Winter Training Help: TB or SSB?

I’m considering the Traditional Base (TB) plan for the first time. The past two years I did the mid vol SSB plans and just last year, the Rolling Road Race plan. That was hard. Before that, no structured training.

Typically, I just want to be fit for the summer. I spend the summer adding miles and battling the local youngsters for KOMs. This year, climate permitting, I might consider more competitive century rides or shorter distance events. Given these very general goals, is there any harm in doing something like the following?

  • TB (Mid Vol): 4 weeks
  • SSB1 (Mid Vol): 6 weeks
  • SSB2 (Mid Vol): 6 weeks
  • Rolling Road Race - Maybe

Other info:

  • Start date is Dec 1 after a month off.
  • During the month of November off the bike, I am incorporating upper body strength training for the first time and hope to keep it up 2-3x per week all winter. The idea is the less intense TB might allow me to manage the strength training.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

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TB is 12 weeks if you do it in full… i.e. 3 x 4 weeks blocks.

ETA: I have had good results from doing TB LV.

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That’s a good point about it being 12 weeks. I was thinking of using the first 4-week block as a start before jumping into SSB. If the TB goes well I might do another 4 weeks or the full 12-week set.

Last year I did TB1 MV, repeated a couple of weeks in TB1 per the plan description, and then TB2 again with some bonus weeks. Did as many as I could outside, and was really happy with results. This year I hired a coach, otherwise would have started TB1 / TB2 / TB3 in August. My plan was to do the full TB1-3 and then follow with either SSB2 or Short Power Build (depending on how I felt about fitness at that point).

I’ve done the 4 week TB (MV) then SSB MV 1 + 2 that you describe for the last 2 winters. I’ve enjoyed being able to start back again after a break with low intensity - more from a mental perspective than anything.

This year I’ve done a 12 week endurance block based around TB MV 1 (repeated twice, 2nd time at 5 workouts/week) and TB HV 1). I’m definitely feeling it was worthwhile for me. I’m 2 weeks into SSB MV 1 now. It’s taking a while to get used to the slight increase in intensity after 12 weeks at endurance pace, but I’m fully expecting to reap a lot more benefit than usual from this block. Time will tell…

Even if the 4 week TB block doesn’t work out well for you, then you’ve only lost 4 weeks, and there’s plenty of time to make up for that. Go for it.

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The first 4 weeks are pretty boring tbh and I wouldn’t do them unless I was doing all 12 weeks. If you only wanted to do 4 weeks before jumping into SSB I’d pick the second part which is a bit more interesting.

I think at MV you generally get more bang for your buck from SSB, though certainly no harm in easing yourself into it with a short block of TB to get your legs back after a break.

You seem to be skipping the Build phase which is pretty important for your goals if you want to chase KOMs or do more competitive rides. If you’re going to drop a phase I’d drop Specialty before dropping Build. Build is where you build the fitness, Specialty is where you refine it to be more specific to your event. Since you don’t have an event you arguably don’t need it!

In terms of strength training, if you’re only doing upper body then it shouldn’t have much if any impact on your bike training. Lower body strength work can be trickier to balance.

Thanks for all the feedback! I’m encouraged by what you guys have done. But then I read this…

Sorry, I might need some clarification here. Do you mean the “Build Phase Training Plans?” I somehow have overlooked these but they do seem appropriate for my general goals. I’m just not sure where these fit. Are you saying a Build Phase plan would go at the end of the winter instead of the Road Race plan? Or before the TB or SSB?

Base -> Build -> Specialty is the sequence

So yes, you do the Build after your SSB2. Probably pick General Build given that you don’t have a specific event in mind and your goals range from short and punchy efforts like KOMs through to century rides.

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Thanks @cartsman, so if I ask my original question based on this information would I be replacing Base with TB?

TB -> Build -> Specialty

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Yes, If you choose to do TB instead of SSB then that would be the plan you use for the base phase of your training progression.

:+1: Yup, just like that.

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If you fully replace SSB with TB then yes. Though I personally think at mid volume you get a lot more bang for your buck from the SSB plan, so I quite liked your original idea of easing into SSB with a 4 week block of TB. In which case you would go:

TB1->SSB1->SSB2->Build->Specialty. With the option of just skipping Specialty if by the time Build has finished the weather is nice and you’d prefer to just get out there and chase KOMs and do some centuries.

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Thanks again for all the responses…and clarification. The biggest difficulty I’ve had with TR is deciding on plans and how to knit them together. Anyway, I also still favor the TB1->SSB1->SSB2->Build->Specialty …knowing that I may or may not get to the specialty phase before I start riding outside. I may actually buy a power meter for my bike so I can do TR outside but we’ll see. I will also have to wrap my head around the Build plan as I have never done that; either the short or general build. Just now I got the “Uh oh!” notification on Strava as another KOM was lost. That one in particular was short and fast. I need to slam it for only 1:24 to get it back. So many of the segments I’m eyeballing are 1-5 minutes so the short might work.