The S:6 Base Builder Program: Block 1

The S:6 Base Builder Program: Block 1

  • November 11, 2017
  • Blog

We offer a 24-week Off-Season Base Build Program to our local athletes in Denver. We meet 4 days a week, most weeks, for 6 months for indoor gym and trainer sessions. Weekends are for getting outside on your own and going longer to build endurance. We also offer the very same program as a 24-week Base Build Training Plan, as well as a more condensed 12-week Base Build Training Plan, to follow on your own where ever you live.

The following blog series will share some specifics of what each block of training is made up of and how we progress through our 6-month long base build to reach serious fitness by Spring and ready to dive into more specific Race Prep training for your goal events. The same progression occurs in our truncated 12-week version of the plan; however progression occurs at a much faster pace. This plan is ideal for the more experienced athletes with years of base in their legs or for those that don’t have the time or patience to spend 6 months building a killer base of fitness for the upcoming season.

The first of six blocks comprising our Base Building Program focuses on returning to structured training, finding your rhythm, and adapting to the movements.

There are three basic categories of sessions that make up our regular training week:

  1. Gym Sessions (strength/mobility)

  2. Trainer Sessions (structured/intensity)

  3. Outdoor Sessions (endurance)

Ideally for most, you can fit two of each into your weekly routine, comprising of six sessions a week. Depending on your time available for training, you may be able to include additional sessions within the week for added volume. Additional sessions would typically be recovery or easy endurance in nature, as opposed to intensity. Rarely would a third intensity session be beneficial for an endurance athlete.

Overall training program volume can also be adjusted by the duration of the outdoor endurance session(s). More experienced athletes, and those with more time availability, can choose to increase their long rides to higher durations as appropriate for their current training progression. Increasing the long rides needs to be done methodically and progressively over time, rather than randomly or haphazardly. Being accustomed to 3-hour endurance rides and then throwing in a 6-hour epic ride one week is typically too much and leads to several days of sub-par (or missed) training due to the extra fatigue and need for recovery following such a big ride that you have not built up to appropriately.

Training consistency is the key: days of training lead to weeks, which lead to months, which lead to years.

The early blocks of training in our Off-Season Base Building Program are relatively “easy” as we are gradually adapting to the workload. Be patient, as things will get “harder” in time, but we must take these first steps is establishing a base of movement patterns and technique before we increase resistance or move more powerfully.

Becoming too over zealous, or impatient, with your training is counter productive. It results in needing more recovery above and beyond the norm. The goal with training is to apply just enough stress to your physiology that requires a small amount of recovery time on a daily basis. You want to be able to recover from training with relative ease day-to-day. Occasionally, maybe once a week, you might have a single stretch session, or the accumulation of several solid days in a row, that requires an extra easy day to recover from. This is normal and good. Doing too much, too soon leads to unnecessary soreness and fatigue that will cause you to lose daily consistency and lack of progression. In other words, you want to do just enough training to elicit the response you’re after; doing more than necessary results in a reduced training response due to the need for more recovery.

1. BLOCK 1: Gym Sessions

Goal number one is to learn the exercise movements and session structure. In-house, we focus heavily on proper technique and creating effective (and safe) movement patterns over the first 4 weeks of training. Every gym session is structured the same in Blocks 1-3 as:

  • 5:00 Movement Prep
  • 10:00 Warm-Up
  • 20:00 Strength Set
  • 8:00 Pull/Push Set
  • 8:00 Core Stability
  • 9:00 Mobility

The primary focus of blocks 1-3 is developing strength in two key movements: the Back Squat and Deadlift. Using our spreadsheet load calculator you can see your specific loads for every set and rep for every session throughout the 3 month build. The specific movements/exercises and set possibilities for the other segments of the sessions are presented on our Sessions:6 YouTube Channel.

Specifically for Block 1 of our program, the back squat and deadlift Strength Progression begins with lighter loads and higher rep counts to allow for learning and adapting to the movements, and building a strength base. Achieving proper form and full depth of movement is essential for both safety and effective muscle recruitment. Each session gradually builds the load scheme to a high point in the first session of week 3, with a final set of 4 reps done at 85% of an known or estimated 1 rep max rep. Week 4 returns to lighter loads for a bit of recovery and more time to focus on form and full range of motion. If training on your own and you’re unsure of your form, consider working with a personal training for a few sessions to assist in your learning and execution.

