Generel question about training plans

Currently in custom build plan in speciality phase for my A event in 4 weeks.

I wonder what to do afterwards? If my next event is next year 2025 (or none at all) and I try to create a plan for this it cycles through base phase 1+2+3, build phase and speciality phase twice before the event? Why does it do that? wouldn’t it just be best to focus on building base entirely for the next… 8 months?

In generel if I should do the plan myself, I’m thinking 2 intense rides per week, perhaps a race/group ride and rest zone 2 when there is extra time. Currently on a low volume plan and supplementing with zone 2 rides. the 2 intense days differ depending on phase, so in “base” phase that would be sweet spot and maybe vo2max once in a while.

Thanks

It might be worth thinking about what your cycling weaknesses are, and how you might address them. This might mean a departure from Plan Builder, and going lower volume while you put in some gym work for a couple of months. Or think about whether you would be better working on your aerobic floor (eg. traditional base) or your aerobic ceiling (a VO2Max block).

Also consider the polarised Base and Build plans - they sound close in design to what you are proposing.

And given you might be looking at multiple base-build cycles over that time frame, consider different types of base - traditional base, polarised base versus the default suggestion of sweet spot base.

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Thanks for replying.

I’m quite sure my weakness is base. I haven’t had much focus on it the 10 years I’ve ride bike and before TR I’ve always just been doing high efforts when I can and no focus on long endurance rides since they are hard to fit into my calendar.

Did a 120km race last month (with 1500hm). After 60km both my legs had cramps and I had to walk up the last big climb and take a break before that. it was a long way home.

I started out way too fast (typical rookie mistake I guess :-)), but I also think that if I had a better base I would have performed better…

So I think it could be great with mainly base training. And thats also why I wonder if TR recommendation is typically still to go through build/speciality phases eventhough you might not need them?

Do you enjoy base training? If you do, I’d take the extra time and do more base. Sounds like you could use it. And if you enjoy it, you’re more likely to stay consistent over a long plan period.

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Hey @Janrknudsen,

Good question!

I’d still recommend using Plan Builder to some degree regardless of which direction you decide to go. My opinion would be to run through another full plan (Base, Build, and Specialty) between now and then since you’ll still run through 12 weeks of Base training which is plenty, and the Build phase that follows is a great way to capitalize on all of that Base and build up your FTP. :muscle:

There are specialty phases such as Gran Fondo that are great for building general “all-around” fitness which I think would be a great option for you. There is plenty of time between now and 2025, so I don’t see any harm in mixing things up and getting a diverse range of training in between now and then.

As @mcalista mentioned, it could be worth taking a look at where you’re hoping to progress the most before next year. If you’re really set on building your sustained power at threshold, the 40k TT plan is great for that. If you want to become more explosive on short punchy hills, the Rolling Road Race plan builds those systems really well. There’s really a plan for everything! I’d be happy to chat about this more to help you find the right plan for your goals – just let me know! :slightly_smiling_face:

Once you have a plan in place, you can continue to customize it further by manually selecting which type of Base, Build, and Specialty phases you’d like to do on the fly. Just click on the phase annotation in your calendar that you’d like to edit (shown with the green arrow), and you’ll have the option to choose which specific phase you’d like to do. They’re all on there – Traditional Base, General Base, Polarized, Masters, you name it!

Spending some time in the gym during your next Base phase could be really advantageous as well! Strength training is something we’re big advocates of, and we’ve written up some useful info on it in the links below.

Regarding your experience at that 120k race, it’s hard to say if more Base training would have stopped any of that from happening. Any cyclist who goes out too hot will likely implode at some point. :firecracker: There are tons of other factors that play a big role in performance and cramping specifically such as nutrition and hydration, so I wouldn’t necessarily sell your fitness short!

I’d say keeping around two intense days each week is a good idea, and if you’re looking to cap it at two specifically, a Masters plan will do that for you. It looks like you’re currently riding between 3-4 days a week, so I’d say that low-volume is a great option for now. From there I’d just make sure that any hard rides you’re doing (group rides/races) are replacing the hard workouts on your schedule and not added on top of what’s prescribed.

Also, if you can’t fit long rides into your schedule, don’t worry about it! Focus on what you can do and make those key workouts count. This is a great example of why we implement a bit more intensity into some of our training phases such as General Base. Many of our athletes simply don’t have the time or availability to consistently spend long hours in the saddle, and we think that getting a little more intensity from workouts in the Sweet Spot power zone or even above is a great alternative to Traditional Base plans for those athletes.

Let me know if this helps and if you have any specific questions for me. Again, I’d be happy to help you find the right plan for you that’s going to work for your specific needs and get you to a good place for 2025. :handshake:

Good luck knocking out the remainder of your current plan and during your event! Stay strong throughout the next few weeks – this is what you’ve trained for! :crossed_fingers:

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Thanks a lit for good and fast replies. This is really helpful.

