Block periodization, comment my plan

So, i’m eight weeks out from a high priority race for me. Its a 30k TT, and usually by this time i’d do the 40k TT spez plan. I’ve done so for the past three years, and every year, i hit the same watts within 5w during the race.

Something needs to improve.

I’ve been toying with the idea of trying block periodisation to create a stronger training stimulus, even though i realise the timing might not be perfect, so relatively close to my race.

I’m planning to do a four week block with focus on muscular endurance, and after that a four week vo2max block.

I remember Coach Chad saying in a podcast that one could do a M.E. block by doing four days hard, three easy (7 total), three hard, four easy (7 days again), and then two weeks easy with a single day of intervals.

I’ve picked the following workouts, mostly longer sweetspot workouts. I’m unsure if I should pick some workouts with a little higher intensity, closer to 100% instead, or if that would completely burn me out. I completed SSB High vol earlier this year, so i’m no stranger to lots of sweetspot work.

Any experiences with designing such a block would be welcome, or just comments/tips on my current plan would be great

Cheers, Rune

For 30km I take it you will be going under an hour? If so you may want to focus on pushing FTP up, rather than out. You’ve a few 2hr workouts there, maybe go for less duration but more intensity. I’d be tempted to do a VO2 block first, to raise your roof so to speak, then push that new fitness out.


If you’ve already done SSB HV, then that plan ends up at 11 hours and >700 TSS per week, so not necessarily sure this will give you a stronger training stimulus, seems pretty similar. How did you respond to SSB?

I usually do it around 40min, so yes, the duration is not a huge priority. It might make more sense to try and improve my vo2max instead.

I wasn’t really sure either if this plan would create more stimulus. I was thinking that because the workouts are closer together, it might be more effective, but i am very much in doubt, as i have no experience with four relative large SS workouts in consecutive days.

I think i respond relatively well to the SSB plan, i don’t have any majors problems getting through it, but my FTP always plateaus at the same level each year, actually at the end of the SSB plan, and doesn’t really improve through build and spez phases.

Have you tried throwing in some long (4-5 hour) rides? I’ve found that can make a big difference when you’re stuck in a bit of a rut. I’ve also had breakthroughs after some really epic rides or blocks. E.g. A 100 mile MTB ride with ~4000m of climbing, or a weekend with back to back century rides. Not something to do too often and you need to be sure you’re recovering properly, but does seem to really help provide a different stimulus that can lead to hitting a new level. For me anyway

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I wonder if there is any scientific evidence that sweet spot blocks are working. At least i don’t know any experiment, normal is made with HIIT. Not necessary classical V02max, but a least at or above FTP
The general idea of block training is to have a big impulse. But sweet spot is located somewhere in the middle.

Yes, training time is an import trigger for mitochondrial biogenesis with low intensity. so it might make sense to do this longer LIT and take of a day.

In my option block periodization is the logical extension of the polarized approach. It adds a time component to intensity poles.

However, because I not train sweet spot, this is only theoretical thinking. If a person now that he reacts well to SS, it might worth to try it anyway

Agreed, I think the purpose of block periodisation is to overload the body with a big stimulus to trigger some adaptations. Whereas the whole point of Sweetspot is kind of the opposite - it’s a zone in which you get a good chunk of stimulus but at a level which is repeatable day after day without overloading yourself.

Would have thought that overloading yourself with either volume or intensity made more sense.

Thanks for the feedback guys.
What you’ve said makes a lot of sense to me, and I think I will try and do some vo2max workouts instead for my first four-week block. Hopefully this will create a stronger stimulus, as i am already quite accustomed to SS workout and need to get off this plateau.

So, what i’ve come up with instead is this vo2max block, with five vo2-workouts in the first week, and only one in the following three weeks.
I’m alternating between 8-min intervals and 30/15’s, mainly becaus i’ve done the microintervals before, and find them much easier mentally.
You may notice i’ve also increased the total time/volume up to over 800TSS, so hopefully the added volume will also give some stimulus.

That’s going to be fun! Any particular reason for doing so many of the workouts as microbursts rather than longer intervals?

