Power & Strength Training: 40 Minute Indoor Cycling Workout – Passo Giau
Hello, and welcome to another GCN Indoor
Training Session. We have 45 minutes of power and torque training ahead of us, and
I’m not going to lie. It’s going to be pretty brutal, because
we’re all doing it on the Passo Giau in the Alta Badia Region of the Dolomites.
Quite frankly, it’s one of the hardest climbs I have ever ridden. It’s 10.1
kilometers long, it climbs 922 meters, and that gives an average gradient of
9.1%. But most importantly of all, this is at altitude. So the whole thing is
brutal. Now, what have we got in store for us? Well, the gradient, as I said, is
9.1%. What makes this particularly hard is that at no point does it ease below 7%. So
we are on for the whole 45 minutes. In a power torque session, we’re going to
alternate our cadence in blocks. So given that there is no letter for
intensity really, we are going from 100 RPM back down to 70% RPM, back up to 100
RPM, back down, all of which is going to be around about threshold. I told you,
it’s going to be hard. So make the most of what we’re doing now, which is a gentle
warmup. The bad news, we’ve only got two minutes left. But have a look at that
scenery. This is a brutal climb, but it is an absolutely beautiful climb.
That is sure enough. So we’ve got just two minutes of warming up, peddling gently,
100 RPM, maybe just 2 to 5 on the effort level, just getting our bodies used to
some exercise before we start the first of our drills. Like I said, we’re going close
to threshold, and we’re looking at blocks of about five minutes. The low-cadence
work of our 60, 70 RPM is going to be harder than the high-cadence work. So
we’re going to be peddling at 60 RPM, at threshold, and then lowering the gears
so we can peddle at 110, and just trying to get a little bit of
recovery. But like I said, this climb does not allow for recovery. It
is absolutely brutal. Now, we’re starting in the forest at the
bottom. As you can see, it’s nice, sheltered. The sun is even out.
I’m going to warn you now. It’s going to get epic, because we finish
at 2,200 meters. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but you’re going to need some
gloves on. Let’s put it that way. Now, if you’re wondering about equipment
today, I’m on an Elite Drivo trainer, and we are riding on an Orbea Orca, as
well. All right, then. Twenty seconds to go. The first one is a high cadence. So we
are looking to peddle at about 100 RPM. But the intensity has got to go up. So I
want you to change gear now. Put it in the big ring. Increase the
resistance on your trainer. We’re looking at 100 RPM. By the end of
this five-minute block, I want you to be just coming up to
threshold. So if you know your threshold power, then you’re looking at about 90% of
it. If you don’t know your threshold power, by the end of this five minutes you
want to be breathing really hard, but still feel in control. All right.
Focus on cadence. That’s what this is all about, 110 RPM. Now, when it comes to these kind of
cadence sessions, you’ve got to think about your technique at all times. Because
even when you’re working hard, you don’t want to be rocking and rolling
on the bike. You want to stay nice and solid. Your body is a machine today. It’s
not weak. It’s powerful. That’s what you’ve got to concentrate on. Now, look at that road service. I’m
thinking back to riding this climb. Despite the fact that it’s an epic,
despite the fact that it’s brutal, this bottom section was like riding on a
golf course. It was incredible. Okay. You’ve probably started here.
There’s a bit of effort now. God. I’m a little bit short of breath. I
find peddling at 110 RPM at this kind of intensity really quite tough. So that’s
another reason to do this kind of session. Because the more you do them, the more
your body will grow accustomed to this kind of work. If you do any kind of road
racing or bunch riding, it’s really important to be able to put
the power out whilst riding at fast cadence. Okay. We’ve still got three
minutes to go. We’re about to hit one of the many
switchbacks on the climb. There we go. Riding out the saddle,
pretty difficult at 110 RPM. So you’re going to want to stay seated
now. You don’t got that luxury of kicking out of half-end bends on beautiful
mountain roads. Sorry about that. I’m going to ignore that left-hand turn.