I struggle a bit with choosing my correct base plan. Low volume for sure, and most likely also as masters plan. Does general base with a lot of sweet spot also help you become more efficient to burn fat and raise your lt1 just as much as the traditional approach? Or does it really make any difference regarding fat utilization if only you have 4-6h per week? I know a lot of opinions out there and have read a lot of posts about this but still I doubt about that one…

But thanks again… I’ll de a few rotations of base,build and specialty phases then :smiley: Also doing body weight exercises a few days a week. Don’t have time to go to the gym.

Thanks

Jan

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That sounds like a good plan!

Honestly, I wouldn’t focus too much on fat utilization, but yes, Sweet Spot will improve those capabilities to some extent among other things. :microscope:

There are pros and cons to both Traditional Base and General Base training but in my opinion, I would pick General Base every time unless you have a minimum of 12+ hours each week to train.

You’re right, there are certainly a lot of opinions regarding Sweet Spot training, Zone 2, and well, just about every single other thing in cycling. :sweat_smile:

It’s really common to hear that one singular philosophy is superior to all others, and it’s interesting to watch the tides come and go as new research emerges regarding any one specific topic or when one particular sports scientist/exercise physiologist starts trending over another. It seems like things come around full circle after a while, so while it’s important to pay attention to what’s being discussed, it’s also important to avoid getting too distracted by all of the constant noise and focus on finding out what works best for you. We each have our own life circumstances, genetics, etc. that we have to figure out how to work with. :dna:

Again, for someone in your situation, I’d recommend starting with General Base to see where that gets you, and you can always switch things up if you’d like along the way! Sometimes trial and error is the only way to figure out your own recipe for success! :cook:

If you’re interested in learning more about Sweet Spot training check out the link below!

Let me know if I can help out with anything along the way! :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hi again,

Thanks for the answer and your opinion about this. it is very interesting to see what the “hype” regarding base training is in a few years. Here is an example of someone thinking the oposit: Low Volume Cyclist Training  | EVOQ.BIKE. I find this very convincing too and especially his youtube video about it. Especially as time crunched.

However do you have any sources where it says what pure zone 2 benefits compared to zone 3? are there benefits in zone 2 that you wont get when training above?

The benefits of riding in Z2, Z3 and Z4 are pretty much the same.

The big benefit of Z2 is you can recover from doing a lot of it.

Each training zone does have its own unique benefits, but many of these training zones can also build on the some of same systems just in different ways. :yin_yang:

Our bodies don’t necessarily know about the different training zones and there isn’t an immediate internal switch when we move from one zone to the next. In some cases it’s a more gradual transition and as you shift from Zone 1 to 2, 2 to 3, etc.

This means that zone 2 and 3 while different, also have some similarities. One of the biggest differences as @Helvellyn mentioned is the amount of work you can sustainably do in each individual zone day after day, week after week. Athletes who train with really high volume (20-30 hours/week) often do a lot of lower-intensity (zone 1 & 2) work because they’re already doing a ton of high-intensity work. Since there are still many benefits to be had by riding at an easier pace, they tend to fill in each week with a lot of easy riding.

For athletes like you and me, it’s often going to be more beneficial to start with some of the higher-intensity work as it can be more effective in terms of boosting fitness, and as your training volume increases, you’ll want to start to add in more low-intensity work. Of course, there isn’t one singular way to train, and certain athletes do better with one approach over another for any number of reasons. :dna:

All of our mid-volume plans and higher have at least two easy days scheduled. It’s just some of the low-volume plans that skip those easy days most weeks as we feel that you’d be better spending those few hours of training at a slightly higher intensity.

We have a few really good resources with info on this topic which I’ve listed below, and I’ve pulled out some of the key points and added them underneath for you to check out. :books:

Zone 2: Endurance

Also almost totally aerobic and relying on Type I muscle fibers, Zone 2 stimulates more adaptation and creates a bit more fatigue than riding at a recovery pace. Still, this intensity level is sustainable for a very long time, as its name indicates. Endurance rides increase the mitochondrial density, capillarization, and aerobic enzyme content of muscles, which all work to improve your aerobic capacity. The body is able to utilize fat for fuel at this intensity, and the ability to do so becomes more efficient over time. Endurance pace forms the bulk of most long rides, and during any mass-start event, you’ll spend lots of time here while sitting in the pack. In a training plan, Endurance rides are a great way to reinforce movement patterns and add training stress without adding much fatigue.

