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SuHere are a few images from this morning's intervals.
The goal for these was the following:
- First 2 minutes at 90% of Critical Power (Threshold).
- The third minute at 95% of CP.
- Fourth minute right at 100% of CP.
- The fifth minute, we would rise above CP, and ride at 105%.
- Finally, in the sixth minute, the riders were set to ride at 110% of Critical power,
This was repeated four times, with 3 minutes of recovery in between.
Finally - the last interval for the day was 90 seconds at any intensity the riders felt like attempting. It's usually a good way to end with a bang!
The results were pretty nice - here are some images from riders as they completed the intervals.
The goal for the intervals was exactly what's being displayed; start below Critical Power, learn to persevere, then increase the intensity slightly, until it's either at, or just above CP. Time above CP is always limited, but it's good to spend time up there, and really stretch out the lungs as Vo2 drift occurs.
And that's the point - to get into Vo2 max areas of intensity. The workout is deceptively difficult, and now that the 7:30am class is undertaking it, they're a bit more awake and alive, and they're nailing it!
Suffer in the room, so you can enjoy the rides you take outside!
More to come!
· My Xert Users are achieving fitness breakthroughs in their Xert modeling, and their Focus.
· I Myself am seeing this in my own riding. I’m trying to set new Max Wattage PR’s now and then, and I’m also trying to “Game the Hill” using the MPA and Wattage Xert app.
· I’m instructing my clients to do the same.
Here are a couple of examples…:
Jim is a recreational cyclist in his 60’s, who contracted with me because he was sick of getting dropped on rides with his peers. He also wanted to learn how to be a better climber for the times when he traveled to Colorado.
Climbs in Dallas are much different than climbs in Colorado, but the idea is still the same; improve fitness, then “Focus” on the area of training that will best fit your activity profile. Jim wanted to be a climber in the summer, and, honestly, a “Puncheur” when riding in Dallas. So I set him up with the Xert Apps, taught him how to keep the rider profile current through Garmin Connect and Garmin Express, and gave him some specific intervals during the week.
Things started happening in late September, and I THINK THEY ARE JUST REALLY, REALLY cool!
In Mid-September, while it was still hot and windy, but travel season was over, Jim had a Fitness Signature on Xert of:
· Peak Power: 650w.
· High Intensity Energy (HIE): 10.9kJ.
· Threshold Power: 209w.
Then, on September 21st, on a local solo effort, THIS happened…!
THAT, dear readers, is a FITNESS BREAKTHROUGH.
What’s a FITNESS BREAKTHROUGH? Well, it’s when your ACTUAL POWER OUTPUT is HIGHER than your Predicted MAXIMUM POWER AVAILABLE!
For FOURTEEN SECONDS, Jim was pedaling at a power output that was ABOVE his MPA. Was the model wrong? NO, NO, and NO. He just hadn’t put that level of effort out before, and he earned his “Medal” on the Garmin 1000 Screen!
So remember those previous Max, HIE and Threshold values that we had been using? Here’s what a breakthrough means for those…
· Peak Power: 649w (we still haven’t really worked on a true “Sprint”, but that will come.).
· High Intensity Energy (HIE): 12.4kJ (a gain of 12%).
· Threshold Power: 214w (a gain of 2%!).
And here’s what the chart looked like after the re-analysis.
Now, interestingly – take a look at Jim’s PREVIOUS hill. It’s the one in red that is on the left side of the image. Notice how the MPA line (Dark Blue) kind of follows the curve of the red line, which is wattage? I’ve seen this a bunch, and I love it; It’s basically a way for a rider to “Get More” out of an effort. In other words, you can always go a bit longer at a lower intensity, and not dig too deep. In this case, Jim knew that he really wanted to hit the SECOND hill stronger, and he followed a more “Steady” profile. The terrain dictated the watts and cadence, but yeah – this was a solid moment where Jim was able to “Chase” his MPA, and then break it.
