Strength Session On The Passo Falzarego | Improve Your Pedalling Torque

(upbeat music) – Hello, and welcome to a GCN
strength training session. In this we’re going to be building that all important leg strength
by doing torque intervals. So that’s where, using low cadence work in order to really put
some stress on our muscles. Now we’re doing it in the beautiful surroundings of the Dolomites. And this is the Passo Falzarego. Footage courtesy of Mr. Tom Last. So you know that behind the camera, there is a lot of suffering going on. We’re going to be suffering
a reasonable amount, but not too much. Not to start with anyway. But this being a GCN training session, brace yourself, ’cause it is going to get a little bit grippy. Now at the moment, we’re
just pedalling nice and easy. The all-important warmup. So I’m keeping my gears light, got a nice, easy cadence,
not too much resistance. Now if you have a variable
resistance trainer, I’d suggest that you turn
up resistance a little bit. I’m gonna cycle up to hammer, so I’ve got resistance set to about 4%. So that’s the simulation. And that means that I can actually go easy on sections like this where if you have a variable resistance trainer where you can turn it up, crank it right up with the torquing tools, and then take it back down notch. So, that would be my
recommendation for it. Okay, so what are we looking at now? This is the bottom of the Falzarego. We’ve got 10.6 kilometres ahead of us, and an average gradient of 6.3%. We’re already pretty
high up, 1,400 metres. We’re gonna end up 2,117 metres. It’s a beautiful climb. Really sinuous, twisty, going
up through pine forests. And the last section’s out in the open, way above the snow line, as you’ll see, are absolutely incredible. 18 hairpins to take off. And yeah, it’s got to
be seen to be believed. Fantastic. Well let me tell you a little bit more about our session, then. So we’ve got another 50 seconds
of just gentle warming up. You can hear I’m a
little bit out of breath. Partly because I’m talking non-stop, but also because I’m starting
to work reasonably hard. At the end of this warm up, we’re gonna go to tempo ride. So tempo will be, for me,
probably just one gear harder. So I’m still gonna be able to talk to you, but I’m definitely gonna be working hard. Getting a sweat on, breathing
a little bit harder. If you are out on the open road, you think you were going quite quickly. It’s that kind of tempo. But nothing to overly stress you, ’cause the real hard work here, is when we drop the cadence. I’ll tell you more about
that in just one second. For now though, get ready,
take it up one notch. Gonna go from warming up, to tempo. Three, two, one. And here we go. Okay. So another three minutes ahead of us. Can hear the pitch of the trainer has just changed slightly. My power’s going up. Breathing a bit deeper. There we go. Still trying to keep a
nice, good quick cadence. So 90 RPM’s the target. I’m just a little bit under that. But I’m happy, so there we go. Okay, now, let’s talk more about all-important torque work, shall we? So you’ve got three lots
of five-minute, 60 RPM. And were gonna be going
at higher intensity than we are doing now. Okay, so what about these all-important torque intervals then? To begin with, we’re going to be doing five minutes at a time. And the key is to drop the
cadence down to about 60 RPMs. So, one pedal revolution per second. Should be easy to work out. You can grab a power
metre or a cadence sensor. But crucially, you still want to be putting out quite a lot of power. Not too much, we’re not at threshold. But we’re gonna be out of breath. We’re gonna be really feeling like we’re pushing through the pedals. So the brilliance of this section is that if you’re a little bit tired from a few days riding, you can still get some great hard work in, without having to go too deep, or really push
your heart rate too high. Not to begin with, anyway, because after three blocks of five minutes, interspersed with more tempo, so no total coverage, it’s more tempo. We then take it up a notch. So we’re gonna be doing
one minute at 60 RPM. But we’re gonna be doing it at max. I’m sorry. Then we’ve got two minutes of tempo. Then another minute max. Tempo, max, tempo, max. And then, believe me, we’ll be done. Your legs will probably feel
a little bit like jelly. And that’s the point. What we’re doing is really
stressing the muscles. We wanna try and recruit
more muscle fibre. So get our legs to be working optimally in a neuromuscular way, to making the most of what we’ve already got. And then it’s the kind of session where if you repeat regularly,
then you’ll end up in a position where you actually start building new muscle fibre in together. And that’s when you end
up with higher powers, at both threshold and in so
down here at lower torque. Or higher torque, rather. Lower cadence. Okay. All right everyone, ready to go? Here we are. Our first torque session. Find your gear. It might take a bit of experimenting just to make sure you’ve
got you gear right, and your cadence right.
