Integrating bike and strength fitness?

Our friend Lars has an interesting question about timing his Pump Up the Base and Prepare to Pin It training programs, plus integrating strength work.

Hi Lee,

During the last six months I did your PUTB and P2PI programs. The programs were really fun (except the red intervals in P2PI) and helped me a lot.
I am in pretty good shape right now and looking forward to my mountain bike trip in Italy next week.

Next time, I would like to do both programs in the “off-season,” probably from November to April.
When the summer comes, I do not want to spend any time on the trainer nor driving through the woods with my heart rate monitor.

I therefore have two questions regarding the preparation for next season:

When I will finish P2PI by the end of april: Do I lose a lot of my fitness during the season? During the season, I would do two rides per week (on my normal rides I always spend some time in the red area) and would go running (Level 2) twice a week.
I am asking, because I am always planning one or two bike trips every year. I know, it would probably be best to finish P2PI one – three weeks before the event. But I would really like to do it all during winter time/early spring.

I am thinking about the Enduro MTB Program of Dee Tidwell, because I occasionally have problems with my lower back (disc bulge ahead since years). I am already doing the F6, which helps. Nevertheless, I still have problems.
Do you think, it is possible, to do Dee´s program and PUTB/P2PI at the same time? I think, I would have to do 4-6 workouts in Dee´s program. When I do P2PI, I have 5-6 additional workouts. That seems to be a lot of stress for the body!?
On your website you recommended to do only the core exercises of P2PI, if you are not able to do the whole program. Would that be an option?

I am not a racer. I love trail riding and I just want to have fun on the bike.
I am 35 years old and relatively sporty (if that helps for your estimation).

I would be very grateful to hear your opinion!

BTW: I know you hear that a lot, but your books and your website are really great!
If I wouldn’t live in Germany I would love to take a clinic with you.



Thanks for writing — and for buying the programs.

Training gets super complex, but I’ll try to help:

Some background

Pump Up the Base is a 12-week program to build base fitness. It includes sub-threshold (“sweet spot”) intervals for aerobic capacity/endurance; all-out sprints for power and speed; and pedaling drills to help you pedal smoother/faster/better all the time. It calls for two workouts per week, which leaves time/energy for strength work and Life.

Prepare to Pin It is a 12-week program to build/maintain peak fitness. It covers all of your energy systems, from easy to threshold to suprathreshold (red intervals, which are so hard but very effective) to sprints. It calls for five workouts per week. Yes, you can skip some of them. Especially to work on mobility/stability/strength.

I start PUTB in Fall and generally finish P2PI in Spring. This puts me in great shape (for me) at the beginning of my busy coaching season.

Will you lose fitness after finishing these programs?

If you measure fitness by how much power you can sustain on the trainer, yes, probably. When you do these programs, you get a perfect balance of hard days and easy days. For a lot of us, once the riding season starts, we get lots of days at moderate effort, but we never go really hard or easy. My bike trainer and P2PI co-author Lester Pardoe calls this “locomotive syndrome.” You build endurance, but you lose your edge.

At the end of P2PI I can maintain about 300 watts for 20 minutes. Yesterday I managed 270 watts for 20 minutes, and it was not fun. This makes sense, because I’ve been riding/teaching almost every day all summer, and I’m tired. But: Right after the time trial I did red intervals on the rowing machine — and made more power than ever. So, in a practical sense, I’m maintaining adequate pedaling fitness and still building overall strength, power and robustness. When I teach on the road, I’ll do four 7-hour days in a row, and I’m hanging just fine. That meets my goals.

If you want to maintain fitness over the season, honor the spirit of P2PI: Mix up your rides/workouts. Do easy efforts. Spend time at threshold. Be sure to do the dreaded “red intervals.” Sprint! Get some rest days. And be sure to include strength work.

Can you do strength work and PUTB/P2PI at the same time?

Here’s where it gets tricky. Most bike coaches only want you to ride. Many strength coaches only want you to lift. You need to find your own balance.

In the off season, I’ll do two PUTB and two hard strength workouts each week. The other days are for easy, fun and family.

In the on season, if you’re running/riding a lot, it can be hard to fit in lots of strength work. Try to fit in two or three short sessions per week. Believe it or not, you can trade some of your riding for strength and still end up riding better.

Dee Tidwell from Enduro MTB Training is a highly trained professional who understands about work and family and riding, and he’s very good at adjusting his programs to fit you. I came to him with some serious low-back issues. He gave me an assessment (whoa I was broken and weak!) then asked my how often and how long I can do off-bike training. He created a program just for me, and it worked great in the off season.

Now that I’m on the bike almost every day, I’ve made some changes. The strength work, I’m learning, is crucial to delaying shoulder surgery and keeping my back in one piece. I’m not going to skip it. This was not Dee’s first choice, but here’s what I’m doing:

• Combining his Workout A and Workout B into one session, with one set of each exercise. Keep in mind Dee picked these exercises specifically to address my weaknesses. He’d prefer I do A and B on different days with very high intensity, but my body just can’t handle it.

• I do this all-in-one workout every single day, with mellow intensity. It takes 20-30 minutes. If I’m riding that day, I treat it as a warmup. If I’m not riding that day, I treat it like my workout. I also mix in the F6 program, which is very bike-specific.

• What’s interesting: I’m spending less time riding my bike, but I’m riding stronger — and my back hasn’t blown out since I started working with Dee. This is a win!

• During the summer, I have to prioritize my coaching, so I take it easy in other ways. This winter, I will do exactly what Dee tells me to do.

Can you abbreviate P2PI?

Yes! Get in as much endurance as you can, but be sure to spend time at threshold — and don’t skip the red workouts. Those are horrible, but they make a big difference. You can go red on the trainer, on your bike, in the gym, on a rower or wherever.

I hope this helps. Reach out to Dee. Mix it up and have fun!


Know more. Have more fun!

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