Fast Talk Podcast, Ep 66 - Periodization (VeloNews)

Nice primer on periodization from VeloNews.

Paulo Saldanha’s thoughts were interesting and at first glance seem very much in line with TR riders.


Listening to this made me wonder if the linear periodized training approach (adopted by TR and the vast majority of cyclists it appears) is the most appropriate approach for someone who plans to race throughout the year with hopes of picking up points to go up a category (like me). Thoughts?

I also wondered whether reverse periodisation might be an appropriate methodology for an amateur training for a multi stage event like Haute Route.

Or in trainer road terms, maybe start with general build, then sustained power build, then SS Base, then traditional base (High Volume) as the event approaches.

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Seemed the big takeaway for amateurs was that if you ride your bike more, and rest adequately, you’ll get stronger. Periodize however you want…

I appreciate how plainspoken Friel is when talking about training for amateur athletes. Most of us are so far from maximizing our potential that any additional training load (along with recovery common sense of course) applied consistently will improve performance. Great episode.




Is that clapping hands?

It’s somewhat of a “spot on” emoji. In other words, I fully agree with his statement.

But in my case this means that early in the year I’m doing crits having done mainly sweet spot. I fully appreciate that I’m not near my athletic potential and therefore will benefit from all sorts of training. However, that doesn’t mean that sweet spot work harvests the same benefits as vo2 work just because I’m an amateur. And why would TR offer 100 different training plans if just getting on your bike regularly was all that an amateur needed?

So all these discussions on “which training plan should I do if X” are mostly academic? Doesn’t this undermine what trainerroad offers? (I’m purposely being a little provocative to promote discussion and learn and I mean no offence :stuck_out_tongue:)

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I think preparing for crits is best suited to linear periodization. But even if you don’t follow a strictly linear path, properly timing the high end work (over threshold) is the most critical. Granted, “timing the high end” is just different words for a simple form of periodization :smile: :wink: :slight_smile: but much of the other thinking and justification that goes in to some gnarly periodization schemes, particularly what to do during the off-season I believe is often over-thinking. The juice just ain’t worth the squeeze.

TR plans time that high end work ideally, IMO.

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Thanks for the reply. I am not questioning whether a season based on a linear periodized cycle would be adequate for a single crit race, I am rather questioning whether an approach which aims to build to one or two peaks makes sense in the context of year round weekend races.

The takeaway I got from it was similar to what was mentioned above; I’m not so sure periodization is the best course of action if you are a mutli-event racer. I love the progression of linear, but from this talk I have already been drawing up a Block style plan to compare what it would look like. I think if you are focusing for one specific race, there is no better approach than Linear, my doubts is when you want some form of performance week-to-week.

A few years back I had one of my most successful seasons when I hadn’t taken my analysis to an extreme level. Don’t misunderstand I paid attention to everything, but time constraints left me without the ability to focus in like currently. I raced most every weekend and always felt fresh. Looking back, I sort of took a Block method without realizing it. Whenever I had the time I would dig a deep hole and then depend on that fitness for the coming weeks. Now, I want to try and plan this and see what happens.

Even works for really, really good amateurs like the now-TdF contender Thibault Pinot.

His amateur-to-first year pro hours increased 44%, which led him to substantially increase his 5, 20, 30, and 45min power over the course of 1 year. His training structure most likely did not change: training load as an amateur 302/hr vs. pro 305/hr…he just rode his bike a LOT more.

Even already-pro riders benefit from riding more. A couple years ago Rohan Dennis upped his volume by nearly 25%, caveat being, he also dropped the intensity. From other readings and research, another related big takeaway for amateurs is to not over-value intensity and not under-value volume.


Sure volume is king. But there is only so much time in the week, so an amateur always ends up volume constrained. Dialing in the correct amount of intensity for your available volume is the hard part.

No, you’re absolutely right, I should have put more thought into what I was implying.

It is, however, important not to overthink things. It is perfectly fine to be racing crits coming out of Sweet Spot Base in the early season for a few reasons.

  1. Your competitors are likely just finishing their Base as well, so you will have an even playing field
  2. SSB II begins to incorporate VO2 Max work, which will help you start to build the snap you need to be successful in Criteriums.

In general, it is better to build in specificity as your training progresses and that is what the Base>Build>Specialty is designed to do. SSB is very broad, Build gets a bit more specific, allowing you to choose Short, General, or Sustained Build, and Specialty gets even more specific in preparing you for your specific race’s demands. You are constantly sharpening the blade so that by the time you reach your A race, you are as prepared as you could possibly be.

As for this:

It is true that for all athletes, it is extremely important to be consistent in your training and to fuel, rest, and recover properly. If you are doing these things, you will get faster. Choosing the correct plans, will ensure that you to get faster in the ways that matter most on race day.

I hope that clears things up a bit :+1:


Thanks, good answer. Though not everyone has an A race. Yes the TR does incorporate some VO2 max work early on which I think is important for me. Also I appreciate the relatively gentle introduction to training after the off season. Either way I’m going to trust the plan. Big fan of trainerroad, keep up the good work.


Lots of great input above.

One thing I was curious about.

Last year I went through the SSB vol I & II phases and started my build phase into the summer but found myself falling off the training wagon (so to speak) simply because I wanted to do some big rides outdoors rather than committing to the trainer.

Now it’s winter and I’m doing SSB again but after listening to the above podcast I’m wondering if there may be some advantage to switching the order so that I can do my sweet spot work during the summer, heck, I could even go for some traditional work in the summer as I don’t mind doing long (4-8 hrs) zone 1/2 rides. I currently don’t have an ‘A’ or ‘B’ race, mostly looking to keep in shape for some ‘C’ race TT’s and maybe try crits.

Hey there!

We don’t recommend switching the order of Build and Base becasue the TSS is designed to Ramp up through SSB I, SSB II and Build. In other words, there is continually more and more TSS added on each week. This progressive overload is designed to challenge you, but not break you.

If you jump straight into Build without doing Base first, you may lack the fitness to successfully complete the weekly workouts.

What I would recommend if you find yourself “falling off the wagon” in the summer is selecting a Low Volume Build Plan, and then supplementing that with outdoor riding. That way, you can continue with structured training as a means of getting faster, while also enjoying your time out on the road :slight_smile:

Good luck with your season!


Hey Bryce,

Thanks for the clarity on this, I will definitely head that advice!

I agree to an extent. I think the model of hard session on Tuesday and Thursday, and race the weekend starts to break down anyway because you are never really fresh for your hard sessions, or fresh for races either.

I am planning an experiment this year after my A race on 19 April, going to take a week to recover and then do a block periodisation model to try and peak for national championships at the end of June. That will go something like, a week with 6 threshold sessions, 3 weeks of zone 2 with a race on the weekend which also acts a s a maintenance session, then a week with 6 VO2 sessions, followed by 3 weeks zone 2 up to the event with a maintenance session every week.

This should allow me to crowd all the hard sessions into one week, and be fresh to perform well in races during the subsequent weeks. It seems to be quite effective, although I am nervous of some of the pitfalls, such as burnout, or getting sick, or getting 3 sessions deep into the VO2 week and realizing I can’t hit the numbers anymore which would mess the whole thing up.

Will be interesting to see the results.

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