Was Training Harder In The Past? | Old School Training Methods From Fausto Coppi

– We’ve discussed quite a few
times recently on the channel whether being a pro cyclist
these days is actually easier than it was in the past. And one thing that gets brought up time and time again is that modern training
methods just aren’t quite as epic as they used to be. Back in the days of Fausto Coppi, Eddie Merckx, and Bernard Hinaut, riders would head out
on literally hundreds of kilometre training rides day after day. And on these epic rides, they would include some frankly insane and brutal training methods as well. So I felt oddly inspired
to give it a go myself. (intense music) (music lessens in intensity) If you’re gonna an epic old
school training session, you might as well attempt one from one of the greatest cyclists
of all time, Fausto Coppi. If you’re not familiar with Fausto Coppi, here’s a very brief history lesson. His nickname was Il Campionissimo, the champion of champions. And if that doesn’t
already tell you enough, check out his palmares,
five-time Giro D’Italia winner, two-time Tour de France winner, five-time Il Lombarida winner, three-time Milan-San Remo winner, world road race champion, and a Paris Roubaix win in there as well, along with many, many others. And if that doesn’t sound
astounding, factor in that when Coppi should have
been hitting the best form of his career, the Second
World War broke out, effectively robbing
him, and everyone else, of his six greatest years of his career. The thing that defined Coppi though was how he would win the races. Another pro at the time, Rafael Geminiani, once famously claimed that
you didn’t need a stopwatch to measure the gap to second place, you could use the clock on a church tower. Such were his margins of victory. And once Coppi had attacked, the rest of the race would
rarely see him again. But how did he get so strong? We think we may have found the answer in one of his favourite training sessions. It’s not a complicated session, but its brutality lies very
much within its simplicity. Coppi would ride solo for 150 kilometres before meeting up with a
group of strong amateurs and asking them to relentlessly attack him for a further 100 kilometres. It sounds awful, doesn’t it? And that’s where I
become a guinea pig again because I get to try it out. (intense rock music) Fausto Coppi was from the
Piedmont area of Italy, where you had a good mixture of flat roads on the plains to the north,
or a slightly hillier ride if you headed south towards the coast. With this in mind, I’ve tried to replicate something
similar using the app komoot. Now you may have heard of one of Fausto Coppi’s
most famous training quotes, “Ride your bike, ride your
bike, ride your bike.” And it turns out, he wasn’t referring to riding mile and mile on
end, he was actually referring to the specificity of his training. Basically, if you want to get good at doing one thing, do
that one thing a lot. And if you think about how
a bike race often pans out, steady at the start
before a gradual ramp up in intensity, lots of attacking
and a lack of control, Fausto Coppi’s epic
training session starts to make quite a bit of sense. As to the length of these training rides, well it’s important to remember that races back then
were quite a bit longer than they are now. Take for example the 1947 Giro D’Italia that Fausto Coppi won. Nine of those stages were
over 200 kilometres in length. And three of those were
over 260 kilometres. So a pro back then did need
to focus on their long rides. And that’s quite different
to how pros train today. These days it is actually rare
for a pro to train much more than five hours day after day after day. Instead, with the advancements
in training knowledge, structured intervals are the focus and it’s rare for a pro to do much more than three to four hours on a daily basis. So I’m coming to the end of
the first part of my ride now, which I’ve got to be
honest is really weird. 150 kilometres would be a really long ride for me these days, so the idea of adding another 100
kilometres is a bit daunting. And they’re gonna attack
me for the entire ride. We put a call out to a few local riders for help for the next part of this video. But, because it’s the middle of the week and we’re in the middle of nowhere, we’ve ended up with a pro, an ex-pro, and what looks like an
aerodynamic specialist. Look at his bars if you
don’t know what I mean. They’ve agreed quite happily to attack me for the next 100 kilometres. This part of the ride I
think is deceptively clever because depending on what sort
of session I want to have, I can choose to respond to
the attacks straight away, giving me a sprint workout, or I can drag out the
efforts for 10 to 20 minutes and slowly reel them all back in, creating more of a threshold type workout. Let’s see how it goes. (upbeat rock music) So that brings me onto my next point. This isn’t just a physical workout. It’s also a mental workout as well. And more specifically,
it’s a tactical workout. And the reason for this is I need to constantly make the calculation as to what sort of rider is attacking me. If they’re a time trialist, I cannot afford to let them get a gap. I have to sprint and get straight on top of it and shut down their effort. Otherwise, I’m gonna be
chasing for a long, long time. And conversely, if there
was a sprinter attacking, I don’t need to get on it straight away. I can reel them back in with my superior time
trial strength myself. And that makes it very, very specific, constantly analysing the situation that’s changing on the road. If you compare that to
modern training methods, pros these days have to think about something completely different, power numbers and perhaps
uploading a GPX route to their head unit. And I think it’s that
form of concentration that makes Fausto Coppi’s
training ride so demanding. For example, speak to any pro after a really tough, aggressive race, and they’ll tell you it wasn’t
just physically fatiguing but also mentally fatiguing. Fausto Coppi replicated that perfectly with this epic training session. (upbeat rock music) So was training really harder in the past? Well, even if you can’t tell, after a couple of cups of coffee, I’m still completely exhausted. I had to go super deep, especially in the second half of that ride. But was the ride actually any harder than a modern training session? Well, looking at my power
numbers, the answer is simply no. At no point did I exceed
any of the numbers I’d see on a normal training session. But that’s not really a surprise, considering I did have to ride for nearly twice the duration. But then again, riding 250 kilometres on its own is a big effort and takes some serious consideration. And that’s before you
factor in all those attacks that are to follow in the second half. In the end, it’s horses for courses. If as a modern cyclist, I train
for races back in the ’50s, there’s no way I would
have been competitive. I simply wouldn’t have had
the endurance to keep up. And likewise, if a 1950s rider was to train for modern races,
they’d barely be warmed up by the time the race had finished and wouldn’t have the intensity in their legs to be competitive. If you enjoyed this video,
give it a big thumbs up. Before you go though, check out Ollie’s Iceland
epic just down there.