But wait – it gets better…
So what had been a 214w Threshold and a 12.1kJ HIE, slipped, and when Jim put the spurs to this hill again… Well, the model needed some updating, and here it is…
· Peak Power: 651w.
· High Intensity Energy (HIE): 12.9kJ.
· Threshold Power: 219w.
Here’s the Updated version.
What you see is basically that the MPA slope is more gradual, which makes sense; when you train for higher intensity, it allows you to go harder, longer. Because Jim has real data, and paced himself according to the MPA app on the Garmin 1000, he had another Gold Medal, and got to update his training information from Xert.
But you may think that this is just one example…. Well, here’s another.
Jing was a great client of mine, who got a job and moved to Northern California, and he’s experiencing the same type of thing; Breakthroughs that translate to more successful cycling.
Here’s Jing’s Activity Chart; I’ve highlighted his first Fitness Signature, after an adjustment period when he was moving in, unboxing, etc.
His Fitness Signature in mid-September read:
· 673w Peak Power.
· 21.3kJ HIE.
· 251w Threshold.
What set this Signature up was this particular hill in Palo Alto, called “Emerald Hill”. Here’s the wattage and hr and MPA profile.
This was his first ride out on this type of terrain, and he was nervous, so you can see it in his wattage profile; it’s at or above Threshold, but he doesn’t last long above it, before backing off.
So, here he is a couple of days later, where he had another Fitness Breakthrough, though it wasn’t quite where you might think….
The image is of the hill that he climbed, and you can see that he marshalled his resources well, using the data in the Garmin 1000, and pushed it on the final part of the climb.
But here’s the catch; remember how I harped about Jim needing to get a “Real” Peak Power? Well, elsewhere in this file, Jing actually DID hit a new Peak Power, going from 653w to well over 800, and that altered the Fitness Signature Significantly.
With the new data in hand, it looked more like this:
· 811w Peak Power.
· 20.0kJ HIE.
· 249w Threshold.
And that tells me that maybe he could have eked out a slightly better hill effort. Well, here’s the next week….
So you can see… he’s learning how to “game” the hill, using his on-screen MPA and Wattage App!
Here’s the next week. Same hill.
I’m actually going to zoom in on two efforts, since he kissed his MPA on both of them, BUT HE DID NOT SURPASS THEM!
Here – Have a look:
He’s learning how to “game the hills”! In our discussions, he’s come to realize that hills like this are a game of patience and pacing. They’re not perfect, but I like how he’s playing it a bit conservatively at first, and doesn’t tap in to his HIE until the last 1/3rd of the hill, and he still doesn’t go too far. Now – could he go harder? Certainly! But that’s at the cost of possibly blowing up. We’ll continue to work on his Threshold, but I’m really happy with how Xert makes teaches you how to “Think” a strategy, be it a hill, an attack, or a pacing strategy for any recreational athlete.
Finally, I’m going to recount my own experience from this weekend.
Work and Coaching have really taken their toll on my time, and it’s been rare for me to get out and get any real consistency or volume, other than lifting weights 2-3 times a week, and maybe getting to ride in between other efforts. But that said, I AM a “fast-responder” to stimulus, and after getting in some decent rides on some weekends, I had a couple of experiences of my own, using the MPA App.
First – there’s a hill in Glen Rose, TX, that was once part of their rally course, which always spelled the “Make it or Break It” moment for me in this rally. It’s just 4 miles from the finish, but the cyclist who “gamed” the hill best, usually got to solo home.
I NEVER got it right.
But recently, I’ve been back out there, and with the MPA App and my metrics inserted, I tried to “game” the hill with a better pacing Strategy. Here’s the first effort on this hill in, oh, 6 years? 7? I really don’t remember completely.
Do you see where the red circle is? ROOKIE MISTAKE!!! I rode TOO HARD, TOO EARLY, and I FORGOT ABOUT THE SECOND HALF OF THE HILL!
I can’t show it right now because my internet is kludgy, but my heart rate went through the roof on the steeper part, and I basically blew up and denied myself a smoother transition going in to the second part of the hill, right after the “knuckle”! So MPA and Xert revealed that I COULD have ridden it better. I just screwed it up.
