#20: Training for Racing Weight
Updated: Aug 6, 2020
Welcome to the Coach’s Blog, powered by Dillman Coaching. One of the core values of my coaching platform is Education. I strive to not only be the most educated coach around, but to educate the athletes I coach as well. And this blog is one of the main ways I accomplish that goal.
Over the past few months we have worked our way through Matt Fitzgerald’s Racing Weight 6 step plan for endurance athletes. And we have finally made it to the sixth and final step: Training right. Here are all 6 of the steps:
Improve Diet Quality
Manage your Appetite
Balance your Energy Sources
Monitor your Weight & Performance
Time your Nutrition
A blog about training practices could end up covering a vast array of topics, but we’ll keep this blog focused on a couple of the “big kahunas” including high volume, the 80/20 rule and strength training.
Throughout this series we’ve looked at 5 ways we can improve our nutrition game as endurance athletes, but what do we do when it comes to training? How do we adjust our training when we’re trying to reach our optimal racing weight? Simple answer: we don’t.
If you’ve paid attention in steps 1-5 you would have found a prominent theme throughout the entire series. It’s all about performance, that’s the name of the game. (I pump up my tires and oil my chain.)
As endurance athletes we should focus first on our performance and then on our weight. Performance is our top priority. If we lose weight, but our performance tanks then what’s the point? The entire reason we want to improve our nutrition in the first place is because we want to improve our performance on the bike.
“The most effective training for improved endurance performance is also the most effective training for lean body composition.” -Matt Fitzgerald
Have you ever heard of the 10,000 hour rule? Basically, it's the idea that once you’ve spent at least 10,000 hours doing a certain activity you’ll be an expert or professional at that activity. There is some truth to the concept behind this rule. What it means is once you’ve spent an insanely long amount of time doing something you’ll be really good at it. This is true for cycling and Fitzgerald says it has to do with efficiency.
If you remember back to Blog #16: Mission & Vision, then you’ll recall that efficiency is getting the job done in the quickest, easiest way possible. So with cycling we want our efficiency to be high because then we aren’t wasting energy. High efficiency means high performance. And the primary way we improve efficiency is just spending a lot of time in the saddle. Most cycling coaches, myself included refer to this period of training as the Base period. It’s the longest phase of training in a training cycle.
“Train as much as you can without breaking down, burning out, or losing your job or spouse. The sheer amount of time you train has a stronger effect on your performance than any other factor.” -Matt Fitzgerald
The 80/20 Rule
When trying to narrow down “training right” into a few big ideas I kept going back and forth between low intensity training and high intensity training as one of the main bullet points I wanted to emphasize. But when push comes to shove, you need both. However, you need them in varying amounts. This is where the 80/20 rule comes into play.
You should spend roughly 80% of your total training time below you lactate threshold and roughly 20% of your total training time above your lactate threshold.
I didn’t want to give too much attention to either low intensity or high intensity training alone. If you want to race your bike fast, you need both. Spend all your training at low-intensity then you’ll have an amazing base, but won’t have the high-end, explosive power that we often refer to as “snap.” Spend too much time training at high-intensity and you’ll just end up burning yourself out, because our bodies can’t handle that much high-intensity training. Once you go over your lactate threshold the stress of training becomes exponentially higher.
Nobody argues for a training program with absolutely no high-intensity training, it’s just an ongoing debate on the proper balance or ratio between high and low intensity. The 80/20 rule has been the ratio that has shown the most success over years of training and competing at all levels of fitness. How you organize your high and low intensity is why you should hire a coach that has a good understanding of periodization and will help organize your training in the best way that matches your goals.
But, how does all this fit in with improving nutrition?
“A high-volume, low-intensity training approach is also a more effective way to shed excess body fat than a high-intensity, low-volume approach.” -Matt Fitzgerald
Another “big kahuna” for the most effective training may come as a surprise to some folks, but has the evidence to support itself. Strength training is another important aspect to be included in an effective training program.
“Strength training is proven to increase performance, reduce injury risk, and improve body composition in endurance athletes.” -Matt Fitzgerald
If you want details on strength training check out Coach’s Blog #8 and #9 on Strength Training. One of the main ideas behind strength training is that by lifting heavy loads and increasing your high-end power output you’re not just training the same thing you always do when you ride, but rather your complimenting your endurance training.
If you were to join Dillman Coaching you’d get access to a strength training app called VOLT athletics that walks you through your strength workouts and even periodizes your strength training based on your competitive seasons. It’s been a big hit with all the athletes so far, myself included.
Performance, it’s the name of the game. Do what is best for your cycling performance and trust that your body will find it’s “racing weight.” This includes improving diet quality, managing appetite, balancing energy sources, monitor your weight and performance, timing nutrition and training right.
To train right a few of the “big kahunas” you should always implement are high volume, the 80/20 rule and strength training. For help on how to balance all these things I would recommend finding a personal cycling coach that will work with you to put together a training program that fits your goals and abilities. If you think that is something you’d be interested in, then shoot me a message and we can talk about what a training program with Dillman Coaching would look like for you.