Amateur vs. Pro Training, Aerobic vs. Anaerobic, Pro Tips and More – Ask a Cycling Coach 353

Amber, Coach Jonathan, and Pivot Cycles / DT Swiss’s Hanna Otto join us for a discussion on whether amateurs should train like pros, the crossover effects of aerobic and anaerobic training in different zones, tips from Hannah on technique and equipment choice, and much more. Tune in for Episode 353 of the Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast!

Tune in Thursday at 8:00am Pacific!

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Topics Covered in This Episode

  • What Hannah learned from her first UCI XC races of the season
  • Should amateurs train like the pros?
  • Should you learn to descend with your non-dominant leg forward?
  • How to fit structured training into your riding time
  • How to pace yourself when the course has steep climbs
  • How to manage mood swings and bad temperament during a recovery week
  • How to find the right tire
  • What effects do aerobic and anaerobic training have on each other?
  • How to pick events that prepare you for your goal event
  • How to find the best training roads in an unfamiliar place


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Hannah Finchamp ==> Otto? Married? Congrats!!!:tada:

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@Jonathan @ambermalika I’d like to suggest another option for Brad to train 2 days a week. Brad’s description of himself is exactly me, so I’m speaking from experience. Since the launch of Adaptive Training, this has become very doable. Create a low volume plan with Plan Builder. You’ll see that in different blocks all the sweet spot will be on Thursday and all the Threshold on a Saturday (and then the next block it may flip flop). So what I do is, on the calendar, just drag every other Saturday workout to Thursday, and that Thursday workout to Saturday. So now on alternating weeks I hit sweet spot on one Thursday and then Threshold on the other. You can also adjust the time to make that 90min workout 60min (either do it on the calendar or just when you launch the workout, with alternate workouts). So now I just do my two 60min TR workouts a week on Monday (VO2Max) and Thursday (alternating SS and Threshold) and I ride outside Wednesday and Saturday. I just skip the Saturday TR workout, and I don’t bother deleting it or marking it complete. I just ignore it. Then what Adaptive Training does is figure out that you’ve missed a Threshold workout, for example, and dials down your next Threshold workout so it’s just the right amount of hard. Same thing when you skip a sweet spot workout the next week. So it just keeps adapting to give you the right dose. It does keep you progressing, just not as rapidly as if you had been doing all 3 workouts each week. Before Adaptive Training, when I tried this technique, the workouts would just get too hard because it didn’t realize I was skipping every other sweet spot or threshold workout. Since Adaptive Training, I’ve been way more consistent with this approach, and my FTP is slowly but steadily increasing. It’s awesome!

So I get fitter with TR with the time I want to allocate to “training” and can have more fun when I ride outside…win, win!

Hopefully Brad sees this, and if I’ve not explained it well I’m happy to answer any questions. It’s just working so well for me, I’d love to be able to help others who may be in the same boat.


Another great podcast - rated 5 stars on Spotify, sorry for not doing so sooner!

On the recovery discussion - I found that reframing from “recovery” to “preparation” or “deload” to “reload” has really helped me appreciate the period of time more. It changes my mindset from looking back on what led to the week to thinking forward to what it will lead to next. Just my personal perspective :call_me_hand:

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TR looking at my training history…
“ok i like it… picasso!”

Really good info in that section, thanks as always.

These are great suggestions! Like you and Brad, I’m on the low volume plan but do only 2 out of the 3 prescribed workouts per week. These two workouts are basically the first two of each week, ignoring the “Saturday” 90 min workout. I just do actual outdoor rides (group or solo) on Saturday. To be honest, I’d probably be better off substituting one of the other two with the 90 min workout, but my schedule is pretty time crunched. After having completed a full LV plan and doing all 3 workouts per week during that time, I’ve done this “two per week” strategy for basically the past year and a half. I feel like I’m at the very least maintaining my fitness if not getting faster, which is all I can ask for considering I don’t race.

I would just like to add that, given my high load of training and the structure it gives me, recovery weeks do sometimes prove to be a mental issue for me. I simply love riding my bike meaning that when not on it, especially when the weather is perfect for the sake of recovery has been really tough. Thanks @Jonathan and the crew for raising this topic.

Note XC skiing does not count as a rest week activity, unless it is pan-flat with a tailwind :smiley:

Other ideas for steep climbs, as getting a higher FTP takes time:

  • Change where it hurts. If the gearing allows it, alternate cadence every minute or so between cardio-dominant (high cadence) vs legs muscle-dominant (lower cadence so grinding) while producing about the same amount of watts.
  • if it’s safe to do so, do zig zags as it reduces the % gradient
  • learn to be stable at very low cadence for very steep stuff.

I don’t remember if it was this episode or the previous, but Hannah said to be sure that you are a “complete person” without the bike in order to be most successful on the bike, or something like that. I never thought of things like that, but I think she is right. We often use the bike as a bandaid for a festering headwound and rather than treating the source we turn to escapism knowing all the while that at some point reality will return. Anyway, thank you for this perspective.

Thanks for listening to my TedTalk :slight_smile: