Beginner base guidance needed


Quick background: I’m a new cyclist coming from a pretty sedentary life. A friend gave me a few workouts starting out with just increasing the time on the bike on a super chill pace until i started doing some z2 and tempo rides with some longer efforts. My friend spoke to me about trainerroad and how it helped him alot at the start and once i felt i was ready to start training decently and more properly i should pick it up.

Fast foward until now, I’ve ridden for around 3 months and i want to improve, i enjoy my time on the bike and the more i ride the more i want to keep progressing with my training.

My rides are all done inside and i don’t mind long rides indoors. The most I’ve done was a 3h ride and i felt super fine with it,and im currently doing 6 days of cycling of an average of 1hour 30min per ride.
What type of block of each type should i do to maximize gains on the long term?
I felt that traditional was a good idea but alot of people seemed to suggest swetspot low volume but only riding 3 times seems low? Should i add z2 on the other days? Or should i just go with traditional since i have the time and don’t mind the grind? Or is polarized also a good idea?

I’m lost and need some guidance. I wanna make sure i maximize my gains even if it requires griding lots of hours. I have the time and patience for it!

Thanks in advance!

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Congrats on getting active!! That’s a great life choice and it sounds like you’ve really started enjoying it!

Sweet spot mid vol might be a good place to start and if you find after a few weeks that it’s too much it’s not hard to drop to low volume. I’d encourage you to consider what your long-term goal is for your plan — raise FTP? Train for a specific cycling discipline? Increase time to exhaustion? General fitness?

Also, if you see yourself riding outside in the future, consider finding a low-key coffee ride type of group to ride with, maybe through a bike shop in your area. That way you can start building your bike handling skills now, rather than when you’re a 5.5w/kg monster :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Yeah the idea was to mainly increase ftp. I’m not looking into making super long rides.

I’ve also looked into zwift racing and that seems fun but i wanted to be better prepared before i commit to that.

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I’ll let others with more Z experience speak to the best plan, but yeah, use plan builder, make up a race sometime next year, and then mid vol should give you a really nice start.

I’d use plan builder, but select low volume and if you have more time just do easy rides (z2). If you do any hardish or hard group rides, count that against one of the interval days. Lots of people burn out because they are “only” doing a low volume but then add in 2-3 group rides. Then blame TR. 2/3 max days a week of intensity (sweet spot and above).


I would pick SSB med volume. After that round you should know a bit more about how TR factors in your progression. You will then be a bit more educated on what plans you might choose.
Great job on getting on the bike and training.

Thats 9 hours/week, is that your limit? In my 8 years, long term gains come from consistently cycling 6-8 hours/week average (some bigger 10-13 hour weeks offset by shorter 4-6 hour weeks). Putting in the time even if that means doing a lot of endurance riding and not a lot of structure. Slowly increasing hours/year, over time also helped me with long term gains. Variety keeps things interesting, so that you don’t mentally burn out. Adaptations come from some overload and then recovery. Don’t go too hard or too easy. I’ve got a friend that does 12-16 hours/week at 120W on Zwift (around 35% ftp!) and then a couple hard group rides where he is smashing 300+ watts for 40-50 minutes. That 35% easy sounds easy until you are doing that much time and then smashing it a couple times a week. Just a few thoughts, hope that helps.


I for sure can go longer but I’m afraid of increasing too much the volume at the start

It looks like most of the people here are all going for SS instead of traditional or polarized. So now it’s between SS low volume and adding z2 or SS medium volume…

I just couldn’t imagine riding around at 80 watts for 12+ hours especially on Zwift. Is this guy remote working and getting paid at the same time?

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I’m not sure that’s so true. There are a lot of people doing Polarized plans, and in the winter, Traditional Base, both as ways to get more volume without overdoing the intensity. You already have a nice start on volume with 6 days and 9 hours a week, plus being ok with long hours on the trainer. So, my question would be do you prefer to

  1. Do mostly a large amount of low intensity work and then go VERY hard on your intense days, or
  2. Do more frequent intensity work, but not as much hourly volume?

Remember, most of the SweetSpot plans were made as a way to get the most bang for your buck as a time crunched athlete. If you have more time, or prefer more volume, are older, or lots of other things…you might be better off trying Polarized.

