortening/contracting. Finally, the second transition is the pause between the concentric and eccentric phases.

 

In the example given, the Bent Over Row exercise has a 1-1-1-2 tempo. This means you complete the eccentric phase (lowering the dumbbells), first transition (pausing with the arms fully extended), and concentric phase (lifting the dumbbells) each on a 1-count and complete the second transition (pausing with the elbows fully bent) on a 2-count.

 

In certain exercises, tempo is prescribed in beats per minute (BPM). These exercises require a metronome. To do them, simply download a metronome app such as Soundbrenner to your smartphone, set it to the prescribed tempo, and perform the exercise in synchronization with the beat.

 

Video Exercise Demonstrations

 

In the “pre-activity comments” area of each workout tile, you will find links to video demonstrations of all the exercises included in that workout. Good form is important, so be sure to emulate the form shown in these videos as closely as possible.

 

If any questions come up as you make your way through your Core Strength Plan, contact info@endurancelab.ie

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