Train weakness or Train Strengths

Hello,

I’m currently keep changing my mind on if i should train my weakness which would mean training sustained power build before switching to crit plan Or maximize strengths and complete short power build and crit plan.

Abit of back ground I’m a UK based road racer the team i target road races and crits and while i do well at crits and target them i struggle with the longer efforts of road races.

I hate doing longer 10+ mins intervals but i think this is because I’m not as good at them as i am short punchy ones.

I’m looking for opinions on what to do as i can’t make my mind up. I don’t really want to do do general build and as i don’t think this will address either aspect

Many thanks Andy

Make your strengths even stronger and don’t let your weaknesses get even weaker. :+1:

2 Likes

Well said!

To answer this question, you really need to ask yourself what your goals are.

Do you want to be the guy who is winning the crits?
Then:
SSB I and II
Short Power Build
Crit Specialty

Do you want to become a better sustained rider (at the expense of your punchiness and repeatability)
Then:
SSB I and II
Sustained Power Build
Rolling Road Race

Do you want to get better at longer efforts while still retaining your punch for crit racing?
Then
SSB I and II
General Build
Rolling Road Race or Crit Specialty

I hope this helps!

13 Likes

I think you just summed up what is was already thinking really there :pray:

It’s has just been the whole train your weakness race your strengths that got me thinking.

Couple things…you might be better at the shorter efforts simply because you are able to do way more of them than longer intervals. As well, this is just my opinion (which is correct btw :upside_down_face: ), shorter, high speed intervals are just way more fun to do than long 10-20min slow sloggy efforts; they feel more like racing than training and your brain loves to race so it’s less resistant to race-type training.

So…if you want to do more longer intervals, and get better at them, perhaps turn them into more race-like efforts, e.g. pedal seated and standing, switch up cadence, use different positions, etc.

The last thing, and I think Coach Chad has mentioned this, and it’s definitely all over each and every workout, is your goal for doing those types of intervals you hate. You’re going to hate doing them if you’re only doing them just because you think you should. Establish the goal of different ways that long interval is going to make you stronger and faster (e.g forming a breakaway) and bring that into the ride.

Good luck!

4 Likes

The question no one has asked is are you getting dropped in the road races? Is your weakness limiting your ability to get to the end of races with a shot to win or do your part for the team (whatever that might be)? If not train to your strengths.

Your weakness is only an issue if it is limiting your ability to employ your strengths.

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Yeh, every racer starts with that thought process . . . our limiters. And that’s a good approach to be a generalist (e.g. I am really good at those long efforts, but not a great sprinter and therefore I should work on neuromuscular efforts, right?).

I think part of the answer is sort of where @Bryce was heading (i.e. what are your goals?). But I think it would help if you thought deeper. And what I mean by that is that in the most recent podcast (#192) there was a great discussion about the very specific demands of your “A” race and role you want to play within it. And depending on those very specific needs, will dictate what you need to be good at.

So circling back to train your weaknesses . . . the truth is that even things that we say are our strengths, we can always get better at if that is what is needed for the specific demand of our “A” races/event(s).

5 Likes

You make a really great point in differentiating between Weaknesses and Limiters.

A Weakness is something that you are not very good at.
A Limiter is something that you are not very good at that also hinders your goals/ desired race performance.

So to say you should train your Weaknesses is not exactly true. You need to train your Limiters.

As an example, as a Mountain Biker, I would consider my ability to ride steady over 6 hours to be a weakness. However, since my goal events are all well under 6 hours, this is not considered a limiter. Therefore, there is no reason to train my long endurance ability.

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Good points of differentiation/clarification, Bryce! Useful for all of us to think about. Thanks.

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Great topic! Hoping to piggyback my question which is also about choosing between training to my strength or weakness.

I find it easier to put out more power on the flats vs. climbs. This is consistent with what I’ve experienced on the indoor trainer (i.e, easier to put out more watts in the big chainring vs. small chainring - ERG mode). My event is a triathlon and it sees me using the big chainring more so it makes senes to train in the big chainring anyway.

If I continue to develop my power on the flats and see a rise in FTP, I expect this “climbing FTP” (for lack of a better term) to increase as well but still be lower than my FTP. My question is will my climbing see a proportionate increase? That is, will the increase in “climbing FTP” be more, less, or proportionate to the increase in FTP? Is it even possible to form an educated guess?

Also, I would say my climbing is a weakness, not a limiter. I accept that it will continue to be a weakness, but if it increases proportionately (remains at, say, 90% of FTP) then I am happy with that result.

As Koen de Kort (Trek) says, “That’s the ticket to staying in the WorldTour: develop your strengths.”

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In Joe Friel’s book “The Cyclist’s Training Bible” there is a really good self assessment questionaire that helps people identifty their strengths, limiters and weaknesses. It’s worth sitting down at some point and going through it. I do the questionaire at the end of every season now, and the answers have changed over the years.

I think you need to train your strengths, limiters and weaknesses. But also use them to identify your goals. For example, consider a guy who is 90kg with, 15s power of 1000W, FTP of 320, but struggles to go really deep in races if he loses a wheel. The sprint is a strength, the W/kg at ftp a limiter and the issue with focus a weakness. You need to train all three, but the priority over each is different.

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This is just me, I can’t say I’ve really studied the matter, so it’s just an opinion: Do what drives you.

A couple of years ago I was terrified of the event I’d entered, and I went out and did 9-13hrs for six months. The training worked.

Then I was on TR and the longer sub FTP intervals freaked me out for some reason, I focussed a lot of effort completing them where the shorter higher intervals weren’t (psychologically) troubling me.

The next year VO2max intervals just got in my head.

This year it’s the 4-5hr endurance sessions, and aim determined to break them!

I don’t know if this attitude helps or hinders my racing, but it motivates me to train which I think has to be the starting block of any trading plan.

HTH!

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I feel the same, I’m a punchy rider too… Anything over 8min intervals I basically suck.

It was kinda a limiter when I was racing last year that there’s a few moment that I almost got drop in a chase group (I didn’t even pull)

Been working on it to raise the sustained stuff even though I hate it. Off season right coming off the last race I just when straight to sustained build for 4 weeks before starting my sweet spot base LV, and added Sunday ride in z2 ish for 3.5-4 hr outdoor ride.

This is what I’m doing
SSB I and II
General Build
Crit Specialty

All low volume with added 3.5-4 hr Sunday ride at z2 ish and sprints within the time frame.

Suffice to say my FTP gotten better, but nontheles I still suck at long interval but just slightly less worse than before lol

I certainly can get behind that metric of determining improvement… “I suck less now”. That is plenty scientificly sound enough for me.

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Came here to say this as well.

It sounds like crits aren’t the issue, its road races. What about the road races is a struggle? Longer climbs? Just overall length? Figure that out, and where/why you are potentially getting dropped and work that. It may also mean more than simply fitness, it may mean assessing HOW you race a road race vs. a crit. It’s easy for an hour to be attacking and on or near the front, but that will take its toll over a multi-hour longer distance race. Learning to sit in out of the wind, and move around in the group without expending much power can also be a big factor.