Reply To: Ironman client

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Ryan Faehnle

Hey Matt,

Great question. There are many different roads you could take this, but I would make sure to always base your cycle design on the individual needs of the athlete. I'm assuming you've got some performance data on their running, cycling, and swim performances? If so, use that data (or structure your own performance tests) to guide the training process. Just as an example, I've got an Ironman client who came to me for some therapy and we started to talk training. She hired me to cover her training, so I put her through a performance evaluation using a multi-day testing battery as well as a thorough in-person evaluation where I asked her a lot of questions. One of the metrics was an interval-based aerobic power test on the bike. In this test, I look at maximum wattage, average wattage, and percent drop offs between the intervals. She has ZERO drop off between her intervals.... which tells me that her aerobic system was not the lacking piece of her performance puzzle. She also mentioned in our face-to-face meeting that when she would tank in a race, it's because her legs would gas out, but her heart rate would only be in the low 150s. Again, confirming that she has plenty of aerobic "juice" and needs to get stronger and more powerful. Her training programs alternate between cycles of relative strength and power output. Her key energy system workouts are low-volume 10-90 second maximal sprints with full recoveries to work on building both her lactic and alactic power outputs. Long slow steady work is only on maintenance and used for recovery. I would almost never use a hypertrophy training cycle for an endurance athlete unless they were severely underweight or it was maybe just 4-6 weeks out of the year. Relative strength and power is the name of the game in the weight room for endurance athletes, because it makes their race pace a lower percentage of their maximum ability and then the rest of their energy systems work should be based on a performance testing battery that is specific to their sport. Hope that helps!