The Passo Giau lies ahead. under the snow barriers, we’re all
good today, past the snow plows. We can’t even remotely see the top
at the minute, which is always concerning. It’s
completely hidden up there. The gradient here is brutal. It doesn’t
look it, but we’re on about 9% or 10%. It hasn’t eased up yet. You can see if you
look at the right, we’ve got the valley road down there. You can see the mountain
peaks on the other side. You see a little bit of an idea about what
kind of weather is in store later on. Like I said, hope you
packed your gloves. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m
looking forward to the change of cadence, even though the intensity is going to
creep up. This high-cadence work is really starting to bite. My effort level is
definitely about seven, approaching threshold. Okay, not long now. I want you to just
start thinking about what gear you’re going to put it in. I want you peddling at
60 RPM and increasing intensity. So if you’ve got a power meter, your power
is going to be going up. That’s a good idea, a drink of water. Here we go. All right. It makes me feel like the gradient is
actually real. You can see how steep this bit is there. Look up ahead. We’ve got
that half-end bend. You couldn’t change gear much on this climb, and I was
definitely in my easiest gear. Okay. You might be wondering why I was
in my easiest gear on a 9% climb. Well, I was caught with only a 39-tooth
chain ring on. 39-28 was just about all I could manage to get up this climb. You
wait. The pain is really going to kick in. Like I said, just focus on keeping solid,
keeping smooth. Peddling at low cadence is a great opportunity to think about your
peddle stroke. But more importantly, perhaps, than that, you gauge your core
muscles. Depending on what you’ve got in mind that you’re training for, you might
want to do this work out on the drops if you’re after fast, flat riding. Whereas if
you’re a climber, if you want to ride the Passo Giau and be in the best shape
possible, maybe think about riding on the tops. Just rest your hands loosely. Keep
the upper body still. You at threshold yet? Now, if you are wondering why you should
be doing a power torque session, let me tell you a bit about it. Peddling
at low revs with high power is a little bit like weight training on the bike.
What’s really important is it helps to generate a different kind of strength. So
ultimately, it can help you recruit muscle fibers that you’ve already got. So it
helps those neuromuscular pathways. Effectively, you get better at cycling,
without really having to do any kind of development or physiological changes. But
then, when you keep going and you keep doing it, the physiological changes that
you’ll go through are unbelievable. So potentially, when you mix it in with
other training as well, the benefits to your endurance, to your
threshold, far outweigh what it actually feels like you’re doing here and
now on this indoor trainer. Okay. We’ve got a minute
left at 60 RPM at threshold. We’re not out of the woods yet, though.
Literally, you can see we are still in the woods. But we’re then going to go to
another five-minute block. But this time, we’re back up to 110 RPM.
But just try and bring that intensity down a bit. Your heart rate will probably stay
the same. But if you’ve only got a heartrate monitor, then just try and bring
your breathing rate down a bit. It won’t feel like recovery, but it is.
You know what they say. “Change is as good as the rest.” Okay, 13
seconds. Get ready. Change those gears. We’re going to go on this corner, and
go… Ah, that’s hard. Bring your cadence up, up, up, up, up. Five minutes left. Ah,
the pain has kicked in already. It’ll ease, it’ll ease, your body will get
used to it. Don’t worry. Try and distract yourself. Have a look at
that beautiful road, just twisting through the forest. The sun
is out. It’s quiet. There’s no cars. The tarmac is pristine. Riding up mountains does not get better
than this, even though the pain is more than real. Ah, look at that view.
Look at those mountains. I remember thinking at this point that I
might have gone a little bit too hard, too quick. When you don’t ride mountains
all that often, the reality of a 10-kilometer climb can sometimes become
all too acute just a little bit late. I was already well into the pain cave,
totally different feeling to now. My legs are screaming currently. But on
that climb, my lungs were burning trying to get some oxygen
from that thin air. So if you’re going to keep
drinking, now is the time. How are you feeling? You got that
intensity down a bit, or are you still in a world of pain? You don’t need to worry
too much, because we’re going to change things up again. Just two and a half
minutes. We’re halfway through this block. We’ve got two and a half minutes to go
before we get back to that low-cadence work. The intensity goes up. The
perception of effort, for me at least, goes down.
This is the hard bit. Keep trying to think about that body
position. Engage your core. Don’t move your upper body. Through the tunnel. We still can’t even remotely see the top
of this climb. It’s a quite daunting prospect. We’ve still got 26 minutes to
go, and we can’t even see the top. Rounding our half-end.
Keep spinning those legs. Anyone else notice that the sun is gone
and the storm clouds are gathering? Oh, yeah.