Zone 3: Tempo

Tempo is still primarily aerobic, but riding at this intensity begins to recruit some Type IIa muscle fibers. This is the first zone that feels challenging to sustain over long periods as it adds some muscular endurance demands. Tempo stimulates many of the same adaptations as endurance riding but with more pronounced effects, particularly in improving the abilities of the muscles to store glycogen. The fatigue created by riding for long periods at Tempo is much higher than at Endurance pace, but still relatively low.

Zone 4: Sweet Spot

Sweet Spot is a transitional zone, defined more by its applicability to training than by distinct physiological differences. It is the gray area between Tempo and Threshold and combines the most beneficial training aspects of both. This is how it gets its name, as the most useful and time-effective zone for general-purpose fitness improvements. Sweet Spot activates more Type IIa muscle fibers than lower intensities and triggers significant adaptations in muscular endurance, aerobic fitness, and glycogen storage. It is challenging and fatiguing to sustain for long periods, but not nearly as difficult or exhausting as riding at Threshold.

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Thanks a lot for the further explanation. Been looking a bit further into plans and I think I’m en generel lack of base, so I’ll focus on Polarized build the next training period after my main event and see where that takes me. 4 rides per week with 2 x zone 2 rides seems good. However only 4 weeks of base training with Polarized program, but I guess I can just add a bit more volume and do 3 of these before going to build phase :slight_smile:

Fat as fuel and also better lactate clearance as mentioned in the evoq video sounds really appealing to me and that can only be gained in zone 2(?). I’ll try and see how it looks for me this way since it’s apparantly very different how we react to the training.

Over a year, averaging 8 hours/week is better than 6 hours/week, which is better than 4 hours/week. However it also matters what you are doing with those hours. I’ve proven over 2 year horizons that a) spending most of the 6+ hours/week doing threshold, will result in a higher LT1 and not having to make a lot of sugar water (proxy for fat burning). But it’s hard work. And I’ve also proven over two years that b) taking a different approach, focused on mostly endurance riding, ramping from 7 hours/week to almost 8 hours/week, got me to the same place as averaging 6.5 hours/week with mostly threshold. More endurance, fewer intervals, less recovery, lower average heart rate. And feeling a LOT healthier, the biggest health related changes were a large drop in resting heart rate, and a big increase in heart rate variability. Those are other things to consider. Pros might be doing 20-30 hours/week, but they aren’t doing that much more interval work. The traditional 20-30 hours/week base training worked for a reason - it built a great heart muscle capable of delivering huge amounts of oxygen with the fewest beats, AND it built incredible metabolic fitness in the leg muscles.

While nobody can tell you what the magic number is for you, I’ve seen really significant results on 6-8 hours/week mostly endurance. And all the fastest people I ride with, they put down 2x or more mostly easy volume.

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Thanks @WindWarrior,

So you are actually able to raise LT1 without doing zone 2 endurance rides?
I really like what you are saying in your experiment “b”. I would rather try to raise my volume with a bit more zone 2 and see if that helps than to leave zone 2 out of my program to include only sweetspot / threshold work.

Last race (120km) I was at with my friend where I “popped” after a very short time I was mostly in z4+5 where my friend was in z2-z3 having fun :slight_smile: His ftp is about 20w higher than mine, but he has a much larger base than me which I think made that difference. How people are able to ride in zone 2 during such races, I dont understand, but I would really love to raise that lt1 the best way.

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In my opinion the goal is to increase aerobic power production.

I’m not measuring LT1 or particularly interested in it. LT1 is one of several makers for aerobic power production.

Yes, I believe my aerobic power production increased without doing zone 2 rides. I have WKO estimates that show that. However IMHO it is not a particularly healthy way to go about doing it.

There are other markers, like observing the shift in power at a given heart rate. I started doing zone2 rides in 2020. Here are 3 years of that marker:

136-137bpm is where I notice a change in breathing, which is a field tested marker for that lower aerobic threshold.

Year over year, you can see the curves move to the right. Which means more power at a given heart rate. The key takeaway from that picture is that my aerobic power production increased.

Year Total Hours Low Aerobic FTP VO2max
2021 350 hours 170W 265W 4003 ml/min
2022 400 190 270 4146 ml/min
2023 350 200 275 4226 ml/min

2021 and 2022 were 80% easy endurance. 2023 was 87% easy endurance. 2017 was 51% “easy” however those were mostly recovery after intensity because my average IF was above 0.9 on both short and rides up to 2 hours.

VO2max sets a ceiling for aerobic power production. My vo2max estimates in mL per min were about the same in 2017 and 2023.

My lower aerobic numbers for 2023 look better vs 2017:

Context is required to interpret those curves. The 2017 data is mostly slow rolling after high-intensity work, so heart rate is elevated due to recovery from the efforts.

However I do have some endurance rides from that timeframe, and those are around 200W at ~137bpm.

Hope that helps, I’m sold on “endurance first” on the bike, and “strong first” in the gym.