82 thoughts on “Was Training Harder In The Past? | Old School Training Methods From Fausto Coppi

  1. Great Channel with Great videos of cycling … Love from Pakistan ??, Vloger, traveller, Innocent Director

  2. You actually say that if a pro cyclist in the 50's was to race a modern crit was going to struggle? Wrong mate,someone capable of doing 250km a day on endurance,can race faster for an hr & sprint.Modern training is clever & timewise,but endurance training makes you lighter & by consequence faster!

  3. Think as well why coaches nowadays don't stress with endurance while if you actually do,you become faster & need less watts to punch in attacks & sprints

  4. I thought it was gonna be old school like riding a 39-25 up the Zoncolan. This was just an endurance workout with negative splits.

  5. If you want to improve in cycling you need to change your body shape & the only way is endurance first of all,it's the tough truth that nobody likes! No your bike or disc breaks,it's your body & than mindset. GCN start making proper videos & stop lying to people.

  6. Hey guys! I'm just wondering what everyone's resting heart rate is here? Mine is 55 when laying in bed and I'm a 15 yo male

  7. Surely this should be done on a similar bike to what was used then. Not a lighter modern bike with easier gearing, shifting, rolling etc and modern shifters.

  8. Back in the day riders would go for hundreds of miles but now we can, with the help of sports scientists and nutritionists etc, get the same benefits with about half the effort and to better effect. Only a fool would ride 300 miles up a mountain to get fit if they didn't have too.

  9. Old School Training requires also old school heavy bikes with big rings. Not many pro riders would be able to compete against those old school riders if they had to use the older equipment.

  10. Being a pro rider is much harder then in those days, back then they just made long rides, today, there is not only specific training schedules, but also how nutrition takes over your whole life…in the old days they went out training and then drink a few bears and smoke some cigarettes after it.

  11. it might be more convenient to achieve some part than the older times, but now running a team is harder, also riders had to take care of more strategy thinkings

  12. Those old school guys were just much stronger ,and able to recover much faster and easier from effort no doubts.Theyr bikes were probably twice as heavy than the today's bikes so if somebody wants to compete against those guys ,use the same heavy bikes,no supplements,and the same quality of roads and tyres.

  13. You guys should do a race between an old school race bike and new school race bike on a section of the Tour de France and see just how much of a time difference there is.

