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.

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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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