A year of traditional base

Ive spent some time working on my base as I think its something of a weakness. Hypothetically, what would happen to me if I did a year of traditional base plan repeated vs a base/build/speciality route? Im a non-competing leisure rider doing the occasional century ride.

What have you built up to? How has your base building phase looked so far? Are you thinking low/mid/high volume, hoe many hours do you ride/train. You would “have” to add something periodically otherwise you would stagnate. Technically you could repeat the phases at a slightly higher FTP setting.

If you don’t keep upping the volume, you’ll plateau rather quickly, maybe <2 months?

Then again, 12 months of Z2 is pretty much what the MAF Method is all about. You’ll develop some great aerobic fitness without a lot of damage or stress but you can wave goodbye to any mid-to-top end abilities.

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With the addition of some Vo2/anaerobic intervals You effectively have described polarised training! Quite in vogue at the moment

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You would get really good at riding in Zone 2 and depending on the hours you would be able to clock up some decent miles on the bike, but you would lack a lot of top end fitness and all those miles wouldn’t be worth it for the loss of speed.

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Thanks Peter. I was thinking MV. I did a month of longish Z2 rides in the summer and ive just done SSB 1&2. I quit caffeine and the thought of intensity killed me while I recovered from quitting so I started TBLV. Also im 94kg so an extended period of traditional base would help bring my weight down and w/kg up. Im just curious really as ive really noticed the difference in my long rides since ive focused on my base.

Cheers. When you say top end, are you talking threshold/suprathreshold? I dont race so if I could work a lot better at endurance/tempo but a lot lighter (im currently 94kg) it might be worth doing.

Don’t worry, I feel your pain I’m 99kg. What I’d do, would follow your heart and do trad base mid volume with the addition of some 30min Vo2 sessions (so for instance substituting Virginia for Charybdis-5 + Baxter) so it’s 2hrs of work instead of the 1hr45 prescribed. Chop and change so you give your body some stimulus.

Or even a 30min Vo2/anaerobic followed by Virginia. Twice a week would create a massive base to work from

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Threshold and above. Probably even sweet spot. Your power curve will become pancake flat.

But…who are we to tell you what’s right for you? If it’s going to support your end goals and you enjoy it then go for it. :+1:

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I was just reading the book Training for an uphill athlete today (saw someone here talking about it)
And while not cycling specific (more focused on running and ski), there are alot of good information and especially about base.

Main takeaway is to do ton of volume just below aerobic threshold to raise it (to check if you are below aet, check if you can breath only through the nose and that you are able to talk).
So mainly z2 work, but as you become more and more fat adapted it will raise so it might become z3 in the coggan zones (elite fat adapted athlete can get their aet as close as 6% of their anaerobic threshold, basically their body would mainly use fat even in the sweetspot zone).

Another interesting thing that was described in there was the Aerobic defiency syndrome. If you think it’s your weakness you might be concerned. The symptom is a really slow aet pace, often found in those that don’t do any z1-z2 and do z3+ only. If that’s the case you will actually have to start with z1 to actually be below your aet.

There was an excellent exemple in the book, a crosscountry skier with a v02max of 90, that stagnated for 2 year because he only mainly relied on medium and high intensity work. The author had him do only base work for months (at the beginning the pace was really slow but it raised to get close to race pace in 4 month (he did alot of volume to get there), he added back the intensity after that)

Be aware that without intensity your anaerobic power will decrease (polarized training might be a good approach too, lot of base and still some intensity to keep the anaerobic power).

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I think the TB plans have more intensity than people realise. They basically take you through the gears, with TB1 being Z2, TB2 having lots of Tempo, TB3 having a fair bit of Threshold and Sweetspot, and some short intervals above threshold also sprinkled in. Certainly not going to prep you for a crit, but there’s enough variety and intensity there to at least keep things interesting. I know some guys who do audax and sometimes seems they don’t bother getting on a bike unless they’re doing 100+ miles of z2 riding, now they have a seriously flat power curve!

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Even if you don’t race, a bit of upper level power is useful, for example to get on the wheel in group rides, accelerate after corners or stopping at the lights, dealing with small, sharp bumps on roads etc. I think as long as you ride outside, you’ll get that anyway, but I’d be concerned hat a year of sub-threshold on the trainer would turn you into someone so one paced, that you’d struggle to ride on the road.

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Have a listen to these 2 podcasts Episode’s 27 & 30


I think you’ll find some really useful information about what yu are thinking of doing

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Thanks Ill have a listen

Thanks thats super helpful, especially about aerobic deficiency. I struggle to breath just out of my nose because of longstanding sinus issues but I do still get a fair amount of decoupling. It was really just a hypnothetical question but I’m pretty sure now that I should give this some serious consideration.

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On a personal anecdote and n = 1 level, I highly recommend doing a volume focus if you have the time, desire, and ability to prioritize it. It’s been mentioned several times on the podcast, but the top end you’d miss from doing so much volume can be pretty much totally resolved with ~6 weeks of high intensity focus at any point, as it comes on much more quickly than the more significant aerobic gains. I’ve personally had most of my power PRs in the ~3-10+ minute range on almost exclusively high volume riding with little intensity above endurance riding over the course of multiple seasons of racing.

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I say this 100%.

I’ve been on a diet of nothing but 80% endurance miles with a smattering of 3x15’s and 2x20’s sprinkled in since the end of the season. The 2x and 3x intervals are not painful, they are done at a level that makes them very tolerable (90% of FTP absolute max, probably 85% on average). I haven’t done a single V02 max interval session Since August 3rd.

Last weekend I set (basically reset my entire power curve) all time PR’s for power between 2 & 10 minutes. It wasn’t planned but I hit a climb with a big pack of group riders behind me and just went into a high tempo mode with the idea of keeping them from passing me. When I got home and plugged in my data I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. I knew I was flying up the hill but I was happy to see all the PR’s. I can’t say I was surprised as I definitely feel a chance in my physiology from the base training.

As Mitch says above, when I do focus on that V02 power improvement it will come fast and will have the support of a giant amount of base training around it. I’m definitely a believer in this method of training, but YMMV.

If I could do a year of high volume base training I would do it in a second. Don’t believe the people that say you will stagnate. The reality is your body will become more efficient. I used to hold 185 watts at 135 HR and that was my JRA wattage. After riding all year and then opting to focus 14 weeks on base, I’m able to hold 220 watts for the same HR. That literally has developed as a function of riding 100+ hours of base training, something I have never done before. My FTP and top end has improved but without any attention paid to either. Again, YMMV.

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@mitchellgsides & @Stringwise again thats massively helpful. Thank you. All of the amazing responses confirms why I love this forum.

So im giving serious thought to just repeating TBMV1&2 until July with occasional V02 sessions, and then jumping onto Century or just doing TBMV3 twice before my only real ‘event’ which is the Ride London.

I spent a few weeks before Ride London this year just doing Z2 and knocked 2 hours off previous years time so I think this will serve me well. Plus the weight loss from doing TB1&2 over and over can only help too (im 94kg and ideally want to drop 10kg).

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This is definitely interesting, I’m going to check out those podcasts too. I’m in week3 of the SSBase HV1 and already realising its really all about recovering in time - luckily I have enough time just now to do that, but Traditional base might be ideal for when I’m busier, even though its longer on the bike, its probably less stressfull physically I’m guessing?

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Im just learning curve reading about polarized training…very interesting!!