Adding base in short blocks or is it better to do longer blocks?


I’m almost done reading all the comments on the Dylan Johnson video, but it raised another question.

DJ is saying training plans are as easy as spending a certain amount of time in specific zones. He also says polarized training is better than sweetspot. Let’s assume that is right and I want to expand my time in the base zone.

Does it help if I commute 2x 30 minutes a day on the bike? Or is base training only beneficial from a certain time without stopping?

Any science on that?

Several things to think about…

The aim of training is to provide the minimum training dose needed to stimulate adaptions. So the minimum dose is going to depend on the current levels of fitness. To answer your question you need to think about the current fitness levels and the rest of the programme - does the 30 mins even create any stimulus at all? For some it might and for others it may not…

There is of course the point that its not individual rides that create fitness but the overall volume and intensity over time, so the rest of the weekly and monthly training needs to be considered. Adding 10 x 30min commutes (5hrs) training volume to a weekly training plan might very well mean that the training stimulus is significantly increased and could of course mean a good fitness bump for some people in the longer term…maybe…

The other complicating factor is whether this additional riding time creates fatigue (mental or physical) that means you cant perform quality interval sessions during the rest of the week. If this build up of fatigue gets in the way of the other sessions then it might mean you actually made things worse!

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I agree with what @Bigpikle said. A 30 min commute is unlikely to provide any training stimulus. But 1 hr/day, 5 days/week, and 50 weeks/yr and it comes out to an extra 250 hours of riding. So as long as you keep it steady and low wattage and don’t push out of every light or stop sign to get up to speed and it doesn’t affect your ability to hit those higher intensity workouts then I say go for it.

Just be cognizant of how it affects you. For example, if you have a super hard VO2 workout scheduled maybe skip the bike commute that day so that you are able to put everything you have into that workout. But if you have a sweet spot workout scheduled that won’t push your limits then do the commute and rack up the extra training time.

I know a guy that bikes ~5 miles each way to work every day but still gets in crazy training and races in UCI Conti races. So it’s definitely doable, you just have to recognize it as a source of stress on top of your scheduled training.

One other point I remember reading somewhere before, was to occasionally extend the commute and go the loooong way for a change and make it an hour or maybe 90 mins. Many people could probably find that amount of extra time somewhere once a week for example, even if that meant skipping 1 day of commutes and making the time up etc, and that would make a significant difference to the benefits.

To add to what was said above, I’d think about the effectiveness of those 30 minutes. If you can do 25 solid minutes of Z2 on nice roads then these rides could be very effective in a cumulative way. Yes, it would be awesome if the 30 minute commute could be turned into a 60-90-120 minute endurance ride 2-3 days per week.

But if the commute is constant stop and go, it might only be minimally effective and might even be extra stressful and fatiguing and counter productive.

There is research that shows certain adaptions occur the longer one rides as fatiguing slow-twitch muscle fibers needs to occur to recruit more and more muscle fibers. I think there are also blood plasma increases, mitochondrial changes for improved fat metabolism and other things that happen as you extend out your long ride.

Additional rides at endurance pace are an easy way to add on overall volume and training stress, which is also useful. So I think a combination of both. When I try to really ramp up the volume I will add a second ride on a couple of week days that is 45-60min of z2 or z1 on top of my planned workout / ride.

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Thanks for the replies! My question was indeed if 30 minutes would have an effect at all. Or is it just too short to create adaptation? But as I understand, that adaptation can still be there when the 30 minutes are done very frequently.

Maybe I’ll do an easy zone 1 ride for 30 minutes in the morning, and make it a 2x10 minutes zone 3 ride on the way home.

I’m not worries about my intervals, I can do them on my non-commute days or do them after a 30 min z1 ride to home.

When the weather is good I can change into my cycling kit at work and make it a 2 hour ride home.