In 2004, I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Carter, a legend in American bicycle racing. Carter is one of very few Americans to have competed in all the Grand Tours and was rated as one of the best climbers in the world by various cycling magazines. Despite his small stature (I swear he’s under five feet), Carter puts out an extreme amount of power on the flat. I remember riding behind Carter, suffering to stay on his wheel as he rolled his 53x12 at 28mph….for an hour straight. Ouch.
I would later come to know this workout as HOP, or Hour of Power. The goal of this workout is muscular in nature, focusing on an efficient pedal stroke while producing a high sustainable power.. Similar to SFR (to be explained in the next segment), this is a low cadence, strength-building workout. Unlike SFR however, we are learning how to utilize power at speed.
The Workout: Since we are trying to stay aerobic during this workout, we are going to peg the wattage at 90% of your FTP (Functional Threshold Power). In other words, 90% of your average wattage output during an hour long TT. On an RPE scale we are looking at about a 6.5 to an 8. You should maintain a cadence of around 60-70RPM. For the average competitive cyclist this is around a 52x14 or 15.
Obviously, you can’t just jump into an hour straight away. Slowly build yourself up to an hour. My favorite way of doing this is starting with 15min HOP, 30min spin, 15min HOP. Each week, take 5min away from your spin and add that to the last interval. By 6 weeks you should have built up to an hour straight.
I tend to do this once a week, but I am a time-trialist/power type rider. This is a great exercise for the base season and building up for TT’s. My favorite way to do this is on my TT bike and focusing on limiting hip rock and upper body movement. Try it out. I guarantee you’ll feel more powerful after 2 months of this workout.
Adam Switters is a former professional cyclist and currently races for Team Mikes Bikes p/b Incase. He is a USA Cycling Certified Coach and works with everyone from professionals to the casual cyclist. You can check him out at his website http://www.switterscoaching.com/. or email him at Switterscoaching@gmail.com. Feel free to comment if you have any ideas for workout or questions.