In my previous post on using the energy systems in your indoor cycling class, I discussed the aerobic energy system and provided a drill that would challenge your participants’ aerobic power. Now continuing down the list of energy systems most used in spin, the focus shifts to the first of the two anaerobic, or short duration, energy systems. This post will focus on the anaerobic lactic (also called glycolytic) system.
Here’s a quick refresher on the energy system and how we should focus our drills to use it effectively.
The anaerobic energy systems are the systems in which oxygen is not required to make energy. They are what fuels our initial movements when we start exercising and they are what work extensively at high intensities. The anaerobic lactic energy system, specifically, is able to generate small amounts of ATP but is also relatively faster at making energy compared to the aerobic energy system. This also holds true for the anaerobic alactic system, the quickest system, which will be the focus of the third and final post on this topic. As stated in my previous post, it takes the aerobic system time to generate energy and so the body uses anaerobic glycolysis to make energy within the first couple minutes of exercise. Put more simply, instead of using oxygen within the cells to generate energy, it is able to produce ATP via a cascade of chemical reactions. The problem with this energy system is the by-product it produces, namely lactic acid, which breaks down into excess hydrogen ions and increases the acidity of the working muscle cells. Why is that a problem? Well, increased acidity causes stimulation of the nerve endings causing pain, decreased muscle contraction and fatigue. Performance suffers! Kind of like hitting a brick wall!
When these by-products are accumulating in the body, the tipping point for a lack of a better word is called anaerobic threshold (also closely related and referred to in the literature as lactate threshold and/or ventilator threshold). Without going through the gory details, it is sufficient to say that by training close this anaerobic threshold, we can improve our performance.
So how do we apply our knowledge of the anaerobic lactic energy system and anaerobic threshold to our drills? Well, let’s look at the appropriate work to rest ratio, the time it takes our bodies to recovery from anaerobic work. For anaerobic lactic work, we must design sessions with the ratio 1:2 to allow the muscles to recovery and remove (as much as they can) the nasty by-products. Typically, this energy system kicks in at around 15 seconds out to about 120 seconds.
Power drills work very well with the anaerobic lactic energy system. By incorporating multiple groups in the drill, you can build in the appropriate recovery for each participant. Let’s take a look on how to set this up.
Hockey you say? But it is June! The biggest night in Canadian sports happened on June 11 where the LA Kings won the Stanley Cup! This is the first time in their team’s franchise history. It was a blow out after the first period power play that lasted five minutes after a New Jersey Devil’s major misconduct. During the Kings’ power play, they scored three goals and set the tone of the game, taking them to victory. We sure love our game, so I'm dedicating this post to all hockey fans!
What would you do for a hockey inspired workout? Do you train hockey players on the bike? The bike is one of the best places to cross-train for our rink loving, hard hitting, puck shooting athletes.
If you are not familiar with the game, here are the basics. With the exception of the goalie, each player plays the game in short bursts or "shifts" of players who are on "lines" consisting of defensemen and forward. At any time on the ice, there are two wingers, a centremen and two defensemen. Although some players are in more offensive and defensive roles, the key to victory is playing as a unit, both in the offensive zone (trying to score a goal) and in the defensive zone (trying to avoid a goal scored on their goalie)...meaning each player needs to constantly keep skating to stay with the play. Each shift typically last for about 45 seconds followed by recovery on the bench for a slightly longer period of time (i.e., 90 seconds). For this drill, to keep things moving I’m replicating a team with three forward lines; thus the recovery is two times the work.
For a basic hockey inspired drills, try the following two drills:
1. A regular offensive shift: 45 second interval with 90 second recovery
2. An extended defensive shift defending a power play: 60 second interval with 2 minute recovery
For more advanced drills, try the following:
1. A extended defensive shift capitalizing on a power play: 60 second interval including two 15 second “surges” with 2 minute recovery
2. A extended offensive shift capitalizing on a power play: 60 second interval including one 30 second “surge” with 2 minute recovery
Have participants maintain their cadence between 80-100 rpm and up the resistance to mimic a RPE of 8-9/10 for the 45 or 60 seconds of work. For the recovery, reduce resistance and ride at a comfortable pace (RPE = 5/10). Surges are increased cadence and resistance for more challenge, which can be thought of as power and acceleration on the ice.
Repeat each drill up to 4-6 times
With hockey season wrapped up for the year, you may find athletes ready for off season training in your classes. But why not also let your regular participants explore the feeling of a hockey shift by working them hard during an indoor cycling session. With the NHL draft just wrapping up, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about training for next year.
And as a side note, I was quite happy with the outcome on June 11! Way to go Jarret Stoll!
Well, maybe not literally, but it might be something to consider. Why not set your bikes up in a circle? This may be just what participants need to spice up their ride.
When the class is in a circle, it changes some fundamental class dynamics:
1. participants who usually sit in the back row are no longer able to hide!
2. participants can interact with others who they may not have in the past
3. allows for a chance to see other participants face to face
4. provides an opportunity to see mirrored riding technique and the opportunity to match cycling biomechanics
I have to be honest, some participants are not a huge fan of the circle set-up. Especially those that like to hide in the back!
Here are some circle drill ideas that you can try. I encourage you to use your imagination and design your own!
