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coaching

 7 Tips to Becoming a Better Climber

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7 Tips to Becoming a Better Climber

By Coach Alison Powers

Climbing. People think it’s this magical thing that only lucky or skinny people can do.  This is a misnomer. Anyone can climb. Anyone who likes to ride a bike, can ride up a hill.

            Yes, riding up a hill is harder than riding on the flats due to fighting gravity. Fighting gravity requires more effort, more leg strength, more fitness, and more stamina- both mental and physical. However, there are a few things you can do and techniques you can learn to make climbing feel easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable. 

1) Climb- as silly as it sounds, it’s true- the more you climb, the better you get at it. You’ll learn to relax when climbing, your legs will get stronger, and your fitness will improve.

2) Learn to climb out of the saddle- being able to climb both seated and standing gives you a chance to change positions, use different muscles, and it breaks up the climb. Often times, people stay seated for the duration of the climb. They think that if they stand it will make them more tired. This is true if you accelerate when you stand. Any time you accelerate, you will make yourself more tired. The secret to standing and pedaling is shifting into 1 (or 2) harder gear(s) before standing. This way, once standing, you maintain constant speed and are able to use your body weight to push down the pedals.

3) Change positions- This idea not only applies to climbing in and out of the saddle, but also to hand positions. Our road bikes have three different hand locations (hoods, tops, drops), use them. You don’t have to stay still when climbing.

4) Change cadence- just like standing when climbing, being able to push both a big gear and spin a small gear helps climbs go by more quickly. The idea is to change up what you are doing to recruit different muscles and/or energy systems throughout the duration of the climb.

5) Pacing- the longer the climb, the more aware of your pacing you will need to be. The goal when tackling a climb should be to start a little conservatively, so you can continue to climb strongly and finish strong. Avoid starting too hard, and then slowing down and becoming more and more tired as the climb goes on.

6) Be Ok with being uncomfortable- climbing is harder than riding on the flats due to fighting gravity. Fighting gravity requires more effort, more leg strength, more fitness, and more stamina- both mental and physical. This means it’s going to be hard, and it’s going to be uncomfortable and that’s ok. It’s OK for your legs to hurt a little bit and it’s OK to be breathing hard.

7) Practice- Here is a workout you can do on your next training ride that will help you learn to climb at different speeds, standing, sitting, and accelerating.

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The Art of Being Prepared

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The Art of Being Prepared

By ALP Coach Alison Powers

The art of being prepared comes down to one simple thing—no surprises on race day.

Preparing for race day is more than training and recovery.  Success on race day requires precise preparation. These means the things you can control should be dialed in, ready, and give you confidence to have the best performance possible.

“Fail to prepare and prepare to fail”—famous quote by someone who inspires people to get their shit together.

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Preparation begins the weeks leading into the race.  Do your homework and learn things such as- what is the length of the course, what are the fitness and skills demands of the course/race, when do I need to register for the race, who will be my competition, winning times from previous years, average weather temperature for that time of year, etc. Once you know this basic information, talk it over with your coach, and come up with a plan for success.

Preparation continues the week of the race.  During this time, make sure your equipment is dialed in. Bike is clean and in good working condition- same with tires, cleats, suspension, etc.  Missing the winning breakaway because you couldn’t get it in the big chain ring is not a good excuse for a bad race.

The day before the race is where little things you do to prepare can make big differences.  These include, pre riding the course, checking who’s pre-registered so you know your competition, eating and hydrating well, preparing your race bag (clothing, shoes, helmet, extra clothing, recovery drink, etc) and day of and race food and resting and sleeping.

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SnowyMountain Photo

Preparation continues the day of the race. Most successful racers have a well-tested pre-race routine and they stick to it. Dialing in your own pre-race routine will ensure that you arrive at the start line feeling calm and ready. This pre-race routine includes things like; having a schedule for when to eat breakfast, when to pack the car, drive to the race, pick up race numbers, and pre-ride the course. This will help ensure you don’t forget items at home and you’re ready for everything.  This routine also includes food, drink, bathroom, etc. The goal is to know exactly what to eat, when to eat it, when to pee, and when and how much to drink.

