The Knowledge by Wahoo

Understanding Overload: The benefits of going big.

Episode Summary

Training overload, whether it's a week-long training camp or the upcoming Tour of Sufferlandria, can have big fitness benefits—as long as you do it right. Coaches Suzie Snyder and Neal Henderson break down how to up your training volume to get the most out of a big week.

Episode Notes

There's a reason training camps are so popular. Training overload—where you dramatically increase your training volume on successive days—can have big fitness benefits, as long as you do it correctly. Whether it's a week-long training camp or the upcoming Tour of Sufferlandria (our annual fundraiser to benefit the Davis Phinney Foundation), going big on back-to-back days can help you get over plateaus and prepare you for multi-day events. Wahoo coaches Suzie Snyder and Neal Henderson break down everything you need to know to up your training volume and ensure you get the most out of a big week.

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Episode Transcription

Neal Henderson  0:00  

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of The Knowledge podcast by Wahoo, I am Neal Henderson had a wahoo sports science.


Suzie Snyder  0:06  

And I'm Susie Snyder Wahoo's, multi-sport specialist. And today we're going to talk about how to prepare for a week of overload training. So, Neal, we've got a lot of information today. So let's dive right into it. What do we mean by overload training? And what do we need to know before taking on something like this?


Neal Henderson  0:23  

Big, big simple picture overload is doing much more than you're accustomed to doing. So we can define this in a lot of different ways. And you know, there are different ways of going about doing this training generally, though, is some bit of you know, progressive overload is really kind of the idea that we need to challenge our body. But specifically, we're going to talk about an even bigger overload, right now something like a week-long event, maybe where you're doing much more than you're used to doing in a competitive type environment, or something that's really, you know, kind of like a tour or a stage race, something like that, or a planned week of training, overload to stimulate some changes and improvements in your fitness and capacity. So, with that, you know, we have a few different ways of doing this, you know, the most common form, for most folks is a planned like training camp. And we're going to be increasing the volume or intensity that we do there. And the reason that these can be super beneficial, compared to just having a big week of training that we do at home is that you can focus more just on that training that works as well as the counterbalance to that extra work, which is some of your rest and recovery. The other type of overload might be something like I mentioned, a multi-stage event or a multi-day tour, like the upcoming Tour of Sufferlandria, where you're trying to complete each stage at your maximum capacity. So remember, even something like the Tour of Sufferlandria there is a few different ways that you can get, you know, that we can plan to try to get through that. But the most important thing is, you know, we're trying to raise money to support the Davis Finney Foundation. And with those three different levels that we have created for folks to follow the tour, we have still a bit of an overload occurring, whether you're doing the I'll say, just get through it, which isn't adjust situation that's still pretty heavy, right?


Suzie Snyder  2:35  

Yeah, most of us aren't used to riding seven days in a row. So you know, just riding your bike for seven days is a lot more than we might be a


Neal Henderson  2:44  

bit of overload. And we also then have some added intensity more so than we would normally especially if we ever did do seven days of riding in a row, we wouldn't typically do it with this much intensity. And especially even if we're going to the focus where we have a few days where we're pushing out 100% intensity. And then you know, there's the full crazy, you know, nuclear version of trying to do each stage at 100%. Which, boy, oh, boy,


Suzie Snyder  3:10  

has anyone ever actually accomplished that. I wonder we should do some analysis,


Neal Henderson  3:15  

we could look back a little bit, I would say we'd almost take somebody's having an improper 40 P profile set for it to be possible to complete all stages of the tour at 100%. By, you can still try. Put yourself on that edge and that limit. So do keep in mind, if you're going to work that hard, you also have to counterbalance that rest and recovery. And so here are a few things that we want to think about whether you're doing a training camp, or doing some kind of competitive overload.


Suzie Snyder  3:50  

Like we said, no matter what it is, let's come back to the reason why you want to do it. Right. Let's just get a little bit. Yeah, the why further into why do it. Because like we said, we're always training, especially if you're following a training plan. That training plan is built with a progressive overload. periodization so as long as you're following a training plan, you're always going to be improving, right?


Neal Henderson  4:14  

Generally, yeah, as long as the amount of load that you're putting is counterbalanced with some rest and recovery. True. Sure. Yes, you are right on track.


Suzie Snyder  4:23  

But what if we are going to go do a week-long camper tour or whatever, you know, we're, like we said, your general training doesn't necessarily always have you training seven days a week. So now you're about to go do a week-long event. You know, that's gonna be that's a major change. So like we said, you know, you have to be constantly changing that stimulus, right? What doesn't what challenges you change you? The correct common saying, so? We need to challenge ourselves a little bit more than usual sometimes.


Neal Henderson  4:57  

Yeah. And it's not just the physical Challenge part, but there's also a mental challenge. And there are gains both in a physical or physiological capacity, but also from the psychological side which can actually be super potent in terms of then opening up the capacity to do even more in the future. Right?


Suzie Snyder  5:18  

Yeah, you have who said it? I think Ken Kubler, who is the founder of Leadville, 100, right, he said something like, you know, you are capable of more than you think you are. Yeah. So, sometimes you just have to prove to yourself that you are actually capable, of more, so you can believe in yourself when the time comes.


