More Zone 1/2 Discussion: Acute Volume vs. Chronic Volume

Any research (as opposed to anecdote) on the adaptations for acute vs. chronic volume of zone 2 work?

For the purposes of discussion: acute volume = length of one LSD training session; chronic volume = total amount training LSD for the season.

Some months, I don’t have the time for even one long weekend ride – the longest may cap out at 2.5-3 hours. But, each week will be 14-16 hours of riding, with the vast majority of it in Seiler’s HR zone 1.

Question: over the course of year, will overall training volume spent below AeT “even out” although there may not be a lot of 4-5 hour rides. Is, say, 700 hours still 700 hours, and the adaptations will happen? Or, would that be less effective than someone else getting the same 700 hours, but with 40+ long, 4 hour rides during that year?

Lets assume the number of interval days are equal between the two riders, as are the number of weight sessions, ability to recover, etc…

I don’t know of any study which looks at this. However, isn’t the point of Z1/2 to cause adaptations through acute volume? The exercise has to causes enough stress to force change.

If A is doing 7x2hr and B is doing 3x4.5hr, the winner will be the highest chronic load of the highest acute volume (Eisenhower Matrix!). They will both eventually plateau; could A reach the same level as B given more time (under the A protocol)? :man_shrugging:

Don’t know if there is any research.

But, to continue the thought experiment, lets say you compare 2 hours every day (7×2h) with two extremely long days (2×7h). My feeling is that you’d quickly build up tolerance for the 2h rides, and plateau. I’m not sure if you can build up the same tolerance for the longer rides (higher dose) and lower frequency of the 2x7h rides.
The other thing is that while a 2h low-intensity ride is likely sustainable with stored energy, a long 7h ride will probably engage more of the fat-burning system and might bring other physiological systems into play to cope with the sudden high load.

(This is something that could actually tested fairly easily with lactate measurements. Get a group of people to eg commute 2h every day for mayne 12 weeks, and a group of people to spend 12 weekends on the bike. )

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Good point.

As you said, the physical adaptations could be tested over time (VO2max, AeT/VT1, lactate, muscle samples, etc), I guess the cellular adaptations (mitochondria etc) could also be tested?

I’m planning a cross-country trip this summer. It will be a succession of high volume days

Not directly, no, although acute volume is one way of creating the conditions for the adaptations to begin.

In relation to the time matched Z2 question, I’d expect 2x6hrs to outperform 7x2hrs, and probably outperform 5x3hrs.

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I doubt there is “data” in the publishable research sense but my guess would be that coaches and athletes do have views based on their experience. And that anecdata is still data :slight_smile:

I know for me, blocking long endurance days seems to be beneficial and seems to give good returns in just a few weeks. Obv there’s no counterfactual–there’s no doppleganger version of me that did something different during the same period to compare against–but it seems to work, at least in the “base” period where you are willing to accumulate and carry more fatigue.

What i often do in the base period is intense intervals on Friday (higher intensity than sweetspot; i don’t really view that as high intensity, more like tempo), followed by long day with tempo portions on Saturday, followed by long day with any tempo portions that i can manage on Sunday.

The first time in the year that I do this, i’m shelled for days and have to take a rest week afterwards (so I do it to end a block rather than at beginning).

The second time I do it, I can resume training probably on Tuesday, or maybe wednesday albeit not feeling great (e.g. wouldn’t schedule a important quality workout for that day)

the third and fourth time, I feel fine. And if i slept enough, Whoop and subjective feelings might even tell me i’m ready to rock on Monday morning . . .