Help me understand *why* LV riders should go back to base after specialty?

I completely understand why MV & HV riders should go back to base after specialty. OK, well, I sort of do. They are thrashing themselves to the limits of what their bodies can recover from between each ride, and each week, and need to:

1 – Take a break from that and continue to provide high volume of stimulus, at lower intensity, to allow full recovery.

2 – Return to building & further expanding their aerobic base fitness level before returning to further work on VO2, anaerobic, etc, so they can build these higher.

But for LV riders, we have far more recovery time.

All riders only have 3 variables to increase stimulus: Duration, intensity, frequency. If frequency is locked at 3 x / wk, and duration is locked at 60 – 90 min per WO, does it really make sense to return to a full back to back SSBLV1 and SSBLV2 ?

SSBLV1 is six weeks of SS, SS, Thresh. Pretty low intensity vs. build & specialty, that we have just been doing. Huge drop in training stimulus, and for a long time… six weeks!! Then SSBLV2 is VO2, SS, Thresh. A bit of intensity now, but still far far less than build or specialty. And is it not way, way less than we could properly complete, and continue to recover from, and grow?

(I know 2 – 4 hr Z2 rides are The Spice^TM but I have zero interest.)

Bottom line: For riders locked to 3 x / wk and 60, 60, 60 – 90 mins, what is the best plan RE: Base / Build / Spec training plan cycles?[Assuming no future A event to schedule around.]

But most importantly, seeking to understand, if returning to base truly is the best plan, why that is still the case, even if you’re not able to incorporate 2+ hr Z2 rides and other longer duration, lower intensity type work.

[Did a very deep dive on forum search, couldn’t find anything that addressed this Q, please link, and apologies, if already covered.]


If I was truly tied to nothing but three 60-90 minute rides a week, I would do nothing but the Enthusiast Maintenance plans

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Seems like staying in LV-specialty is generally a good way to stagnate your ftp development. Lots of harder efforts and distinct lack of pushing TTE at aerobic intensities. I might make an exception for the LV- tt/fondo plans as I see some intensity work, but also continual SS/threshold development. So really the only thing left to think about is can you maintain that level of work all year round? It is kind of nice to chill a bit over the off season.

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If the speciality isn’t TT / Granfondo, you are just working VO2 and Anerobic Sytems for the most part, that will probably lead to your FTP actually decreasing and Aerobic base worsening, so going back to more SS and TT work makes sense, I think you could for sure extend the Specialtiy if you want to keep that edge for other races.


It makes sense because you train different energy systems at a lower intensity

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I don’t go back to base, and I usually use plan builder plans. One key is when your races/events are I suppose.

I finished Ironman Frankfurt, had a couple of weeks off and went into half distance build.

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Good question @Chris1982!

We don’t always recommend that any athlete go back to Base training after finishing their specialty phase. It depends on the situation.

As always, we recommend using Plan Builder to help figure out the flow of things on a case-by-case basis. Plan Builder won’t always have an athlete go through the entire Base, Build, and Specialty cycle. It depends on the amount of time an athlete has until their event and the experience level they’ve selected. Of course, all athletes have the option to select and add individual plan blocks to fit what they’re looking for as an alternative.

For athletes who don’t have future events on their calendars, we typically recommend some sort of downtime (could be totally off the bike, or with some really easy unstructured riding, or even traditional base work) after the specialty phase, and how much an athlete needs/wants to take will affect where they should pick up once they’re back on the bike and training again. This bit of recovery gives everyone a chance to reset and is a crucial component of the stress-adaptation cycle of training. It’s important for the mental aspect of training, too.

Athletes who are on low-volume plans are typically using their time off the bike with other things and aren’t necessarily going to be way more rested coming off of the Specialty Phase than those on MV or HV plans. In their situation, given the context, returning to a Base Phase might be just as relieving to them as it is to an athlete on a MV or HV plan. We all live different lives and respond to our life stress differently.

Lastly, when it comes to having an athlete jump back into base, think of this as re-establishing base fitness at a new, higher baseline. There’s a benefit to training through a base period coming off the heels of a full cycle of training. It’s like a rising tide; when you start training, you’re at point A, go to point B, then end at point C. When you start your next block, you start somewhere between B and C and you get faster from there. Spending time re-establishing your base fitness at that point gives you a stable foundation to continue your training progression.


From “The Cyclist’s Training Bible book” point of view, LV riders’s aerobic base is not strong enough than MV & HV riders. So after Specialty phase, LV riders’s aerobic base might decline, in other words, their EF(Efficiency Factor) need to be improved again, otherwise, the they migh slowdown in the second half of the race/workout.
I guess that is the reason why. Hope this helps.

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@ All who commented: Thanks for the input, I really appreciate your time!

I have decided to go back and do SSB1 and then SSB2, a full base plan. Then build, then spec. A full training cycle.

Trying to truly embrace the “Sometimes, less is more.” , and trusting the process. And I’m also going to trust AT more, instead of bumping every workout up to Stretch or Breakthrough and killing myself on every ride. [Every WO ranked either Very Hard or All Out, with a technical DNF.]

See what happens to FTP & my 20k TT time over the next cycle.