Is winter base period relevant for non-racers


I am not racing at all, but I do like to be as fast as possible and compete with my self. My goal for next year is set a new benchmark for 1h TT and on few 5h+ rides. This year I did unusually large amounts of longer rides (3,5h+, 100km+), often several in a row or with one day brake, so my TSS was all over the place. Consequently, all of these rides were Z2. Since I am not racing, is traditional season planing with winter base training period even relevant? Could entire outdoor season be treated as base period and can I use the rest of the year for conditioning on the trainer with high emphasis on interval workouts? I will enter “Sweet spot base Mid volume II” Tuesday, but I don’t think it is equivalent to traditional base training since only one ride per week is endurance around 60%FTP, one SS, 2 threshold and one VO2max.

Trainer workouts are boring and I prefer to keep them under 2h, preferably 1:15 - 1:30, but riding for 5h on road is no problem.

A few stats about me and my rides:

  • 34 years
  • 296W FTP
  • 75kg
  • 183cm
  • Yearly hours riden: 330h (2022), 140h (2021), 100h (2019)

A bit to unpack but a few thoughts.

You had a big increase in volume in 2022 (which is still not over) and you will have done somewhere between 2-3x the number of hours compared to 2021 and 2019. So you are growing as a rider and likely continuing to get stronger year over year. I bet those long rides went a lot easier this year than they did a couple of years ago.

I could see a traditional Z2 base block being of benefit but it’s not the only way to go. To keep things interesting you could use TrainNow to sprinkle in 1 or 2 interval sessions a week (Over Unders, Threshold, some VO2 max) and then use the rest of the time to do Z2. If you don’t like to do super long trainer rides, then keep the Z2 rides around 2 hours but be consistent with them. You will keep building those aerobic adaptations year over year. If you can get outside on nicer days, then head out for a longer ride.

What I probably would avoid doing is Sweet Spot base. That can be super useful for new riders who are going to make a ton of gains just from being on the bike, but for you a more polarized approach would likely be a better approach. If you have been inclined to do some lifting, now is the time to incorporate that as well.

Seems you have a done of potential as a cyclist since your FTP is already high at 296.

Here is a good blog post from @brendanhousler on Base training. He has also talked recently about the idea of mixing in some other rides during base season to keep things fresh.

1 Like

The only person I’m racing is myself and the KOM on some local hills. I plan my season peak when ite works for me and plan my year based on when I like to ride.

I’m in the same camp as you. Summer base, do lots of long Z2 rides outside when the weather is nice and the evenings are light. Then spend the winter on the turbo doing interval sessions <1hr. I get outside again in the spring and smash all my PBs on the local climbs. e.g. knocked 5% off my best time from Spring 2020 in Spring 2022, despite 16km/h less tailwind.

I do at least 1 High intensity session a week during the summer to maintain the top end.

1 Like

so your goal is a TT effort PB. when? 1st jan or 1st aug? if your goal is going to be a stretch, then you’re going to need a plan. without a plan you aren’t even training, you are just exercising randomly.

if you target a june (lets say) TT effort then, voila, you have yourself a season!

Out of curiosity… Why would you avoid Sweet Spot Base?

They did. I came to a point when I don’t even need to prepare specifically for 5h ride - logistically and from fitness perspective it’s a routine ride - with proper pacing of course.

To be honest, I have done few rides outside in march and april, but majority was still inside. But from May till end of September I was exclusively outside. October was 50/50.

I was thinking of polarised also, but isn’t that more suitable for larger volumes. I really couldn’t dedicate more than 6, maybe 7 hours weekly.

That is a result from ramp test - honestly I don’t see my self pushing that hard for any considerable time.

Of course I don’t always have time for 3+ hours, so on shorter rides it’s really hard not to push it just for fun.

My main goal would be to have the fastest rides outside, so best form from May onward. So I have a plan of benchmark TT around 1. May.

My current plan is to start 6 week mid volume SS II, then do 8 week sustained power build phase, and lastly 8 week 40k TT specialization phase.

I’m not avoiding it, but just looking at scheduled workouts (1 endurance, 1 VO2max, 1 SS, 2 threshold) I’m not sure it is really comparable to traditional base. That was the trigger for my question -if it would be good idea to break high interval training from October to April with a block of low intensity rides.

