Only Zone 2 during the week and Intervals during long ride on weekend?

Would it okay during early base phase to only ride Zone 2 during the week and then do my aerobic intervals during my long ride on Saturday.

Some context: I live in a very hilly area and I usually do my intervals outdoors , it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere and dark at the times I usually train 4am - 6am. After getting Covid 2x in past few months I realised I need to focus on a lot of Zone 2 during the week to get me back into shape. On Saturdays I can training when the sun starts making an appearance.

My plan is as follow (* note that I do not ride on Sundays)

Monday: 2.5 hours Z2
Tuesday 2.5 hours Z2
Wednesday 2.5 hours Z2
Thursday 2.5 hours Z2

Friday Day Off

Saturday: Some Z2 then climbing and doing tempo, Sweetspot, Threshold training in the Mountains around me (4- 6 hour ride)

Sunday day off

I’m no coach but it doesn’t sound massively wrong to me there’s plenty of rest in your plan. The midweek Z2 rides seem a bit rigidly long and time consuming to me, however. Give it a go and see how it works out.

You can do whatever you want and its okay, but I think you need to ask why you are training and whether those planned rides with apparently no progression is the best way to get you there. And do you mean Z2 erg mode indoors or outdoor easy riding.

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I would start at 90mins and build up 2.5 hours of Z2 during the week. Usually do 4 -5 30second all out max efforts once or twice a week in the last 30min and also I will extend the weekend ride to 6 hours. I see myself doing 2 indoor Zwift rides not on erg and 2 outdoor rides (1x on a 5m km pancake flat where my cadence averages 95rpm and 1x in hilly terrain where my cadence averages 75 rpm).

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I would swap one of those Z2 days during the week for intensity and see how it goes

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What’s your training history (briefly) and your age? Also, do you like basic endurance riding (Zone 2)?

34 now. Ex-Competitive School/College Swimmer. Used to Average around 15 hours of training (incl gym and rugby) took a break from sport for a good decade. Started cycling in 2020… FTP is 294. Weight at the moment is 70kgs Racing weight is 66kgs. 1.77m tall. Last year average hours in base was around 15 hours a week. “A” race is a 110km hilly road race in October - 1700m of elevation. Have 3 Crits and a Sprint Triathlon before that as well as 160km Team Time Trial (which is mostly sitting at Z2/Z3). Strength surprising enough is Sprints and short hills. Weakness is muscular endurance and long hills. I tended to perform well towards the end of a long hard group rides/races. Prefer hard finishes compared to hard starts.

Yes I love riding at Zone 2. Getting good at riding Z2 in hilly environments too.

I used to ride Tuesday to Friday 1 hr zone 2 in the trainer and a 4-5hr Saturday with efforts. Took Sunday and Monday off. Worked very well for me at the time. All the trainer time in your case sounds like it sucks, but if you’re into it then go for it

So if I’m reading this right you want to build up to 14-16 hrs / week? And you’re currently on how many? Less than 10 hrs?

If that’s the case, then I wouldn’t touch any intensity (save the Saturday ride) until you establish that weekly volume. As you know, right now it’s only on paper. The progression is the act of building up the volume.

You’re basically embarking on a very tried and true approach that has worked for many endurance athletes over the years. “Establish volume, then introduce workouts” (except swimmers :slight_smile: they do it differently). Might not be familiar to many TR users. Too much of a bias toward introducing workouts/intensity and making sure tomorrow is harder than yesterday. Also, you’re not time-crunched.

I do it all the time. You don’t have to be so precise with it. Endurance on the flat, tempo on the hills. Use HR and breath rate (RPE if you want to sound science-y).

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Currently on 11 hours this week. As you correctly stated I want to build up 14-16 hour weeks. I did a month of only Z2 starting at 6 hours made up for 4x 90min rides indoors. I added an hour each week. My first phase was about 4 weeks long with a recovery week. I have done a 3 hour Z2 ride indoors recently and 2x 4 hour rides as well. Both of the 4 hour rides I did my tempo intervals (40min - 60min) with Z2 before and after.

I started adding Tempo with a goal of TTE as per the advice of Tim Cuscik but I am finding midweek Tempo i taking away from my core focus which is building my aerobic base. I feel 4 days of Z2 is the “sweetspot” of building my aerobic engine following traditional base. I somehow feel I would rather just have one day a week where I can bang out long hills at firstly Tempo and then Sweetspot. for the next few months and still have 4 days of exclusive Zone 2 work. Those long Saturday rides with long hills are fun. Last year I did something similar and got 2500m of elevation during a 4 hour ride without even trying (which is a lot for me) and that’s starting with 2 hours of flat riding in Zone 2. My base period is only time of the year I get to do these long climbs.

After my Tempo and Sweetspot block I plan to move into 4 weeks of FTP and 4 weeks of Over/Under with a weekly Thursday “Worlds” group ride. The worlds are on a 5km flat circuit. I just find the fastest group and suck their wheel for as long as possible where I add a few more minutes each week. They fast too at 45 km/h. I figured its good real world ftp development. In that period I plan to revert back to doing my Saturday Ride as a long 4 -6 hour Zone 2 only ride.

Minor quibble but tempo (and endurance) does build your aerobic base. But I think I know what you’re getting at, which is this:

…and if so, cool. :+1:

When I was participating in a coaching program from a prominent (and good) coach, he would have discouraged the weekend slam-fest in favor of more tempo. Long tempo. Reasoning was “if you’re still getting better and progressing with endurance + tempo, why change?” So give that some thought. In his program there were many riders who either got really bored if they couldn’t do that Saturday slamfest, or they begged for some way of doing little up/down, on/off blah blah uber precise intervals on the trainer. They just wanted to break up the monotony, and some were also skeptical that endurance + long tempo could get your 2-3min power up, etc. And so he would negotiate/compromise with them. They did ok overall like the rest of us who played it more conservatively.

The fact that you like riding your bike is an advantage I think :joy: Good endurance training on paper is boring. It’s almost not a plan.

Long tempo sessions prescribed by aforementioned coach blew out my TTE. But you have to be careful not to overdo it so your leaning toward Z2 during the week is conservative. :+1:

Right, so “funnel” it. Cusick, among many others, does this funneling.

good all around, not just FTP.

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Are you looking at this big picture and trying a periodization approach?

Most every running program has a period of “base training” where you just go run. Maybe some strides and a longer run but absent of structured intensity. Then add in fartlek, tempo/threshold, etc.

If this is your lifetime plan you’ll get fit… to a point and then plateau. You will eventually need to add in new stimuli in different training zones. Ultimately it depends on what your goals are but if it is just to up the volume this summer it’s not a bad plan. Just plan on evolving it after you met your goal.

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Yes! Most definitely

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You mention swimming and triathlon briefly, are you talking 11hrs of only cycling?

If this is only cycling you would get more effective training by doing a variety of progressive overload workouts in your short sessions, and have your long weekend ride as however you want to ride it.

If it’s triathlon then you are better to get intensity on the bike and swim than on the run.

I would reflect on your swim training when you were younger, no one starts training with long steady 90min long sets, the same with running. Both run and bike coaching has learned a lot from swim coaching over the decades that a lot of middle aged cyclists don’t get and are further distracted by populist schools of thought on training circulating on social media or The Way Things Used To Be.

At over 4w/kg already, I’m not sure ‘little and often’ easy riding is going to stimulate much further development of your aerobic engine.