2. BLOCK 1: Trainer Sessions

Our trainer sessions in Block 1 focus on two elements: neuromuscular training & aerobic conditioning. The neuromuscular piece is often very difficult from a muscle recruitment standpoint for athletes that are not accustomed to higher cadence pedaling. On the flip side, the aerobic intervals typically feel “too easy” for athletes that are used to pushing themselves too hard on a regular basis.

  • The neuromuscular training consists of low-gear, high cadence pedaling. We achieve this through the Spin-Ups as a warm-up exercise, again in the ILT (isolated leg training) intervals, and yet again in the high-cadence Spins at the end of the sessions.
    • Spin-Ups:  rpm progressions from 80-90 as a low and building at different intervals up to 115-145 as a high. All performed in easiest gear with light resistance and as smoothly as possible.
    • ILTs: single-legged pedaling. Little gear for smoothness and big gear for strength development. Beginning with just 1:00 durations and increasing to 3:00 per leg over the first block.
    • Spins: training to hold higher than normal cadences over extended periods of time. Performed in easiest gear, light resistance to remove any muscular assistance and reduce the cardiac demand.
  • The aerobic conditioning comes in the form of AeT (aerobic threshold) Intervals. We start with 3×5:00 of these in the first sessions and increase to 5×5:00, then 3×8:00 and finally 2×12:00 by the last session of the block. Targeting your aerobic threshold HR (as determined from testing effort, learn more HERE), in normal gearing/cadence for the 5:00-12:00 intervals.

3. BLOCK 1: Outdoor Sessions

Getting outside in this block consists of basic, low-intensity riding. Nothing too special here. Just good ‘ol easy base miles. Generally speaking, the more time you can spend on your bike at these low intensities the better.  You can ride on the road or the trails. Whatever makes you happy and feels good. If you’re struggling to loose some weight, it’s more important to keep the HRs low so you stay aerobic and build that fat-burning energy system over anything else. This may mean sticking to flatter roads, and either riding by yourself or your “slower” friends. If you’re a bit more experienced and/or already near your ideal body composition, you can ride some more challenging rides and/or faster paced group rides that get you HR up just a bit more. Just keep the high-intensity to a minimum and keep it fun. Lastly, you can also opt for cross-training outlets like nordic skiing, snowshoeing, uphill hiking, etc. for building aerobic endurance off the bike as weather and interests dictate.

Focus on finding your training routine and establishing a schedule that you will be able to sustain for many weeks to come.

Consistency is king and starting things off light and fun will help to ensure you look forward to each days training session and build the confidence in regular daily training. Once you get the ball rolling in Block 1 you ‘ll be ready to increase the load (slightly, be patient) in Block 2.

Interested in giving it a try yourself?

  • Download our complete 24-week Base Build Program on Training Peaks HERE.

  • Download our more condensed 12-week Base Build Program on Training Peaks HERE.

Programs include:

  • All the strength training details, including videos and set/rep schemes and calculated loads specific to your ability.
  • Full Testing Protocol and Training Zone Calculator to identify HR and Power zones and track progress.
  • Structured training sessions uploadable to your app of choice (Zwift, Wahoo, Garmin, Trainer Road, etc.)
  • Bonus weekend training ride suggestions for either indoors or out.

 

Written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Sessions:6 Sport Performance. Looking for help with your endurance sport training? Check out S:6’s Training Plans, Team Programs, and  Personal Coaching options created to fit your needs and budget.

 

 

 

 Shop Rudy Project for the best helmets & eyewear for the most demanding athletes. Use code: s6racing at checkout and receive 50-62% discount on all their gear.

 

The S:6 Base Training: Primer

The S:6 Base Training: Primer

  • November 9, 2017
  • Blog

Welcome to the Off-Season. Your Race Season ended a few (or maybe several) weeks ago and you’ve taken some time off from structured training and racing in favor of recovery.  After this brief period of time, you’re suppose to “detrain” and lose some fitness in order to restore freshness and enthusiasm for training. Then it’s time to get your baseline testing in to see where you’re at with your fitness and reset training zones for starting your off-season base training program. See my previous two posts for more on this: Testing Protocol, Part 1 and Testing Protocol, Part 2 explain the details of our testing philosophy.