Here’s the second time I tried it – about a week later.
*** Believe it or not – this IS the same hill; my internet is not cooperating and I’m having trouble zooming in appropriately.
Notice the difference in the two wattage profiles? The first is more of a parabola, while the second is more elongated, and doesn’t really kick up until AFTER the knuckle in the hill. For this hill, I was watching my Garmin 1000, and I watched that Xert App as my wattage went Black (Threshold), then Yellow (<3min of MPA remaining), to Red (<30sec MPA remaining!), but I never was able to make it go Purple, because I WAS COMPLETELY KNACKERED by that point! Again – I can’t show it, but my HR broke 190, and I traveled a good bit further up the hill before I backed off.
(Edit – HERE it is… Finally)!
Finally – this past weekend, I had the chance to ride a good old-fashioned rally, and about 20 minutes in, I was dealing with some riders that I don’t particularly feel safe riding around; they always wear earbuds – in grupetto’s – and you can hear their music when you ride beside them, it’s so loud. AND they’re a couple, AND they don’t really have a sense of situational awareness. So, with just a few people left in the front, maybe 5, including me, these two, and two others, I saw a hill, and I saw an opportunity.
I had already depleted my MPA a bit here and there as we picked up our speed, rolling out of town, but at this moment, I increased my power output as the hill rose to meet me, then stayed steady at or around my threshold, and finally increased my wattage one more time as the hill picked up its’ pitch one more time. Looking through my right arm, I noticed that the shadows which had been behind me were getting gapped, and after another 20 seconds of Threshold, I was alone.
Now, I TRIED to go from “Yellow” on the MPA app, (<3min of MPA left) to “Red” (<30sec of MPA left), to “Purple”, but it just got to the point where it was crazy-hard, I felt like my eyes were going to pop out and my lungs were going to burst… and I backed off, which you can see in the image. I was able to keep pedaling as the gradient lessened, and while my MPA didn’t necessarily rebound, the Red/Blue gap opened up, giving me some room to recover.
The result? Well, I spent the rest of the ride alone, and had the motorcycle escort to myself the entire time.
Here are my overall results from the day:
It was a pretty good day: nice average speed, great kJ count, GREAT Strain value, in perfect temps, under sunny skies, rolling terrain, and the knowledge that THIS STUFF REALLY, REALLY, REALLY works.
Xert takes a complete re-think of intervals, efforts, hills, and timing. I think that was one of the things I was never good at when I was racing all the time: I had really bad timing, and didn’t figure out when to play the game and when to back off, and recover. Now? Well, I had some idea of it with W’, but the model, especially on Anaerobic efforts, just didn’t hold up. This Xert MPA stuff? In REAL TIME, with REAL VALUES yielding REAL RESULTS?
Well, it works!
Want to learn more about Xert, MPA, and how you can apply it for yourself and your cycling? Check us out at http://bit.ly/BikeCCD.
Kurt Chacon is mentioned in this blog from previous years, when he helped riders understand that cycling is not just about legs and lungs, but is instead a Holistic sport that requires the entire body. Sure, certain muscles are emphasized, but that's at the expense of other muscles and parts of the skeletal system that can help reduce fatigue, reduce wasted effort, and transmit power to the pedals as well.
When you look at Kurt, he doesn't look like a cyclist. He's larger, more muscular, and the impression is that he might be better served with a more short-distance sport, but here he is, a recreational cyclist, capable of a solid power output and endurance in the 3-5 hour range. That said, he loves his anaerobic intervals, and has studied the information that has come out of XertOnline.com.
The intervals we built for the class, based on this Xert protocol this month, are HARD. REALLLY HARD. They're in the 200 to 300% of FTP range, and they're anywhere from 15 seconds to 2 minutes. People that have been coming to the studio for years are now commenting that they're actually SORE from the workouts, and they're having better rides outside. So we plugged in Kurt's information from a ride to see what's actually happening per the MPA model.
