Shifting Movement: Lucas Plapp

Mitch Wells
Various Contributors

Athletes are amongst the most adaptable people you will meet, they push limits under extreme stress, they compete in extreme conditions for extended periods of time and they bounce back from injury and setbacks faster than most. While most of us are experiencing disruption to our regular riding routines, elite athletes are facing great uncertainty around training, travel and racing, all potential threats to their livelihoods and ultimately to their identity as professional cyclists.

We are continuing our commitment to the art and performance of cycling by bringing you some stories directly from our MAAP athletes, on how they are training, staying motivated, staying connected and sharing advice on how they are adapting to the demands of training during social distancing restrictions.

Just two weeks ago Lucas 'Luke' Plapp was named on the Australian Olympic track team, but now he's faceing a sixteen month delay in competing for Olympic gold with the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 games. We caught up with him to see what he’s doing to shift his momentum under social distancing guidelines, how he’s adapting his training and how he’s staying motivated between now and the Olympics.


What impact has the coronavirus had on you and your racing?

The impact that COVID-19 has had on me personally is huge. As of only a few days ago it was announced that the Olympic Games won’t take place as originally planned in 2020, instead postponed to 2021. This year has been an interesting program for me as I have been solely focused on the Tokyo Olympics, with no other races to target or goals set before the games.

We were almost wrapped in bubble wrap to stay healthy, injury free and focussed on the big target that only comes around once every 4 years. The postponement doesn’t mean a whole lot changes, we are now preparing for the games in 16 months time, rather than prepping for our peak performance in only 140 days.

I have made the decision to come home to Melbourne and am using this time to gather myself, reset and have a little break before I build up to my next goals. It has affected all of the sporting community and everyone is a bit lost at the moment. It is the perfect time to have a break, or “Offy” for off season as we like to call it, and look at the bigger picture, while each doing our individual part as a community to try and get the spread of this virus under control.

I will use the upcoming Road World Championships in Switzerland as my next goal, something to keep me motivated.

I will turn my energy and focus to specifically training for the Time Trial and keep my fingers crossed that it will actually take place. The motivation does take a hit with sudden changes this big, it’s just a matter of taking the time to accept it and reset. I have enjoyed being home and I’m now slowly getting back into the gym and training as we speak.


How have you adapted to training under new social distancing regulations?.

I have set up a home gym with Squat racks and other necessary pieces of equipment to be able to maintain and build muscle during this period and we also have trainers with Zwift/FullGaz to keep ourselves entertained and engaged while on the indoor trainer.

A great way that the team have implemented a way for us to stay motivated and fit was assisting us in getting gravel and MTB bikes this season. This has been a great change in scenery and keeps us wanting to ride and enjoying a change up. We have had some great fun going out on the dirt and trails.

I also enjoy working on aerodynamics and have been using this downtime to stay on top of all that, working on my own position and researching new ideas at the same time, anything to experiment with.

How are you staying connected with teammates and friends during this time?

Without a doubt the thing I have missed most is catching up with all the boys and sitting down at the brew shops for hours! Not having the cafes to go for a brew ride to has been the most frustrating thing i'd say. I love making my own filter brews at home and using my favourite beans to do so.

Both teams I am a part of have a ripper culture and everyone messages each other, keeping the banter levels high, which is currently keeping everyone feeling connected.

We have also have group video and voice calls with the track team once a week to check in with the squad, stay accountable and focussed on our goals, while also just having a laugh and smack talking each other.

Take us through your adapted week of training during COVID-19

We’re having to adapt our outdoor training due to the coronavirus, but for now, we can ride outdoors ideally solo, or with people from the same household. For me that means riding alone for now, which is actually a great way to stay focussed on the workout. We know that we will have to adapt our training to indoors soon, which you can do now by simply by reducing the amount of on-bike time by 30-50%.

Monday Gym: 2 leg exercises and 1 trunk exercise followed by a focus on the core at the end Get some nutrition in, ready for the second session of the day 3-4 hours of base kilometers on the road. Head out into the hills and do a few strength efforts of 5 x 5min at 60RPM up the hills.

Tuesday Ergo day! All about the intensity! 20 mins: warm up 3 sets of 15 minutes: 10 minute effort: 30 seconds max / 30 seconds recovery - repeat 10 times 5 mins rest in between each set and do this 3 times. 10 mins: cool down

Wednesday Gym: 2 leg exercises and 1 trunk exercise followed by a focus on the core at the end Recovery day on the road or trainer, 1-1.5hrs easy spinning. I’d normally go get a brew with the boys and prep for the rest of the week!

Thursday 4-5 hours on the road, mix of terrain, heading up into the hills to do threshold efforts on the inclines. Mix this with 10 second all out sprints on the road. I like to use road signs to give myself a finish-line and push that little bit harder all the way to the line. Once home: At this point in the week it’s important to have a stretch, I find the foam roller great for keeping mobility high.

Friday Gym: 2 leg exercises and 1 trunk exercise followed by a focus on the core at the end Trainer specific session: 20 mins: step warm up, slowly ramping up efforts to really get the legs ticking over 4 x 4min efforts: maximal effort while maintaining an even power output and trying to stay steady the whole time. Using a TT bike is a great option for this session. Focussing on power and positioning simultaneously. 8 mins: recovery Head out for a 30 min spin on the road or tick the legs over on the trainer to finish the session.

Saturday Pre-COVID19 I would normally head out on a bunch ride with a group that all have the same training intentions, riding at high intensity, swapping off the front for around 60mins. This is designed to simulate road racing, keeping power, cadence and speed high.

I would then continue riding with a smaller group or solo and build up some base kilometers on the road, 5-6 hours is a good total length, staying in the lower zones.

A Zwift race would be a great substitute for the intensity portion of this workout. What we have learnt through adaptations and training is that you only need to do around 50-75% of the time on the trainer to get the same benefits as you would if you were out on the road. So no more than 3hrs on a trainer is needed. So you could do a Zwift race, then play a movie after this and ride while you watch it.

Another way to keep the fitness and base up is to do VO2 efforts or threshold efforts for 5min/10min/20min with short recovery breaks in between while on the trainer. The trainer takes away all the junk kms you do on the road and allows you to get the quality training results in half the time..

Sunday After a big few days, today is just a short session to turn over the legs, about 1 hour total, followed by about 2 hours worth of coffee and cake eating… which will have to wait for now.

How can people follow your path to the Olympic games?

You can follow my progress on Facebook Instagram & Twitter. I love interacting with some of the international boys and track lads on twitter, keeping the banter high. Also follow the Aussie Track Endurance Boys to keep track of what our track team is up to in the lead up to the Olympics and InForm TM Insight MAKE .