Here we go. I’m pretty much there. I need to change one gear harder. All right, here we go, 60 RPM. I’m at the right intensity for me. You’ll be able to hear
probably, in a minute or so, I’m gonna start to get a
little bit out of breath. More than I am doing now. But definitely feeling composed. At least at the moment. Now there’s a tendency when you’re doing low cadence work, to start
rocking all over the bike, trying to use your stomach muscles to push down on the pedals. That’s definitely not what we want here. If you can imagine, the
perfect look for this is to be rock solid above the hip. So your hips should be locked in place by a good core. Your arms pressing loosely on the bars, everything coming from your glutes, down through your quads, to your calves. Possibly using your
hamstrings a little bit. We’ll see. But it’s still quite a hot topic. Nevertheless this is
definitely a good session. If you are interested in trying to change your pedalling technique, then low cadence work is
the perfect opportunity, because you’ve actually got time on each pedal revolution to think
about how you’re doing it. You can hear my breathing. This is the kind of intensity
that we’re looking for. Eight there on the effort level. No problem at all getting
to the end of each interval. It’s the accumulation of the whole session that’s gonna be what hurts. As opposed to smashing out each interval, hanging on ’til the bitter end, and then recovering for
a couple of minutes. There is no out-and-out recovery here. Just all about interspersing
low cadence with tempo. All right, how you feeling, then? You got your effort sorted? Pushing smoothly through those pedals? Trying to keep the upper body relaxed. Try not to move too much in the saddle. Try to keep the power
appropriate to the level. If you have a power metre it is of course, slightly easier to do it. I’m at about 80% of my FTP,
my function threshold power. It’s imminently sustainable, were it not for the fact
that my legs feel like they’re working much, much harder. I think over geared work,
it’s one of those things that all pro cyclists
do from time to time. Definitely considered to be
an effective way of training. The jury’s out on going to the gym. And it’s not terribly specific. Lifting weights, even
though it can help build new muscle fibre, and help build those neuromuscular pathways, but when you set in the
saddle, doing something that you do for hours per week or month, it’s very, very specific. Anything you better watch out for, like I’ve just done. Was slowing your cadence too much, and letting that effort level drop. So just keep an eye on
the little cadence ticker there on the screen. Try and match your cadence to that. Right, and nearly to the
end of our first block. Time to change up two gears again. We’ve got three minutes
of riding at tempo. 90 RPM’s gonna feel pretty quick now. Hopefully, it’ll feel
like a bit of a break. Still need an easier gear. There you go. Okay. Don’t let the resistance off completely. This is of course tempo, not recovery. So you still want to be
going at a nice, brisk pace. Long climbs like this Falzarego are the perfect place to do it. In the real world, if you go
out to a mountainous area, rather than just smashing up every climb, which I admit is enjoyable. Actually breaking things
down and doing some low cadence drills as you’re riding up, feels right, and makes perfect sense. As you’re mimicking the demands
of this session clearly. No recovery, you’re supposed
to be riding for climb. But just got some really
good quality hard work. Definitely feel the
benefit of this session out in the open road, that’s for sure. Find when I’m doing strength
work for a couple weeks, not every day of course,
maybe two sessions a week, for two or three weeks, I really feel the benefits
when I’m on the bike. Could be little things like accelerating running from traffic lights on my commute. I got just a little bit
more snap, more kick. Or indeed just feeling stronger when you get out the saddle, when you’re having to lean
on it on climbs a little bit. It’s not necessarily linked
to our threshold power, so that theoretical power that
you can sustain for an hour, but it’s definitely good for your head, as well as theoretically
good for your legs as well. So a great double-whammy there. Just as well, ’cause we’re
about to do five more minutes. Got another 30 seconds of
just keeping our cadence up, riding at tempo. You can still hear that I’m out of breath. So we’re not recovering. We have still got a bit of
resistance through the pedals. Just pedalling a little bit quicker. And then when we come back