If you look carefully, you'll see that Kurt's MPA dropped substantially as the intervals increased in intensity, and for the entire duration of the effort, MPA never returned to full capacity. However, let me zoom in on something that I am fascinated by - the 4th and 5th intervals of each set.
On interval 4 of the first set, and almost every set thereafter, MPA actually dipped BELOW the interval's Peak Power, but it did it JUST AFTER the interval ended.
You can see it even more clearly on the 5th Interval. Here is a close-up.
Here, you can see that while Kurt was able to complete the interval, his MPA and wattage actually touched, though there was no breakthrough, but he continued to suffer as his power backed off, and the MPA dropped further.
Now scroll back up and look at he first image. Intervals 4 and 5 for most of the sets revealed an MPA that dipped BELOW the intensity of the interval, but did not INTERCEPT the effort. In my opinion, this was probably one of the BEST workouts he, or any client, could have performed. He accomplished the task, finished each progressively harder interval, but saw a dip in his MPA, from which he basically never really recovered. So for this athlete, this was probably the most COMPLETE workout in recent history. The breakthrough will come, probably next week, when we attempt 1 minute intervals at 160% of Threshold.
Performing intervals that are STRAINFUL, yet REPEATABLE, allows for greater adaptation and confidence. Up until Xert, however, we only had the W' model to predict what the 'penalty' was for an effort, and even the developers of that protocol admitted that shorter, harder, more repetitive intervals didn't work with the model. MPA does, and I continue to be amazed at how uncannily accurate the Xert model is, for EVERY athlete.
We'll see how his testing goes next week and again in a traditional effort in September. Until then, grab a registration on Xert and see for yourself. It's pretty fascinating.
It's got my MPA and Power on the first 3rd of the screen, my Fat and Carb use in grams in the middle, and Xert's "Focus" and "Strain" on the bottom.
Obviously, I'll use MPA and rolling 3-sec power most, because it'll tell me, based on color schemes (Green, Blue, Black, Yellow, Red) what general 'Zone' I'm in, and basically how much Power I have left in the tank. I've described some of the details of this on a video I posted months ago, and it's also up on my YouTube page, so hopefully that explanation will help. Here are the links: https://youtu.be/7tbfbe_0D0Y and https://youtu.be/P1u3oLroef4.
Basically, if your power is Green, you can go forever. Blue is Tempo-ish, Black is Threshold-ish, Yellow is Vo2Max-ish, and means you've got less than 3 minutes of MPA left, and Red is Anaerobic, and it means you've got less than 30 seconds of MPA left. If it's Purple, congrats! You've had a fitness breakthrough!
Now, for the Fat and Carbs area on the screen, this is an interesting way to look at how we USE STORED AND INTERNAL ENERGY to GENERATE POWER, which in turn, helps us GET FIT. It also tells the cyclist just how freaking hard it is to actually BURN FAT. Remember, 1 gram of FAT yields 9 Calories, while 1 gram of Carbs yield 4 Calories. Our bodies prefer burning the Carbs, so this teaches you how to ride slower and in a zone that will burn more fat, thus preserving the carbs and teach the body how to better use that stored fat. Finally, I actually use it to help stave off bonks and also to try and stay on top of my hydration. If you know how many grams of food and sugar are in your pockets and bottles, you can come up with ways to mentally stay on top of your stamina through an eating and hydration schedule. The Carbs area turns red when you're mostly burning Carbs, or red when you're mostly burning Fat, and it's tied in to the information Xert puts in to your Garmin Express Code, so it's unique to every individual. Finally, if you're in to Polarized training, then THIS APP IS FOR YOU. I'll tie it in to the 3rd app next.
Now for the last 1/3 of the screen, I include "Focus" and "Strain". I don't want to get into debates about specificity, but readers, I have to tell you - this is a pretty darned cool app. If you've signed up for your free account with Xert, it'll ask you things like "What type of athlete are you?" And you look at a power-duration curve and basically think about where your strengths and weaknesses are, and make a selection. In this image, I selected "Breakaway Specialist", which in Xert's world means the focus will be on optimizing 5-minute power.