  14. Excellent video.
    You don't seem to think that riders from the 50s would have the capability to handle modern, shorter, intense races. I can only refer you to Belgian kermesses of the period so I really don't think your argument there holds up.
    I'm pretty sure Van Looy, Van Steenbergen, Coppi and certainly Eddy Merckx wouldn't have much trouble in the UK domestic pro crits!

  15. There is an old saw that the best way to get faster is to ride in a fast group and try to keep up. You will probably be dropped the first few rides but in pretty short order you will be much stronger. I wonder if Coppi was trying to refine that bit of ancient wisdom. He would wear himself out with the long endurance ride and then he used the fresh riders at the end to provide enough speed and variation that he had to work his tired body really hard to win. For most of us that training technique probably has some real merit. Setting up the practice wouldn't be easy. In a world where everybody trains "scientifically," an occasional old school session of this sort might give a really good rider the edge he needs.

  16. This is one of my favorite yet. Great information. I know several think you should have used a retro bike but I don't think the concept changes with the newer stuff. If you managed too do a ride like this a few times a week, even on a modem bike, I believe it would give some cool results. Wish I had the time and contacts to try it.

  17. You admit to being knackered and then say that looking at the power numbers the ride wasn’t any harder than modern training rides. So? It’s not about how hard, or how tiring, a particular ride was. It is all about the adaptation. You can chase big training numbers, or you can chase adaptation to build the traits you need to race well.

  18. Something to consider doing a study on: Beryl Burton worked in manual labour jobs.Could that have been part of her secret sauce that helped to make her such a great rider?Does doing manual labour especially outdoors in the various conditions contribute to being a better athlete?

  19. I once trained for a 160km gran fondo by doing short, 1-2 hours, rides after work. When I did the gran fondo my legs and lungs were ok, but EVERYTHING else hurt. My neck, back, rear end, hands, arms, feet.

  20. Pity not Ollie was in the video to since he could have done an analyse about Chris training session. Not easy compere that since they had other bikes in that time and the session was as I understand not made in Italy either.

  21. If Coppi were competing today, he would train using all the modern techniques that we have. He would take all that info and just do it 110% better than everyone else.

  22. Thanks for the nice and respectful words to Fausto Coppi. On December 2019 we will organise a memorial ride to and in Ouagadougou where he raced his last race.

  23. Brilliant analysis. Takes a tall tale and breaks down why it could have been effective. One question: would such a session work today if the durations/intensities were better-matched to modern road races? Average speed/power outputs would increase overall, but the attacking portion would remain. Possibly a good session to develop tactics?

  24. I rode 218Km once but i didn't have people attacking but i still felt just as exhausted. I imagine Chris just wants to sleep for a day or two.

  25. How many kjoules total did you produce on this ride and how many kjoules do you produce on a normal training ride? If there's a difference one is more difficult than the other. Which training method produces more kjoules?

  26. This vid was great. Old school training is pretty much how I like to ride.
    Please do more videos on some of the old pro's.

  27. I do something similar. I do several hours solo after work, then occasionally join a local "Tuesday Night World's" for a hammer fast. Not as epic, about 100 miles total. But painful.

  28. Watching tis episode was really annoying at times because of that shit-ugly Pinarello. I am deeply convinced that everybody who likes the design of these bikes is a genuinely bad person.

  29. Couple of seconds did you notice , training on a single speed , maybe fixie bike ? You shouldnt be training with gears , ive sorted all my health out at sixty with a fixie , never liked gears , I use gears in my body ,and it saves me fetishing about pointless expenive electronic gears , single speed , you can use a much thicker chain , which unbelievably, makes a major difference , nice solid feel , I'm ex speed skater so more powerful legs than cyclists thin chains feel weak , thick chains much better

    Fixie is way to go , and it teaches you to ride properly , or people call it difficult , its not , if you can ride, theyre quick too , much quicker except on steep hills if you cant turn gear , or down you cant change up

    But the first black white clip says it all , that's me that is .

    And fixies are cheap not the ridiculess pricces people pay for light bikes which won't make them better riders – worse in fact

    Kona paddy wagon £500 steel , best bike ive ever had , flies , its tough ,i pump tyres up now and then , thats it for years.

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