You want to improve your times on the Versaclimber?

You better understand how to measure your Absolute Power Output and your Maximum Sustainable Power on the Versaclimber. Give this workout a try.  It is a tough one!


APO (Absolute Power Output) x Time= MSP (Maximum Sustainable Power) this is the highest percentage of your APO that you can hold in longer efforts.  Is it 50%, 60%, 20%?  Holding a higher percentage of your APOis a big contributing factor to winning in most sporting events that last longer than 10 seconds.   

So let’s look at the Versaclimber.  A 30 second effort would be a good indicator of your APO.   My 30 second effort is right at 190 feet total.  That means the pace is right at 380 feet in the sprint for 30 Seconds.  One of my coaches Donte Hall is a professional high jumper and has clocked 202 in 30 seconds.  He has great power production for short time periods, because his sport depends on this type of Absolute Power Output. 

Now let’s take a look at my 15 minute time from my last workout.  I set a tempo of 200 feet per min which is approximately 50% of my APO of 380.  My 5 min effort pace was 233 in my last workout.  That is 61.4% of my APO.  So this is my starting point.  You need to have this or you will not be able to effectively design your training to meet your goal.   I want to move the needle in the direction I want to go.  In other words if I am training for shorter or longer durations I would adjust.  If shorter is my goal  I would want to focus on fewer efforts with a higher percentage of my APO.  If longer then I would reduce the power output and lengthen the time. 

Where do I want to go?

I am hoping to complete the mile in 25 mins.  This would be a pace of 211.2 for 25 mins.  A mile is 5280 feet.  So I would need to hold MSP at 55% of my APO of 380. 

So I need an improvement in MSP from where I am now byabout 5% based on my current 15 minute time.  I am not going to get much faster in my 30 second efforts so now I need to design workouts that will bump my MSP by 5%. 

So my focus moving forward is to work on my glycolytic energy system.   This is where I can make the biggest gains based on my current APO and Aerobic base.  My short game is pretty good, and I have a good aerobic base for my long game.  I will still include efforts in these energy systems because they support the primary objective, but most of my intervals right now will be shorter than 5 mins but longer than 3.  Spending time here will give me the biggest improvement in my future mile pacing based on my current strengths and weakness on the climber.  This is one of the hardest energy systems to train because the pain is higher for longer and nobody likes that much.  These also make you mentally tough.  I start with 3 min efforts and then progress to 4 and longer as my fitness improves. 

With that in mind here is my next Versaclimber workout.  Try it as it is a tough one. 

Warm Up: 2 min or more of warm up before first effort.

30x30x 3 min workout:

You follow each 3 min effort with 1.5 min of rest until the 3rd or 4th effort which has 2 min of rest or complete recovery.  After every 3 min effort you record your total output.  Do not take more than 1.5 minutes as you do not want to be fully recovered before the next interval.  Try to keep total output within 10 percent of your best output.  If you fade too much then reduce the number of total efforts and extend the time a little between efforts as you are not recovering quick enough. 

The goal is to set a tempo close to the pace I want to maintain in my mile effort.  In my case a 211 feet per min pace.  Then follow with a 30 second effort at a higher pace.  I will do three tempo efforts and 3 pickups for a total of 3 min in each effort.   I try to shoot for 10 to 20 percent higher in the pickups.  That would be a pace of 230 to 240.  Without any break I go back to the tempo pace of 211. This is where it gets tough.  I have to jump right back to the 211 pace after the pickup.  UGH!! This forces me to maintain my goal pace with my body starving for oxygen before having to pick it up again.  The body adapts by delivering more oxygen and also becoming better at utilizing the oxygen that is being delivered.  I do 3 to four of these before I give myself a complete recovery of 2 min or more and then do another 3 or 4 more for a total number of efforts of 6 to 8.    The complete recovery allows me to not diminish my pace too much in the second half of the workout.  If you get too tired you can reduce the total number of efforts.  

Give this a go.  It takes about 30 min total time to do 6 efforts  including the rest.    It will bump your fitness quickly.  Remember figure out what your APO is,  and then what your current MSP looks like.  Then you can start to toy with the workouts to shore up your weaknesses and reach your goal output. 

You can read all about training for Maximum Sustained Power in my upcoming book for cyclists.