You know what’s coming. Okay. Just less than 30 seconds now
until we get to change gear. If you’re like me, you might need to give
your glutes a bit of a rest. Just use the transition to temporarily get
out of saddle. This workout should be done entirely seated for the maximum benefit,
and that just adds to the pain. Ready? Here we go. Boom.
Okay. Just rest. Just change. Now, check it out. I had the
right idea. Get out of the seat. Stretch your legs. As soon as I sit down,
you sit down. It’s a bit shorter this one. We’ve got less than four and a half
minutes to go. Okay. That’s enough stretching.
Straight back in. Even though the effort has gone up, it
still feels easier. I don’t know about it to you, but 60 RPM
is a welcome respite. As I said, the gradient on this climb is
relentless. This is the perfect place to do those training sessions that are just
over and under your threshold. These are the best ones to really build
that top-end fitness, the kind of fitness that will help you ride faster up climbs,
hold on to the group ride, win races, win time trials. It is
super-important. Just keep that body position still. Uh-oh. I can see the top. Look in the
distance. See that distant peak? That’s where we’re going. Stay seated around this half-end. I know
it’s tempting to get out of saddle. You know how it feels to kick around a
half-end bend, changing gear, stretching out the saddle. But we are
doing some specific training here. Sit glued in the saddle. Think who your
favorite pro cyclist that rides like this may be. Maybe you’re a fan of Jan Ullrich.
He never got out of saddle. Just peddling so strongly, rock steady.
We’ve got a minute and a half to go before we’re back to the high cadence. A minute left. We’re a long, long way into this climb
right now. Over halfway in, in fact. Still 450 meters of vertical
ascent to go. But you can start to see the top. In the distance,
those mountains. Okay. Get ready to change gear, 110 RPM.
We’re going to change by these posts. Here we go. Let off. Let off the power
just fractionally. But if you can, just build up that cadence again to 110
RPM. It’s the recovery that isn’t recovery. Look at those mountains. That’s the
Dolomites at its best. Huge spires of granite, and covered in snow. This place
is epic. So epic, maybe we should [inaudible] for a bit. We’ve got just three torque sessions to
do after this, three more blocks. They’re going to be shorter, but they’re
going to be even harder. That effort level is going up to a nine in
a minute, above your threshold pace. This is one of the most infamous
climbs of the Dolomites, this one. Vashiro [sp] has been up here on numerous
occasions. That’s always been on a decisive stage. You can see why, 10K at 9%, going up to
2,500 meters of altitude. Only the true climbers survive up here. So
if you’re suffering, don’t worry about it. We’ll get
them back on the decent. Keep drinking. You’ve got those mountains off to the
right. Incredible. I think we’ve just met the bad weather. A few snowflakes, just to
make it even more epic. Going to take your mind off how hot
you’ve become training indoors. If you’re struggling like me on these
high-cadence drills, just remember the more you do it, the easier it gets. We’ve
not got long to go. Just 30 seconds of this one, 15 minutes in total. Focus on
that huge spire of rock. That’s where we’re going. Okay. Get ready to change gear, five
seconds. You want to go back to 60 RPM. Get out of the saddle again.
Just stretch those glutes off. Back in the saddle.
That’s what it’s all about. Ah, if you’re not hurting now, you’re
not trying hard enough. This effort is really starting to bite,
but the end is in sight. Look at that view. You get a sense of
just how high we are now. Maybe if you’re out of breath, it’s
because of the altitude. It takes effort. Look at that. Keep thinking about that core. You could
be doing this no-handed, just resting on the bars. Okay. After this one, like I said, the
efforts get shorter and they get harder. The end is in sight, so just dig in. Focus
on the end of every interval. Focus on every change in direction in the
road. Drag yourself to each corner, and tick it off mentally one by one.
Another corner down, not many to go. Another corner down.
The top is in sight. Look at that weather. Here we go, more
snow. Two more minutes at 60 RPM, at threshold. If the pain is getting too much, just
keep thinking about the results. Keep thinking about the fact that this
session is worth even more in 45 minutes at threshold. This is about neuromuscular
improvements. This is about making more of what you’ve got already,
just working hard. One minute to go before
high-cadence work again. They’ve got the names on the road.