The goal of all this preparation is to give you the best possible chance to have a successful race.  During the race, you must put this preparation into place. Have a pre-race plan and stick to it as best as possible (or have a plan B and/or C incase plan A didn’t work). Make sure to eat and drink according to plan, and trust that all the hard work you have put in will pay off.  

Finally, your preparation continues post-race. After cooling down, make sure to have a change of clothes, post-race nutrition (food and/or recovery drink), and give some thought as to what went well and what you can improve upon so come next race, you are better prepared for success.

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4th Annual ALP tour of Colorado

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4th Annual ALP tour of Colorado

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 We'd like to invite you to our 4th annual ALP tour of Colorado. A 3- day tour, in and out of Avon, through some of the biggest mountains and best scenery Colorado has to offer. July 28-30 2019. (lodging starts on the 27th). 


The 3-day tour starts and finishes in the small town of Avon near Beaver Creek. 

Day 1 - Avon to Aspen over Tennessee Pass and Independence Pass. 7,000ft of climbing over 95 miles.

Day 2 - Aspen to Carbondale - up to Ashcroft, up to Maroon Bells, then down the bike path to Carbondale 4,800ft of climbing over 80miles.


Day 3 -  Carbondale to Avon- 66miles, 3,000ft of climbing. 

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WHAT'S INCLUDED

3 nights of lodging (double occupancy)                           

-Breakfast each morning                     

-An opportunity to ride with and learn from ALP Cycles Coaches Alison Powers, Patricia Schwager, and Brie Walle.                                                                

-Wine, cheese, snacks, happy hour in Aspen and Carbondale.                                                   

-On bike nutrition and hydration (NBS/Breakthrough Nutrition and ride food/snacks/boom in your belly sandwiches)        

-SAG/Follow Van                                                                                                                  

-ALP Schwag

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PRICE

Price for the 3 day/3 night Tour (double occupancy) - $775
Bring a friend incentive: Bring your spouse, a family member, and/or a friend and save $50- $25 each to $750

Early bird price (commit by February 28th) -$725
We are limiting this year's tour to 17 riders.

If you have any questions and/or would like to join us, shoot an email: alison@alpcyclescoaching.com

#alptoc

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Keeping bike fit off the bike. What to do when riding isn't an option.

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Keeping bike fit off the bike. What to do when riding isn't an option.

By ALP Coach Alison Powers

        Good fitness requires consistency. Good bike riding fitness requires consistent bike riding. However, for some of us, it can be tough to find time to fit in 3-4 bike rides a week. And for others, due to travel, work, family, and other constraints, being able to ride once a week is a good week. So, the question becomes, ‘how do I stay fit, when I can’t be on my bike?”.

            If consistent bike riding cannot be achieved, then the goal becomes consistent exercise. Being able to exercise 3-4 days a week goes a long way in gaining and maintaining physical fitness. 

Options for off the bike training include-

 -Strength training and plyometrics. Squats, lunges, box jumps, plank, push-ups, pull-ups, jump rope, and hip bridging are all great examples of strength exercises that can be done anywhere and with little to no weights needed. Aim for full body, multi-joint exercises, 2-3 times per week.

 -Aerobic cross training. The goal of cross training is to maintain or increase your cardiovascular fitness (the ability of the heart, blood cells and lungs to supply oxygen-rich blood to the working muscle tissues and the ability of the muscles to use oxygen to produce energy for movement) which is what cycling requires. So, the better your cardiovascular fitness is, the better your bike riding fitness can be.

     Examples of Aerobic cross training are- running, hiking, Nordic skiing, stair master, brisk walking, etc. The goal is to get the heart rate elevated and have it stay there for a certain amount of time. If you are short on time, aim to do more intense exercise- i.e. Hard and high intensity intervals.