Now, when I go for a ride, as soon as the app gets enough data, it starts telling me where my "Focus" is, in terms of minutes and seconds. Ironically, it doesn't take much to get that "Focus" in to the lower numbers, from 1-4 minutes, and it's MUCH HARDER to get the Focus in to the numbers that are higher. Now, where the tie-in comes is this: Let's say, like me, you dabble (and I do mean dabble) in the Ultra-Marathon Cycling World, and you're looking to train for great power over 2-6 hours at a time. Well, here's your truth-teller, right here. You'll be pedaling and generating so little power that you'll be S L O W, and your "FAT" grams ID in the middle will be RED, RED, RED, while your 3-second wattage in the UPPER screen will be GREEN, GREEN, GREEN. It's boring, it's embarrassing, it's risky when it's hot, you hate yourself, you hate everyone else that's passing you and probably having more fun, and you hate your coach for forcing you to do these "Old School" rides. But that FOCUS will help. Furthermore, if you're really wanting to hit your FOCUS goal, you can literally ride as hard or soft as you like, knowing that this is really a good way to "Focus" on specificity. We all waste our time on rides; that's actually kind of the point of riding - it's dynamic. But this FOCUS can really help you hit your goals, or truly see how hard a group ride is, let's say, in your current condition, so you can then "Focus" your workouts using Xert's workout generator.
Finally, you've got "Strain", on the bottom. Like KiloJoules, Strain only goes UP. Now, it's NOT KiloJoules, but it's KiloJoule-esque, and if you put yourself through low-strain rides, it'll creep up, but if you put yourself through high-strain workouts, it'll jump up. Call it a new way to measure volume. Some of my indoor 60-minute workouts are in the 175 range (with a FOCUS down in the 2:30 range), and some of my longer, 3-5 hour rides with clients, at their speeds, are in the maybe 300-350 range.
SO - to sum things up on this screen....
- MPA is there to tell me what I can do RIGHT NOW, THIS INSTANT.
- Rolling 3-sec Power is there to give me an idea of zones as well as output.
- Fat Grams tells me what I've burned, and if it's red, it's my primary source of energy.
- Carb Grams tell me what I've burned, and if it's red, it's my primary source of energy.
- Focus is there to help me understand what I'm getting out of a ride,
- Strain is there to tell me how much volume I've accomplished or not.
Enjoy the ride!
The latest method of doing just this comes from Baron Biosystems of Canada. Their platform, called Xert, provides a unique way to take instant and empirical data from a cyclist, measure its’ effects on the body, and then determine some crucial elements that can determine the effectiveness of a workout, and the effective trend towards a goal. I’m really excited about this technology, and I think that it will be incredibly useful for riders and racers of all levels here at Cycling Center Dallas, and via the internet through Online Bike Coach.
Let’s start at the beginning.
First – a cyclist just creates an account on XertOnline.com. If the rider has an account with Strava.com or Trainingpeaks, older data can be imported and analyzed. If the cyclist has data on a Garmin with a .FIT or .TCX series of files, then the data is imported just like a thumb drive. The meat of the setup is found in the area titled “Athlete Type”. Here’s an image.
There are twelve different types of cyclist described, from a 10-second “Power Sprinter”, to a “Below Threshold Power” Triathlete. Just read through the descriptions, and select the area where you think your cycling strengths best apply. Some knowledge of ability is required; if you’re in doubt, defer to something in the middle, like “GC Specialist”, which focuses on your 8-minute average power-to-weight ratio.
(One thing to note is that, even though the categories reflect cyclists that participate in longer, multi-hour events, when you look these athlete types and at their particular strengths and weaknesses, they all boil down to an ability to perform at a given duration. Everyone is unique in their ability and this chart helps capture those differences.)
The website churns through your past data over a period of minutes, to help determine several parameters for fitness. It then presents you with a summary page, showing the following:
- Total # of activities
- Average Ride Time
- Total Ride Time
- Average Distance
- Total Distance.