This is Giro d’Italia country, no mistake. Think of those battles on
snowy mountains in the Dolomites. True epics. You can tell it’s getting
cold. I even zipped my jersey up. Look. Thirty seconds to go and just two
and a half minutes until we’ve climbed the Passo Giau in the Dolomites, all 10.1
kilometers. Another corner done. Get ready to change gear. We’re going back
up to 100 RPM, and this time leave it one gear harder. Let’s just dial up the effort
even more. Make it count. Ready? Go. If you find yourself struggling too
much, just back it off a gear. It’s the cadence that’s important now.
Keep doing that work. Keep doing that structured work. Make it count. We haven’t
suffered out 95% of the Giau already just to [back] out of our workout. No way.
We’re seeing this through to the end. Come on. Dig in. Look at those mountains. Look at that
snow. This isn’t meant to be easy. This is meant to make
you fitter, make you stronger. Okay. We’re coming back down the gears,
60 RPM, but above threshold, 110% of your threshold. That’s 9 out of 10
on the effort level, almost unmanageable. Except it’s not,
because we’re ready to suffer for this. Another corner down. There’s the top.
Two, one, change gear. Remember, these intervals
are shorter. Just two minutes. Can you see it? That is the top. That is
the top. Just over a kilometer to go. At this speed, I’m afraid that’s a few
more minutes of suffering. Suffering on the 10% mountain, suffering
in the snow. Suffering with sore legs and burning lungs. It’s all going to come to
an end. Remember that. This is not an easy workout. So you are
doing super-well. This comes straight from Matt Stevens’ pain cave. Maximum bang for
your buck. Get ready. We’re going to change back down to 110 RPM
when we get to these snow poles. Go. Oh, man. 110 RPM. Here we go. Keep that
wattage down, just for that threshold. I’m sorry. No recovery. We’ve got just one
more interval to do after this, one more to make it count,
one more to finish the Giau. I’ve heard that building at the top does
a mean hot chocolate. That’s where I’m going. I don’t know about
you. There’s also beer on tap for [inaudible]. We’re so close now. One more interval. We’ve just got 30
seconds left of fast peddling before we can bend that for the day. Good riddance,
I say. Then another two minutes of low-cadence, over-threshold suffering.
Good, old-fashioned pain. Five, four, three, two, one. Back down
through the gears. Increase that power. Decrease that cadence. Sometimes it’s not just about the
physiological work. It’s about the mental work. Every time you hurt yourself, you
know you can go that deep again. Pain is good, especially when you are
dishing it out. One and a half minutes to go, and then we’re on our warm-down. I
think you can see how much I’m suffering in this video. I’m weaving all over the
road, 2,200 meters, no oxygen. There’s the top. We’re nearly there. A
minute and 10 of hard work, then we can enjoy that final stretch. Put
it into your easiest gear, and roll victorious on the last couple
hundred meters of the Passo Giau. Less than a minute. This should be you all done, all spent,
everything out. Keep focusing on that core. Stay motionless.
Thirty seconds to go. Into the snow. I told you, you needed
gloves. Look at this. Fifteen seconds. That face tells a story. Seven. Five,
four, three, two, one, and the intervals are over. Easiest gear. Easiest gear. Just
keep those legs moving, 90 RPM. We are nearly at the top, and now
we can enjoy this moment, riding up over the top of the Passo Giau,
having done 10.1 kilometers at 9%. [inaudible] to do 90 RPM.
I’m not sure I can do that. Look at that scenery. Sometimes it’s
worth getting on your bike when the weather is bad to see stuff like that.
Look at that incredible stuff. Keep breathing deeply. Get your body
back under control. Take a drink. If you don’t get to come out and ride
this climb next year, maybe keep an eye out for it in the pro races. You’ll
certainly know about it when the riders go up it. We’ve got plenty more climbs in the
Alta Badia Region for you to train along to. So make sure you stay tuned to GCN.
Subscribe. It’s completely free. You just have to click on the globe when
it appears. Then, in the meantime, if you fancy more, I’m not suggesting
right now, because I think you’ll be hurting, but Matt Stevens has already done
two of these brutal sessions. If you click just up there, you get
through to the Passo Campolongo. Just down there, you get through to
Falzarego. He’s a hard taskmaster, so enjoy them.
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