Last week I started my SCODY 3 Peaks Challenge Training with a focus on building strength. The 12 week SCODY 3 Peaks Challenge Training program that I produced has this as a focus for the first four weeks for several reasons. If you haven’t read my first article then please click here to read it. But first Id like to talk to you about my personal experience riding the last SCODY 3 Peaks Challenge…

I had a simple plan. To sit on 150 watts and take as fewer rests as possible with the intent of doing a ride of around eleven and a half hours. I completed it in eleven hours and six minutes having around twenty five minutes total off the bike. I didn’t intend to smash it, just ride it. So I was happy.

This year Im pushing for a sub 10 hour ride and the area that I think I can make up the most about of time is on the climbs, especially the final climb back up to Falls Creek. Now this last climb is especially nasty. Everything that everyone says about this climb is true. It’s brutal. To give you an idea on how hard this is Ill tell you how it was for me. With 200kms in my legs I rounded the corner and hit the bottom of this climb, put my bike into my lowest gear, a 34 x 28, and stood up off the saddle. After an hour Id completed nine of the twenty seven kilometres or so that would take me up to the finish. Thats how hard it is. Once you get past this section that goes for around twelve kilometres the gradient starts to flatten out.

For the most part of this climb I was nursing a cramp in both legs and this is where I think that for the 2013 event I can make up most of my time to score a sub ten. I know that I wasnt dehydrated. The cramping was due to conditioning, or not enough of it. I’ve got a great premium members article here discussing what causes muscle leg cramps and spasms when cycling.

While my training was adequate for an eleven and a half hour ride, I could have made it a little more comfortable on myself if I had conditioned my legs a little more. So while I was climbing up this nasty section of road I was thinking about the conditioning needed to managed this workload for 2013 and its all got to do with torque. I hadnt trained to legs to climb a hill at such a low cadence for an hour straight. A problem easily solved.

So this week I started on building more strength in my legs and core to address this issue though functional strength training. Now building strength for a cyclist is not a simple as haphazardly hitting the gym and doing a few leg presses. And thats why in 2007 I teamed up with a functional strength and conditioning coach called Matt Brindle to develop a specific strength training program for cyclists. Now Matt is a personal trainer that teaches personal training. He is at the leading edge of functional strength and conditioning techniques. And the most important thing that Matt said to me was this: As a cyclists you can only develop as much power as you can stabilise. Its this functional strength training that Im using to specifically address building strength in my legs and core so that I can climb not only the nasty section up to Falls Creek but the whole course a lot faster.

A bit about functional strength training

Ok, over the last week Ive been recording a few of my training ride on my new GoPro video camera and Ive captured some great footage of a cyclist with poor core strength. Here is the video:

In this video youll see two riders. The one of the left has good core strength while the rider on the right has not. As you watch the video youll see that every time the rider on the right tries to put down power into the bike he loses his core stability. You’ll also see him actually weaving up the road as well. I see a lot of this core strength problem in people that I coach that spend a lot of time behind a desk at a office job. Now the core strength program that Matt developed addresses this issues for the rider on the right. For the rider on the left that already has good core strength the Matt Brindle Functional Strength program helps him take his riding to a new level by building on his current strength. I’ve just started up my strength training this last week and have already seen an improvement of over 200 watts in my peak maximum power output. I’ll be watching my power data closely over the next few weeks to check it’s not a glitch. So I’ll let you know how it’s going in the next e-mail.

In the SCODY 3 Peaks Challenge Training the Matt Brindle Beginner Program One in combination with the E3 Hill Climber Cadence Steps is specifically designed to help you do exactly what Im doing with my training to build leg and core strength that will help prepare for everything that the SCODY 3 Peaks Challenge is going to throw at you. Now both these items are available in the complete training package that you can purchase here:

The great thing about strength training and the reason that its a major focus during the first four weeks of the 12 week block is that once you have built strength you can then build speed on top of it. The other great thing also is that once you have put the energy into building strength you only need to put a little into it during the following weeks to maintain it.

So rather than dealing with the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that results in strength training during weeks five to eight we address it now in week one to four and focus on building volume with our new found leg strength in weeks five to eight. Week nine to twelve are focused on addressing speed and then the final taper.

This week’s training program:

Here is the cycling training plan for this week for a sub13 hour ride. The sub 10 hour plan is available here:

Monday – 1 hour E1 Recovery Ride @ 100rpm.

Tuesday – XMAS Day – Rest Day

Wednesday – 1 Hour E1 Recovery Ride @ 100rpm. and Matt Brindle Functional Strength Training – Beginner Program One – This is core and strength training done off the bike to help you develop the strength that will assist you later on in this program to improve your comfort, speed and sustained strength endurance on the bike.

Thursday002 – E3 Strength Endurance Ergo – This is a specific indoor time trial training session that you can also do out on the road. It will help you start the process of converting your muscle fibres from type IIb muscle to type IIa so that you can ride faster. I’ve got a great article you can read about this here

FridayMatt Brindle Functional Strength Training – Beginner Program One – This is core and strength training done off the bike to help you develop the strength that will assist you later on in this program to improve your comfort, speed and sustained strength endurance on the bike.

Saturday – Base Hill Climbing – Climb 750 vertical meters during a 75 km ride at preferred climbing cadence alternating between seated and standing.

Saturday – Base Hill Climbing – Climb 750 vertical meters during a 75 km ride at preferred climbing cadence alternating between seated and standing.

Next week’s e-mail

So last week I mentioned that I was going to address some important tips to help you with your nutrition in your training that will ensure that you improve your energy metabolism efficiency on the bike. I thought that it was more important to address the strength training before I discuss this so Im going to quickly cover off a few important things about this and then cover it in more detail next week.

So, firstly your power to weight ratio is critical to this event because you have to climb so many vertical meters and its the largest component that will affect your overall time. Now, weight is a sensitive issue and I want to make it very very clear that Im not endorsing drastic weight loss, binge dieting or becoming anorexic. Far from it. But here are the facts. Forget trying to spend money on making your bike one kilogram lighter if you are ten kilograms overweight. You can get a far great performance improvement by dropping the extra kilograms off you rather than the bike and youll also feel much better for it.

Getting lean for the event is going to help you climb a lot faster. If you are carrying a few extra kilograms then I would recommend that you start thinking about this now because you’ll only want to lose a maximum of one kilogram a week. With eleven weeks to go you have a maximum of eleven kilograms that you ideally can lose between now and the event. Now, if you are close to your ideal weight then you wont have to worry so much about this as you have more time.

Next week Ill be covering this off and then start discussions on metabolic efficiency.

All the best with your training and see you on the start line of the SCODY 3 Peaks Challenge.



David Heatley.

Sign up to receive SCODY 3 Peaks Challenge training and preparation e-mails

This year for the first time I’ll also be sending out a weekly SCODY 3 Peaks Challenge training and preparation tips to help you during your 12 weeks of training leading up to the event. It will cover off topics that include:
  • how you can be efficient with your limited training time
  • how to train yourself to climb hills faster
  • how to descend quickly and safely with confidence
  • what you should consider when planning your nutrition and hydration
  • how to get lean and trim so that you get to your optimum climbing weight

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