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2018/19 Base Builder Strength Program

Fall is nearly here and that means it’s time to start planning your off-season training.

It’s the off-season, time away from high-priority events, that is the time to focus on improving your weaknesses. For most endurance athletes, their weakness is their weakness in terms of muscular strength. The fall & winter months are the time to build “off-bike” strength & mobility to not only improve ability on the bike for next years competitive-season, but also to improve whole body health by adding variety in training modalities, improve body composition, improve bone, soft tissue and hormone health, and offset muscle imbalances; all of which help keep injury at bay. Every endurance athletes should include a focused strength training block within their annual training program, and our Base Builder Strength Program is made just for this!

 

‘In-House’ Factory Strength Base Builder Classes

We have an ‘in-house’ option for those that live near our Lakewood, Colorado training facility at Sessions:6 Sport Performance (map). Join twice a week, Mondays & Wednesdays, for coach-led training sessions that builds your strength base progressively from October through March. Leaving you stronger, healthier, and producing more power in the bike come Spring.

Take Me There! 

 

‘Remote’ Strength Base Builder Training Plans

Don’t live nearby or can’t make our class times, we offer our same progressive Base Builder Strength Program as a downloadable training plan. Included with the plan is our training load calculator to prescribe the exact progressions & loads for your program, as well as links to our YouTube Channel with every single movement demonstrated in video so you know you’re doing things right. Plans are available in 12, 18 & 24 week durations to fit your base training needs.

Show Me More! 

 

Don’t neglect the gym this off-season. There are huge gains to be made in both overall health and performance that in the end lead to improving your power on the bike for 2019!

2018 Leadville Report & Season Wrap

  • August 15, 2018
  • Blog

The 2018 Leadville Trail 100 is in the books. With that, my 2018 training & racing comes to a close (with the exception of one or two final “fun” local races I may jump into over the next two weeks).

The following recap is as much or more for my own reference for the next time I attempt the LT100, as it is for anyones reading pleasure. It will also serve as the final piece of my ‘2018 training & racing recap series’ (each post listed above).

In my last post I left off with a recap of my final few weeks of training for the LT100 and my intended ‘taper’ into the big day. I was able to execute my taper plan more or less to the letter written. All the final pieces fell into place within the final two weeks. After analyzing my final few Race Prep sessions and a 90-minute high-altitude XC race my final “numbers” for my year long build of fitness looked like this…

BY THE NUMBERS

  • Final Bodyweight = 144 lbs.
  • FTP at 6000 feet elevation = 321w
    • equates to ~ 330-340w at elevations under 2500 feet
    • equates to ~ 270-280w at elevations over 9000 feet
  • w/kg = 4.92 at 6000 ft.
  • Complete Power Power Profile results July HERE

I’m really happy with this improvement from back in November coming off of a long break from serious training and racing for most of 2017. I was hoping to get my bodyweight down a bit closer to 140 lbs. but I think with the improved strength training this year I am just running a little heavier than in my early 30s. I’ll take the extra mass as it has kept me healthy and more powerful as a result.

I’ll check this off a as successful training program and diet commitment for the last 9+ months.

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My Taper & Peak Phase for LT100

  • August 2, 2018
  • Blog

In my last post I wrapped up my 8-week Leadville 100 MTB build and was in the midst of a well earned 10-day recovery block to relax the mind, enjoy the family, and let my body absorb all the hard work from the previous 8 weeks.

Upon returning home from family vacation, I was more than ready to dive back in finish off my 2018 Leadville 100 MTB preparations. With just four weeks left until race day, this broke down into the following:

  • a BIG Volume “Over-Reach” Week
  • 1/2 Recovery + 1/2 Intensity Week (w/ Leadville Stage Race) 
  • Taper Week 
  • Peak Week

Over-Reach Week

Coming off of a nice long recovery block I was fresh (if not a little ‘flat’) and ready get going again. A good solid over-reach week (or two) is essential in creating an exceptional training load from which to recover from as you enter your taper phase. Normally in my training plans, following my 2-week mini-block progressions, the overload week comes as the final two-week block with an emphasis on the final big endurance rides. Intensity is all but eliminated to allow for maximum focus of going long, before entering the final two-week taper block into race day. 

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LT100 Build: Second Half…

  • July 12, 2018
  • Blog

As described in a previous post, my early summer training program consisted of an 8-week Race Prep build designed around a peak in early August for the Leadville 100 MTB. The first 4-weeks were designed around twice weekly high-intesity interval training combined with progressively building endurance rides. The last 4-weeks were focused around improving sustainable power through weekly Anaerobic Threshold intervals and races.

After a 5 week period without any racing, training was focused, fitness was on the rise, and the hunger for competition was strong.

