September is the beginning of the shoulder season. That is to say, September represents the descent of days spent in the saddle and an increase in the number of workouts to get prepared for the upcoming ski season. Snow may not have fallen on the slopes yet, but September is when a successful ski season begins. It does help to have put on over 2,500 miles on my bike this summer so I am starting with an excellent aerobic base.
Switching from long rides on gravel to a high intensity interval training (HIIT) regime that emphasizes explosive movements requires some planning. If one were to just jump right in you might find yourself spending the better part of a week walking around sore. Never mind the chance of injury that comes from not properly executing lifts when fatigue sets in.
The key is to build volume over a period of time. Most people like to focus on adding weight as a benchmark of progress, but if there is not a base of volume to work from injury will likely result. Matt Owen, a St. Louis based trainer, was quoted in Outside Magazine:
We need to really build that base of general physical preparedness in order to build other stuff on top of it—strength, power, sport-specific movement. We’re going to value volume—one to two hours of work every day—over anything else at first. It’s a lot easier to get strong when you’re able to tolerate more work, more time lifting weights, and you’re able to recover faster than if we just pull you in and make you start lifting heavy.
I am not over fifty years old…yet. Nonetheless, this advice is sound for anyone who values long term fitness across multiple physical disciplines without experiencing injury. Once the base is set through a series of workouts a person can focus on the stuff that will really allow them to excel on the slopes. The same thing can be said in the spring. No one should jump on the bike and grind out a fifty mile day without first putting on some miles via series of shorter rides.
During the shoulder season, as I watch the early season snowfall reports with anticipation of deep powder days, I am working in three to four HIIT sessions a week while maintaining three or four long rides on my bicycle. The difference from my HIIT sessions later in the year is that I have lessened the weight on most movements and focused on keeping the repetitions high.
By October I should be ready to transition into four or five longer HIIT sessions with heaver weights and more time on the rowing machine. By December my body should be ready for the slopes. Of course, I will be sore after my first day of bombing and ready to soak in the hot tub. It’s tradition!