Neal Henderson  5:40  

Yeah. And speaking of more, you know, a lot of times in training, we may be seen increases of like, say 10 or 20% of our training load from week to week, and kind of a normal, normal training with running, we may, you know, even have a little bit lesser increase just because musculoskeletal Lee, if we're doing something that has that kind of impact and loading, we don't increase as quickly but on the bike, we can get away with a little bit more, when we're talking about this kind of overloads, we're seeing more like a 3040, or even 50% increase in a training load for about a week period. And so you could probably tolerate more than that. And I know, I've seen folks that can do, you know, nearly doubling their training, from one week to another, but in many cases, if you increase that drastically, it takes so much time to recover, that you actually don't get a net benefit, you do it, you tolerate it, you have to rest so much that you're back at square one where you were before that overload. So managing the amount of overload is kind of part of it. And with part of that management then is, you know, how much have you done? Recently, how much have you done historically, and having a good plan for how much you're gonna, gonna do? Like when I look at the say, you know, 20, the upcoming Tour Sufferlandria calendar and look at things I'm like, Okay, I think this year, the focused plan makes a lot more sense for me than trying to go nuclear. And I think probably the overload that the Just get me through, it might not be adequate, that I think that's the sweet spot for me, based on what I have done in the past.


Suzie Snyder  7:15  

Right? It comes down to everyone's different, right, so you have to keep in mind what you've done, what you think you're able to do, and what you think you can actually recover from and continue training afterward.


Neal Henderson  7:27  

Yep. Yeah.


Suzie Snyder  7:28  

A lot of factors. Yeah.


Neal Henderson  7:30  

So what are the reasons that you typically would prescribe an overload for folks?


Suzie Snyder  7:35  

Well, sometimes, you know, people just get into a plateau, and they just, you get a little stale, you know, they've kind of been doing a similar training routine for a while, and they just stopped seeing big improvements, or want to see him a little faster. So changing it up and doing something just totally different. They're, obviously, you're not if you're a cyclist, you're not going to start running. But you know, just changing things up and giving the body a new stimulus can just help freshen up both physically and mentally?


Neal Henderson  8:08  

Yeah, I mean, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition. Insanity. So, you know, we're, we're trying to make sure that people are not insane with the training that they have planned and purpose and progression. And part of that, again, a big, a big bump like this, and an overload will help stimulate that.


Suzie Snyder  8:28  

Yeah. You know, what about a training camp, or like a vacation, where, hey, I want to go to Europe and ride some of the biggest mountains and the stages on the tour I have a week I want to make the most of it. You know, you can't just expect yourself to go and ride a mountain every day and be okay. Yep. Right.


Neal Henderson  8:49  

So your preparation leading into something like that definitely is important. You want to make sure you have some adequate rest, but going to a place like Majorca going to the Dolomites in Italy, like some of these iconic cycling places, you want to be fit enough so that you can go and do more than you normally would do and enjoy. Exactly. But you have to have some reason, you know, trying to do you know, 100 miles a day for seven days in a row, if you've only been averaging 20 or 25 miles, you know, three or four days a week might be a little too much. So again, make sure that you have an adequate build-up before you have that big overload challenge, and make sure that again, it's in that right, right overreach range.


Suzie Snyder  9:34  

On a similar note, you know, there are a lot of events that are multi-day stages, you know, three days, five days, seven days. Just yesterday, we were talking about the Breck epic you can choose three days, five days, seven, like there are a lot of options. So I guess one you have to kind of know yourself and what you might be capable of, but also set a goal that might be a little bit harder than something you've ever done.


Neal Henderson  9:58  

Exactly. And so with that you kind of have a training overload preparation, a lot of times that you want to use as kind of like a replication for the event, not doing the exact same thing. But something that kind of simulates or stimulates a little bit along the lines of what that event might be. So, as an example, you know, working with riders getting ready for a grand tour, you know, three weeks of riding with, you know, 21 stages, over 23 days, typically two rest days, it's an immense challenge, nobody, that I've worked with trains more than what the actual race load is, because the combination of the volume and the intensity is extreme, though in cases, we do have periods where we're near that level. And so the way I would typically do this with, say, somebody like Ron Dennis getting ready for the Giro d'Italia and say 2018, as we had a two-week block where the first week was a similar volume of riding, that they might have during the week of a grantor, you know, 2530 hours of riding, but have the intensity a bit lower, and then do a second day with five, six days, where we're actually even replicating some of the stages, the days the amount of climbing that might be done some bits of intensity, and even like the types of courses, so whether it's big mountains on one day, and then a long, flat day, and then say a time trial, in the end, those are things that we actually built into the training schedule to have a bit of familiarity with doing those kinds of efforts with an accumulation of fatigue. So not fully doing the entire thing, but doing some, you know, 60 70% of it, in a similar way that replication proves to be pretty useful. Yeah.


