After designing notoriously hard Sufferfest workouts like “The Blender” and “The Shovel,” Head Coach for Wahoo Fitness, Neal Henderson, has a reputation for being hard. “I’m not a mean guy,” he said. “I just point in the right direction.” Having coached world champions and World Tour athletes, Henderson knows a lot about the right direction. Here’s one of his favorites for building race fitness.
As we get close to our target races, specificity in our workouts becomes critical, meaning they need to emulate what we’re doing in races. “We’re really running through the entire gearbox,” he said. “We have high lactate flux, we have recruitment, and you’re accelerating in each of those efforts, especially the shorter 5-, 10-, 15-second efforts.” This workout taps into every critical energy pathway.
According to Henderson, you have to have good fitness before you even attempt this workout. It’s a good routine to do as a final build-up to peak race form. Even then, do it no more than once per week. Henderson points out that part of this workout is used in “The Shovel” Sufferfest workout because you dig yourself into a deep hole.
This workout starts with Henderson’s pyramid of power followed by what he calls a “medio effort.” During the pyramid each effort:rest combination adds up to a minute. But with each rep you subtract five seconds from one and add to the other. The whole pyramid should take about 22 minutes. Henderson has his athletes do a 20-minute steady effort after the pyramid of power to add a mental component. “You have to be comfortable with your own thoughts and manage that effort,” he said. This also adds race specificity because, like a race, there are times you have to dig yourself into a hole covering attacks, but you don’t get to ease up afterwards. You have to keep going hard.
Workout of the Week: Neal Henderson’s Pyramid of Power
10-20 min. steady riding
5 sec. all-out sprint/55 sec. rest
10 sec. near sprint/50 sec. rest
15 sec. on/45 sec. rest
20 sec. @ 1 min. power/40 sec. rest
25 sec. on/35 sec. rest
30 sec. ~VO2max power/30 sec. rest
35 sec. on/25 sec. rest
40 sec. on/20 sec. rest
45 sec. on/15 sec. rest
50 sec. on/10 sec. rest
55 sec. @ FTP/5 sec. rest
1 min. @ FTP/1 min. recovery
Repeat everything in reverse: 55/5 all the way back to a 5 sec. sprint with 55 sec. rest.
10 min. rest
20 min. @ 90% FTP
10 min. easy riding