Cyclist in WinterAs we head into the colder months, at least here in the northern part of the western hemisphere, it’s time to shift gears and dial back the intensity, log some longer, steady-effort base mileage, and start laying that aerobic foundation in hopes of ascending to higher levels of fitness in the upcoming cycling season. This, of course, assumes you’re not caught up in the cyclocross season, in which case, check out our new cyclocross plans!

While there are a number of ways to skin the base-training cat, the tried and true LSD (long, slow distance) approach remains as effective as ever, especially for those riders who can not only devote some extra time to riding over the winter months but also tolerate longer rides on their trainers. What’s more, time spent on a trainer is so tremendously unrelenting due to its zero-downtime nature (outside of stopping or backpedaling), indoor riders can eke quite a lot of training benefit out of markedly shorter indoor rides when compared to their multi-hour, outdoor counterparts which typically include a lot of mileage spent enduring some pretty miserable road & weather conditions.

Accordingly, I’ve put together a more traditional approach to base training – albeit indoors – that favors quantity equally as much as quality. These Traditional Base training plans are broken into 3 phases, each offering options based on your goals, fitness level, and of course, available weekly training hours.

Traditional Base Training Phases

  • Base I: Entirely comprised of Aerobic Endurance rides w/ Efficiency Drills; 4-8 weeks
  • Base II: Tempo/Sweet Spot rides w/ Sprints & Hill-work; 4-6 weeks
  • Base III: Sweet Spot/Threshold rides w/ Sprints, Out-of-the-Saddle Hills, Cadence work; 4-6 weeks

Traditional Base Phase Volume Options

  • Low-volume: Approx. 5 hours/week, 3-4 weekly rides
  • Mid-volume: Approx. 10 hours/week, 4-5 weekly rides
  • High-volume: Approx. 15 hours/week, 4-6 weekly rides
  • Further options for even more hours, should your schedule & body accommodate such masochism, are achievable simply by lengthening your rides by an even duration.

For greater detail on each training phase of the Traditional Base plans, here is a corresponding Help Center article titled “All the Gory Details“, that is likely to answer any & all questions you might have about the plans. And if not, reply to this blog post or contact me through our support system and I’ll be happy to answer your question and update my Help Center article, Base Training Q&A, with further information. Happy base training!



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Chad Timmerman

Chad Timmerman is the Head Coach and Co-Founder of TrainerRoad — cycling’s most effective training system. He has nearly 10 years of coaching experience as a Level I USA certified Cycling and Triathlon coach. When he’s not developing structured training plans for TrainerRoad, you can catch him sharing his coaching advice on the Ask a Cycling Coach podcast. To get Chad’s best cycling knowledge delivered to your inbox, sign up for our email list.