MY ‘SECOND HALF’ RACE PREP BLOCK

The basic weekly structure consisted of the following:

  • Monday – Strength Maintenance Gym Session
    • 45 Minutes: Movement Prep, Core Sets, Push/Pull Sets, Squat & Deadlift Sets (main: 3×3 @ 70% 1RM), Power Sets, Mobility Sets
  • Tuesday – Anaerobic Threshold Intervals
    • 90 minutes: 4-6x 8:00 hill reps at 32:00 power (330w)
  • Wednesday – Endurance Rides
    • 6-7 hours, 8-10k climb
  • Thursday – Recovery Spin
    • 45 Minutes: very, very slowly
  • Friday – Race Openers
    • 60 Minutes: w/ 4:00 @ 32:00 Power, 2:00 @ 16:00 Power, 1:00 @ 8:00 Power, 0:30 @ 4:00 Power, 0:15 @ 2:00, 0:08 @ 1:00 Power (4:00 easy recoveries)
  • Saturday – Race Day
    • 2-4 Hours, Go Hard!
  • Sunday – Recovery Spin
    • 90 Minutes: very slowly + coffee & pastry

This was the plan for four straight weeks. Racing started a little slowly, as expected being away for 5 weeks, and each week managed to get a little faster as I found my rhythm…

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LT100 Build: First Half…

  • June 12, 2018
  • Blog

After a week off of training & racing in early May, I was refreshed and ready to hit it hard with a late-Spring training block as part of my 2018 Leadville 100 MTB build up. My previous post, LT100 Race Prep Plan, laid out all the details of the complete build-up to the August event following a customized version of our Ultra-Marathon MTB Race Prep Stock Plan.

The last four weeks have been focused purely on training.

Meaning, no racing over the last month until just this last weekend (June 9th) with the GoPro Vail Mountain Games XC race. This nice block of time has allowed me to focus on a re-build of sorts, building up some solid volume on the bike with longer outdoor rides while backing out the intensity in two week mini-blocks of training.

In the off-season, within our 24-Week Base Builder Program, we train in the more commonly found 4-week blocks: with 3 weeks of focused energy system training and 1 week of recovery/easy endurance. In our  Race Prep Phase we condense the training blocks into two-week mini-blocks of focused energy system work combined with increasing endurance volume.

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My LT100 Race Prep Plan

With my first bit of early season racing done & dusted (Epic Rides Whiskey Off-Road & USAC Marathon Nationals), I’ve reached a transition point in my season. With such early early-season targets this year, I basically raced off of my Base Builder Program for my first little peak of my season. After three weeks of tapering, traveling, and racing in late April/early May, upon return home I took a week off of training to recuperate and prepare mentally for my next big block of training and racing that is on the way.

NEXT UP

My “A” race for 2018 is the Leadville 100. Along the way I will race a handful of other events, but the LT100 is priority #1. After my week off last week, I’m ready to dig into a big block of training to build my endurance and race preparation training. You can get the full run down of my Race Prep Programming in a previous post. The LT100 is an Ultra-Marathon distance event so the S:6 Stock Plan would be a 12-week buildout; however I will make some small adjustments around the stock plan to fit my other racing targets, life schedule, and personal preferences. This is perfect example of where our S:6 Custom Training Plans come in handy.

My personal program will look like this:

  • 8 Week Training Block

  • 1.5 Week Recovery/Family Vacation

  • 1.5 Week Final Endurance Build

  • 2 Week Taper

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2018 XCM National Champs Report

My “early season target” event was indeed early this last weekend in the woods of Arkansas. The 2018 USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike Race was my first race as a 40-year-old Masters athlete. Entering my 40th year of life, I’ve been enjoying putting more and more of my daily efforts into other areas of my life alongside my own training and racing. Running a business, coaching, family, and kids training & racing have been extremely rewarding. Being a competitive person, and one that enjoys the pursuit of health and fitness, I’m not ready to put my own racing down for good, but stepping back to high level age-group racing provides plenty of competition and motivation to keep my standards high.

The long distance course in Arkansas was certainly a challenging one.

One 4 mile “start loop”, followed by two 23 mile laps of tight, twisty, rocky single track required intense focus and nearly nonstop pedaling for the 3+ hours of planned racing. Total elevation gain was moderate, but with all of it coming as short punchy climbs or less obvious shallow twisting grinds, the course kept racing pretty darn challenging. In addition, starting several waves back on the start grid and having to work through traffic on course is something new to add to the challenge of Masters MTB racing.

Race morning was cool and clear. Pre-race routine was set and executed. The race plan was to sit second or third wheel for the first 27+ miles and feel out the competition and pace. Then from there, assessing when and where to try and make a move to get away. With the gun going off, things settled in for the opening three miles on the road before really getting lit up as we entered the single track.

The 40-year-old field may not be as deep the Pro field, but the pointy end is just as sharp!

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The S:6 Base Builder Program: Onto Race Prep…

We wrapped up our 2018 off-season Base Builder Program with Block 6 at the end of April.