to our strength interval, and we need to change
down through the gears, lower that cadence, and
up the power as well. All right. Just trying to find that intensity again. There we go. So that’s me changing
down, one, two, three, four, five, six gears. So you can use that as a guide. And that’ll be helpful, I’m sure. So my power’s gone up by about 30 watts, and cadence has dropped by 30. So although I won’t see much
different in my heart rate, definitely feel it in my legs. As I said earlier, really good if you’ve got tired legs, so you don’t
wanna push on too hard. Just get the work done. So it doesn’t tax your brain too much. Just reiterating again as
well that it’s a great one for really honing your technique. You wanna be in the
saddle, trying to get out. Trying to keep our upper body relaxed. You’ll move a little bit. It’s inevitable. But the stiller you can be, the closer to perfect. Hear my breathing rate has
gone up a little as well? That’s also because having
to put out more power. I love this bit of climb. Just winding our way up through the woods. You can catch glimpses
of the mountains, look. Straight ahead of us. Huge, granite cliffs. Got snow up there. You can see. We’ve got sunshine as well. A perfect day for riding the Dolomite. And I think, course it’s hard
to choose, but the best way up the Falzarego, probably my favourite. Particularly for those
last few kilometres. (loud breathing) Definitely getting a sweat on now. It’s okay. It’s socially acceptable
indoors when training. Trying to think about using
my glutes a little more. If you are simulating climbing like I am, then putting a block
underneath the front wheel just to tip the bike up a bit. Sounds stupid, but actually adopting the same kind of body position
you would be when climbing. It really helps just to mimic the demands. I always find when I’m going uphill, I tend to recruit my glutes more. Even if I sit further
forward on the saddle. ‘Cause the angle of the bike, my glutes kick in a bit more. Okay. Nearly at the end of block number two. Getting ready to change up three gears. Remember, I’ve got six to change. That’s my 25 sprocket. They go from big ring to little ring. That’s also a good idea. Whew. All right, adjust that leg speed. (groans) That feels horrible. I’m not gonna lie. Ugh. Okay. I’ve got a rider in our sights now. Good opportunity to
keep that cadence quick. Picture it like we’re riding effortlessly up the Falzarego. Good while it lasted. ‘Bout to pass him. Watch out. All right, focus again now. Keep that cadence nice and quick. Keep pressing on the pedals. Got one more five minute block. Before– I was about to say the fun starts. Depends on your position on fun, I guess. If you’re at the masochist
end of the spectrum, like most of us here as GCN, it will qualify as fun. If you like to get your work done the least stressful way
possible, it might be the less good end of the training session. But it’s short, it’s quick. It’s punchy. Definitely feels very different
to what we’re doing now. See I’m taking a good drink. When you’re sweating as much as this, it’s super important to
satisfy your hydration. We don’t want you to be thirsty
for the rest of the day. Waking up in the night. Sleeping in the Sahara Desert. I do always find though, I’ll let you in on a little secret here. The strength drills, make
me incredibly hungry. Now whether that’s for a metabolic reason, or something else I don’t know. But you start craving later
in the day, you know why. Believe me. Okay, ready. Change down two gears. I got six. Straight in. 60 RPM. Much, much easier when you keep track of the gears you’re in. And not least, if you
don’t have a power metre, you can keep a track of
your progress as well, because if you come back
to this in a few weeks, you find the previous gear choices are no longer stressing enough, then you know you’ve made progress. In your trainer is a really
constant environment. If you keep things like
the resistance fixed, if you’re lucky enough to have a variable resistance trainer, you know when you’re moving forward. If you power is normally
a little bit lower on the trainer inside, ’cause the heat, and anybody’s that’s got a saddle, but it’s always pressed by
the same amount each time. So just try and keep your riding hitches the same throughout the course. So if you ride with a fan one day, you need the fan the next day, it’s always ready to go. If you’re like me. Three minutes 20 to go. How’s everyone feeling? You feel your legs yet? Feel my legs. (loud exhaling) Those peaks look like they’re