While I appreciate the big push for polarized workouts and believe there is value there, I think it is a HUGE mistake for any endurance athlete to “avoid the middle zone” and not do any tempo/sweetspot/threshold workouts.

The 90’s were not a good time for American distance running, which consequently was the “high quality, low volume” era. Do really hard VO2 workouts, and keep mileage low to recover. Well… it didn’t workout so well and the resurgence not surprisingly coincided with a push for more volume and the return of “tempo” and fartlek running. Threshold is not just used for athletes new to the sport… It is a staple of top programs and Olympians alike.

You need the long ride, the sprints, the VO2 max, the threshold AND recovery. In my experience you need it all.

1 Like

I was directing “why avoid SS base?” to Kuttermax…

I did the HV SSB1&2 last winter and felt like I made significant gains but was missing top end. Progressed through Build/Specialty and, if I’m being honest, was pretty cooked. But I added more Z2 volume and strength-training. The HV plan had no threshold/v02 workouts that I recall.

I had to take some time off in August to care for a family member, which kind of scuttled my season but continued to train 10hrs/wk, cycling, running, lifting. In September I set the trainer up early and did Short Power Build and am halfway through the Criterium Plan - trying to address my lagging top end. I had planned to start up SSB again after a little rest.

Totally agree, but the over prescription of sweet spot is where some athletes can go stale. For new cyclists, a lot of gains are made initially, but then those gains can level out if other work isn’t done. It gets back to the “go hard on the hard days, and easy on the easy days” and not so much in between. I consider Threshold as hard, but sweet spot more in the “sort of hard” group. Not that there can’t be benefit in sweet spot, especially for athletes that need to steady power over long durations in a long event such as Leadville, but even then it shouldn’t be over-prescribed and it certainly shouldn’t be considered “base training” to do a whole bunch of sweet spot work.

I think it’s helpful to also take a step back and think of not just the short term picture, but the big year over year picture with cycling and endurance sports. This is where continuing to build that huge aerobic base, primarily driven by Z2 work, is critical. I think @Rok is a great example of someone who likely has improved a great deal from building a stronger base from more Z2 work, but likely has the potential to grow even more year over year with continued steady training.

This has been linked previously but a good video to watch where Pogacar’s coach discusses some of this.



Totally agree. Over prescribing Sweet Spot (or anything for that matter) will definitely lead to stagnation and a plateau. I think some think in extremes (i.e the “no middle” zone) but if threshold is classified as a “hard” day that makes sense.

I think Sweet Spot has its place in the threshold spectrum for things like starting back after a break, coming back from injury, just a little hammered from a hard week… but as you said, if you are a well trained athlete, you need to go beyond and no over-prescribe that training zone.

I have seen the video. It seems to have become cannon for the Polarized believers. For me, I think humans are a bit more complicated. What works for one, doesn’t always work for others. Training is a lot of gray area and while there are best practices there is not one formula. The key is to find what works for you.




That’s how a lot of ultra-endurance racers train for multi-day bikepacking events. Reverse periodisation, with the season ‘peak’ focused around long rather than sharp efforts.

@Kuttermax @JonGreengrass Thanks for input.

Out of curriosity I gathered a few median data of my rides. In 5 months, I have done 23 rides that were longer than 3,5h or 90km. My median ride is 2h or 60km long with 600m elevation.

Already done:

  • 5 months base training
  • 6 weeks "Sustained power build - Mid volume)

Planed from tomorrow:

  • 6 weeks “Sweet spot base - Mid volume”
    • inclueds 1 week low intensity break
  • 8 weeks “Sustained power build - Mid volume”
    • inclueds 2 weeks low intensity break
  • 7 weeks 40k TT - Mid volume
    • inclueds 1 week low intensity break

end on 29. 4. 2023 and then get some PBs and KOMs. I was few days ago I was seriously considering switching from SS base to polarised, but now I think the auto generated plan has enough low intensity breaks in between to properly rest, and I’m sure there will come a week when I will not be able to train, so I’m doing a ramp test tomorrow and sticking to plan.