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5 Cycling Training Myths Tackled With Professor Louis Passfield

5 Cycling Training Myths Tackled With Professor Louis Passfield

– I’ve been wondering, Si. – Wondering what, mate? – I’ve been wondering
whether I got the most out of myself with my training as a pro. Like, was there stuff that
I could have worked more on or stuff that I could have worked less on? I mean, could I have got more
out of myself, full stop. Did I work too hard, or
did I not work enough? – I think, Dan, it’s probably
a bit late for that now. If I’m completely honest. – It’s never too late to
get your training right. I give you five myth busting questions. He’s a genius. – Matt, do I really
have to wear this beard? – Oh, you can swap it for the lab coat. – Deal. – Right, what an opportunity. – If you don’t mind, Si, I’m
gonna take the first question. – Alright mate. – Because this is something that I’ve always wanted
to know the answer to. Is it true that we, as
endurance road cyclists, wouldn’t get any benefit from
strength training in the gym? – Good one. It looks like you’ve been
working out a little bit. – No. We used to think for a long time that strength training
wouldn’t be of benefit because you don’t need to be
very strong to be a cyclist. So for example, the hour record, to produce the forces required
to sustain that you just need to be strong enough to lift
yourself out of a chair. Most bike riders can do that. So that’s why we didn’t think
strength training was useful for a long time. But now we’re seeing that
it’s got other benefits and in particular what we’re finding is that you can recruit more muscles which is always helpful
when you’re riding a bike. And perhaps it comes in handy towards the end of a long bike ride too. So we’re seeing a wide
range of riders now, both road riders and
especially track riders, and not just the sprinters
but also the two-pursuiters and that kind of thing, doing leg squats, leg presses, that kind of thing. The key thing is that they tend to do reasonably light weights
and fast movements, not big, heavy weightlifting. So it’s not about how much you can do but it’s about moving quickly in the gym. – Okay Louis, my turn next. Is it true that cyclists
have to use training zones to get the best out of themselves? Is that really the best way to train? – Okay, you’re really
testing me this time. It’s not a straight forward answer. You can use training
zones and they really help but equally they’re not essential to effective training either. So where they really come in
useful is in communication. If we talk about a zone two,
zone three training session we all tend to understand
what’s implied by that and that really helps. But there’s nothing special about the underlying physiology there. What we’re trying to do is get fitter and it’s not the training zones themselves that guarantee that,
it’s the work that you do and training zones help
us to describe that much more effectively
than using, for example, complicated underlying physiology. So, for example, my research
at the University of Kent is about trying to optimise training. And the way that I hope
we’ll be able to achieve that in the future is we’ll
change our GPS devices, our power metres so that
rather than record our training they actually tell us what to do next. So we’ll be out training with a device maybe sunglasses that have
a headset display on them that show us what our next
target session should look like and we won’t be using zones then, we’ll simply be riding to the target that the computer is calculating for us. – Oh, I’m loving this.
Really interesting stuff. Ah, okay. I’ve got another one. This time, I would like to know, do you need to do as many
hours to maintain fitness as you did when you we’re
trying to gain fitness and on top of that, how
quickly do you lose fitness when you completely stop training? – Nice double-barrel
question there, Dan. Sneaky. He’s not going to notice that at all. – Hmm, you’re being rather
sneaky there aren’t you because that’s two questions
but I’ll treat it as one. So the short answer is that
is much harder to gain fitness than it is to keep it. And the research on that
is reasonably clear cut. The second part is about losing fitness so I’ll tackle these separately. To gain fitness you really
have to work quite hard and you have to build your
training over a period of time. Increase the load progressively. To keep hold of fitness requires
an awful lot less training. And that’s why the high
intensity interval training has become really popular. So for people that aren’t very fit, or are just looking to keep
hold of what they’ve got, really short, hard workouts
can be a very effective way of holding on to what you already have. So even just a few minutes a
day done at a high quality, high intensity, help you really
hold on to what you have. But if you’re really well trained you’re probably not gonna
gain much fitness that way. So in that way we can see,
yeah, it’s much harder to build than it is to get it in the first place. In terms of detraining once you stop, I think we’re always worried
that we’re gonna lose fitness a lot faster than we actually do. We know we’ve worked really
hard over a long period of time to build that fitness and then we’re worried that if we stop it’s just gonna disappear in a flash. Of course, it doesn’t
quite make sense, does it? Because if it’s hard to gain, it’s gonna be hard to lose, too. Classic detraining studies
work over a couple of months and that’s the kind of time course where you see substantial
changes in fitness. And then typically that
fitness that’s lost over a couple of months
might be 10, 20, 30 percent. That will come back over
a similar period of time, if not a bit quicker because you’re restoring
fitness back to where it was. So, a week off, two weeks off, really shouldn’t be something
