Base Building in the Winter

So you can only improve for a period of about 4-5 hard months before you hit your peak. No one can work hard all year round and continue to improve unless maybe it is their first couple of years of training… Even then it’s not a great idea. If you have a very non-traditional approach to periodization there might be some exceptions to this, but this is the general rule for 95% of the people and any standard periodization programs.

I would say that one build/peak per year is typical although some people can do two shorter seasons in a year. So if you want to peak in may/june that means you need Oct-Jan 1st or so as a time to prepare you for this intense build and peak period.

I see someone created a simple base period. I would replace 1-ride per week with a zone 1 but still nice to see someone creating a real base plan yesterday. I am sure there are others, I just noticed this one.

Link below

Anyone else out there doing a real tradtional base for the winter? Now you can do a hard winter and do a more enjoyable outdoor spring period. I am not saying tradtional base is the only solution. Just need to keep in mind you should keep your build/peak limited to around 4-5 months and not try to do hard training for 9-months in a row…

To answer the question: I don’t. I train the same way all year long.

However, there is a difference between in- and outdoor, as for my indoor sessions it’s easier to (micro) manage my Watts targets.

Outdoor cycling is more freestyle, although I have the backyard training ground to do solid blocks.

Interesting, I would guess it is for one of these two reasons?

  • You prefer/enjoy it
  • You feel their is evidence supporting this is an efficient way to increase performance

I would love to hear why. I think we have a lot of unique idividuals here. Normally I just quote what has the strongest supporting evidence when it seems to be a fairly clear consensous.

At my age (60) increasing performance is not a realistic goal. I am maintaining it best I can, with ups and downs.

Having said that, I’ve never been a fan of training plans to start with. There’s just so much that can interfere with your plan, considering most of them are 12 - 16 weeks long, that I think I’d be spending more time on correcting and replanning, than I would on actual cycling.

And anyway, if you’re used to (self coached) training and you know what goals you have for any particular year, you’ll know what to do.

My main events usually are trips to the high mountains (the Alps, the Dolomites being my favourite playground), which is 10 - 15 days of hard core climbing every day. Good luck building a training plan for that.

I just spend 65% of my riding in SS (Z3/Z4) which makes me a one trick pony, but I have no other way to prepare for that kind of endurance and altitude adaptation.

Base building for myself and most of the athletes I work with is much more traditional than what you see being “popular” these days, but it’s not completely traditional in the sense of only Zone2 progressing duration unless the athlete has lots of time.

Most of the athletes I work with (myself included) have about 8-12 hours to train each week. Within this range, I like to start off with a prep phase of pure Z2, then I progress into a base phase where throughout the entire base phase we go from having 1 “sweet-spot” workout per week all the way to 2-3 threshold workouts by the end of the base phase. Most of these phases last 3-4+ months, but of course it’s very individual (some respond better to more z2, others better to slightly more intensity). Progressive overload is very similar throughout the phase. We are progressing time not power, so for example I might start the SweetSpot at say 2x20, then progress to a 3x15, then a 1x45, then a 3 x 20, 2x30 etc. Same goes for Threshold (progressing time and TTE rather than trying to push that number higher). For zone2 riding I like to see overloading of about 30mins extra per week on the longer ride. So if the longest ride of the week starts at 1hr, the next week would be 1.5, then 2 → 2.5, until we are at a sustainable level where we will stay as the intensity increases.

Experience is a big component… Some athletes have 10+ years of training under their belts, but still have limited time. In my opinion and from what I’ve see is there is only so much that more z2 will get them with limited time, so we add a little bit more lower-end intensity.
Others are much more new to the sport, where almost anything will see improvements, so we don’t do much intensity (if at all) and just progressively overload the z2 rides.

So to answer the question… yes… kind of traditional base especially compared to the base training you see nowadays with way too much intensity. However, that’s not to say I don’t do a lot of Zone 2 riding or riding around 1.3-1.8mmol/La. This is extremely important to manage fatigue and get the adaptations needed for a long season ahead.

One other thing is that I do much more realistic and longer FTP tests, so I don’t run the risk of overestimating FTP. I find a lot of people overestimate their FTP, which makes it even worse when they are doing higher intensity base training.

I really liked this podcast episode from a very experienced coach titled “What is base really?”. I feel it fits well with what I’ve seen personally

Robert, have you read Friel’s fast after 50? I am with you 100% on not follwing a strict training plan. I think very few people should other than those that have a coach or maybe if they have complete control over their life with total predictability. That said the problem with Friel is he combines fundamentals with detailed plannning, so it’s a huge amount of details and becomes overwhelming. I would argue but just getting you to follow the core fundamentals without seriously altering your lack of plan training style we can make you faster.

