Reverse periodization to regain fitness -- thoughts?

I’d like to tap the collective wisdom and/or experience of the group as I’m thinking about doing my next 3 week block as intensive Vo2 based on something I heard recently.

My vitals for reference:
– 48 y.o. male
– 5+ years of structured training experience
– Hovering around ~300FTP / 4wkg for about the last 2 years
– I have a pretty important race on April 15th … not really my “A” race, but I definitely have goals.

– I read over the weekend something from a coach who described his philosophy as “reverse periodization” (which I had to look up). It was the reason for this philosophy that I found interesting. He said (paraphrasing): After athletes come out of their off-season it is their high-end fitness which has disappeared more rapidly than their aerobic – call that Z2/Z3 for the purposes of this discussion – and when he starts on a new annual training program with an athlete he wants to “raise the roof” so-to-speak and re-acquire the top end (or a portion of it) before filling it back in with aerobic base, TTE, etc.

Short story: My FTP has dropped from a range of 300-305 in early October to 275-280 currently.

Longer story via a time-line:

– October 8th - My “A” race after which I took a 3 week break from training. FTP: 305

– October 11-31 - Off season. Paused structured training. However the weather was so nice in Chicago at this time this year, I was still doing long rides on the weekends so I don’t believe I lost too much fitness.

– November 1: Resumed training and began base phase and weight training. Estimated FTP: 295

– November 1 - 24: Was absolutely crushing it. Nailing every workout, feeling strong; weightlifting wasn’t adding any fatigue to my rides. Dreaming of podiums and glory. Averaging about 550 TSS/week.

– November 24 (Thanksgiving): last healthy workout, and departed to head out of town for the holiday weekend.

– November 25th - December 25th: absolutely no training … due to, 1) Travel, during which I caught, 2) the flu, which lasted for about 10 days, after which I tried to resume riding and had two sessions before discovering I had, 3) a sinus infection. All of this kept me off the bike for a full month … and most of that month was spent in bed or on the couch with very little activity.

– Dec. 26th - January 1st: After feeling better for a full 3 days I did a “test” week where I rode very low between 90-120 minutes 1 day on/1 day off to see how I could take it. TSS: 350

– January 2nd – started my base phase over, and I promised myself I would accept whatever FTP the TR AI dictated to me which was FTP: 278

– January 2nd - present: I’ve been training at pre-illness volume and been averaging about 550 TSS all at SS, Tempo or Z2 levels.


Now that I have a pretty decent, 4-week base block in my system and am entering a rest week – I was thinking to do a 3 week V02 block followed by a rest week before resuming base so as to accomplish what the aforementioned coach said in “raising the roof” of FTP before resuming my base phase and then mini-build into my race on April 15th.

My weeks would be scheduled as follows:

Mon: off
Tue: Vo2 ~100 TSS
Wed: 90 min easy Z2
Thu: Tempo
Fri: off
Sat: Vo2 ~100 TSS
Sun: 3 hours of Z2/tempo on trainer

Building through the three weeks from 525 - 600 TSS followed by a rest week.

The race I’m doing on April 5th is one in which I’ve gotten as solid AG top-ten the past two years, and my goal this year is/was and AG podium. And thus, I am trying to maximize my time with as best I can without over-doing it to get back to my October-level fitness … or as close as I can be.

I know I can’t handle 3 Vo2 sessions per week at my age without flaming out. Not sure I can handle two-per week for 3 full weeks, but if I make it through 2 I can play the third week by ear.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or suggestions🤘

Maybe too late for you, but an “intermediate” solution I implement is to add 1 high intensity session threw off-season and early base every 7-10 days or so. It works!

Furthermore, I think traditional periodization is a vestige of an old era.

You’d recommend doing this vs. a Vo2 block?

Yes, this block seems mild enough that can’t go too wrong. Mix different styles of intervals and build a mini progression of those.

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Flu hu? Any changes in whiskey :tumbler_glass: consumption from all the hot toddys? :joy: On a serious note, I’ve been mixing it up all year long. Kinda like undulating periodization to my eyes. My coach says something like always keeping some specialization in the plan (forgot the podcast, it was recent). So I’m with oldandfast but then again WindWarrior sounded better than OldAndSlow so take that with a shake of salt over the shoulder.


How does that look in real life? Like, when do you schedule it on the calendar? Is it just a set of 8 30x30s at the end of an endurance ride? Or is it a dedicated session?

I’ve been lazy and haven’t tried to dissect the method, so can’t really put it into words. And because I’m old and feeble, I do a LOT of endurance and end up doing mixed interval sessions. It has worked very well for me, and definitely not block based training where you narrowly focus on one thing.

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Traditional base doesn’t mean no intensity, just that it forms a smaller proportion. Like those above I do a VO2 session once a week through base, and yes I do progress it 3 weeks, back off in fourth etc.

Cyclocross guys must be doing something like this and it doesn’t seem to do them any harm.

What are the demands of this race? I would build up to do that thing(s) + lots of low endurance.

Being able to hold FTP for x minutes is pretty meaningless if the selection is made on a 8 minute climb.

Haven’t have experience myself but there was similar topic long time ago: Short intense period before starting base? Chad's short FTP boost plan - #5 by chad. Although nowadays modern way is probably using TrainNow and pick attacking workouts there.

Or even more cruel approach: How to Get in the Best Shape You've Ever Been In: Block Periodization - YouTube – take big bite in 1st week and then try to swallow it next 3 weeks

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