Time Efficient Totally Effective Cycling Training Program

If you put the lives of us modern athletes on the time-line of humanity's existence, we are but an evolutionary blip. Could we have really changed physiologically in the last 1% of our collective existence? There's no rational need to fight evolution.

This is the theory behind Paleo Diet For Athletes: A Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance by Loren Cordain, PhD and Joe Friel, MS. It's also the theory behind my own training methods.

Let me explain...


Consider how we've survived as a species: you either had phenomenal short-burst power to run away from a predator, or you used the same power burst to pounce on your own kill. That's our genetic heritage.

Now, compare this to your racing experiences. Do you lose because the pace is long and slow and you can't keep up? No, you likely lose because the hammer gets dropped, and you get dropped.

The hammer doesn't get dropped for hours. It gets dropped for minutes. It may be many short multi-minute intervals, interspersed with some slightly easier-paced recovery periods. But it is almost never for extended 30 to 60 minute hard-hitting hammer attacks.

No, the hammer attacks are almost always the same kind of kill-or-be-killed power bursts our evolutionary hunting ancestors were so skillful at executing.

Think about it. Isn't bike racing really a bunch of unstructured intervals all strung together?

Focus Your Energy & Focus Your Results

On this basis, last year I threw away the anchors that were many long, long, hours riding my bike. Instead, I began adapting my cycling training to focused interval training, designed to put me at the TETE de la Course ("Head of the Race" for all my non-French-speaking readers).

In my cycling training program "TETE" means: Time Efficient, Totally Effective.

It's not that I'm saying any other approach to training doesn't work. It's just that I believe other approaches are neither time efficient, nor totally effective.

Much of the success with other training approaches relies on the genetic abnormalities of outliers - those athletes whose genetics are different. Throw a dozen eggs at the wall, and keep those that don't crack - some athletes do thrive on crazy volume. But those athletes are likely genetically different from the rest of us average guys. We're not all Lance-Armstrongs-in-waiting.

But apply focused intensity and focused volume in a well structured interval based training program, and I think most of us everyday cyclists will start seeing the bike racing results we'd like to see. We can get to that place physically where mental games and tactical approaches will finally make the difference.

But I must warn you - this type of training isn't for everyone. It is hard work. It never gets easy, but it does get easier if you stick with it.

Besides the research backing it up1, it is also supported by 2 key facts about us busy, everyday cyclists:
  1. Time is the biggest barrier to achieving fitness success - you should only do what's needed to stimulate maximum improvement.
  2. Focus your mind and it will take you where you want to go.
Maximum Performance For Cyclists

I began designing my TETE de la Course Cycling Training Program based on Maximum Performance for Cyclists by Michael J. Ross, M.D. As a physician, Dr. Ross has done a thorough job of digging into the research going on in the field of athletic training. It's a fairly well written book, with extensive reference citations - the most complete list of references I've seen in a book not aimed at researchers.

But I've found the real-world application of his approaches needed some tweaking based on my own 15+ years of concentrated cycling experience. And over the last year I've continued with my own reviews of the continuing research and believe I've come up with a more complete program.

But this is not the end of the line for any of us coaches trying to get maximum performance from ourselves or our clients. The process is on-going.

Stay tuned to my blog and I'll start revealing what I've learned and put into the TETE de la Course Program. I'll help you apply the same to your own training. Make sure you're subscribed so you don't miss a pedal stroke!

In the meantime, check out your muscle physiology if you haven't already done so. And make sure you understand the paramount importance of recovery.


  1. http://jp.physoc.org/cgi/content/short/575/3/901.