As someone new to structured training, I’d suggest trying both and seeing which you personally prefer.


I wouldn’t mind doing long slow hours on the trainer if that gave me a better foundation.

In other others it’s deciding if slow and long (traditional/polarized) is better on the long term compared to SS for a new cyclist?

If yes than which one would be best : Polarized or Traditional?
And should i do 2 blocks of base and then follow the build and specialty? Or something else since I’m still a long time from doing any race/event?

I was mainly looking at starting zwift racing mid way thru next year. So roughly 6ish months from now.

The best training plan is one you can do consistently—both mentally and physically. Don’t get too caught up this plan is better than that plan. They can all work. As someone said above, try different ones. I’ve done traditional base, SSLV, SSMV, done some of my own polarized plans, and have had two coaches. Learned a lot from all the approaches.


Congrats @Cardas! That’s awesome that you really started enjoying cycling! Welcome to the addiction :slight_smile:

I’d have to agree with @aydraper when it comes to Low Volume and add Z2 as needed or, eventually, any group rides you’re ready for! Plus, you can always change the plan to a Mid Volume if needed. Always best to start by adding and not having to detract because you are overtrained.

I would also recommend creating a training plan using Plan Builder. If you don’t have an Event your training for, we’ll schedule you for a year of workouts based on the volume you choose.

It sounds like you may have the time to do Traditional Base Training, but I’ll have to agree with the general consensus that you’ll benefit most from SS Base.

Here is a helpful article that may help with your decision:


Yeah i think that’s gonna be my idea.

After those 12 weeks should i switch to Build or should i re-do base training again?

In the beginning, accumulate as much Z2 as you can to build a solid base / mitochondrial efficiency.

After doing a few months of base only, add intensity with intervals, hard group rides or races 2 days/wk, surrounded by as much Z2 as possible.

It doesn’t need to be complicated unless you want it to be.

Another vote for using Plan Builder and selecting Low Volume. Fill in the extra time with more zone 2 riding.

Medium Volume plans can have enough intervals/intensity to limit your ability to add more Z2 time. High Volume is even “worse” and I wouldn’t recommend it for anybody who wasn’t at a pretty high fitness/training load/experience level.

You mentioned Zwift racing… I’ve raced on/off for a few winters now. It can be a fun way to mix up your training. There are usually races most days, and across a variety of lengths. Most races have categories by fitness level (combination of weight and FTP, don’t recall the specific formula). I say jump right in if you want - pick something shorter (<20 miles, flat course) and see how long you can hang on. The fast end of races can be really fast, so don’t feel bad if you end up finishing near the back - you’ll work up to better placing over time. If you do race, I’d recommend a short warm-up (~15 minutes easy, with a few short sprints to get your heart pumping), race, then a ~15 min cooldown (for a 20 mile race, that’s going to give you 90-120 minutes total time, probably). Replace one of the interval sessions with the race (or if using Plan Builder, add it manually as an ‘B’ race, and the plan will adjust automatically).

What are you building to? Usually you do base - build - rest - peak/perform at your best. A build is very fatiguing. If you have no events or goals other than to be faster, I’d concentrate on building the aerobic engine.

If you want to do it just for fun and the experience, then have at it. Just remember that you usually count backwards from your big even and try to time your build and peak.

The alternative is a sustainable long term training program. That can be a lot of easy endurance riding with 1-2 interval sessions per week. The intervals can even be sub-maximal: tempo / sweet spot. Do an easy week every 4th week. Rinse repeat.

Plan Builder should add base and build periods regardless of target events.

But, it might be worth picking an event, or several, just so you have some milestones. Doesn’t have to be a formal race in the real world. If you’re on Zwift, it could be “finish Alp d’Zwift” on a specific date (enter it as an A or B race in TR so the plan builds around it). Or a Zwift race. Or if you have a favorite outdoor loop, it could be “finish the loop 1mph faster than my personal best”.

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issue with this approach is that eventually you hit a plateau, i’ve gotten the point where I was doing 1x90 sweet spot and not moving the needle with threshold. changing focus to vo2 work helped to bust that plateau. you don’t need events to cycle between z2, sweet spot/threshold, and vo2. while i do try to periodize a bit around events, generally i don’t think about base/build and rather cycle through the stimulus i need at a given point