Some background about me:
Im 37 years old, and ive been cycling since 2016, averaging around 250-400 hours per year. In the lost two years, ive logged 400 hours and 460 hours and this season, im currently at 360 hours of cycling.
In the past few years, I havent taking any extended breaks, but I have followed a 3/1 approach with a low-intensity training week every 4 weeks. This year, I plan to take a full week off the bike before starting to build my base.
I recently listened to a podcast at trainright that introduced antoher approach: taking time off the bike and then beginning the base training with 8 weeks of zone 2 riding, followed by a threshold black and then vo2 max training. Im abit concerned about spending so much time and only time in z2 before adding intensity, but im willing to consider it if it can benefit me in the long run. Ive never experienced burnout, even though ive incorporated intensity workouts in almost every off-season.
Im curious to hear about your off-season and base season routines during your BEST seasons ever. How did you approach it? Do you have any encouragement for doing extended periods of z2 rides? whats your experience, and how would you schedule your training if you had around 8-10 hours per week this fall/winter/spring?
I am more active in spring and summer since the weather is better and I always have a better mood but I never keep track of how many hours I spend cycling.
Have you plateaued, or are you faster this year than you were in 21 and 22? When is your first important race or event? I would just make sure you get the threshold and vo2 max blocks in before that.
This is traditional periodization and is a useful tool when trying to peak for one specific race (i.e. state championship). It is works well for youth with limited training history, as in my experience, “hard workouts” such as VO2 tend to peak the athlete after about 6 weeks.
Modern periodization has shifted with a “touch all energy systems” approach but still emphasized the traditional “zones” of training in different blocks. For example, you may do some 200 repeats and a tempo run when building your base but it will be slower and not as long.
I don’t think traditional periodization is optimal for people who race a lot or want to be in shape year round. But you can’t build forever. Taking a step back to move forward is going to be needed at some point whatever your focus is.
Best of luck!
Wouldn’t say I’ve plateaued. Ive been building steady but slow. Been at my best shape this year I think, however I still have issues with cramps. Maybe a better and stronger foundation would help that? I don’t have any goals before summer next year atm
Rest 1- 3 wks
3 - 8 wks Endurance with VO2max once every 2 wks
Endurance with tempo- 4 - 8 wks
Good idea but then is the question of volume - doing 8h of z2 and then 8h of z2+ftp does not make a lot of sense outside of mental break from training. If you want to build base by Z2 you have to increase volume by quite a lot in comparision to normal weeks. This way you are overloading system by volume and elicit adaptations this way. If you need some brake from harder training - go with couple of weeks of z2. You can include some sprints - this helps to maintain.
We think you’re on the right track with taking some time off at the end of your season before getting back into base training. A full week off (or even two!) is often advisable to allow yourself to truly rest up and recover from a long season of training – both physically and mentally.
We’d advise you to consider when your next A event or big goal will be, and count backwards from there. A full Base, Build, and Specialty sequence typically takes 28 weeks to complete, so consider that time frame when scheduling out your next plan, and set things up so the end of that cycle falls in line with your biggest goal for next season. Plan Builder can help you out here.
We typically recommend following the Base > Build > Specialty cycle in that order. Base should be about building up your aerobic engine primarily through Endurance, Tempo, and Sweet Spot riding. Our Base plans may have a little VO2 and/or Threshold sprinkled in, but that will usually come later on in your plan.
8-10 hours per week of training should give you plenty of time to add on some longer Endurance rides like you’re thinking of. You could start with a Low or Mid Volume TR plan, and then use your weekends (or whichever days of the week you have free) to tack on some more low-intensity riding.
By default, our Sunday workouts are usually Achievable Sweet Spot sessions – those workouts would be best to replace with longer Z2 rides if that’s what you’re looking for.
As you work through your plan, be mindful of how your body responds and how you’re feeling. Too much extra volume/intensity can result in excess fatigue, so if you start to feel a bit run down, consider backing things off. The following article has some good tips on adding volume to your plan:
Hope this helps! Feel free to let us know if you have any additional questions, and keep us updated on how the training goes!
Can I ask please what the TR official recommendation is for starting back after an off-season break? For example, I’ve just been travelling which meant I had three weeks off the bike which has become my ‘off-season’ but I’m wondering, is the TR recommendation to just jump straight back in with Plan Builder, or take some time doing endurance work and/or unstructured rides for a time before starting up with structure e.g. SSB1? The latest podcast was maybe a little unclear on this so any help would be appreciated.