 - Make the most of your bike riding time. The time that you spend on the bike is valuable- especially if you can ride only 1-2 times a week. This means every pedal stroke matters, every minute matters, and time should not be wasted. Quality rides limit the amount of coasting and/or soft pedaling. Also, when you are on your bike, ride hard and come home tired. When you are on your bike, you are getting the best training for bike riding fitness, so don’t waste it.

    When I have athletes that travel and will be off their bike for several days, I plan their training to accommodate that. This usually means that prior to the travel, they have a hard training block of as many days as that athlete can handle and/or have time for. Then, when they travel, they get a rest and recovery block. The goal is to recover from the hard training prior to travel and then rest and recover and be ready to train and ride hard once they return back home. Their ‘travel training’ is usually a hotel gym strength and plyometric workout followed by foam rolling and stretching.

              If you can’t spend consistent time on your bike, aim for consistent exercise. Make sure to have quality training/exercise and balance it with 1-2 days off a week—more if you had a big bike riding block. Make the most of the time that you have on your bike. The goal is always quality over quantity of bike riding.

 

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Gain Fitness and Burn off Holiday Cookies with this Holiday Workout

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Gain Fitness and Burn off Holiday Cookies with this Holiday Workout

Here in Colorado, our winter weather is sometimes not conducive for a big 'burn lots of calories' ride before eating a holiday dinner. For those that like to ski and/or play in the snow, winter weather is great for them. For those of us who prefer to ride our bikes over the holidays, snow and cold is not so great. The good news is you can have your pie and eat it too, thanks to a high quality trainer workout. Done properly, this workout is 75min with an Intensity Factor of .83. The interval part of the workout is 40min with an IF of .91-- as hard as your local crit race. You'll work on your aerobic engine with tempo bursts, anaerobic power with 8 VO2 intervals, and your leg speed with cadence drills.

All in all, the perfect workout for a Holiday morning.

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Tempo Bursts and VO2 intervals- Trainer workout

Warm-up

10 min zone 2- 90+ rpm 3min tempo 2 min rest 2x1min fast pedals (100+rpm) to get the legs going- 1min RBI- rest between intervals 2min rest -Main Set- 1x15 min TEMPO (zone 3) with 10sec bursts every 2 min- a burst is a mini seated high cadence sprint

5min rest

8x1min high VO2- 1min off

Finish with 5min tempo at 85-95 rpm

Cool down 10-15min

Foam roll, stretch, shower, eat.

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Happy Holidays from ALP Cycles Coaching!

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USA Cycling Coaches Summit- Lessons Learned

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USA Cycling Coaches Summit- Lessons Learned

By ALP Coach Alison Powers

Last weekend, ALP Coach Jen Sharp and I went to Colorado Springs for the bi-annual Coaches Summit. Going to this summit is not only required to meet our coaching continuing education criteria but it’s a great chance to listen, learn, re-affirm our knowledge, and ask questions, from experts and professionals in not only the coaching world but the also the cycling and athletic science worlds.

Friday started with a keynote speaker who got us thinking about some of the best coaches and leaders that we, personally, have ever had. We wrote down the top 3 attributes that our favorite/best coach had (listens, challenges me, teaches me) and the 3 attributes that our least favorite coach had (not listening, setting goals that were not mine, close minded). Doing this drill really taught me that to be a good coach one must have good emotional and social skills. A coach can create the best training plan in the world, but if they can’t be emotionally there for the athlete, then the coach/athlete relationship will fall apart.

We started thinking about our athletes and the ones who are internally or externally motivated. Does the athlete do workouts/train/race because they want to, or because they think they should? Knowing how our athletes are motivated can help us be better coaches.

