Sunday, July 24, 2005

Product Review - Carmichael Training Systems Video

Okay, so I bought a copy of Carmichael Training Systems (CTS) Climbing video about a year ago on ebay. My initial scan through it disappointed me. It didn't look like as much fun as Spinervals. And since I'm a creature of habit, I put the CTS video away.

Well, today I felt like doing something different, so I thought, "What the heck?" I popped in the video and here's my review:

It's technical. They want you to do a self-assessment so you can train within a certain heart rate range. Then throughout the video Chris goes around giving tips and explanations of various aspects of form, technique, even breathing! ("Concentrate on breathing out-- you'll breathe in naturally.") All of this is more involved that what Coach Troy takes you through on Spinervals.

On the down side, the tape is more boring than Spinervals. Chris doesn't joke around with the riders, doesn't urge them on or anything like that. He also doesn't give gearing advice-- he trusts you to choose your own gears based on where your heart rate needs to be. This is fine if you've been working out on a trainer for awhile and know what you need to do to get your heart rate up or bring it down, but if this had been my first bike training video, it would've been problematic and I don't know that I would've gotten as much out of it as I could've. The video quality is good, but unimaginitive. Unlike Spinervals, you get few closeups of the bikes or of the riders suffering. Sometimes the shots were in a sort of blue filter that made them look like something you'd see on a bad security video. I have no idea what's up with that. And finally, the CTS video doesn't have music during the hard sets, so be sure to play your own. Not that the Spinervals music is all that great (it rather sucks) but compared to the steady heartbeat-like thumping of the CTS video, Spinervals is Grammy material. Use your MP3. Or a CD. Or the radio. Something. Anything.

So how was the workout? Great! I sweated so much I felt like I was swimming. It was a deceptively simple workout, with relatively few sets, but they were all pretty long (5 minutes or more) and in big gears. Being more of an Ullrich than an Armstrong, this suited me fine. It suited me so well, in fact, that I... uh... did the video again when it was over. Seriously. I hope that doesn't make me some kind of hard-core triathlon freak.

Would I recommend this video? If you're an experienced rider with a good understanding of your heart rate numbers, VO2 max, etc, etc, yes. Similarly, if you've done a few Spinervals and feel like you know the drill, CTS will be a nice change and a good challenge. It's different, although I would hesitate to say it's better. It's like comparing speedwork to hill training-- they'll both make you faster, but you really can't say one is more effective than the other. They're just different.

Overall, I liked this video. I'll definitely do it again and I'm going to look into getting some of the other videos.

Ride fast, friends!

Today's Workout
Bike: 2 hours - CTS Climbing (60 min video, did it twice)


tri-mama said...

Here's one for the library I think. I was beginning to investigate what to do this winter with my bike. I plan to try spinervals as well. You have some rockin workouts. A friend of mine asked me today if I was doing a long run every weekend...duuuhhh yea. I have no idea really what I am doing for this marathon thing-so I was glad to see you doing back to back 15 milers. If you discover you're insane, will you let me know? :)

bunnygirl said...

If I don't do the long runs, I can't have Indian buffet. Motivation has to come from somewhere! :-)

Wil said...

"Unlike Spinervals, you get few closeups of the bikes or of the riders suffering." I had to laugh at this - funny but when you see the riders feeling like as much crap as you do, for some reason the ride is better! Kind of scary, eh!?

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