How to create a grand fondo build/speciality phase pan?

Hey everyone,
any idea for a perfect build plan for grand fondo rider? I’m about to move into that phase and would like to hear recommendations on that. TR where I came from uses 2 days of VO2 progressions + 1 day Threshold + 1 day SST.

Then speciality phase offers slightly modified one 2x threshold + 1 VO2 + 1 SST.

Plus recovery rides and Z2 if time offers.

How does it look like? What would you offer?

Thanks much!

Sorry so slow to respond. I saw this and then forgot about it.

So Coach Andrea recommends the serious Italian to all his athletes averaging at 6 hours a week or more for a build period.

So it depends on how many week you have left until your event but generally the specialy phase or what we call the peak phase is mostly about your long ride. Especially important for the Gran Fondo. In general your entire season should be focused on the long ride but it is much more important in the build and specialty phases. Everything else is icing on the cake.

Although TR’s plan might work fine for some people I don’t think that is the best suggestion. One long ride, one threshold and one strength endurce each week gives you that best diversity. The three are very different. We have on peak block with dynamic force in it. That would be my favorite and Andrea’s recommendaion. It would give you both your strength endurance as well as some of that higher intensity.

Other than your 3 core days the rest should by Z2 or Z1.

We have multiple people reporting the best results they have ever seen using the serious italian block for a build phase. One said after 3-years of TR they gained more/faster with 11-weeks of the serious italian then they ever did in TR.

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Thanks much for the recommendations, Alex, I’ll give it a go.

Curious as to what your next suggestion would be after Serious Italian? I did that last year and didnt see any benefit from the SFR workouts. Maybe just a replacement for SFR?

I have lots of strength and decent aerobic capacity. It’s the lower inbetween where I die.

Interesting, in the following I am not disagreeing if SFR worked for you or not but I would say SFR is strength endurance which is not the same as strength. Meaning if you do squats at the gym you probably do up to maybe 20 reps usually more in the 5-12 range. This would be like doing 1,000 body weight squats, so it’s pretty different. But also for sure some people just don’t like low RPM work. Another thing you can try is dynamic force. It is a very similar resistance but at at more normal RPM ranges. But let me better understand what you are asking.

So you are saying you struggle at sweet spot intensities? How many hours a week do you train and are you regularly doing long rides? What is your goal?

This was last year, looking to start a new program after recovering from injury. At the time I was doing three rides a week along with running and swimming. End goal was a 70.3. Running was all zone 2 (5 zone model), 2-3 hours a week. Biking ~4-5 hours, 2x1h (SFR was one of the workouts) and a “long” ride, winter biking indoors for all of it. Worked up to a 5 hour long ride outside before the race.

My background is american football (retired professional), offensive lineman (I like to refer to myself as a 5second athlete). I have ~25 years of strength training. Ftp/kg is relatively low 2.2 (280ftp, athletic 125kg). While I struggle for most workouts to hit power numbers it’s easy for me to go way over zone 5 for sprints. My power to strength is high and my strength endurance is low (all sports). I love sprints and loath sweet spot workouts.

I usually perform below my ftp (ramp test) with the exception of zone 5 and SFR. I usually need to be zone 4 wattage to stand up and ride because of my weight, which could be a factor for SFR.

Wow!!! :slight_smile: Retired pro american footballer, that’s cool.

Sorry about the injury. Yeah, for you, I could see SFR might not do anything… :slight_smile: You would need a lot of strength endurance as well as strength… Let me ask Coach Andrea what he thinks is likely to be best for you, but I agree SFR is probably not your weakness.

Ok so I talked to Andrea. So because you are a triathlete and it is easy to push yourself too far, then you should not add too much intensity. If you were not a triathlete he would suggest some HIIT. Ultimately for your size and as you pointed out fairly low w/kg, it’s really that aerobic component we need to build up. Trying to determine if that is a central limiter or perifial might help figure out what is the best for you. We could try to determine this just with a ramp test.

He still was a little surprised that SFR did not work for you but just generically not lab testing you, he suggested that Z3 block progressions should be a good option. Then I double checked but we did not add any Z3 block progressions yet… Let me know if this is something that appeals to you and we could get those added.

Right now my running is zero. When fully training last year it was 2-3 aerobic runs, zero intensity. I used biking for my interval training.

I want to treat this as an aqua bike program. If/when I can run again it will be aerobic work only as an accessory. I will look at doing hiit. Will need to look up z3 block progressions.

Thanks for the feedback Alex.

Oh you are not running now, that likely lowers your risk of over training. i think your previous strategy of only easy running was a good one. Was your injury related to training? I suggest everyone should try a pure low hr period, long enough to fully understand it. You can read Mark Allen’s results with Maffetone’s coaching. Solved his over training issues and made him faster. My thinking is ultimately that might be best for you.

Also zone 3 or tempo blocks are not so popular but just a reduced stress model to sweet spot thinking. Your case is a rather complex one. Multi sport and being so strong. Compared to the rest of you your aerobic engine is weak. Zone 2 and lots of hours is most predictable. Not sure if you have done much rucking but I find that as an interesting low impact alternative to running.

Interesting reading by is the book building the elite. It’s military focused but I have talked to one of the authors and he is big zone 2 guy and training expert. They also do affordable coaching.

Initial injury is thought to be from snowboarding 2 years ago, I thought it was all healed up. Was treadmill only running with success and then when I moved my running outside last summer it showed up again (Achilles issue [extra blood vessels causing swelling, Achilles itself is fine], biking is fine and doctor approved) . Going through treatment and it is improving.

Last year I really committed to Zone 2 running. It was terrible because of how slow I had to start, but after 3 months I started to see improvements and eventually my pace was back to my old “zone 2” (really low zone 3) with proper HR.

Once this heals up I’m going to be incorporating Z2 hiking into the “run” program. Probably a similar idea to rucking. 10% treadmill at 3 mph is low impact and a killer.

What cycling program would you then recommend? Traditional Base followed by Polarized? adding in additional Z2 rides?

Yes, I did the transition from Z2 run/walk to acceptable pace running as well. I also felt barefoot and/or barefoot style seemed healthier/safer for me.

Yes Base, for build, since you are not running and probably don’t have too much stress, I would actually go with Andreas original recommendation and do a custom plan like this.

Substitued HIIT for your SFR.

After that you might try a peak block of 8 weeks including dynamic force. Like our “Big Climbs peak block” Looks like below