The rest of the weekend was filled with presentations about—

  • Strength training for cyclists— it’s important (duh). What exercises to focus on and how to make strength training truly functional for our athletes (we’re pretty close!). Posture on the bike really matters.

  • Training for Time Trial riders- long MTI’s (muscle tension intervals) are great.

  • Training for sprinters- long MTI’s are not great. Bring on the leg speed.

  • The benefits of High Intensity Training- how often (no more than 10% of training time) one should aim to do hard intervals and what does a hard interval actually mean (good and hard!).

  • Mental Training- such an important aspect of bike racing and one that is often forgotten and/or neglected by both the coach and the athlete. Belly breathing, body scan, mindfulness, visualization, and perceptual awareness are all “mental” tools that athlete should be practicing.

  • 3 common mistakes people/coaches think- 1. everything can been seen with the naked eye. Wrong. Taking and analyzing video is a great tool to use. 2. longer cranks are better. Wrong. Shorter cranks are better. Wrong. Crank length varies person to person and their personal hip mobility. 3. One should work on pedaling circles. Wrong. Hearing this made me the most happy. I have always thought “pulling” up on the pedals and engaging then hamstrings was bad. Yes, it’s required for a short full gas effort (standing start and sprinting) but trying to pull up during a 4hr road ride will lead to fatigue, cramping, and shutting off the power muscles of our quads and glutes.

  • Altitude- You can expect a 3% decrease in performance for each 1000ft over 5000ft. This means if you are riding around Denver at 200 watts, you’ll be riding around Leadville (10,000ft) at 170 watts for the same amount of effort.

  • Menopause- increase protein intake and stay on top of strength training and plyos to keep muscle mass.

  • On bike skills and drills- obstacle courses are fun and great for skill building. New Drills for bumping and being comfortable riding very close to others. Mountain bike cornering and a new way to think about where your hips go (toward the outside of the turn).

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It was a good 3 days of learning. There were 2 presenters at a time. This means Jen learned a few things I didn’t and visa versa. The good thing is, we went on a bike ride (during lunch) together and shared our new knowledge (team).

Here’s to better, smarter, and more fulfilling coaching and athlete success.

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What does Team Mean?

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What does Team Mean?

As ALP Cycles Racing prepares to enter it’s 3rd year in existence, ALP Coach Alison Powers explains what team means to her and the value of being part of a team.

I grew up ski racing which is very much not a team sport. It’s the racer against the clock, and nothing else matters. Your teammates can’t help you carve a perfect turn, and your coaches can’t give you the ability to ride a flat ski. No matter the country or whom you train with, it was athlete against athlete. There were even times, at the highest level of the sport, when it felt like the coaches were not on my side. With medals to earn and world rankings to achieve, if you had a bad day, the coaches were not always there for you. It could be a very lonely journey to achieving top performance.

What I learned from this individual sport of ski racing was to be tough, and to take care of myself and my needs, and to not show weakness. With limited spots available at World Cup races, the coaches were going to take the athletes who showed promise. Either the athlete could achieve good results and success or they were showing progress in the hopes of achieving success in the future.

My own god given talent was not great, but what I was good at was working hard, giving 100% every day, and showing the coaches that I wanted to be the best. No weaknesses.

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Fast forward 5 years to one first of my cycling teams. Having achieved descent success at an individual sport- ski racing-, I had no idea what “team” meant. I took care of myself, I trained by myself, I raced by myself, I ate what I needed to, and I went to sleep when I needed to. I lead by example and I showed no weaknesses.

This self sufficiently lasted until my results came to a stand still. I was no longer getting better, faster, or stronger. Riders who, in my mind, were on better teams, who had better equipment and who being provided better opportunities, were beating me. After years of pushing back weakness, I had no idea I was the one holding myself back. Relying on myself was causing me to not grow as an athlete or as a teammate- and thus, as a person.

