Progressive Pyramid Cycling Training Session

A classic off-season training session for cyclists (1.5-2 hours) where you aim to top out at Sweet Spot in the last 15 minutes. As winter training progresses and you approach early spring you would top out at threshold or super threshold making it a very demanding session. Perfect for training indoors on the turbo (or a static spin bike with power) or outdoors if the weather permits; if you’re training indoors on the turbo, simply shorten the warm-up.

I have had excellent feedback on this session from the cyclists I coach who have felt great benefit from it. Ideally you need to use power (watts) on the bike as an accurate way to measure intensity, either through a power meter on your turbo trainer setup or using a Wattbike or equivalent which provides power readings. Establishing your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) is also key as this gives you a reference point to estimate the watts for each element of the training session.

If you don’t have access to a power meter then you can use a heart rate monitor, although this is not as effective as your heart rate will drift upwards especially when indoors. For this particular session heart rate would start @ 70-75% Max HR then 75-80% and finishing just under 85%  of your Threshold Heart Rate. Make sure you know your accurate heart rate zones – although the standard 220 minus age formula is useful as a rough guide, it usually leads to lower than normal training zones as most athletes tend to have higher than average maximum heartrates.

Progressive Pyramid Cyclists’ Training Session

  1. Warm-up: 30 min rollout including
    • 8 min as 40 sec @ 100-110% of Functional Threshold Power (FTP) / 20 sec easy during second half of warm-up
  2. Main Set: 60 min progressively building power including
    •  25min @ Light Tempo Watts (75-80% FTP)
    • 20 min @ Medium Tempo Watts (80-85% FTP)
    • 15 min @ Sweet Spot Watts (90% FTP)5 min very easy
  3. 5 min very easy
  4. Rest of ride easy

Variations of this session include one with higher levels of progression and a Mini Progressive Pyramid.

For more information on Functional Threshold Power (FTP) and Training Zones, see the TrainingPeaks Threshold article or Joe Friel’s blog.

Looking for a gym in Glasgow with bikes that measure power (watts)? Check out the Matrix IC7 bikes at Glasgow University’s Stevenson Building in the West End or Village Gym at Pacific Quay in Glasgow. You can also also find Wattbikes at a number of Glasgow Club Sports Centres: the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome at Emirates Arena in the East End, Glasgow Club Bellahouston & Scotstoun Leisure Centre.

Testimonial: Lara Russell

After injuring my hamstring during a training run for my first marathon, I approached Kevin for his help with maintaining as much fitness as possible while the injury healed and to catch up with my training once I was able to run again.  I chose Kevin as I regularly attended and enjoyed his spinning and bodypump classes and felt confident he’d be able to help me.  Having used a couple of personal trainers in the past, I’ve found that the real difference with Kevin is that your training plan feels truly tailored to you and your goals, your abilities and the results and feedback from previous sessions.

The training schedules Kevin supplies are always challenging and varied, never boring and I know that my fitness levels and speed have increased beyond what would have been possible if I’d continued to train by myself.  You have to be prepared to work hard to train with Kevin, but the results are worth it and I’d thoroughly recommend him to anyone looking to improve their fitness or train for a specific event.

Testimonial: Kate Richardson

Kate Richardson – an accomplished triathlete with Fusion Triathlon Club – has kindly provided a review of Blackzone Coaching:

Kevin Henderson is infectious. His knowledge, professionalism and enthusiasm ooze an inspiring passion for his profession and for the development of the athletes with whom he works and relentlessly drives to maximise their talents.

Cooking up a potent recipe of hard work, science, nutrition, rest and recovery, Kevin instils confidence, belief and a real desire to execute.

Don’t turn up if you don’t want to work, but if you’re ready to put the hours in results will follow!

Kate’s recent successes include

  • British Athletics X Challenge Series Champion U13
  • Scottish Schools Indoor 1500m Champion U16
  • Scottish National 1500m Indoor Champion U15
  • Scottish National Young Athletes Road Race Champion U13
  • West District 1500m Champion U15
  • Stirling Duathlon Champion TriStar 3
  • Bishopbriggs Triathlon Champion Tristar 3
  • Scottish Schools X Country Championships Silver Medallist U16
  • Scottish Schools Aquathon Championships Silver Medallist U15
  • Scottish National X Country Championships Bronze Medallist U13
  • Scottish Inter District X Country Championships Bronze Medallist U13

Doping & amateur cycling Guardian article

The Guardian published a recent article on the prevalence of doping in amateur cycling and I was asked to share my views as a cycling coach.

“It can become a slippery slope,” says Emily Palmer, a psychiatrist and amateur racer in Glasgow, who was talent-spotted by her spinning class instructor. Palmer takes caffeine supplements and beetroot juice, which give legal boosts. Her coach is Kevin Henderson, who also worked with Mark Daly, the Panorama reporter. Henderson says that, now cyclists pretend to train and ride like pros, they also use gyms in a way they never used to. Gym culture, he adds, and its traditional fondness for pharmaceuticals, is helping to lead athletes on to substances that, unlike beetroot juice, we have decided to ban. “They’re coming into contact with the bodybuilders, and we’re seeing amateur cyclists being done for steroid abuse,” he says.

Read the article in full on the Guardian website

Testimonial: Mark Daly, BBC

Kevin was my coach during the making of my BBC Panorama programme Catch Me If You Can, and was an essential part of my team.

He was in charge of producing 15 hours of mainly bike training per week for me, for around eight months, as well as closely monitoring my progress. I was involved in a secret experiment to help expose doping in sport, so I had to be sure I could trust my coach to be circumspect about what I was doing.

Kevin is a trustworthy and inspirational coach, who is extremely well versed in the science behind behind the sessions he was giving, and he always finds ways to be innovative; the training is never boring.

The results I got with Kevin’s training were quick and pronounced. And I continued to improve.

He is always on hand for last minute changes to training, or to stick in session at short notice. All he thinks about is training and sports, which is what you need as a coach. And he always knew when I needed an easy day. I’d wholeheartedly recommend Kevin Henderson as a coach.

Mark Daly
Investigative journalist

Testimonial: Nathalie Jones, dietitian

Nathalie Jones is a freelance dietitian based in Glasgow who worked with Kevin Henderson on developing a triathlon coaching programme. Read her testimonial below.

I have always trained on my own, whether that be for running or triathlon. I always did ok but tended to overdo it and tire myself out or get injured. It was always pot luck whether a race went really well or disastrously wrong. Rest / easy days were never planned and probably, my harder sessions were not hard enough. I had known Kevin for at least 10 years as I had attended his spin classes in the past but, when we first spoke about the possibility of a structured training plan, I was apprehensive and unsure if another person could tailor a plan to my unpredictable work pattern and manage my training goals.

It has only been a few weeks but already, I cannot imagine how I would organise my own training again. It has been a real relief to have someone else take care of what I am doing and when. I’m not used to the detail or training at a particular pace or heart rate but am learning that each session has its purpose and that might not always be to go flat out. The Training Peaks system he uses is really straightforward (even to a total technophobe like me) and I train better knowing that he will be seeing my every move.
Kevin always has my week planned ahead of time and tailors it to the available time I have. I have found it a challenge, especially for longer sessions, but each session is manageable and within what I can do (just!). He is extremely knowledgeable and seems to have figured out quickly what I can push to and when to ease off, which is better than my own knowledge of myself!

I have found him to be a real support and is only a text away if I have a question. I would recommend Kevin to anyone who wants to take their training a step further. Knowledgeable, supportive, firm but fair – a great coach overall. Thank you very much!

Interested in working with Kevin to reach your full potential? Get in touch