Understand Pyramidal Training

My one regret from when I raced (like 30 years ago now) was that I had a few absolutely breakout performances like where I was a monster for one ride and was able to ride people off my wheel. The next ride I’d be back to my usual self. I had no idea how to repeat those peak performances.

I feel like discovering Seiler (polarized) and ISM have opened my eyes - like I could see the forest through the trees. It’s all about the aerobic engine (90%). The rest is icing on the cake (10%) and managing fatigue.

I’m also a fan of Steve Neal, Kollie Moore, and Tim Cusick (WKO). You can build the aerobic engine throwing in a bit of tempo as well and doing the extensive/intensive thing.

Through last fall and winter I just did tons of Z2. Tons for me is 7-8 hours. Any time I don’t feel like I know what to do, I do some Z2. If I feel tired, I take a day off or do some light Z1. Maybe I throw in some tempo efforts just to mix it up if I’m feeling good. If I start to feel cooked, I rest or go easy.

Into the spring, I did a SS/threshold block (extensive) and got good gains - like 2 sessions per week and the rest of the sessions Z2.

After that I tried a VO2 block (intensive) and felt dead after three sessions. I rested and then tried again and got farther along and made some new 3/5 minute power PRs.

Lately I’ve been mixing in some neuromuscular efforts (under 10 seconds) - maybe a few per ride a few times per week.

Finally, I’ve been doing a new group ride where I’m way over my head. The first week I got dropped but the last few weeks I’ve rode well and exceeded my expectations.

And voila, I’ve been flying. I think I’ve built the pyramid. I got a new high eFTP on intervals.icu after the last group ride.

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My training was more polarized. The big group ride every Saturday is making my distribution much more pyramidal.


If you feel strong and ok on the bike then don’t worry about weight. It’s highly personal and we shouldn’t compare. 6 2 and 78kg now, 69 was my lightest when racing and I was still considered chubby amongst my peers - that weight was unsustainable for me though, 72-74 was my happy place.

All cyclists will benefit from work in the gym, use the winter to spend some time there, you might find that you gain a bit of muscle that way, but this isn’t necessarily the objective.

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