In 2013, a man named Mike called me and offered me a spot on his new women’s cycling team. Instead of blowing sunshine and rainbows my way- as most team owners did-, he told me I was a head case and come big events, I couldn’t perform. I asked why, if I’m a head case, would he want me on his team? He thought he could fix me. Fix my self confidence and help me perform. I could be his little project. I told him to F-off, and hung up the phone. Then I cried on every bike ride after for a week. Did I really have a mental weakness? After 15 years of toughening myself up, was I a head case?

It took a while, but once I let my own personal toughness guard down, I realized I was a head case. The weeks leading up to big events, I would start to fall apart and come race day, I couldn’t put the pieces back together.

I called Mike back and asked; if I’m a head case, which I now think I am, how can you fix me? He said with teamwork. He thought he could help me achieve results that had eluded me over the years. But I would have to work with him and the team. We would have to be a team who communicates and is honest with each other. I had to trust him, the other staff, and my teammates and in return they would trust me and provide me with the things I needed. I would have to allow the team to help me. 

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This idea of admitting weakness and asking for help when I didn’t know the answers was totally foreign to me. But it was awesome. A giant weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I was free to learn, ask questions, and continue my growth as an athlete and ultimately as a teammate and team player. My teammates were no longer my competition, they were there to help me, to support me, and in turn, I supported them. We raced together, we trained together, we ate together, we had success and failures together, and through it all, we got better, we got faster, and we won a lot of races. We were a team. A family in sport. Personally, I was no longer doing everything possible that was best for me. Instead, with an open mind and willingness to try new things, I started to do things that were best for the overall success of the team. That year, I had some of the best results I had ever had and the most fun. Thanks to the team, I was able to grow and have success as big events. I may have still been a head case, but I was able to be honest about it and ask for help with no judgment.

I wish I knew what I know now. Perhaps, while ski racing, it wasn’t that the coaches were not on my side, it was that I pushed them away in my desire to be self sufficient and strong. Perhaps I held myself and my own results back, by not trusting the people who’s job it was to help me and to teach me how to grow as an athlete.

Learning how to be a true member of a team has helped me in both my personal and professional life. I do not know everything nor am I as tough or as strong as I’d like to think I am, but I have friends, family, and coworkers who have my back. And I have theirs. Together, we are tough, strong, and knowledgeable. 

We are a team

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A Mid Season Review

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A Mid Season Review

It's hard to believe, but it's almost July and that means we are more than half way through the spring/summer race season.

Every summer we watch riders and racers just going through the motions. Without giving much thought to their training and racing, they enter race after race, get the same result, and do the same training each week. Come July, they are burned out, don't want to ride their bikes, and personal goals have not been achieved. All of the time, money, and training have been a waste (super unfortunate).

To avoid this pattern, take a step back and evaluate the first half of your race season. How has your racing been? Have you accomplished your goals? What do you need to do to become better, faster, stronger?

Every year we ask our ALP athletes to fill out a Mid Season Review. Once filled out they send it back to their coach and schedule a phone call. After a phone call to discuss the review, the coach and the athlete make a plan of attack to ensure the second half of the season is strong, enjoyable, motivating, and goal achieving. 

Goal setting, evaluating, planning, and executing is a continuous process. To ensure you get the most out of yourself, and your training, do a mid season review. Check in on your feelings and energy levels (both mentally and physically), look over your training and race data, set new attainable goals, and make a plan to have a great finish to the year. 

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Keeping bike fit off the bike. What to do when riding isn't an option.

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Keeping bike fit off the bike. What to do when riding isn't an option.

By ALP Coach Alison Powers

        Good fitness requires consistency. Good bike riding fitness requires consistent bike riding. However, for some of us, it can be tough to find time to fit in 3-4 bike rides a week. And for others, due to travel, work, family, and other constraints, being able to ride once a week is a good week. So, the question becomes, ‘how do I stay fit, when I can’t be on my bike?”.

