Training Training Diary

First Muscular Force Workout of the Year

Legs in the air, rolling on the ground, I leapt up from under my bike quicker than I fell down. My right hip now slightly swollen from the fall, I had found the perfect gear, it was a good interval set, but not one I wish to repeat.

Yesterday was the first of my Muscular Force workouts in this Base period. In this workout I am doing 3 sets of 6 pedal strokes on each leg. This should be maximal effort in seated position. I was looking forward to this session as it is completely different to any other on bike training I do. The purpose is to improve functional force production.

Gear and location

With it being the first session I wasn’t sure which gear to choose. Previously I have used a hump back bridge over a railway line to do my reps. I remember thinking last year that it wasn’t steep enough even in my biggest gear. Momentum would get too high. For this workout to be effective I need to keep inertia to a minimum. So this year I’d decided to go to an actual hill to do them. My hill of choice averages 10-15%. So I knew that my biggest gear would be too big.

For each set I start by rolling in the chosen gear up the lower slope of the hill allowing the gradient to increase and slow the bike down to almost a stop, I then begin stamping on the pedals seated.

I went on the conservative side for the first set. It was a little too easy and I wasn’t spent by the last one. I could continue to pedal at a softer rate up the hill which to me meant it was to easy. Unsatisfied, I decided to go for a gear or two bigger on the next set. The advantage of the hump back bridge I’d used previously was that my last pedal stroke would bring me to the top where I could coast over top down the other side without issue. However this hill doesn’t plateau and continues for at least another 100 meters before any sort of respite. My plan was to change from big to small chainring after the last rep. I could then make a turn in the road or have time to clip out. Unfortunately this didn’t happen.

his horn perfectly synchronised with the violent gear change

I reached my final rep with the bike almost stationery, the load too great the gear change didn’t happen. Had I been on my road bike I’d have changed back to the big ring. Holding onto the base bar the front derailleur lever that’s dangling at the end of my aero extensions may as well have been on the moon from where I was sat. With no chance of me getting back to it to correct the shift. I stood on the pedals to keep the bike moving as much I could, fully aware that at any moment the gear could violently change. By this time a car had approached from behind.

The elderly man driving the approaching car, who was also fully aware I was struggling signified by the tortuous weaving and heaving, must have thought I needed some encouragement. The blast from his horn perfectly synchronised with the violent gear change that completely missed the inner ring. With that my weight fully on the right side of the bike my left foot automatically unclipped and I went sideways away from the unclipped foot hitting the ground. Temporarily my brain linked the horn sound with where I now found myself. I leapt up making an especially angry face at the driver.

My view during the fall
My view during the fall

It was the perfect gear choice. If I’d been at the gym I would have dropped the weight in the rack and walked away happy that I had pushed my muscles to their maximum. Instead I’m flailing on the floor. I had another rep to do. I decided for safety I would go down a gear for this one. This time I completed the set without prat fall.

The thing with a Muscular Force workout I usually come away feeling like I haven’t really done much. In all it’s just 18 pedal strokes on each leg. In any other workout it would take 10 seconds to complete. Because of this and feeling like I needed to find an alternative hill for the next session, I scouted for another suitable location. I then completed further 3 sets on a sightly lower grade hill.

Quantifying this session is difficult, the TSS score is negligible. My Quarq power meter is currently playing up so it didn’t give me any power numbers that I can rely on. I do however know the gear, the hill and cadence. My measurement of this session will be to increase cadence with the progression to move onto a larger gear.

This morning

Despite feeling without sufficient fatigue on my return from the workout yesterday. This morning I can definitely tell I had hit the spot. Whilst my legs and glutes feel some tiredness (what’s new), my abdominals feel particularly worked over. I suppose the stabilising muscles in these workouts are the first to get hit. To apply power you have to first be able to control the motion. However the sorest spot has to be where I fell on my right hip. This hip always seems the one to take the brunt of my falls. I will see how it feels on today’s ride.

More elsewhere


  1. Ha ha I can almost picture this fall. This was one of the reasons I bought a turbo, intervals and workouts don’t always mix so well with the open road, especially here in London. That said, outdoors is better for so many more reasons that the odd fall is acceptable collateral damage!

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