An interesting thing about Friel is that I am good friends with a 30-year grand tour pro coach. He is not coaching pros directly now but still an advisor to many pro-teams. He even coached one TDF winner. Anyway the interesting thing is that regarding fundamentals he is always quoting Friel and generally agrees with what he says. I would say he has a lot of details that are different but the fundamentals are the most important part and those are essentially the same. I think many top coaches are the same. What I see coming out of CTS is the same. Periodization is one such fundamental.

So I have told this story multiple times but you may not have heard it and I will give a different angle on it here. I ended up accidentally re-connecting with the father of a highschool friend on Strava (Roger). Roger and I started talking and some how I became his coach. Because Roger was 75-years old and had previous heart surgery, no one wanted to coach him. I am not a real coach but I do know lots of the fundamentals and I knew my style would reduce his risks not increase them. Roger trained like you do, year round same training Z3/Z4. He was fast but he wanted more. I convinced him to start doing periodization. At 75 he was nervous he would loose his fitness but he said he would try it. He did a winter of pure Z1/Z2. The only thing he did was every two weeks a ramp test. He did go from 210 FTP to 205 by the end of the winter. Starting spring he followed his normal training the only difference was we monitored his build process using TrainingPeaks and got him to build up slowly to a higher number of hours per week by April/May (about 10-13 hours a week). When his TSB would get too low I would tell him to back off. He did 3/1 recovery pattern.

So during the spring he realized he felt amazing and had way more energy and motivation that previous seasons which resulted in him starting to lead his fast group rides with the 50-year olds. His FTP reached a peak of 225 @ 68kg. He was very excited. Roger went on to win his state championship and qualify for the US senior olympics. I will explain later the stuff I told him to do but really all I did is tell him to do less, and train less hard. I told my pro-friend this story and he said I just got lucky and found a good athlete which is 100% true :slight_smile:

I will respond more soon…

I have a copy of Friel’s book. I use it when I have difficulties falling asleep :joy:

I’m not 75 yet and who knows where I’ll be or what I do by then.

As I have often stated, I have time to waste and no other hobbies.

In fact, my cycling is the pressure release valve from daily (work) stress and it clears my head.

Probably also because of the pandemic, this year I have trained more than ‘normal’.

I just passed the 20K km mark this week. On average, I train 20 - 24 hr/wk, ranging from 1 hr TT’s, to Centuries (miles) and 8+ hours on the bike when in the Alps.

I’m not saying I could not improve on any of those events individually, but I like and do all of them, which makes it difficult to make tailored plans.

My threshold power is ~280, at 73 kg/1,78 m and my current TL is over 200. I did see minor improvements over last year :sunglasses:

Looking forward to expanding this thread.

Holly shit batman :slight_smile: If you love training that much and that is why you do it great/fine. But if you want to improve performance you should definitly be doing less (I say that as the voice of my pro-coach friend, as I know how he thinks and what he recommends). 280/73kg @60 is great but if you have a job and don’t sleep well some times there is no way you are getting enough recovery.

I am at the total opposite end of the spectrum. I have twin 6-year olds and spend 25-30 hours a week with them, partially because of COVID, I have a part-time job and this full-time business, so I train about 2-hours a week… but as soon as TrainerDay gets bigger and I can quit my job and my kids get slighly old I am 100% ready to do more…

Fitness 212, pros rarely have levels that high…

Jeremy is a coach I am not, so what I say is based on what other top guys tell me and what I read, and to some degree what I have experienced. There is something about real coaching experience that I don’t feel I should be disagreeing with, but maybe I can… :slight_smile:

Jeremy if your base includes 2-months of sweetspot and threshold which progresses to 4 months of build, followed by a 1-month peak period it seems that could make it a 7-month period of high intensity which means by the time they reach their race or performance period the athlete is no longer at their peak. Or are you saying you shorten all of this down to 5-months or so in which case your term “base” might be more accurate to call it the start of the build period. Based on the tradtional definition of base I think it should be against the law to say “Sweetspot base” or “threshold base” just call it what it is, it’s a build period… now, I would agree one day a week of SS is ok to still call it base :slight_smile:

Also guys have won the TDF on one day a week of threshold… So it would seem so much threshold and SS might not be the best plan for optimium performance.

One thing for sure is that in my opinion, far too many people do too much SweetSpot and Threshold training in their early season training. Also, the individuality is so important. I wish there was just a plain and simple one-size-fits-all approach, but there’s too many factors to make things so broad. As long as the fundamentals are in place, going from there works for most people.

As far as the definition goes, it’s probably not the traditional “base”. I do a longer “base phase” and a shorter “build phase”, but as the base phase progresses, the muscular endurance workouts become more involved – again, depending on how many hours the athlete is training and their experience overall (keeping recovery always in mind).