            If consistent bike riding cannot be achieved, then the goal becomes consistent exercise. Being able to exercise 3-4 days a week goes a long way in gaining and maintaining physical fitness. 

Options for off the bike training include-

 -Strength training and plyometrics. Squats, lunges, box jumps, plank, push-ups, pull-ups, jump rope, and hip bridging are all great examples of strength exercises that can be done anywhere and with little to no weights needed. Aim for full body, multi-joint exercises, 2-3 times per week.

 -Cardio cross training. The goal of cross training is to maintain or increase your cardiovascular fitness (the ability of the heart, blood cells and lungs to supply oxygen-rich blood to the working muscle tissues and the ability of the muscles to use oxygen to produce energy for movement) which is what cycling requires. So, the better your cardiovascular fitness is, the better your bike riding fitness can be.

     Examples of Cardio cross training are- running, hiking, Nordic skiing, stair master, brisk walking, etc. The goal is to get the heart rate elevated and have it stay there for a certain amount of time. If you are short on time, aim to do more intense exercise- i.e. Hard and high intensity intervals.

 - Make the most of your bike riding time. The time that you spend on the bike is valuable- especially if you can ride only 1-2 times a week. This means every pedal stroke matters, every minute matters, and time should not be wasted. Quality rides limit the amount of coasting and/or soft pedaling. Also, when you are on your bike, ride hard and come home tired. When you are on your bike, you are getting the best training for bike riding fitness, so don’t waste it.

    When I have athletes that travel and will be off their bike for several days, I plan their training to accommodate that. This usually means that prior to the travel, they have a hard training block of as many days as that athlete can handle and/or have time for. Then, when they travel, they get a rest and recovery block. The goal is to recover from the hard training prior to travel and then rest and recover and be ready to train and ride hard once they return back home. Their ‘travel training’ is usually a hotel gym strength and plyometric workout followed by foam rolling and stretching.

              If you can’t spend consistent time on your bike, aim for consistent exercise. Make sure to have quality training/exercise and balance it with 1-2 days off a week—more if you had a big bike riding block. Make the most of the time that you have on your bike. The goal is always quality over quantity of bike riding.

 

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Black Friday- a T.R.U.M.P Workout

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Black Friday- a T.R.U.M.P Workout

Looking to burn off some of your holiday eating and get fit at the same time? This workout is for you. A throwback to a blog post we did last year- The TRUMP workout. 

No matter how you voted, how happy or unhappy you are about it, Donald Trump is our new President. 

Here at ALP Cycles Coaching, we decided to use this opportunity to create a new workout. Just like President Elect Trump, this workout will take you by surprise, kick some ass, then leave you feeling mentally and physically drained. 

We present to you our T.R.U.M.P workout. 

T- Tempo

R- Race Winning Interval

U- Under/Overs

M- Muscle Tenson Interval

P- Push-ups

Warm-up for 20-30min and include 4x1min 100+rpm intervals to wake up your legs. 

Main Set-

8 minutes at Tempo (zone 3) 95+rpm 

2 minutes rest

3:40 minute RWI at VO2 (zone 5)- Start with a 10 second sprint and keep drilling it for 20 more seconds. Then, settle in at VO2 (zone 5) for 3 minutes. Finish with an out of the saddle 10 second sprint like you are sprinting for the finish line of your 'A' race. 

3 minutes rest

6 minutes of Under/Overs. For 6 minutes, alternate 1 min at Tempo, 1 minute at VO2.

2 minutes of rest

5 minutes of MTI at Sweet Spot (Zones 3/4)- aim for 60-70rpm. Keep your upper body calm, relaxed, and core tight.

1 minute rest and then get off your bike and 

30 seconds of Push-Ups. 

Get back on your bike, rest and recover. Still feeling peppy? Then do a second set. 

Cool down for 15-20min, foam roll, stretch, and drink recovery drink (we like Breakthrough Nutrition's NBS recovery drink). 

Happy training!

 

 

 

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