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The right training plan for you

In association with
18 Nov 2021

It’s not enough to put in the hours, you need to plan your training carefully to reap real benefits

Historically, training plans have involved tearing pages out of magazines, printing off PDFs found online, or tracking your distance, time and perceived effort into a diary. The advent of heart rate monitors and power meters introduced a level of data into the mix, while turbo trainers have provided lab-like settings in a home environment.

But even with the most high-tech kit on the market, there has still been an element of square pegs in round holes when it comes to following a training plan made for an 'average cyclist's' requirements. Until now.

The new Wahoo SYSTM training app has taken the popular Sufferfest app and completely transformed it into a fully holistic training tool that tailors its recommendations to your goals, ability and schedule.

Here, Wahoo's Head of Sports Science, Neal Henderson, and Senior Sports Scientist, Charles 'Mac' Cassin, reveal how SYSTM creates the right training plan for you.

The basics of training

'Ultimately, training is kind of a balancing act of work and rest,' says Henderson. 'On the work side of it, we believe in having individually specific training that's based on your individual capacities. Every workout that you do is effectively tailored across four specific elements of your four-dimensional power (4DP®) profile.

'Rest and recovery are part of the built-in progressions of each plan and you have options based on the different plans – either two weeks of progression followed by a third week that is reduced training, or three weeks building and then a one week reduction in training.

'We also believe that it's important to do more than just ride your bike and train (whether it's indoors or outdoors) so there are other elements – yoga, strength training and mental training – that you’re able to insert into your plan to help you progress. There's a mental challenge to any event, and each requires some level of psychological skills to be able to access the physical capacity you may have. We believe it's not just important to understand it, but also to train that side of things to be able to open up the opportunity to perform at your best.'

The pillars of your plan

'Four-dimensional power® basically adds three dimensions beyond functional threshold power (FTP),' explains Henderson. 'FTP is the lowest level of higher intensity. From a physiological viewpoint, there are a few other levels of intensity that are associated with ceilings of capacity – maximum aerobic power (MAP), anaerobic capacity and neuromuscular power.

'Having specific targets is important because we see a large difference in individual capacity – even between two people with the exact same FTP. It's a bit like buying a suit and asking for a 'medium' in everything – shoes, collar, jacket and trousers. In some cases, an FTP-only approach for those people that are all across the middle is fine. But most people have some variations there, and that's where we are able to tailor a plan more efficiently. What the 4DP® does is allow each workout to fit your ability best.

'At the end of a training plan, you can also see where the responses are occurring, or where you need to work to bring your whole cycling ability up.'

A plan that fits to you, not you to it

'With SYSTM, we wanted to cater to more than just absolute performance ability,' says Cassin. 'We also wanted to factor in time availability. Every plan is available as a two:one (2:1) or three:one (3:1) week progression, and has low, medium and high volume options. It's also possible to add in cross training such as yoga and strength training. The result is that SYSTM can adapt to more unique situations and still provide you with the tools to get the most out of the time you have available.

'Even the strength training sessions are now more catered to fit the demands of what you're training for. Previously, in the Sufferfest app, the strength progressions were the same, regardless of what activity you were doing. Now, it's more specific to the activity. So, if you're doing an off-road mountain bike or gravel plan there's a focus on more balanced stuff, while if you're on a multi-sport plan, there's a higher focus on upper body work.'

Upping the ante as you improve

'Each plan has a level of progression baked into it, in terms of the amount of time you're spending at different intensity,' says Henderson. 'But we also have the ability, within a workout, to make adjustments to those targets – whether you're having trouble hitting them or aren't finding them challenging enough.'

'Between the halfway and two thirds mark, we also have a ramp test,' adds Cassin. 'Although it doesn't update all the metrics, it will update your MAP and FTP values. At that point, if you've made good progress – even if you've only improved a little – we want to make sure that the majority of targets going forward are updated. The adjustments tweak the remaining workouts enough to help you really get the most out of the last four or five weeks of a plan.'

Helping you succeed with sports science

All of this leaves you with a training plan that will see your performance peaking when you need it. By being tailored to you and your lifestyle, a Wahoo SYSTM training plan is easier to stick to, rather than there being unrealistic expectations on the number of sessions you can squeeze into your week. Plus, if followed to a tee, there will be no sessions lost to overtraining, and your progression will be consistent and stable – rather than erratic and inefficient.

Find out more about how Wahoo SYSTM can boost your training and try it free for 14 days.

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