The next line down is where things start to get interesting. The data provided for this continues to grow with more people getting on to Xert, so the data is being filtered by age and gender, and is perpetually updated. You get a “Fitness Comparison and Ranking”, showing your BEST and CURRENT value. In this case, my ‘365’ watts over 5 minutes is just 97% of my Best watts of 375 over 5 minutes, which I have hit in the last six weeks. The Median for this age group is 336 watts, and the 90% percentile is 422 watts. My 365 watts puts me at about the 66th percentile for the population.
*** Now – I DO need to make something clear, because it can be confusing. Xert’s ‘365’ is NOT the ACTUAL VALUE that I may or may not have achieved in the last 42 days. Instead, it’s the MAX POTENTIAL VALUE that I COULD have achieved on this day. I’ll make that more clear in a paragraph or two. Xert's unique algorithm determines this in the background and I have found it to be REALLY close every time we've tested it.
On the next section of the page, there’s a GREAT image, affectionately known as the “Spider Chart”. It basically looks at the 12 different power categories, and determines where you rank in relation to ALL of them. This can help you identify holes in your training, or strengths. In my Spider Chart, shown below, my most recent training has tilted me slightly toward the short-and-mid-intensity specialties, between 2 and 8 minutes, while my time schedule has prevented me from riding longer events or rides.
You can mouse over the orange dots, and it will re-state your current records, and where those records sit in relation to the rest of the population.
Finally, there’s a ‘Progression Chart’. Now, this is a bit complicated, but there is a method to it, and it does help you understand what’s going on with your fitness.
The first thing to focus on is the left-side “Y” axis. The left Axis is showing, in my specific case, that “MAX WATTAGE POTENTIAL” for my chosen Athlete Type - Breakaway Specialist - 5 minute power. The circles (Best Activities) correspond to activities where I reached my 5 minute max wattage potential on that day. Mousing over these circles shows what my maximum 5 minute wattage was on that day. In addition, if you mouse over the vertical bars, “Best Activities”, which is that small script on the lower left side of the graph, acting as a key, changes from day-to-day showing your maximum 5 minute wattage.
In this example, March 9th of 2016, Xert calculated that, based on everything I’d entered in prior to this day, I had the POTENTIAL to hit a ‘359’ watt average over 5 minutes. However… after a solid block of Specific, hard training, which again, I’ll explain in a short while, that value bumped up to 371 watts on April 2nd.
So that’s a roughly 3% boost in 3 weeks, which, honestly, is pretty realistic. So look at that first when you get down to the Progression chart.
Next, slide all the way over to the FAR RIGHT “Y” axis. There, you’ll see “Weighted Average Daily Accumulated Energy (KJ). This is NOT a part of the Progression Chart. Instead, it’s a way to see, through the vertical red/purple/green bars, just how much WORK you’re doing on a regular basis. Again, it’s NOT a fitness indicator so much as it is a “VOLUME” indicator. We can debate the pro and con of any scoring system, but this is just a convenient way to look at work, and how it’s being used on a daily basis, out to about six weeks. But it gets even MORE detailed.
Take a look at the Key along the bottom of the graph. You’ll notice that in the chart above, it says
for that specific day of April 3rd, 2016. This is a measure of how much training I had been doing. On that given day, which was actually a race out on the Scenic Loop of Ft. Davis, TX, my “Weighted Average” of WORK, measured in KILOJOULES, breaks down to:
- 811 kJ of Low Intensity Energy Use (Largely Aerobic energy use)…
- 56 kJ of High Intensity Energy Use (Largely Vo2 and Anaerobic energy consumption)…
- And ~12 kJ of PEAK energy Use (completely anaerobic and near-maximal effort).
You’ll be able to tease a couple of more things out of the graph at this stage of learning.
First, that ‘Wandering Trail’, can help you improve on your SPECIFICITY, and basically, stay away from rides that don’t suit your goals or purpose. The more intervals you perform at a specific intensity and duration that is based on your goal, the more that ‘Wandering Trail’ rises or falls toward your w/t goal.