Suzie Snyder  11:47  

And, you know, that's, there are so many benefits of doing that, you know, physical, obviously, the ability to put out the effort required, repeatedly, day after day, the mental, as we talked about being confident that you can do it. And yeah, it's fun to challenge yourself to, you know, keeps you kind of like, oh, wow, okay, I can do this. I'm good at this. You give you a little positive reinforcement.


Neal Henderson  12:14  

Exactly. In overload. I mean, you've done  your knighthood ride, right? Yeah, I did my nanny a few years ago now. But, you know, in preparation for that, I think I had one day where I did four sessions back to back a couple of weeks beforehand. And that was my biggest overload. Yeah. And was able to get through it now. Was it easy? No. Did it take me a while to recover from it? Absolutely. Yes. But the overload doesn't have to be at that extreme. And so, you know, it has to be challenging, and significant. But it doesn't have to be extreme.


Suzie Snyder  12:50  

Right? Yeah. So let's, let's talk about maybe how we apply this overload. A lot of planning. Yeah, it seems


Neal Henderson  12:59  

a failure to plan as a plan to fail, right? I heard that recently, making sure you plan, what you're doing building up to that overload as well as then what happens afterward, like don't expect to set PRs five days after an overload. Like it might take a week or two for your body to have that evolution of fitness from that overload. You might feel okay, after three or four days, but to be truly capable of kind of expressing that capacity, it often takes a little bit longer, maybe, you know, seven to 10 days or so.


Suzie Snyder  13:30  

Yeah, so you're saying I should plan, plan my training, but also plan for recovery afterward? It also seems though, we need to do some planning for recovery during the overload, right? During this week, we can't just focus on training and think we're gonna be okay. If you don't take the time to, use your all the recovery tools, probably, you're gonna be maybe in the tank and day three?


Neal Henderson  13:57  

Absolutely, yes, it becomes more important than ever, when you are in an overload to pay attention to your nutrition, and especially what we think about as the pre, during and post-training periods, having super, you know, elevated importance with a period of overloaded training. So you can go back and refer to the knowledge episodes 1415 and 16, where we do discuss those topics in more detail. But it's really important during the context of a training overload, that you're really elevating your attention to your nutrition.


Suzie Snyder  14:28  

Yeah, and, you know, your actual training schedule probably needs to be planned out really well to like, what exactly are you training for? You better dial those training sessions into target the demands that you want, you are expecting of yourself? You know, training specifically is one of the main principles of training. So Exactly, yeah, considering those demands is really important. And then, like we already talked about managing others' life stressors is going to be really important. So something to consider is if you're doing this training camp at home or tour of stuff, you know, something like that you still have all those other life stresses of family work unless you're taking the week off, which is an option. Yeah.


Neal Henderson  15:16  

But if you can take a couple of days, even half days, something like that, to reduce that, that stress and demand, definitely, that would be very good. If you can get scheduled some bodywork like massage, or other things that you can do to accelerate the recovery process, spending some time, just relaxing, you know, quietly, maybe even taking a nap that you normally wouldn't be able to do on a Wednesday afternoon or whatever, if you're in the period of an overload, all of those things will help your body adapt to that extra stress of training stress because your body doesn't really your, your body doesn't care where the stress comes from. So if you're psychologically stressed, a lot of work and you're trying to train at a high level, that's just going to be way too much of everything. So we try to typically say, Okay, if you're going to be bumping up that physical load, let's see if we can pull back some of the other life stressors. Yeah, don't tolerate that, and adapt and get better from it, not just survive.


Suzie Snyder  16:14  

Absolutely. One more thought, What about strengths and weaknesses? Should we be focusing on one or the other? Or which one? Should we be focusing on our strengths to maximize our weaknesses? To bring ourselves up?


Neal Henderson  16:30  

Yeah, I mean, there are a few different ways to approach that when I'm thinking about a training type of training camp, I am often trying to maximize what I'm good at even more so. So kind of weaponize that strength to spend that extra time being even better at it, addressing potentially the weakness but not placing the greatest emphasis there. Especially if we're in a competitive situation, then well, you always want to maximize your strength and minimize you know, what weakness you may have. So trying, you know, in a stage race, you know, if there are certain stages that are better suited to you, then being able to put a little more energy into those days can often give a better net result, but you still have to pay attention to the, to the to where those weaknesses are, and addressing those consistently throughout your training will make them be less of an impediment. Anyhow,


Suzie Snyder  17:19  

that makes sense. Always some good advice from Sir Neil Henderson.


Neal Henderson  17:26  

Well, to recap, overload, have a plan for it weeding in so you're ready to build and challenge yourself. Make sure that while you're in that overload, you're balancing out some of the psychological and mental stressors of your life so that you can do that work and get better from it. Make sure you're paying attention to your nutrition, your hydration, especially throughout those periods, and then make sure you have adequate rest and recovery after to be able to get the most out of what you've already done. That


Suzie Snyder  18:01  

sounds like a pretty good plan. And I think everyone should now be prepared to go out and plan their training overload if so needed and desired. So that's it for another episode. Thanks for listening to the knowledge podcast by Wahoo