Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dork Training: Part Three

In my first post in this series, I examined Tim Noakes' arguments against the cardiovascular / aerobic model. In the second post, I examined the biomechanical model, and its notion of efficiency. I argued that we should be focused less on VO2 max and more on efficiency--mechanical and biological. I mentioned that we don't understand the mechanism by which some people become more efficient, but that for those of us who are relatively in-shape, training is best understood as an effort to become more efficient and not an attempt to improve VO2 max or strength. For those of us at Rugg-like levels of body fat, efficiency is the target of your training.

Although how your body becomes more efficient is still somewhat of a mystery, how you can train to make your body adapt is less of a mystery. Numerous studies confirm that interval training, even among well-trained athletes, yields results. High intensity training (HIT) is the latest craze. Everyone knows this, which is why everyone does intervals and tries to maximize time spent > 300w / 90% HR max.

So...hop on the bikes and bring on the pain? Not exactly.

A recent study suggests that by combining intense on-the-bike interval training with intense plyometric training (here, using explosive single-legged jumping), you may see significant improvements--even if you are already a highly trained cyclist. In the study, which was, unfortunately, fairly small, test subjects saw almost 23% improvement in oxygen efficiency in 4-5 weeks compared to baseline and control. That's astonishing improvement, since these were highly trained cyclists.

If you do 5 or more hours a week of training already, you can mimic the test subjects' workouts by adding three 30-minute blocks of plyometric/interval training to your weekly schedule; remove the same amount of time from your schedule.

The workouts are fairly simple:
(1) Warm up
(2) The first set:
a. Jump 20 times on your left and 20 times on your right leg. Climb on your bike.
b. Do a brief interval on your bike (5 x 30 seconds at a cadence of 60-70 rpm with 30-second recoveries between repetitions)
(3) Do three sets.
(4) Cool down.


The study doesn't specify how to do what it terms "explosive single leg jumps." It could mean single leg box jumps:


Or single-legged depth jumps:


Or this dork:


If you're not doing five hours or more of training a week, you probably want to start with at least that much time on the bike before adding plyometrics.

3 comments:

Lance said...

I have been thinking a lot about plyometrics. I even considered buying some plyometric DVDs. I am pretty sure it would help me, but my downstairs neighbor already complains about the rollers being too loud. One legged box jumps would make him go ballistic.

Calvini said...

That's the problem with plyometrics in general--where do you do them without pissing people off?

TerribleTerry said...

watch any sport where speed is an asset...soccer, football, track, baseball....they're all doing plyometrics. Doesn't seem all that far fetched to think it'd help cyclists as well.