CTS History

The Leading Endurance Coaching Company

Winning Is In Our DNA

The story of Carmichael Training Systems starts with Chris Carmichael himself. As an Olympian and elite cyclist in the 1980s he raced all over the world, in everything from the World Championships and Paris-Roubaix to the Tour of Italy and Tour de France. Though he was always interested in finding new ways to perform better, he first realized he had an aptitude for coaching while training to return to cycling following a career-threatening broken femur in 1986. Soon after retiring from pro racing in 1989, Chris accepted a position as a development coach at US Cycling, using his experience to teach young athletes like in the US National Team program how to excel at the elite level in international competition. Chris was one of the first coaches to fully embrace advances in sport science and technology that provided more precise measurements of human performance, including using the power meters with the US National Team in the early ’90s. By combining new science with sound coaching wisdom, Chris built the some of the most decorated US Cycling Teams in history.

Chris’s life changed immediately after coaching the 1996 Olympic Cycling Team. On October 2, Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer. Working with Lance through his cancer treatment and return to professional cycling led to a crucial shift in Chris’s coaching philosophy.

Less Pain, More Gain

Cancer changed Lance Armstrong, and Chris found he needed to adapt his coaching methods in order to bring the former World Champion back to the world of professional cycling. The result was a beautifully simple approach to achieving world-class performance – focusing on developing individual energy systems, optimizing oxygen delivery to working muscles, and leaving plenty of room for recovery and priorities outside of training. Along the way, Chris pioneered the concepts of remote coaching and using high-cadence pedaling to shift the burden of high-intensity efforts from the legs to the cardiovascular system. Using the internet and data files from power meters, Chris was able to monitor training while the elite athletes he was coaching lived, trained, and raced all over the world. The combination of this new coaching methodology and using the internet to enhance coach-athlete communication worked for elite athletes and showed Chris there was a better way to guide athletes of all ability levels to the accomplishment of their goals. Chris developed a proprietary education program (CTS Coaching College) to train coaches in his innovative methods, built one of the industry’s first online coaching tools, and founded Carmichael Training Systems, Inc. in 2000 to provide a viable career path for endurance coaches and make superlative coaching available to professional, amateur, and recreational athletes worldwide.

New Solutions to Age-Old Problems

As Carmichael Training Systems’ membership rapidly swelled, Chris continued refining his coaching methods. Endurance athletes have always been concerned about weight, as carrying excess weight requires more energy. In an effort to eliminate unnecessary weight gain – and the subsequent need for dieting – Chris turned his attention to nutrition for endurance athletes. The result was a revolutionary approach to seasonal eating, referred to as nutrition periodization. Chris described this nutrition program in detail in his book, “Chris Carmichael’s Food for Fitness”, and his message resonated with a big audience, pushing the book onto the New York Times Bestseller list in 2004. Now recognized as the authority in sports nutrition, energy-bar giant PowerBar called on Chris and his staff to develop the formula for their new line of sports drinks, PowerBar Endurance and PowerBar Recovery.

Every Effort Counts

As Carmichael’s messages about training and nutrition reached a wider audience and attracted more everyday athletes to endurance coaching, Chris began noticing that a lack of available training time was a major limiting factor for career professionals and working parents. Realizing that these athletes could not simply add more training hours to stay ahead, Chris instead focused on eliminating wasted efforts. By focusing on the smallest details of training, recovery, nutrition, and time management, Chris and the CTS Coaches worked with athletes to seamlessly integrate training and nutrition into their busy lives. The word spread throughout the endurance athletic community that CTS was the place to go to find coaches who understood the challenges of balancing sport, work, and family. Beyond cyclists, amateur and professional athletes in running, triathlon, motorsports, and team sports started working with Chris and CTS. With Chris’s coaching and nutrition methods guiding an ever-widening audience, demand for CTS content exploded. Now, in addition to coaching and camps, health-conscious individuals could interact with Chris and CTS through magazine and website columns, DVDs, books, newsletters, and television.

5 Essentials for a Winning Life

Through 2004-2005, Carmichael and CTS Coaches helped thousands of career professionals and working parents reach their fitness and performance goals, and as he’s done from the beginning, Chris again sought to take what he’d learned and use it to help everyone – this time with an integrated approach to improving personal performance at home, at work, and at play. The result was his fifth book, Five Essentials for a Winning Life: The Nutrition, Fitness, and Life Plan for Discovering the Champion Within.

America’s Coach

As a middle-aged CEO and father of three, Chris – who celebrates his 50th birthday in 2010 – shares the same challenges faced by athletes everywhere: staying fit and competitive within the confines of a busy lifestyle. Instead of staying in his Colorado Springs office, Chris decided he and all CTS coaches could do the most good by being out there with athletes. While the company continued to use the web-based coaching tools it pioneered, Chris is also committed to increasing the number of ways athletes could interact one-on-one with him and other coaches.

Between 2006 and 2010, CTS more than doubled its training camp and performance testing offerings, and expanded from its corporate headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to training centers in the premier outdoor sports destinations of Asheville, North Carolina, and Tucson, Arizona. These locally-based coaching and performance centers make the world-class expertise, hands-on coaching, and performance testing available in Colorado Springs, available closer to home.

As it has since 2000, Carmichael Training Systems leads the coaching and personal guidance industries with proven and innovative products, services, and content. And the results speak for themselves; no other coaching company produces more champions, in such a wide variety of sports and age groups, than CTS. Of the five American cyclists to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, CTS coached three: Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, and David Zabriskie. CTS has also coached four men who have won the Ironman World Championship: Craig Alexander, Peter Reid, Tim DeBoom, and Normann Stadler. CTS Athletes have won age-group and professional national championships in the US and nations around the world, and nearly every weekend of the year a CTS Athlete stands atop a podium somewhere in the world. From its corporate offices in Colorado Springs as well as regional centers and coaches around the country, CTS continues to deliver on its mission: To inspire and empower the athlete in EVERY BODY to perform at their best.