With your baseline testing done and training zones configured, you are now ready to get to work!

Building a Base or Base Training are the popular buzz phrases for this time of year. Everyone has a slight variation on what this exactly entails, but the overall theme is to put in the training time to build fitness, from general to specific, before you dig into your next racing season and/or race specific training. With the exception of cyclocross racers, Autumn and Winter is the time of the year most endurance athletes commonly associate with base training. We’re several months away from race season and it’s time to build the general fitness required to enable us to handle the more demanding loads of race specific training that comes in Spring and Summer.

At Sessions:6, General Fitness to us means the least race specific fitness. Since racing is a ways off, we can spend time on areas that either get neglected or we simply can’t afford to train when in the midst of racing season. This means we first focus on the two far ends of the energy system “chain”: peak movement strength (ie. weight lifting) and aerobic endurance. From these two “ends” of the energy system “chain” we move inward progressively as we build base fitness, towards the more race specific energy systems.

Strength & Mobility

On the high-end strength side we spend time gradually building peak movement strength by progressively lifting heavier and heavier weights; focusing specifically on the squat and the deadlift movements as the pertain to both knee and hip extension. After a period of 12 weeks and peak strength has been achieved, we progress to power production: producing high levels of force quickly, through lighter loads and faster movements. Plyometrics and olympic lifts are common in this phase for the more advanced athletes.

Aerobic Conditioning

Simultaneously, on the other end of the spectrum, the low-intensity aerobic end of the energy system chain, we focus on aerobic conditioning progressively building over 10-20 weeks through the Aerobic Threshold & Aerobic Strength systems, Anaerobic Threshold, Vo2 Max and Anaerobic Power energy systems. It is finally here near the end of Winter or early Spring that the two ends finally meet for some Alactate training (producing max watts through sprinting) to finish off your “Base Building” phase, or Off-Season training period. From here you are ready to dive into your more specific training that will prepare you for your specific racing goals. You can read more on the energy system “chain”, or scale, concept in a previous post: I. Aerobic Conditioning

Progression & Adaptation are Essential for Building your Off-Season Base.

We divide our Off-Season training into the common 4-week block pattern of training: with 3 weeks of progressively accumulating training stress before taking a step back with a week of reduced stress to allow for absorption the work done and positive adaptation before beginning the next block. Every other recovery week includes an Aerobic & Power Test to track progress and adjust zones as you gain fitness. We’ve created our most comprehensive off-season Base Builder to build progressively over a full 24 weeks of training. We also have our truncated 12-week version that progresses at twice the speed for those that don’t have the extended base period time available, or just simply aren’t interested in building a 24-week base of fitness before their race specific training.

In the following example, I will layout our Complete 24-Week Base Build Program. This version consists of 6-blocks of training with each block building upon the previous while giving specific attention to the strength work and energy system being trained. For the 12-week Base Build version, you can imagine the blocks being compressed into 3 blocks of training over 3 months time, while still progressing through each of the 6 energy systems in the example. The blocks progressively build in this order:

  1. Block 1: November
    • Strength: Adaptation (getting familiar with exercises & executing best form)
    • Aerobic: Skill Work (high cadence & single-leg pedaling) & Aerobic Intervals
  2. Block 2: December
    • Strength: Strength Build (increasing loads as adaptation allows)
    • Aerobic: Aerobic Threshold (AeT) & Aerobic Strength (“big gear” work)
  3. Block 3: January
    • Strength: Strength Peak (working up to/near a one-rep max effort)
    • Aerobic: Anaerobic Threshold (AnT) (aka. lactate threshold or “threshold”)
  4. Block 4: February
    • Strength: Power Adaptation (transitioning to lighter loads & faster movements)
    • Aerobic: Vo2 Max
  5. Block 5: March
    • Strength: Power Build (working towards explosive movements)
    • Aerobic: Anaerobic Power
  6. Block 6: April 
    • Strength: Peak Power (maximum force & speed production)
    • Aerobic: Alacate

We find that targeting the strength and aerobic energy systems twice a week, each, is effective for most athletes during the winter months. This works well as both gym and structured interval sessions are highly effective performed indoors when weather and daylight hours limit most endurance athletes this time of year. Weekends during this base build period are reserved for getting outside and getting longer endurance focused training in through additional riding, running, skiing, etc. also building progressively over longer and longer durations, from 2-6 hours, over the six month long base build season.