to worry about too much unless you’re going in
to a major competition and you’re worried about
losing that really fine edge, you’re probably not gonna lose a huge amount of fitness at all. – Okay, I’ve got a
burning question, right. Have I been peddling correctly? Like, should I have worked
on my technique more? Should I have pulled up
as I was pushing down? Should I have been ankling? Should I have been peddling in circles? – Si, can you just get on
with the actual question? It’s gonna be dark in a minute. – Okay, alright, sorry mate. Professor Passefield, should
I practise peddling technique? – No. You’ll get quite
a lot of practise anyway and certainly I think it’s a
good idea to keep a low gear and learn to spin the peddles
so you’re quite comfortable peddling at 90 to 100 revs per minute. But actually deliberately
trying to pull up on the peddles the research is quite
clear on this actually. The best cyclists don’t have more efficient peddling strokes. In fact, they’re the opposite,
they tend to push down more and they don’t really pull up a lot. The easiest way to think about it is, if you’re pulling up and you’re
doing work on the peddles that’s it’s not a
particularly effective way of putting work into the bike because you’re fighting against gravity. Much better to work with gravity and push down on the peddles and as I said, with the
best cyclists what we see is they generate more forces
in that downward stroke. They don’t pull up as well. So just keep practising using low gears, that will give you all the
technique work you need. Okay lads, you’ve got one more question because my car pet parking expires soon. – That’s a bit weird.
– Oh, um. – Well let’s have a, just
get one more question. – Uh. – Oh, I’ve got it, I’ve got it. Power. – Ooh, what about it? – Well, is it really
the be all and end all? Should everybody be
training with a power metre to get the best out of themselves? – Good one. – Ah, that’s better. Yes. But we’re a long way from
being able to tell people how to do that at the moment. So, for example, the
University of Calgary, we’ve just done a study where
we’ve monitored the training of riders over a period of time and we’ve regularly
brought them into the lab to test their fitness as well. So what we’re trying to do is to link the training they’ve done
to the changes in fitness in order to work out what’s
the most effective training. But we don’t have the
answers yet and actually, if I’m honest, I don’t
think we’ll ever fully have the answers because the
picture is so complicated. So, although power would be a great tool, and I think in the future what we’ll see is people increasingly using computers to analyse their training data and inform the training they do, it will never give us everything. Training’s far too complicated for that, you’ve got differences in
peoples genetic potential, differences in your
nutrition, your health, sleep, all sorts of factors we
can’t possibly control. So you’d never be able
to build an algorithm, for example, that would tell you exactly what power to
ride at on a given day. But I think it can help. So, for sure, if you can train to power and you can start the process
of learning about your body and what training works
for you personally, then by all means do that. But if you’re without that measurement then I really don’t think
it’s a big issue either because we don’t have the full answers and we probably never will. – Well, thank you very much, Louis. That has been thoroughly enlightening for all of us, I think. – Absolutely, hopefully you have found these training myths being
busted as useful as we have. It is funny, isn’t it,
when you think about the kind of history in cycling
and all these, sort of, training methods that
we’ve been told as fact for years and years
and years, and actually when you shed the scientific light on them that maybe they don’t
hold up to be the truths that we thought they were. – And things are continually
developing, aren’t they, from a training perspective. A little bit like the bikes
that we’re using, really. Wasn’t that long ago where we thought that riding 19 millimetre tyres at a 130 psi was the fastest because it felt fast. You were bouncing all over the place. But actually it was more
like being in a go-kart. Low to the ground, 40 miles
an hour feels like 80. – That’s it. So, it’s gonna be interesting, isn’t it, as we find out more and more, I’m sure, about certain training techniques and certain training sessions
actually aren’t as effective as we thought they were, even
if they really, really hurt. – Yeah, and I’m gonna be fascinated to see how things develop from
a training point of view whether or not they are like
the development of bikes in that we, as non-professional
cyclists, have now realised that actually using a pro
road bike might not be the most comfortable
for us, or the fastest. And I wonder whether training might go in the same direction. So, if we’re not full-time riders anymore perhaps we could be doing
different training to get more out of ourselves than
what we see the pros doing. – Yeah, well, on a personal note, I now ride maybe five
to nine hours per week because of commitments,
work and family and stuff and I’m still in reasonable shape. Not quite the same but,
you know, it’s a quarter of what I used to do, which
is kind of nuts, isn’t it? – You’ve got a tough job,
Si, it has to be said. Right, well, we hope you’ve enjoyed this as much as we have today. Let us know your thoughts on
what Professor Louis Passfield has said in the comments
section just down below. – That’s right. If you want any more
myths tackled and busted then we will put them to the genius and hopefully he can tell
us again at some point. And actually we have done a previous video with Louis Passfield and you
can find that just down here.

