TrainHeroic – Pursuing a stronger cyclist
06 July 2021
By: Ben Dilley, former professional cyclist for Team Novo Nordisk and current Strength and Performance Coach for the Team Novo Nordisk Development Team
Strength development for Team Novo Nordisk cyclists
“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.” This well-known quote from the Greek poet, Archilochus reminds us that when evaluating the development of an elite-level cyclist, the entire body of work must be considered. Increasing a rider’s threshold of muscular strength off the bike is an integral component for improving that “level of training” and enhancing performance gains in everything else the rider does on the bike.
As a former professional cyclist with Team Novo Nordisk and now a strength and performance coach, I have the privilege of conveying my cycling experience and coaching knowledge through providing strength and performance training for the Team Novo Nordisk Development Team. Up to this point, I’ve typically resorted to using shared documents and spreadsheets for prescribing each cyclist’s individual strength training. With the importance of providing customized programming for each rider’s specific needs, this format has proven cumbersome, and inefficient when updating and adjusting each different document. Having the training data and metrics stored in so many locations has made tracking data accurately very challenging. With most coach-athlete communication requiring the use of a separate messaging app, it has been difficult to fully understand the athlete’s fatigue level and accurately assess any changes in their performance.
Adding to these challenges, today’s elite-level cyclists are living in a data-driven world. The seemingly constant influx of training data and performance metrics, along with the various apps and platforms available to track this information can easily cause “data overload.” Specific to strength development, both coaches and athletes can find themselves overwhelmed with the plethora of information and potentially miss out on identifying areas for improvement and important trends in performance. The utility of a consolidated platform that allows for strength training to be prescribed, completed, and evaluated all in one location has never been higher.
With TrainHeroic’s incredible support of Team Novo Nordisk, I have been thrilled to begin using their platform to provide the Development team riders with their strength and performance training. Setting up my coach account on TrainHeroic was a smooth and straightforward process. Any questions I did have were quickly resolved through the associated help articles and videos demonstrating the exact process in both the web-based and mobile platforms. Transferring my programs from the various shared documents and spreadsheets has proven incredibly easy as the TrainHeroic platform provides an extensive library of exercises, prescriptions, and training formats, while also allowing for immense customization. Having the ability to create my own exercises and input specific modifications has been a key advantage to the TrainHeroic platform. While there are no substitutes for the fundamental strength movement patterns, slight adjustments and variations can make the desired strength development that much more transferrable to on-the-bike performance. TrainHeroic’s exercise creation feature allows me to input nuanced movements and exercises while providing specific instructions for the riders to follow for achieving the intended stimulus. Saving individual sessions gives a heightened level of adaptability that my previous method of shared documents did not. With the TrainHeroic mobile app, I have the capacity to adjust training sessions on the fly based on how the riders are feeling and account for other important performance metrics. This feature is even more critical in-season as the riders’ schedule can vary significantly with big blocks of training, traveling, and racing.
In conjunction with the feedback and communication I receive from the Development team’s director and cycling performance coach, I’m excited to start tracking individual rider feedback with TrainHeroic’s Readiness score. The brief questionnaire that riders complete before their training session will provide me with a unique insight into how they are feeling and assist with identifying trends over time. The ability to message a rider directly within the TrainHeroic app and address exercises or certain training sessions will also provide a major improvement to coach-athlete communication. Having all this critical information stored in one location and readily available will enable me to better prescribe training and contribute to each rider’s overall improvements in their cycling performance.
There is little doubt that cyclists pursuing elite-level performance must be willing to invest in building a larger foundation of strength. A stronger cyclist will be more resilient to training longer and harder on the bike. Increased strength will lead to improved power transfer and a more stable position on the bike. Ultimately, a stronger cyclist will be more resistant to fatigue, a crucial factor in determining who will win the day. With the goal for each Team Novo Nordisk Development team rider to reach the professional ranks, TrainHeroic has provided Team Novo Nordisk and me with the platform necessary to help unlock the strength and performance improvements required to reach that next level.