Second, the vertical bars are designed so that you have a light-red to imply ONE workout in a 24 hour period, and you have a darker-red rectangle, to reveal TWO workouts performed in a single day.
Now – let’s finish up with the Progression Chart by looking at the circles and dots, and understand just what those mean.
The circles show you just how well you did on a given day. A purple circle generally means you worked hard by didn’t accomplish anything special that. Sometimes when you’re tired, purple circles may provide indication that you weren’t able to produce your best results that day. Gold, silver and bronze circles indicate that you had shown an improvement.
A SMALL purple circle, like the one found on March 20th, symbolizes a ‘but that ‘Best’ wasn’t hard enough to merit a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Medal. The LOCATION of the dots is in relation to their wattage.
So, just to review:
- Purple dots are ‘Highs’, but not ‘Record Highs’.
- Medals mean you hit a new breakthrough in fitness.
- The size of the medal means how definite the achievement was.
Let’s look at one more thing before we leave the Progression Chart…
Take a look at that ‘Wandering Trail’ or, the ‘Focus’ Line. You’ll notice that it rises and falls. While I think there might be a better way to show this metric to the viewer, it really IS an interesting category. What it’s saying is that, based on ALL of the work you’ve done over your recent training, the ‘FOCUS’ centered on one particular category in the Spider Chart or ‘Athlete Type’ mentioned above. As I did my workouts and tried to focus exclusively on intervals that would improve my 5-minute Power, the FOCUS line rose. When I performed rides that had longer durations, and gaps between intervals, like on weekends, my FOCUS line actually dropped. If you look at the past 3 days of workouts, you’ll see that my FOCUS line once again rose, as I resumed training after a two-week hiatus.
I think there is some REAL potential here, because if you follow Xert’s premise, it’s not just the rethinking of power and time-in-zones and recovery that is required, it’s the actual CONTENT and INTENSITY of the INTERVALS that makes for such incredible potential. And THAT is where we’re going to go next…
PART II – APPLYING THE NEW IDEAS INTO ACTION VIA INTERVALS
I’m going to skip over Xert’s Power-Duration Curve stuff, and will return to it later, but the reason I want to discuss the Intervals Builder first, is that it is, in my opinion, the absolute strongest feature in Xert’s arsenal. Furthermore, once you have your Fitness Signature, there are APPS, available on Garmin’s Connect IQ and via Android (iphone coming soon), that will allow you to further exploit Xert’s Power-Duration Model and Maximum Power Available information. Again, I’ll get to that later, but for now, let’s discuss Xert’s Interval Builder and why it’s so important to your fitness goals.
Once you’ve got your fitness profile, and established your goals (3 minute, 5 minute, 8 minute, stuff like that), it’s time to figure out how you’re going to get there. To do that, head over to the left-hand bar of options, and click on ‘WORKOUTS’.
You’ll get two options in the sub-menu; “Standard Workouts” and “My Workouts”. Let’s start with some “Standard Workouts”, and then we’ll tinker with some custom workouts to sharpen the blade a bit.
Now, remember – my goal is to have a stronger FIVE MINUTE POWER. That puts me in the “Breakaway Specialist” category. So, I’ll go the THIRD COLUMN, which is “WORKOUT FOCUS”, and click through until I find some appropriate intervals. If you click on the Title, it will sort by “Focus”, and “Breakaway Specialist will be on Page 1.
Now, let’s click on the second workout – Seiler – and see what it looks like…
This interval set shows that, UNIQUE TO ME, if I were to perform FOUR SEPARATE, FOUR-MINUTE INTERVALS, at 372 watts (OUCH!!!!!) each, with just TWO MINUTES of recovery, that the amount of STRAIN (see middle of the image) would be adequate to optimize my 5-minute output, over time.
HOWEVER – take a look at the PURPLE LINE. That PURPLE LINE is an indicator of “MAXIMUM POWER AVAILABLE”, and you can see that it intercepts the RED LINE of the SECOND INTERVAL, the THIRD INTERVAL, and the FOURTH INTERVAL. Now – if you believe Xert’s programming, THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE! Let’s ZOOM in so I can explain why.