100 comments on “5 Cycling Training Myths Tackled With Professor Louis Passfield

  1. "All that you can't leave behind" is a really underrated album by Simon, The Edge, Larry Mullins, and Adam Clayton.

  2. Another great video, awesome that you guys are tackling these questions. Thanks prof for coming in every now and again, very enlightening!

  3. One of the best guidance videos I’ve seen that’s helped me so much to understand my training thank-you so much

  4. well i've been badly injured and now making my way back onto the bike but been inactive for 4 years (nearly ended up in a wheelchair)
    some back to fitness training would be good if possible

  5. So even Prof confesses that measuring power is the best way to improve your cycling ability by looking at real numbers. The problem is their price. For a cyclist who is not capable of dishing out the money for a power meter, are there similar systems that one could follow using other metrics in the same manner you would normally use power measurements. Heart rate, cadence, etc. Cheap power meters cost more than some cyclists bicycles

  6. Wow, GCN, you guys are on fire at the moment! Another great vid. And Louis Passfield was brill, as always! Thanks to you all.

  7. I feel that the strength training question could have been answered differently. I’m surprised stability and muscle imbalance was not mentioned in regard to weights. Every person is asymmetric and the bike is symmetrical. We all need to strive to be as least asymmetric as we can make ourselves to ride effectively and without injury. A great way to achieve this is through weight training single side exercises to improve side to side imbalances. The passive result is an increase in stability and core strengthening. I feel this is much more important than what the video said – just move low weights quickly.

  8. Any ideas on "everesting" training? Not much info on this. Hill reps and long rides (for butt conditioning) are all I can think of.

  9. It explains how for a start up MAMIL training fairly intensively that it's a seemingly unbridgeable gap to veteran cyclists training since young.

  10. That was fantastic, gentlemen, thank you for this presentation on training techniques and myths. And did anyone else get the Mountain Dew ad with Dewey Ryder? Dewey is the 'new you,' he tells Dale Junior. Funny stuff.

  11. I was doing my master thesis about how the seat height is effecting the effiency during cycling (over 30 full rotations of the crank)
    It was visible that the efficiency was around 4-7 for a "normal" person. so there was 4-7 times more positive force on the pedal (tangential force) than negative force caused by leaving the foot on the pedal without pullign up (or at least relieving the pedal). However one tested person had a significant higher value –> ~30. He wasn't pulling up but at least avoiding weight on the pedal. This caused a high efficiency and advancing. By the way: he was a mountainbiker for a very long time and trained his pedal stroke to get up a climb. due to his good pedal stroke he was able to keep up with other people who had slightly higher FTP-values.
    And a suprisingly fact: a height difference of 3cm wasn't influencing the efficiency… BUT if people were sitting to high it was causing the hip to move and decreasing the efficiency a lot.
    –> so in my opinion there is a positive effect of training the pedal stroke 🙂

  12. Can you do a video explaining the various types of indoor training (FTP, VO2, Pedal Smoothness, Sweet Spot, Aerobic/Anaerobic)?

  13. Great video, as a Kent Alumni I'm very proud to see Professor Passfield representing.

    I have a question to do with the detraining, how does that rate of fitness degradation change when you're suffering from illness? How should I bring that fitness back up as I recover?

  14. I agree with the losing fitness answer. I always felt when I take a few weeks off due to injury or just life in general, I don't lose my fitness or endurance, I lose the sharpness I had and muscular reaction time. It just takes those few extra seconds.

  15. Excellent! I am recovering from massive left side injuries by riding on the trainer, and this type of video is the best: encouraging.
    My question to you guys: I always thought that hours on an indoor trainer was counter-productive for a non-pro rider, and besides the cost involved, such time on Zwift would seem to me to require recovery time comparable to outdoor riding. Am I missing something, or are long sessions on Zwift more likely to tear down than to build up?

