If you’ve read RBR’s training advice over the years, you know that we don’t advocate long trainer rides. Our philosophy has always been: warm up, do a structured, high-intensity workout, cool down and get off. One hour, tops.
The alternative is boredom. Because trainer rides make time pass very, very slowly, trainers are good for hard workouts but not for building endurance. It’s better to do that with outdoor winter workouts like cross-country skiing, running or snowshoeing if roads are too dangerous to ride.
But sometimes you have no choice. You’re preparing for a century or brevet but limited to the trainer. In this case, Troy Jacobson‘s Hardcore 100 indoor workout takes you through 5.5 hours of interval sets in a simulated century ride. Hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
I have to confess I wasn’t able to finish the whole half-day workout in one, ahem, sitting. The athletes doing the training on the DVD must have far greater mental reserves than I do. Or Jacobson, unseen on the DVD, employs a whip. Even the warning on the DVD — “you must finish this workout or Coach Troy will come to your home and let the air out of your tires” — didn’t frighten me into 5+ hours of self-flagellation.
I did, however, do each part. Like all of the Spinervals DVDs, Hardcore 100 is well thought out and quite motivating. Jacobson doesn’t bark at you but provides plenty of reasons to keep you riding. Gearing and intensity recommendations are prominently displayed on the screen. You can choose generic background music on the DVD or listen only to Coach Troy’s voice along with your own music.
Easy, Harder, HARD
Intervals begin at a moderate intensity, then get harder as the workout continues. Jacobson admonishes riders not to go out too hard, just as in a real century ride. He wants you to finish strong. To that end the final intervals are done at high intensity.
For instance, after a warm up, the first set of intervals is 6×10 minutes with 1 minute of easy pedaling between each harder effort, done at 75% of maximum. But at the end of the DVD, Jacobson asks riders to do a series of 10×3 minutes, 4×3 minutes, 5×1 minute and finish with 3×30 seconds. The intensity rises on each set until the climactic 30-second bursts are done all-out.
Time seems to go faster when using this DVD. The interval sets focus the mind much more than merely spinning along at a medium intensity for 5 hours. Just watching the facial expressions on the laboring riders is worth the price, especially when you’re probably duplicating those grimaces yourself.
Breaks are built into the workout along with plenty of encouragement to keep hydrating and taking in carbohydrate for energy.
My only gripe with Hardcore 100 is the length and sameness of the early intervals. As mentioned, this marathon session begins with 6×10 minutes. With the minute of easy spinning between each, that’s more than an hour of plain vanilla work. Shorter, more varied intervals would have helped me get over the hump of the first hour and mentally into the rest of the workout.
But you don’t have to slavishly obey the DVD. I varied the 10-minute intervals by standing, spinning small gears or working on strength with larger gears. For shorter workouts I often used only the third disc so I could jump right into the harder intervals.
By using Jacobson’s training plan as the framework and throwing in your own variations, you could do several different centuries with little duplication.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred’s full bio.