Defender is here! Do you have what it takes to keep your crown?
You've all but assured your win in one of the greatest Grand Tours in the world when disaster strikes. Your wheel slips out on a descent! As you brush yourself off and wait for a bike change you see your rivals rocket past and your lead all but slip away. In your condition you can't attack. But you can DEFEND.
Defender, a new workout designed by Sirs Mac Cassin and Neal Henderson of APEX Coaching & Consulting, is available now in The Sufferfest app. Featuring exclusive footage from the Vuelta a España, Defender is a 59-minute endurance builder that hits your FTP hard with four, ten-minute intervals right at your threshold.
Defender is designed to improve your aerobic fitness and your ability to put down steady, sustained power. But this workout doesn't just target your lungs and your legs. There is also a strong mental training component, teaching you how to effectively pace and cope with longer threshold efforts.
One of the most important strategies for any cyclist to learn is proper pacing. Every interval in Defender starts right above your threshold, meaning just above what you could hold for the 20-minute effort in Full Frontal. At the beginning you'll be feeling good, like you could hold that pace all day long. Every two minutes the intensity decreases. Should be easy, right? Not so fast.
By the end of each ten-minute block you'll be sitting right below threshold, but the Painsuckers will be thirsty. What might have seemed like an easy effort will now seem like a slog. Proper pacing takes practice. Defender is designed to help you listen to your body, develop effective pacing strategies, and improve your ability to deliver steady, punishing power.
If Who Dares and Fight Club Had a Baby
The architects of misery at APEX designed this workout specifically to improve your sustained power, and the fitness benefits of Defender are similar to what you'll find with Who Dares or Fight Club. Here's how it works:
- Each effort starts just above your FTP, forcing your legs and lungs to work hard. It's not going to be comfortable, but that's the point.
- By gradually decreasing the intensity every two minutes, Defender teaches your body how to clear out metabolites (the nasty by-products of Suffering that are largely responsible for the "burn") more effectively.
- These long, threshold efforts also teach your body how to produce aerobic power more efficiently.
What distinguishes Defender from Who Dares and Fight Club is how the overload is delivered. While Who Dares achieves this with short, maximal sprints before the sustained efforts, Defender asks you to spend minutes above FTP before settling in to the real work. This allows your heart rate and breathing to get much closer to what they would be during a long, steady-state threshold effort out on the road.
It's the difference between drinking from a garden hose and drinking from a fire hose.
The lower intensity of the overload in Defender also means you'll be training your aerobic system, but in a way that leaves you enough in the tank to hit tomorrow's workout just as hard.