Cant speak to any official TR opinion but after time off I start with a couple weeks of informal riding. Then I add in some rides where I negative split + a couple rides that introduce some intensity (i.e. Bays). All the while bumping up the volume.
Once the rust is off and feeling motivated I start formal training with some 30/30s, some tempo & increasing the duration of the long endurance ride.
Then I’m ready to roll for the season & begin formal training!
If you feel like you’re well-rested after those three weeks, then you could jump back into a base plan right off the bat. We’ve always believed that “you don’t need to train to prepare for training.” We’d recommend starting off your plan with a Ramp Test or AI FTP Detection to make sure your power zones are accurately set for your next block. Adaptive Training will get your workouts dialed in for your current fitness levels as you move through your plan.
If you feel fatigued after a few weeks of traveling, it might be a good idea to take an additional week or two completely off to truly rest and recover. After that, you’d be in a good state to start up another plan.
I think this is a good approach. Take a week or two completely off.
During the base phase I’d add weightlifting.
Also, a Vo2 workout every 10/14 workouts is something I’ve been reading. It’s not meant to improve, but maintain.
For the “8 weeks of zone 2 riding”, it sounds like the Polarized Build - High Volume" matches that. This is what I just started after my week off.
I would not recommend 8 weeks of z2 only. You will only detrain. For it to be effective you need to ride a lot more hours then you normally would to get enough training stimulus. And even if you had the time you really should do some higher zones mixed into it as that is utilizing a different system, and it will take time to build it up again if you ignore it completely.
I just started my base period which will last until Feb. Focus is endurance and threshold. Building my engine. I normally do three hard sessions per week, and I will continue to do so during this period. Typically two threshold workouts and one tempo/SS. The rest is endurance and gym. I will gradually ramp it up with harder workouts and more hours from Feb until the end of April when race season starts. I am doing around 60 hours per month average, with some months over and some under. 81h was my peak in July, and my low was 35h in Feb due to sickness. If I really enjoyed cycling indoors, or out in the cold and dark, I would perhaps do more endurance and fewer hard workouts during base. But, I would have had to do 20-30h weeks for it to be productive for me, and I would still touch in on the higher zones to not decay. I am not nearly motivated enough to do those kinds of hours in the winter, so it is not something I spend energy thinking about.
I realize that this is the whole debate of cycling training, but isn’t part of the goal (for lack of a better term) for base season to let the higher end fitness decay? You don’t need to have those systems topped off all year round and you build them back up during a build phase after base. I have gotten the impression that it may actually be better to let them decay. I personally would probably struggle with burnout doing 2 threshold workouts a week all through base and THEN building on that in the spring. I could see one high intensity per week just to keep things entertaining since I’m not a pro but prioritizing endurance.
The fittest I ever was (and it was pretty fit) was commuting 3 days a week - 1.5-1.75 hours each way mostly flat and some more riding on the weekend all through the fall, winter, and spring. Sometimes I would go a little faster on these commutes I’m sure but they were mostly z1-z2 with one big climb. I wasn’t even trying to train and had more fitness than I knew what to do with at the time. And I now understand that I was able to do some really killer hard rides on the weekend because I had a big aerobic base.
I wish there was more of a straight answer to these issues for amateurs with the usual 8-12 hours per week to train rather than an endless SS vs polarized vs etc debate.
I realized I struggle with 2/3 intense workouts during season, imagine on base. This is a very sensitive theme. The majority of people I read/watch are talking about 1 vo2 each 10/14 workout, watch out, is WOKOUTS, not days.
Add to that a Seiler’s 4x8 95% (for instance), rest is ride as much as you can without carrying too much fatigue. Z2 isn’t so easy as people might think.
The problem starts when we tried to put 15hrs of endurance in 8hr SST.
Snow, lack of sun and time, tired from the year, nearly 0 social rides… Motivation goes below 0 (as tough the temperatures )
I found that the secret would be diversifying. Particularly for those living and cold winter. Gym, Ski, Run, Fatbike… I saw an interesting comment days ago: “your body doesn’t really know what is the sport, what’s important is the endurance activity”.