Friel does his “Base 3” where he begins to include a lot more muscular endurance work, and then does 2 phases of Build 1 and Build 2 which equates to 2 months (with a 3/1 recovery cycle) as I’m sure you know. There’s not too much difference than what I’m saying here. But if athletes don’t have any more time so they can’t overload with volume, different things need to happen to reach the same adaptations. Those “things” are, however highly individualized. Like I said at the start, far too many people do too much sweetspot and threshold training too early :slight_smile: . I’ll have to build some plans into TrainerDay when I have the chance, you’ll find that we are probably about on the same page for the average athlete

Yes I agree with you 100% on everything you said here. Yes, I remember Friel starts to include intenisty in Base3… I wish he didn’t :slight_smile: Meaning let base be base and just shorten it if you want… But he is the real expert not me… It’s his definition not mine. For sure people are different, I guess my suggestion and what I see the top coaches saying is for people that don’t have a good coach they should focus on doing as close to tradtional as possible and if they are really good at self-objectivity and performance monitoring then and only then maybe they could move to more of a hybrid approach.

Yes, and my core point is actually idential to yours. Too much sweetspot and hard efforts too much of the year. Not enough variation. So people work hard too much and they don’t gain as much as they cool by taking it systematically easier.

I think it gets more confusing when guys like Chris Carmichael in time-crunched start recommending intensity all year long. Chris is great too but athletes without coaches start getting confused with too much information and take parts of one plan and parts of the other. But really less than 6-hours a week, most people probably can do some intensity most of the year (again depends on the individual).

And then you have the software companies all wanting everyone to just be addicted which is better done with intensity… So you have guys racing and doing fast group rides 52-weeks a year… And you have something called “sweetspot base.” :slight_smile: There needs to be a reset button and everyone try out the traditional appraches to training and see if they don’t do better and at the minimum sleep better and get more healthy.

Please build some plans!!! :slight_smile: I think we are closer than it sounds.

I listened to this Podcast, it’s interesting because I liked it but these guys don’t sound like they know what they are talking about (maybe because I am older and they sound like kids) but I do agree with what they are saying. Especially looking at base training as a rest period that you are just holding on to what you have more than a strong aerobic adaptation period (especially if you are not putting in big hours). I would say the true expert in hard core base training is Phil Maffetone but his specialty is fixing broken runners and triathletes and gets them to their best. Cyclists usually are not so broken. Also Maffetone’s focus is below this first ventlatory threshold, similar to polarized training.

Haha, I felt the same way at first about how they spoke. Especially compared to what I’m used to listening to. After listening to a few more though, I grew to enjoy the casual side of things. He (Kolie Moore) mentioned how he wanted to make the podcast to help people understand complicated topics in a more casual way whether for coaches or self coached-athletes. He has consulted quite a few pro teams, national coaches, and world champions, and he’s part of the WKO dev group to test new/advanced cycling analytics (WKO4/WKO5 + development). I think he’s also the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference director

I’m self employed (or an independent contractor) and I take on as much or as little as I want/need/like.

At any rate, it leaves me more than enough time to put in the training hours and I sleep like a baby, 7.5 to 8.5 hours a night.

I’ve had cataract and macular pucker surgery in February, which gave me two weeks off. Then I started building towards my ‘Giro’ end of July/early August.

After that, I finally - Covid delay - had my other eye fixed (cataract), with another week off and I’ve been playing catch up with the challenges on BigRingVR since :rofl:

If you train like I do, it’s really not that much of a challenge to get your training load (fitness) up. However, my current training load is too high and I will need to back off - I’m having a few work related busy weeks ahead anyway…

Like I said, no other hobbies, no kids to worry about and more time free than usual because Covid pretty much puts an end to all ‘social activities’. I’m not that social anyway and I always train/ride by myself, unless my wife joins me in the BTC - we both have a Neo :sunglasses:

Speaking of my wife: if it wasn’t for her supporting my bat shit crazy expeditions in the Alps, I wouldn’t do any of them. She’s driving the team car and always has my back, so that makes it a lot easier to ride around, than the people I see riding their packed trek bikes.

I can’t find Friels chart now but it was the same as this. Annually you train more than TDF racers. Why don’t they train more? Because it negatively affects their performance. They are in their 20s, don’t have a job, and still don’t have enough time to recover in order to be able to train more. Again, you sound happy and healthy and obviously can handle a lot. So if it is for fun, enjoy, if you want to maximize performance I bet almost all top coaches would agree, you could improve by doing less and introduce bigger seasonal differences.

So cool your wife is so supportive and you get to take these great trips. A dream life for a cyclist.

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