coming over closer don’t they? (loud exhaling) Fantastic. Keep focused. Thinking about my cadence,
first and foremost. And then the repercussions
I had on my pedal technique. Gonna be about applying power evenly. Not through the whole stroke of course, just minimise any jabbing at the pedals. Knock on effect that’ll have
on the rest of your body. Try and keep your hips nice and stable. If you do any core work, now
the time to lock that in. I’m afraid I’ve let that one slip. Which is why you might be seeing me just rocking around a little bit. It’s not optimal. Not pausing for that. That’s maybe your New Year’s resolution. Core work. Feel like I’m halfway
to Bikram yoga already, getting me sweat on. Now I’m looking forward
to just speeding my cadence up a little bit in a minute. These five-minute blocks
do take their toll, even though my heart rate’s not sky high, breathing’s not too intense. My legs feel tired. So just as well. We’ve got four, one-minute maxes. Woo hoo! If you’re wondering who the architect of such pain could be,
please don’t look at me. Don’t look at poor Rossi, either. It’s Matt Stevens. Yeah. It’s another one of Matt’s. Honed over years of battering himself on his turbo, in his garage, in sub-zero temperatures. Looking for ever more inventive ways to torture himself. Okay, woo. That’s the end of that one. Find that gear again. (groans) I do find this the hardest bit. Changing cadence again. My legs are detesting, are yours? I’m still don’t know how Chris Froome climbs at such a high cadence. Absolutely alien to me. But you can certainly train yourself to pedal faster, and become more efficient at it. Whether or not that does
you any good or not, actually hasn’t improved. But when you look at
the best in the world, and he’s doing it, (drowned out by music). But less yammering, more drinking. (loud breathing) Wow, look at that view! We’re into the snow. I can assure you it’s fresh
on the ground that day, even though there’s
not a cloud in the sky. Just one of the most
perfect, awesome riding days. Something to think about,
as we’re doing this hard work now on the trainer, think about how much easier
it’s gonna make climbs. Maybe how much faster we can go. maybe it’s about improving
your time in this sport. Or it’s about sticking
with a local group ride all the way ’til the end. Whatever it is, focus on it, ’cause we’re now about
to do a minute hard. 60 RPM. But up the power as much as you can. I’m gonna need big chain ring now, that’s for sure. Ready? Three, two, one. Boom, and go! (groans) It’s really important
to keep that body still. ‘Cause now we’re really putting out some force through the pedals. Trying to keep my arms relaxed. But I don’t think I can. Where it really makes count, I’m just gonna quit the bars. Remember, the gear choice
for two minutes time. We go back to tempo in three, two, one. Don’t worry, just three more to go. (loud breathing) Two minutes. Just try and enjoy this high cadence as long as you can. Oh my legs feel weary. Split in some sort of context. The power that’s there is a lot, lot less than from what I was
doing in one minute max at 100, 110 RPM. ‘Cause the limiting factor there, is the force I can generate on the pedals. As opposed to the force and the speed through which I can
keep the pedals turning. So if you have got a power metre, don’t be worried, it’s not as high as you might think. Mine’s about what is it? 115% of FTP. So, not been really quitting any sprints. Would leave me anyone standing at that, but no denying the work that’s being done. It’s about the torque, it’s about stressing your muscles. And it’s about doing it without taxing your cardiovascular system quite so much. It’s really specific work. Okay. Back on it again. Remember the gear we’re aiming for. Big ring. Couple down. (groans) I let my cadence drop
a bit too much there. Back on it now, then. 60 RPM. Seven, eight, nine, 10. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. Try counting. If it helps you find the right cadence, take your mind off things. You can even count beyond
10 if you can manage that. I’m not sure I can. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. One, two, three, nearly there! Okay. Lift the tempo. Nice fast feet. Well done, everyone. Just two more to go. Two more one-minutes. (loud breathing) Take time to admire this view. That’s incredible. Get some fluid down you. I’m using Science in Sport Go Hydro. They’re one of my sponsors on GCN. So I’m quite fortunate of that. No carbs in this drink. Just electrolytes. And a nice bit of flavour. I find drinking plain water