Our “in-house” athletes that stuck it out for the full six month program experienced some solid gains in off-bike strength and on-bike power, both on the aerobic end and the anaerobic end. In fact, every single rider saw improvements to the tune of 12-36% at estimated FTP, with a “class average” of 23%. Boom!

You can read the full the run down of our annual off-season Base Builder program by clicking the series of links above. With Spring here and race season is in full effect, what do we do next? With your solid strength and aerobic base established, it’s time to get more race specific and dial your training in with in-season Race Prep training.

 

RACE PREP TRAINING

Through our Base Builder Program we build fitness up. We start at the low end of the energy system chain focused on low-intensity aerobic training combined with technique work on the bike, and the early (lighter) form-focused resistance training in the gym. From here we build our base through gradual progression of intensity through increasing intensity with each successively higher energy system, and gradual increase in resistance training loads.

  1. Aerobic Endurance/Technique, “all day” power (4+ hours)

  2. Aerobic Threshold (AeT), “2 hour” power

  3. Anaerobic Threshold, 32:00-64:00 power

  4. Vo2 Max, 8:00-16:00 power

  5. Anaerobic Power, 1:00-4:00 power

  6. Peak Power, 0:05-0:30 power

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Cody’s 2018 Base Build: Block 6 Recap

I made it (along w/ 40 other athletes I’m training in our 2018 S:6 Base Build Program)! 

The sixth and final block of my off-season Base Build has been completed. 24 weeks of progressive building of fitness over the off-season has brought my Base fitness to a solid platform for my 2018 season. Now it’s time to race! Of which, I’ve already done with the Epic Rides Whiskey Off-Road event last weekend (full recap here). 

You can get the full explanation of Block 6 (and others) in previous posts. The gist is that we bring the energy system chain to a peak, with our heaviest weight lifting attempts and peak-power “sprinting” intervals on the bike. The concept with our Base Build Program is to start on the low-end of the energy system spectrum with basic aerobic & skill development. From here, each block takes the athlete through progressively higher energy systems as fitness builds: Aerobic Threshold, Anaerobic Threshold, Vo2 Max, Anaerobic Power, and finally Peak Power. Along the way we build off-bike strength & power in the gym, and endurance with longer outdoor rides within the week. Read about it all here.

GYM SESSIONS

After the first strength peak in Block 3, in Block 4 we reduced the weight lifting volume (number reps) significantly to allow for more stability and plyometric work. A second low-volume strength build was included in the routine and I was pleased to continue to make strength gains despite the slight change of focus.  

I was able to increase both my max Squat & Deadlift by about 10% over January maxes. Reaching 200 lbs. (from 185) and 225 lbs. (from 205), respectively. These both matched my previous all-time PRs in the lifts from 2015. Pretty stoked. Also eager to maintain this strength through the race season, so I can continue to improve my strength in 2019. Overall, I’m feeling strong & healthy going into my racing season. 

STRUCTURED RIDES

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2018 Whiskey 50 Off-Road Report

Sunday I finally got a chance to race stop #1 of the Epic Rides Off Road Series: Whiskey 50, in Prescott, AZ. This is a race I’ve wanted to do for many years now, and this year was finally the year. I’ve heard great things about the Epic Rides Off Road Series of events and it did not disappoint. Awesome venue, great course, well run and well attended. This is the first MTB race I’ve been to in a long time that felt a little like MTB racing did back in the late-nineties (when I was getting started): the vendors, the teams, and the vibe were all really great. It felt like a big-time event… well I guess because it is a big time event!

I highly recommend this event in Prescott to anyone that love long, hard, climbing mountain biking that puts a demand on both fitness & skill.

This was my first big test of fitness for 2018. See where I’m at coming out of my off-season Base Builder training program and where I need to improve. I also picked this event as a “tune-up” race one week prior to my first A-Race of the year: Masters 40+ Marathon National Championships in Arkansas.

With a big (for MTB) prize purse being offered, the Professional field was not only huge, 90+ men/40+ women, it was stacked!

We’re talking nearly all of the best XC/Marathon racers in North America and a few from overseas as well. Olympians, World Champions, National Champions (past & present), and World Cup level racers. Plus many younger up-and-coming racers wanting a chance at hanging with the top dogs if only on the opening climb. This made the race exciting, gave it great vibe, and made you feel part of something for sure. I’d venture a guess saying that this may well be the most competitively attended event of the entire North American season.

With that said, my main goal was to race a good solid effort and not worry so much about actually “racing” (i.e.. placing). This will likely be my last real professional race of this caliber, so to enjoy the experience and give a good early season effort was the plan. I also had to hold back just a few percent for next weekends higher priority goal event. Holding back just 2-3% makes a big difference in recovery time following the race, and only a small handful of minutes lost within the race.

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