Cycling is my weakest discipline... what to do? | 80/20 Endurance

Cycling is my weakest discipline… what to do?


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    If swimming were my weakest discipline I would probably get more lessons to work on form. Running is in good shape and I have been at that the longest, with 9 marathons on the books. Cycling is my weakest discipline – by that I mean, I regularly lose places in races between swim finish and bike finish, and then gain places between bike finish and run/race finish. Besides doing the training plan (Half Iron Level 2), strength training with weights (lots of dead lifts, lunges, step ups, etc), eating well and trying to ensure I get enough sleep to recover, are there any things I can do either in my current training plan (race in mid-Sept), or in my next off season or pre-season, to really push up into a higher cFTP? I have seen some improvements in my FTP (18% increase in the past 10 months) but want to see more than this 1.5% per month increase. Any guidance? I see talk on the internet about sweet spot workouts, and used to do a lot of that during several years of TrainerRoad training, but the only sweet spot workouts I’ve done in the past 10 months as I recall (other than an unstructured ride outside infrequently) are when I am in the race specific phase and training with long Zone 2/X intervals in preparation for my 70.3, and I don’t think I see my FTP increase much in that phase of my training.


    In my experience, you need to spend a lot of time in the saddle. My weakest discipline is swimming though.
    I have a running background, transitioned to cycling b/c of running injuries and ended up with triathlon. When I did cycling as my only sport I made a lot of improvement that still helps me today. I think that nothing can replace long ours on the bike but maybe David or Matt have better ideas?


    • This reply was modified 1 year ago by winoria.
    • This reply was modified 1 year ago by winoria.

    As a cyclist and what I’ve learned over the years from other cyclists is you need to spend more time in Zone 4 & 5 during the off season to boost your FTP. As a former Trainer Road user, I know they have certain training blocks aimed to boost your FTP. Based on the 80/20 workouts you would be looking at the Cycling Anaerobic Intervals (CAn) workouts. If you head outside, find a nice quite stretch of road to do 30-60 sec all out intervals with 1-2 min recoveries. You won’t boost your FTP by pedaling the same gear and cadence. I learned this from my one year of bicycle racing.

    I hope this helps and good luck on your 70.3.

    • This reply was modified 1 year ago by lmiles64.

    Any thoughts from Matt and/or David on this?

    One other thought that enters my mind, besides increased volume (adding another ride or more 80/20 minutes on the existing bike workouts), based on my reading in the book, I could more deliberately consistently push for the top of a zone in each workout interval. I tend to start out low watts in the warm up, tend to do everything in ERG and while the watts setting on my Garmin is set by me consciously (most of the time), I’m usually in the bottom half of the zone for hard intervals, and then on recoveries I drop down to the bare minimum. Technically these are all compliant and successful (marked “green” in TrainingPeaks, and adhering to 8020E guidelines) workouts, but the intensity could be much higher, and the workouts much harder if I set “the bar” (my expectations of where I want to hit in a zone) higher. That seems like the next natural step. I am completing these workouts and hitting the zones, but here is more room for a higher effort, more TSS while still adhering to the zones.

    Are any other folks here hitting their zones consistently but not satisfied with the gains in cycling fitness they are seeing?

    I am also trying to adhere better to the sequence and days of the training plan better, looking to understand the logic of their sequence before I move them around like poker chips on my calendar. Personal and work schedules are complicated for the age group triathlete so there is almost always some give and take, having to make some adjustments, but as I progress I’m trying to be smart about it – thinking about how I should prioritize cycling, while still getting enough runs in in a week to keep running fitness, preserving the undulation of hard and easy days, and getting enough sleep and quality calories.

    David Warden

    Ted, winoria and lmiles64 are right on, I can’t add anything better than their advise. At some point, Matt and I have to delegate responses to the other forums members, we’re growing too fast for Matt and I to touch every post, and you are served well by winoria and lmiles64’s feedback.



    I didn’t notice significant improvement until I started to spend a significant amount of time on the bike (sports don’t generalize – you really do need to the time doing the thing you want to get better at – IE, running won’t improve your cycling)- I’ve started pushing those higher end zones (instead of staying in the middle) to start to close the gap between the floor and the ceiling. In the off season, I did follow a watt improvement plan on TR which I do think helped. Sufferfest also has one. It’s really just a crap tone of time in the saddle putting miles with a purpose in.

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