when I’m sweating this much, just almost doesn’t taste right. I don’t know why. I do like electrolytes
when I’m riding indoors. I don’t feel the need for carbs on a short session like this. In fact, unless I was doing some brutal 60-minute threshold session, I wouldn’t have to use
carbs on the trainer. It’s recommended that we don’t really need them until you’re riding for longer than 90 minutes. Okay. Aw man, that two minutes has gone quick. I don’t know about you. Just seven seconds to go. Think about getting in
your big gear, big ring. I’m gonna try to not let my tempo drop, my cadence drop, power’s going up. I think I need one more. (groans) Try and keep the upper body still. 20 seconds to go. Come on, everyone. If you feel like you’re
getting bogged down, now’s the time to think
about your hamstrings. Just one more after this, remember. Okay. Little ring. (loud breathing) Keep that cadence high. (loud breathing) Gonna have to work for this one. There we go, 90 RPM. Nice one-way here. So it’s good when you get the information that you want. From your head unit. Just gonna look at the view. Look at that sunshine. Look at that mountain. Come on, everyone. We’re nearly there. Got a minute and 10 for tempo, then our last one-minute and 60 RPM. Give me the big guns. I can say there’s not a best way to get the power out, sit there and go looking
for any whoppers bazookas. But if you’ve got a force boost, torque bazooka maybe, now is the time to deploy it. I’m giving you permission
to grip the bars, just as long as you keep those hips still. You notice, I’ve been in
the saddle the whole way. It’s not ’cause I wouldn’t be out of the saddle in real life, but I’m a trainer, feels like the best way to get specific work in. Okay. (groans) Come on, everyone. Give me big legs. We’ve got eight seconds to go. Gonna stick in the big (murmurs). Very good. Two, one. Okay, here we go! Get that gear turning. Boom, 60 RPM. Hold it, hold it! Oh man, look at that view. It’s painful to look at as well. Come on, everyone. Just 30 seconds to go. (loud breathing) Concentrate on that upper body. Stop it moving. 22. (groans) Nearly there! I’m dying! One last effort. Woo! Don’t stop pedalling,
don’t stop pedalling. Don’t stop pedalling. For my benefit as well as yours. Oh, hold on everyone,
that was crackin’ work. I could sense your
expert levels from here. We can now, just enjoy the
remainder of this climb. (loud breathing) You’ve got two more
minutes of cooling down. If you wanna stick around, let’s get to the summit. And I suggest you do. Trying to get my breathing under control. (loud breathing) (slow music) Now we need to get out of the saddle. Stretch those legs up a bit. Oh man. Wow. I’m super pleased you’ve
joined us for this. One of my favourite type
of training sessions. One of my favourite climbs in the world. You get to the top of this, you can either carry on down to Cortina, on which you go up the Giau. And goodness, there’s how
many other amazing climbs. Or you can turn left at the top and you’ve got another kilometre or so to climb the Valparolla
to the very summit. And from there, you carry your ride down into the Alta Badia Valley, where again, it’s like a playground. Might hang out at the top there, try and cool down a bit in the snow. Look at this corner. Check it out. Hairpin through a tunnel. Come on, everyone. Just try and stick it ’til the end. Legs should be hurting. My glutes are hurting. But that’s what happens when you pack this much hard work into just 43 and a 1/2 minutes. There we go. There’s your prescribed cool down. Like is said, if you want to
see this climb to the end, just keep ticking over. Looks like Tom Last admiring the view right now as well. Hats off to him. Well, I thank you very much
for taking part in this one. You make sure that you subscribe to GCN. We’ve got loads of free training videos for you to ride along to. Maybe do audio sometimes. Set your phone in your back pocket when you’re at a hotel gym. You might be able to see the beauty, and you can listen to the session. I find that helps a lot as well. Now make sure you give Matt’s session a big thumbs up, so everyone else knows how
hard and how good it is. And then subscribe to the channel as well. To do that, just click on the globe. That way you’re within the right place for more training videos. And then, if you wanna a sneak peak of a couple more now, you wanna click just down there, and just down there. I’m not suggesting you go straight in, but hats off to you if you do. Something to bear in mind for next time. See you then.