Xert’s Foundation goes like this: When you ride a bike, you use “Low-Intensity Energy” (your aerobic system), “High-Intensity Energy (Your Vo2 and Anaerobic Systems), and “Peak” Energy systems, which is your Phospho-Creatine System and Sprint power. The “Maximum Power Available” curve declines as you cross over your Threshold Power, and it rebounds when you recover beneath it.
For the first interval, that purple line of “MPA”, and the red line of “Watts”, don’t cross paths. The interval ends with an “MPA” of less than 600 watts, while the interval’s overall 4 minute effort was at “372”. But, for the SECOND interval, the decline of “MPA” intercepts the red line with about 23 seconds to go. In the image above, there is theoretically NO WAY that I can hold 372 watts at that moment, with an MPA that is at 343 watts and declining. This happens again, a bit earlier in Interval #3, and again in interval #4. So I have to alter this workout if I know that I’m going to be able to even complete it.
If I go down to the bottom of the screen, I can see that there are three options in this interval. I’m going to extend the recoveries out to 2:30, and see what that does for me.
When I click on “Calculate”, I get this…
So – I pushed my ‘Point of Failure’ out for the three intervals I’m concerned about, but not quite. Also – look at the ‘FOCUS’. I’m still in ‘Breakaway Specialist’. Let’s see if I can buy myself some more recovery, and be at least theoretically successful in these four minute intervals.
BOOM! At 3 minutes of recovery, I am going to be JUST ABLE to COMPLETE the intervals, if I can hold 372 watts!
Now – as an Indoor Studio Professional, here’s an ADDED Bonus. Go to that upper right hand corner of the chart, and you’ll see either “TCX” or “ERG” buttons. If you click on them, they’ll export the workout in to a “watts over time” protocol, for your Indoor Ergometer!!!
Here’s what this protocol looks like in PerfPro Studio, the system that I use with Online Bike Coach and Cycling Center Dallas.
Now – we don’t have ‘Maximum Power Available’ just yet on PerfPro, but we’re lobbying for some type of licensing deal that is satisfactory to all parties. But this literally re-writes the book on interval training with power.
A couple of quick notes:
- Traditional Zones are thrown out the window. We know what aerobic rides feel like, we know what “Threshold” feels like. Xert has apps that define zones based on CURRENT MPA, FATIGUE OVER TIME, and ENERGY USE. Thus – THEY SHIFT, based on fitness, and real-time work spent at different intensities.
- The intervals can sometimes be MUCH, MUCH HIGHER INTENSITY than we’re used to, and are LONGER than you may feel comfortable with. Sometimes they are the opposite SINCE THEY DON’T HAVE YOU ATTEMPTING SOMETHING YOU CAN’T DO. And THEY WORK. They REALLY, REALLY work. Many times, the workouts bring you RIGHT TO YOUR EXACT LIMIT meaning, you won’t complete the very last part of the interval. THAT IS FINE. YOU ARE STILL GETTING THE RECOMMENDED TRAINING DOSE.
I think I’ll stop here – and will focus on the Apps in another blog post, but you should go through the workouts, look at them, and then, click on the “New Workout” option, and experiment with building your own. You’ll see how changing the three deltas of intervals – Frequency, Intensity, and Time (FIT) can alter your specialty, and can determine your Maximum Power Available, to determine whether the workout is doable or not. YOU CAN BREAK THE MODEL!!! And that’s a GOOD THING. But the more information you put in to Xert, the more it’s going to learn about your fitness and capabilities, and the more it will ‘Tune’ the workouts. One Day’s “Breakaway Specialist” workout, may be tomorrow’s “Rouleur” workout, as Threshold or Anaerobic Capacity Wax and Wane.
I’ll be back with a full Blog about Xert’s Apps on a Garmin, but for now, read through, download the FREE BETA, and insert your data. I’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have.
Enjoy the ride!