If you can fit it in I do think it’s worth trying a 4 hour ride each week after the VO2 block followed by a day off or easy day, instead of a diet of just 2 hour endurance rides. Again a different stimulus. Though maybe only if you can do some of those rides outside, 4 hours on a trainer is very tedious.

Even id I’m not @RuneL fpr me this are also my defaults, beside the 8 minutes. For me I notices more advance with it then with longer intervals.
However,. the scientific evidence that i know is mixed. One published show better results with intervals. But there are two unpublished, mention in talks with opposite results.
I also used it in preparation to time trails and it works not bad, even if it not very specific. So in preparation for TT’s it may make sense to mix it.
Anther approach is make long intervals with small peaks. I tried this and found it was good doable., The good point is that you can do it easier in TT position then 30/15. Average power is lower, but hopefully is more specific. But i made it only twice, so no real experience how my body adapts.
I will have 35k TT on hilly terrain in the 11, of august… I planed to make a HIIT block, but maybe is not possible due to hot weather.

I did the first workout today, on what appears to be the most humid day ever here in Denmark! That was really “fun” :slight_smile:
Heart rate got up to 92-93% of what I think is my max, so I was definitely in the correct zone.
The reason I do the shorter intervals, is simply because i find the variations in power mentally easier, less monotonous. I can see the conflict in that I have stated that I am preparing for a TT, but i have done a lot of 40/20s in the past, and somehow they just suit me well.

Thats a really good idea, i will try a fit in a longer ride in the weekends.

Thanks again for all the suggestions,

Reviving this old thread as I feel this one might be the most relevant for discussing block periodization in general.

@RuneL, assuming you completed the block, what results did you have? Actually I’d be interested to hear from others as well.

I’ve had a perceived plateau for the longest time and decided to try something new. Been cycling for 8 years and FTP has been fairly static for the last few years. Therefore I decided to try HIIT block periodization.

Two weeks ago I completed a training week consisting of a ramp test + 4 VO2max workouts. The protocol I follow is 1 week 5xHIIT -> 3 weeks 1xHIIT, and after this is done I will retest. Needless to say I was afraid of failing horribly, but as there is research suggesting that this kind of overloading might give good results, I decided to try. Surprisingly, I completed all sessions following the ramp test (total time in Z5 per workout ~20min) at target power without feeling overly cooked by the end of the week. After a few rest days I could really see the adaptation, even while just riding in high Z2. However, I have yet to complete a ramp test to really see the benefits, but a recent 10km TT suggests they are there.

Observations so far:

  • My Vo2max capabilities were fairly untrained after a block of mostly sweet spot, over-unders and threshold work. Therefore there was a quick progression for this ability even within just one week.
  • That feeling of dying and starting to question this whole cycling thing kicked in a lot later in the 10km TT than usually when I’ve been on a more conventional training program.
  • Lots of HIIT really eats away the muscular strength in my legs. Even more so with this radical approach. Therefore I decided to ramp up the heavy lifting slightly in these 3 weeks following the overload week.
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I started the TCC 12 weeks hit block training plan this monday. It seems to follow a very similar structure as your approach. 1., 5., 9. weeks are 5x HIT, the other weeks are 1x HIT and 4x LIT per week.
If I survive this, I will continue with 4 weeks of lowering lactate formation rate.
I will report how it went.

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Yes, I also thought about perhaps repeating the 4 week cycle. I assume that there was 1xHIT even in the weeks you refer to as LIT?

First week is:
5x5 (1:30@123% 3:30@110%)
5x3(as above)
5x6 (as above)

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Which one will you do as maintenance in the LIT weeks? Or do you think it matters?

I don’t think, it matters. The plan prescribes all the different Vo2 workouts like 4x4, 5x5 or 30/15s.

What is your source for the protocol?

I pretty much follow the protocol described in this paper (Ronnestad BP), except I don’t do the 5x6min or 6x5min sessions that were described here. I thought these types of workouts would be too similar to what I’ve been doing the previous few months.

I also suspect it doesn’t matter what exact workouts you do, as long as there’s enough time in zone and a sufficient time at a high heart rate.

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Ill add mine in here. This is a bit of an experiment. I’ve never frontloaded a VO2 block like this, but I’m really curious to see how it works leading into my first race of the season.

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