The X3 Training Lab

Last year, when I decided to focus on long distance cycling, I asked Michael to help me. Micheal is a NCCP trained triathlon coach, a certified personal trainer, and a certified kettlebell instructor. And as he’s putting it himself, he practices a scientific approach to training. Which basically means that we can geek about numbers and stuff.

That’s what I like about Michael, I get the benefit of structured workouts in two options: the “don’t think, do it” option when I feel like it and the “tell me why” option when I want it.

This November, Michael opened “The Lab

It’s a dual purpose studio: the first room hosts 8 computrainers and the second room serves as a strength and mobility training room.

ComputerTrainer fueled group cycling

The main room of the studio is equipped with 8 computrainer station. Each station has it’s own screen, controller and fan.

TL;DR: computrainers are the right tool to do indoor structured workouts.

If you’ve never been on a computrainer, hear me out. 
 Last winter, I trained on a Wahoo Kickr power trainer. The kickr is pretty straight forward: you attach your bike to it, you pedal, and the trainer tells you how many watts your working. The more you work (push hard and/or pedal faster) the more the watts. So, you want to make it harder? you shift down. Too hard? You shift up. Kind a like riding your bike outside.

The computrainer on the other hand has two modes. The first mode, much like the Kickr, provides a constant resistance: if you want to work hard, you have to shift down and/or pedal faster.

The second mode allows for variable resistance. And that’s where it becomes interesting. The trainer can vary its resistance based on a course’s elevation grade for instance: going uphill requires more work than going downhill. If you are riding in a group, the trainer can also modulate resistance to simulate drafting. That’s also how you would do your FTP test.

The trainer can also base its resistance on a predefined power target. Let say you want to trainer at 80% of your FTP, you just have to pedal at a constant cadence and the trainer will adjust the resistance to produce the targeted work. If you increase your cadence, resistance decreases but resulting wattage remains the same (and vice versa), all of that without shifting gears. That makes going though a structured workout super easy: just pedal and focus on your form, the computrainer will take care of providing you the right amount of resistance.

Each station has its own screen. It shows the group’s stats (watts, RPM and HR, instant, average and per zone value, and many more), and the workout. On the previous picture, at the bottom of the screen, you can see a structured workout. X axe is the time, Y axe is power. Because structured workouts intensity are based on a percentage of FTP, everybody in the room works at the same perceived effort. As a side effect, during my recovery week, I can setup the system to work at 90% of my FTP.

Strength & Mobility Training

Introducing Krista. Krista pulls trains.

She also kicks butts during strength and mobility workouts at the Lab. I was happy to squat and deadlift big weights at the gym. But that didn’t prepared me for Krista.

Going from a regular gym circuit to a structured strength workout with Krysta checking your form, giving you advise and pushing you hard, makes a big difference.

Well, if you consider training during this winter, you should definitively check the Lab out.

Originally published at on November 28, 2015.