Regimens: Dave Scott's Ten-Day Program

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, March 1995

Regimens: Dave Scott's Ten-Day Program
By Ken McAlpine

Six-time ironman champion Dave Scott knows the value of active rest. He also knows the value of intense training. To help his athletes mix the two, he lays out a ten-day regimen instead of the standard weeklong plan. "On a ten-day cycle you can get in three hard anaerobic threshold sessions," he explains, "and still rest adequately in between."

Scott designed this ten-day regimen for a reasonably fit recreational cyclist. You need a heart-rate monitor and a measure of your anaerobic threshold to follow it precisely. To figure your AT, get in a good warm-up, strap on the heart-rate monitor, and ride a 30-minute time trial. Push as hard as you can for the last 15 minutes. Then take your average heart rate over that 15-minute period and subtract five beats per minute. That's your anaerobic threshold, the upper limit of your aerobic effort.

Our hypothetical cyclist has an AT of 160; you can use her to gauge your own effort.

Day One
Scott's week leads off with an AT hill-training session.

Warm up with 12 to 20 minutes of easy riding, and find a hill with roughly a 4 percent grade. Then start your 30-minute climb. Vary gearing and effort, alternating hard intervals, ranging from two to 12 minutes, with 30-second recovery periods of spinning in a low gear. Our hypothetical rider's heart rate will vary from 148 to 163 beats per minute. You get the point: "This should hurt," says Scott. When your half-hour ascent is over, descend easy and take an eight- to 15-minute cool-down.

Day Two: Active Rest
Ride for no more than 30 minutes, and don't let your heart rate get within 40 beats of your AT. Keep the gearing low, avoid hills, and stay in the saddle. After yesterday's hill sets, your glutes will be pretty tight; you can spare those muscles by raising your seat slightly to pass the burden down to your front quads.

Day Three
This is an endurance day, a three-hour-plus ride. Most of the effort is just slightly above active-rest pace (our rider's target heart rate is between 130 and 135). While you're fresh, toss in a dozen or so 30-second bursts, with a minute rest after each. During each burst, spin fast in a lower gear.

Day Four: Active or Complete Rest
Repeat day two's activity, or take the day completely off. It's almost the midpoint of your cycle, so it's a good time to give yourself a mental break and do something other than riding.

Day Five
Repeat day one's session, but this time on the flats. "Ride in a gear that your legs like," says Scott.

Like the hill workout, the intervals are two to 12 minutes long, but you don't get to rest between them this time -- rest, such as it is, comes when you let your heart rate drop slightly (to 140 for our rider) during some of the intervals. But Scott also wants you to push up above your AT on some of the efforts. Including warm-up and cool-down, this workout shouldn't last more than an hour.

Day Six: Active Rest
Ride at a leisurely pace for 20 to 30 minutes, but toss in low-gear bursts as you did on day three.

Day Seven: Active Rest
A two-hour ride at an easy pace; our rider's heart rate is 120 - 125.

Day Eight
Repeat day one's anaerobic hill-training session.

Day Nine: Complete Rest
We mean it. Leave your bike alone.

Day Ten
Get in a good warm-up -- this one will hurt. Make three hard five-minute efforts spaced by five-minute rest periods. The hard riding is exactly that -- as tough as you can go. "Very painful," says Scott, "but very productive." When you're resting, keep your heart rate around 40 beats below your AT. Finish with an hourlong recovery ride. You and our exhausted hypothetical rider can take a day of active rest before starting over with day one's session.

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