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 The Time-Crunched Cyclist: Racing-Winning Fitness in 6 Hours a Week by Chris Carmichael and Jim Rutberg

The Time-Crunched Cyclist: Racing-Winning Fitness in 6 Hours a Week by Chris Carmichael and Jim Rutberg

The Time-Crunched Cyclist: Racing-Winning Fitness in 6 Hours a Week by Chris Carmichael and Jim Rutberg

 Book Review: The Time-Crunched Cyclist

Book Review: The Time-Crunched Cyclist

In this 3rd edition of their popular book, Chris Carmichael and Jim Rutberg provide the latest research supporting their training for time-crunched cyclists. About 15 years ago, the authors noticed that athletes were not getting expected results. They were making some progress, but "the gains were more difficult to come by."  Why was this happening? 

"The problem was time. . . The common factor shared by athletes who were experiencing subpar results from their coaching programs was a lack of training time."

Traditional approaches call for long training sessions--but that leaves out athletes not having that time: "Superior performance in cycling and other endurance sports was out of reach for time crunched athletes." In the past, you needed 10 hours a week minimum, but "I don’t have that kind of time anymore, and neither do a lot of the athletes who come to CTS."

Here's the key to this type of regimen:  High intensity, but shorter: "Over the past 10 years, studies have continued to show that short, high-intensity sprint efforts yield physiological adaptations similar to those expected from traditional endurance training."

Your training helps drive adaptations. "You won’t be completely recovered from one effort before it’s time to begin the next, and that’s the point. The efforts will generate a lot of lactate, and your body will be working to process it, but starting your next high-power effort while your lactate levels are still elevated helps drive the necessary adaptations."

 Book Review: The Time-Crunched Cyclist

Book Review: The Time-Crunched Cyclist

These shorter workouts have a tradeoff. Since time is limited, "intensity is the key to performance." The workouts are short, but very hard. "You will be performing some efforts just below your lactate threshold power output and some right at it, but many efforts will be much more difficult, at maximum intensity."

The authors suggest, and give recommendations on buying, a "Power Meter."  "Your power meter provides a detailed record of every ride, with heart rate, power output, speed, and cadence information." They also mention how to use heartrate, instead, as many cyclists will not want to spend hundreds of dollars for the meter.

A few cautions: The authors point out that you must let your body recover after the several month training program: "You will gain fitness and power rapidly , and you will be able to have a lot of fun with it while it lasts, but 10 to 12 weeks after you start the program, you’ll have to back off and recover."

 Book Review: The Time-Crunched Cyclist

Book Review: The Time-Crunched Cyclist

I thought the scientific details were pretty complicated, but the workouts in the book are simple. That is exactly what they intended: "Training isn’t that complicated, and it shouldn’t take an advanced degree or a spreadsheet to understand what you need to do on the bike. Furthermore, simplicity is exactly what time-crunched athletes need."

I found the discussions of weight loss and nutrition particularly interesting. If you simply don't have more time to train, what else can you do?  "The answer is staring you in the full-length mirror every day: You have to optimize weight."  However, for a seasoned athlete, weight loss will probably be limited by "diminishing returns." In other words, you're already pretty lean, and there isn’t much room for much improvement.

Besides the cycling exercises, there is also a chapter on strength training. "If you want to keep your metabolism elevated, you need to focus on building—or at least maintaining— lean muscle mass. Cycling may help you maintain or build leg muscle, but it doesn’t do much for the rest of your body."

All in all, I found THE TIME-CRUNCHED CYCLIST to be a credible, proven approach.  I was a little bewildered by the long sections on anatomy, but probably other readers will appreciate this level of detail. The book is filled with numerous case studies, describing athletes using different types of programs.  Some of the case studies describe serious problems, such as what happened to one racer without proper hydration or heat protection. The end of the book contains extensive references and recommended reading

For another perspective on high intensity interval training, I found this took to be excellent:  The One Minute Workout by Martin Gibala and Christopher Shulgan.

 Book Review: The Time-Crunched Cyclist

Book Review: The Time-Crunched Cyclist

Advance Review Copy courtesy of the publisher. Photos courtesy of Pexels.

The Time-Crunched Cyclist: Racing-Winning Fitness in 6 Hours a Week by Chris Carmichael and Jim Rutberg

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