Z2 (base) for a few weeks? maybe even a month or two? Will I go backwards?

Ok folks, I told myself after my event on Nov 6 that I was going to do 3 or 4 weeks of base, basically just doing Z2 type rides on the trainer and easy rides outside. But now that its here I’m really worried about going backwards and not getting fitness back. I feel like this is probably irrational and I do believe that mentally/physically I could use a break.

The plan I initially laid out was as follows (Post Nov 6).
4 weeks of base (Z2 type rides)
3 weeks of build
Off completely last week of Dec (vacation)
Jan - Base
Feb - Base
First 3 weeks of Mar - Build
Final week of Mar completely off (vacation)
Apr/May build

I’ve basically done some form of VO2 intervals or threshold intervals basically the entire “off season” the last two years, so this is a change for me. I think it’s probably good for me to have some lower intensity weeks that are consecutive I’m just not second guessing things.



I’ve thought similar in the past, and done it…then set PRs without particularly trying hard when allowing myself to push it a bit on outside rides later on. I should probably learn from this and do it again tbh rather than doing a load of virtual racing!


Possibly, depends what kind of phase did you have before this Z2 block. But I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Lot of Z2 will improve your endurance and fatigue resistance, especially if you can do 2 long rides back-to-back. Once reaching to next build, with wide/strong base you can handle intensity very well and get whatever top-end fitness easily back.


this is a GREAT change. You will not go backwards, but instead catapult yourself forwards! DEF DO THIS. And if you feel spicy one day during the z2, let it rip; but more endurance rides will really increase your aerobic engine which is GOLD!

Good luck!


Not all Z2 is created equal. :wink:

If you hit a handful of 2 to 3.5 hour rides on the trainer holding steady around 70% of FTP every week for 4 weeks you definitely won’t be going backwards.


This is common practice in things like cross country, track & field, swimming, etc. After your season you take a week or two (or sometimes a month if you really are fried). You then come back and do some unstructured, moderate training stress. Think summer before the fall cross country season. As first you aren’t sharp but after a few weeks back into real training you are finding you are actually back in shape and right back where you were… or sometimes even better. The down time is essential to long term improvement and injury prevention.

I’ve been on the polarised plan for a month or two and annocdotally lots of z2 works. My peak power isn’t there yet but it’s winter so who cares?

But tracking power for longer times shows steady improvement.

I know a sample size of one is as good as none but I think it’s working.


Another sample size of one - over 2 years my low-intensity rides went from 150 to 200W. FTP hasn’t moved much. Lots of endurance work.

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so you’re at 2-2.2w/kg on your workouts? What’s that relative to your FTP? That would be a bit over 50% of my FTP and more like Z1. I’m fine with doing that if that’s what I need to do but seems like that might be too light?

A lot of coaches say the opposite and a period of Z2 riding if you stick to it will actually boost your fitness.

1,000,000% do it.

This is the faulty logic of many amateur cyclists.

I MUST keep my level at all costs. I can never let it drop…

Having a period of quality base training is fantastic for almost all athletes. Year on year you will improve. In fact it’s fundamental. Training is not a linear endless progression.

It’s a train, rest, recovery cycle. Be this the week, the month or the year.

Imagine it like a very long stair case. A stair case that includes short downward sections. Long-term, it’s higher. However, sometimes it’s briefly downward. That’s the endurance training trajectory.

At some point you need to refresh, then begin again. You will not suddenly become terrible. You will improve long term if you include a period of mainly aerobic work. As demonstrated by the best athletes on Earth, in nearly every endurance sport.

Amateurs are not different. If anything, many get this cycle dramatically wrong.

Best of luck.


So I was thinking of something similar, doing Low Volume Traditional Base I, II, III but adding a Threshold workout each week for 10 weeks, then 4 weeks of Traditional Base with the addition of 1 VO2 Max workout and then getting back into an adaptive training plan.

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I do this every fall and use the reduced intensity as an opportunity to work on building strength by lifting weights. I have found that I usually end up with a little FTP drop over traditional base 1 from my peak but never as low as the season prior at the same point. I do all three traditional base blocks on low volume plus two lifting sessions a week until Xmas then take a week off and start sweet spot base in January. It’s been working well for me.


My baby was born while my in-laws were stuck with us during a lockdown. I managed to get away a fair bit so my cycling looked a lot like your late 2022 block – Z2 + strength, then a bit of sweetspot. Anything I lost in threshold and above during that period, I regained in less than a month of virtual racing. I posted my best 1 & 30 min power shortly after.

That’s about right, I’m at 205w which is just over 3w/kg for me.

That’s also all rides so outside will have periods of z1 and coasting so an hour includes lots of different powers.

Not much but it’s a start.

It sounds like you don’t fully understand the benefits of endurance riding.

Tom Bell has a great article which goes into the detail of what happens when you ride endurance: How To Train In Zone 2: Steady Endurance Training Explained — High North Performance

Read that then see what you think


This is also my goal from December on. Start doing Z2 base work. First just regular Z2 rides. But sometimes I think that people always have in mind this is easy work. Ok, it is not treshold. But Z2, or endurance riding can also be sessions just below LT1. It is not that you can cruise this easy for 2 - 3 hours from the beginning.
So my goal is to do the shorter endurance rides at LT1 and the longer ones as Z2 65% rides. Later on include some low cadence tempo intervals in those rides. Progressive build.

Only problem for me is that I have a week off work at the end of the year so I could ride a high volume week (20hrs). But I don’t know if this is beneficial or not? Maybe you have an idea @brendanhousler

Week 5dec-11dec: 15h Z2 (60-65%) only
Week 12dec-18dec: 15h Z2 (60-65%) only
Week 19dec-25dec: 8h Z2 (60-65%) only (recovery)
Week 26dec- 20h Z2 (60-65%)

And from 2023 starting with 2 longer +3h Z2 rides (65%) and 2-3 rides 1h30-2h rides @LT1?

There is interesting question/answer below linked article worth pointing out:


If you followed an intense training/racing season, it is always good to totally relax for a few weeks and just ride for fun and relax.
But then soon enough you enter those winter months where old training wisdom tells you it is time to build the base of your pyramid and only do long endurance rides. This might not be the best approach.

A study has taken 2 groups of trained cyclists and in the off-season they both reduced the training load relative to racing season. Weekly hours are kept the same, but one group does only endurance rides, while the other group does also a lot of endurance but with occasionally some hard efforts. The result is that after 8 weeks, the group that kept doing hard efforts had much lower losses in VO2max and FTP, compared to the other group.
Then the interesting bit is that has both groups picked up the regular training program at start of season, the group that did only endurance during off-season could not close the gap to the group that kept training all intensity levels.


VO2max workouts doesn’t need to be cycling-specific? I am thinking keeping cycling workouts during first base phase still in Z2 but doing 1/week VO2max workout on SkiErg instead (a la 4-6x 5min). Just for variety and involving some upper body workouts as well.