Everybody loves a good combo; from America’s favorite, “The Happy Meal”, to those great electronic combos that come with a free top-end laser disk player from the early 90’s.…awesome! Sadly, training combos don’t come with free laser disk players, what they do come with is a level of fitness that can make 2011 your best season ever! This will be the first of three articles on training combos.
This month, we’ll focus on the general idea of training combos and discuss how you can incorporate them into your training plan. Next month, I’ll move into more specific workouts, stay tuned! Warning, as shown in the documentary “Super Size Me”, although pleasing, combos can have downsides if used too often, enjoy with care!
So what exactly are training combos? Essentially, a training combo is a mixture of workouts combined to simulate what a rider would encounter during a bike race/event. The combos are most often split into three parts: a base, a tempo and a spike:
- The base of the workout is formed by setting an endurance pace throughout the training ride; this includes the time before, in between and after the tempo and spike.
- For the tempo, you’ll want to use an interval set that concentrates on an effort between 2-6 minutes in length at zone 4-5b.
- The spike will be the sharp and short interval set for the day; most of the spikes will be under 90 seconds in length at a vo2 Max effort or higher.
The exact breakdown of the interval sets will come down to your training goals and the period of the season you’re doing the combo in. For the most part, training combos are only used during build periods of your training schedule; the workouts are too demanding to be used when building a base or peaking for an event.
Traditionally, training combos are slowly introduced into your training plan in order to monitor your body’s response to them. Once you’ve tested the waters, you can start implementing training combos into your training on a weekly basis. I’ve found that Thursdays work well for this type of training under ideal conditions. With that said, Saturdays are also a good choice for anyone who can’t fit in the larger training days during the week. Remember that training combos should be used on a cautionary basis to avoid excessive fatigue and possible burn-out.
Next month we’ll go into the core of two workouts; the endurance combo and the race combo. In the meantime, do some experiments mixing your workouts together to see how your body responds to the increased workloads.
Roger Rilling is a former professional road and track cyclist with over 10 years of coaching experience. Stoller, founded by Roger in 2004, is a coaching and training club that focuses on giving athletes of all abilities the experience of being a pro. Training at Stoller is based off of personalized training plans, partnered with supported group training events. To find out more about Stoller, please visit www.mystoller.com or call 888.407.0754
Images are courtesy of Stoller. You can check out their flickr photo albums here.