  16. just a question about hill climbing… my rear wheel keeps popping up and i loose the will to push. what can i do to help

  17. Excellent video that! Strangely it reminded me of the Gamesmaster series when the kids asked Patrick Moore for computer game tips…

  18. Great video some fascinating stuff. One thing that seems to have remained constant for last 50 years from my own experience is spinning. What goes around comes around so to speak.

  19. Shouldn't Si be cycling in a Lab Coat wearing those specs…..Not so much fashion Faux par but fashion Fubar….lol

  20. at some point the computer will be so good at analising everything that we dont have to have actual races on actual roads

  21. out of the topic but can i use road bike groupset like the 105 on my mtb, cuz my mom bought the groupset first before the frame as my brithday gift so can i use it on my mtb,i just want to try how road bike groupsets work with mtb frame

  22. hello GCN my question is what is the different from RETUL, GURU, SPECIALIZED, TREK bike fits and which is more accurate?

  23. Does anyone know what brand/model Simons glasses actually are? Unlike most here I really like them and would love a pair myself…

  24. Perhaps Prof Passfield could have mentioned that core/upper body strength training might be beneficial to keep a decent posture on the bike after many hours, and to balance everything out? He only addressed the legs.

  25. Copy the format of the show Mythbusters in the USA. Take 2-3 myths and test them. It doesn’t always have to be scientific, although those are good…what you guys think (or your personal opinion) is interesting too. Just come up with any random idea and test it. For example, it would be informative and very entertaining if you all rode the same course, once in a track suit and aero helmet and then again and in really loose (read ridiculous) clothes. Or eat candy and drink beer for two days vs vegan. Or no sleep versus sleep. Or inflate your tires at different psi’s or even different tires with different rolling resistances. Or heavy vs light wheels. Would be interesting to see the results at the same “GCN test track” (ala Top Gear) and keep a running time board of what was the apparent best and worst things that affected you, all else the same. Or pick a Stig. Anything we’ve always wondered but didn’t have time, money, and/or too much self respect to do,


  27. I love that last question but I would love to see you guys do two follow up videos: 1) training with power vs. heart rate and 2) is it a better value to spend your money on a power meter or technical equipment (i.e. aero/lightweight wheels or aero/lightweight frame)?

  28. We need more of the Prof! About time we discuss some real science regarding training rather than idiots that think they know it all…thx guys!

  29. I have had 'flu for 3 weeks and lost several pounds of weight. I'm back on my bike and my stamina has suffered noticeably. I'm gradually upping my mileage and eating well. Is there any way of regaining my past form quickly, or will it be a long slog?

  30. Do I need to put in some minimum number of miles or hours of training each week in order to improve? What’s that magic number?

  31. I keep thinking that the power meters are a waste of money, if you don´t know the reacctions of you body to the efforts you put it through, then you are trainning blindfolded, knowing your body´s reactions is a must, and buld up accordingly from that on your trainning.

  32. I never trust the experts. When I was racing they told us (women) that if we were still ovulating, we weren't training hard enough. Some of my competitors ended up with osteoporosis. Like I say, I don't believe "experts". Fun to watch, though.

  33. Man number 4 has always been one I have wondered about. Good to know I can stop focusing on trying to pull as hard on the upstroke as I do on the down.

  34. Strava tends to push me harder, even when I try to just sit in a sweet spot. I almost have to ignore my HR and power output and just go by how I feel. If I look at my HR or Wattage, I tend to push harder or back off regardless of how I am feeling. It's a vicious "cycle" – 🙂

  35. i just came back to cycling after over 30 yrs of motorbikes and cars, iam 54 174cm and 88kg and falling. and like a lot of people i cant afford a power meter or a turbo trainer so i train on the local roads, would a heart rate monitor be a good alternative so that i can ride to a certain percentage of max bpm and if so what sort of numbers should i be looking a side note iam generally in good health just not very fit ….yet.

  36. I like the response on practising pedalling. Don't let Wattbike see this ! I don't really see practise on a stationary bike helping cycling efficiency in real cycling situation and artificially pulling up feels wrong anyway

  37. Brilliant! Totally logical. He doesn't dismiss the long-held wisdom, rather he explains how it has developed. I would like to see the Prof's statements incorporated into more of GCN videos. Perhaps many of them now need re-doing.

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