1. Chain Reaction Wave
Starting in a seated position (moderate resistance, 80-90 rpm), initiate a standing position. Remember to add resistance when standing! As you stand, the participant on your left stands, followed by the next and the next, until the whole circle is standing. After a moment or two, as the participants become comfortable, start the 'chain reaction' again by sitting. Alternate between standing and sitting while remembering to cue the proper level of resistance and cadence. Encourage others in the circle to initiate the 'wave'. Participants need to stay aware and use their peripheral vision to watch for changes.
2. Cross Circle Partner Challenges
Have participants chose a partner across from them in the circle. For two minutes, pairs are challenging their partners with hills, sprints, power, seated, standing, steady state drills. Encourage 'jockeying' for lead but allow for each partner a chance to dictate the ride. This drill encourages participants to keep facing forward, watching their partner's next move. Cycle participants usually push themselves much harder than you as the instructor would push them! Over time, increase the duration of the challenge to upwards of 5 minutes. It is also advisable to switch partners, allowing other participants to push each other in a different way. Some participants are stronger at hill climbs while others like sprinting. Changing partners forces each participant out of their comfort zones!
This past weekend, my husband and I competed in the team event of the 26th Annual Subway Coronation Triathlon. Guess who rode the bike course!?! The course was riding up and down a notorious road in Edmonton – Groat Road. It has a continuous hill climb that deviously plateaus, for what you think is the end, to be followed by a short climb to the top of 111 Avenue. It was with great pleasure that I got to ride the hill four times!
I reincarnated the climb for my cycle participants in class. I wanted them to have a chance to experience the Groat Road climb. Here is how it unfolds...
To start, have cycle participants start with a tension that mimics a hill (cadence will slow down).
The hill has five distinct climbs, which vary in duration. Prompt cycle participants to add a ‘gear’ (read: add resistance) with each hill climb.
Picture credit: static.flickr.com
Hill 1: 30 seconds
Hill 2: 60 seconds
Hill 3: 60 seconds
Hill 4: 90 seconds
Hill 5: 15 seconds
After the cycle participants reach the top of the hill, set the stage for the downhill portion. Groat Road has six turns, which are ~ 30 seconds each. With each turn, instruct cycle participants to drop a ‘gear’ and increase their cadence to the bottom.
I would encourage you to explore the various, hilly terrains of your community and make them into drills for your cycle participants. Take a ride for yourself and see how the hill would be best described. Draw the hill on a poster or white board as this will help participants visualize the course and allow you to place landmarks of interest (i.e., road signs, bridges, shoulder/run off lanes, etc.). On Groat Road, my two major landmarks were a traffic sign indicating a change in speed limit and the 107 avenue bridge which you ride under.
Setting up a drill that can be applied to an outdoor location can help cycle participants’ transition from indoor to outdoor riding and give them an opportunity to imagine riding local terrain.
Aren’t the Olympics inspiring! The drive and determination of the athletes is untouchable! And what about TWO Olympic Gold Medals in hockey!
I am very fortunate to have trained the University of Alberta’s Pandas Hockey team on the bike. Talk about dedicated athletes! They hoot and holler and push themselves to the limit just like our Olympic athletes. Here is a hockey inspired drill that I use when they are on the bikes.
Start by splitting the group into three groups.
3. Goalies and Centres
Group 1 participants/players work hard (i.e., 100% effort) for 30 seconds pounding the pedals just like a shift in hockey. The other two groups recover for 60 seconds just like sitting on the bench waiting for their next shift. Group 2 follows with their 30 seconds followed by Group 3. The work to rest ratio is 1:2. Resistance and cadence should match Power drills. And rest between each stage of the drill should be between 2-5 minutes.
Stage One (6 minutes):
Each group completes Seated Power for 30 seconds X4
Stage Two (6 minutes):
Each group completes Standing Power for 30 seconds X4
Stage Three (9 minutes):
Each group completes Seated Power for 45 seconds X4
Stage Four (9 minutes):
Each group completes Standing Power for 45 seconds X4
For each player, this would equal 16 shifts on the ice, which is close to the number of shifts a player would play in a typical game. Depending on participants’/players’ fitness level, adding or removing a stage may be necessary.
If you want to train like a world class hockey player, try this drill out!
The song title is fitting for the time of year we are moving into - WINTER. This cycle drill is more suited to mid to advanced cycle participants. Using the song "Wizards in Winter" a combination of sprints and power (increased resistance and cadence) can be timed to coincide with the instruments used.
Set resistance at moderate or slightly higher to get your best sprint work/small recovery tension. Power (either seated or standing) requires participants to up the resistance and maintain increased cadence.
Get ready for a 3 minute ride of your life!
Intro (12 s)
Sprint (5-6 s); 100+ rpm
Quick break (2- 8s) ; 80-90 rpm
Repeat three more times to the intense synthesizer playing
Break (8 s)
Power (20 s) to the slow guitar playing
Break (6-8 s)
Sprint (5-6 s); 100+ rpm
Quick break (2- 8s) ; 80-90 rpm
Repeat one more time to the intense guitar/playing
Power (25 s) to the slow guitar playing
Break (6-8 s)
Sprint (5-6 s); 100+ rpm
Quick break (2- 8s) ; 80-90 rpm
Repeat one more time to the intense violin playing
Sprint (15 s)
Power Finish (18-20 s)
Wizards in Winter
Workman's Cycle Drills & Skills
Enjoy some of my favorite cycle workout drills either in a cycle class or on your own bike at home!