Following this plan November through April, come May you are super fit and highly tuned across all energy systems with a super solid base established.

This will allow you to then start your race-specific training that will focus specifically on the energy demands of your target event(s). The Race Prep Training  phase and how that looks is different for each athlete depending on their upcoming target events. Race Prep is whole topic in and of itself that I will discuss in the future. That said, as early as February you will find your fitness building and race-ability there that will allow you to jump into some early season races of choice. Even though you’re still “building your base”, by the last third of the program everyone will be able to race, and race quite well, despite not being in “peak” fitness. Racing this time of year is fun, motivating, and necessary part of the training process. It is definitely good to do some races during your off-season base build.

Off-Season Training begins with Block 1.

Follow along in our monthly posts as we dive deeper into each individual block of training and explain in more detail what we are doing with our athletes and those following our programming.

Interested in giving it a try yourself?

  • Download our complete 24-week Base Build Program on Training Peaks HERE.

  • Download our more condensed 12-week Base Build Program on Training Peaks HERE.

Programs include:

  • All the strength training details, including videos and set/rep schemes and calculated loads specific to your ability.
  • Full Testing Protocol and Training Zone Calculator to identify HR and Power zones and track progress.
  • Structured training sessions uploadable to your app of choice (Zwift, Wahoo, Garmin, Trainer Road, etc.)
  • Bonus weekend training ride suggestions for either indoors or out.

 

Written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Sessions:6 Sport Performance. Looking for help with your endurance sport training? Check out S:6’s Training Plans, Team Programs, and  Personal Coaching options created to fit your needs and budget.

 

 

 Shop Rudy Project for the best helmets & eyewear for the most demanding athletes. Use code: s6racing at checkout and receive 50-62% discount on all their gear.

Getting Ready For 2018

Getting Ready for 2018

  • November 7, 2017
  • Blog

After a crazy busy summer (mentioned in previous post), things are finally coming back together for Fall. Kathy and I both had an amazing experience over the last few months being a part of the NICA sanctioned Colorado High School Mountain Bike League and coaching the Green Mountain Composite High School Mountain Bike Team. It was so fun and so rewarding to see these kids get excited to race their bikes. Not to mention see our own kids who both really surprised us with not only how good they were right off the bat but also how much they loved it!

On the business front, I really had a productive couple of months preparing for the 2018 training season. Writing new training plans for our remote athletes, marketing our in-house Off-Season Training Program for our local athletes, and getting Personal Coaching clients dialed in for the new year ahead.

With all this solid work behind us and things back on track, I’ve finally turned the corner on gaining enthusiasm for my own training and racing goals for 2018.

After many weeks of chewing on things and talking through things with Kathy, I think I’ve narrowed down the bulk of my 2018 racing schedule. Assuming budgets are similar to years past, I’m still working through some final sponsorship details for 2018, here is what I have in mind for 2018:

Tentative 2018 Race Schedule

 

Now with some race plans written down, it’s time to get to work on rebuilding some fitness! 

So I have to be completely honest here… I don’t think I’ve ever been this “out of shape.” Seriously.

I started racing mountain bikes when I was 16 years old, and I haven’t stopped training or racing for anything longer than maybe 2 weeks at a stretch once a year. The funny thing is I haven’t really stopped riding over the last 3 months, but for the most part the riding I’ve done has been super short, super low-key, and there has been no intensity, much less racing… FOR 3 MONTHS!!

I may look the same, weigh basically the same, maybe be a little less tan; but I can really say that I feel slow, and any significant riding feels hard, and some of the last rides I did with the high school team really took a lot out of me.

Well we have to start somewhere, and getting started is often the hardest part! To officially kick the start of my training off, I jumped on the trainer for a Power Test to see exactly where I’m at and to reset my training zones. WOW that hurt! and the numbers were a little depressing.

But the good news is I can only go up from here and I plan to share with you over the next several months exactly how I go about improving these baseline numbers.

The testing I like to do is a bit different than the standard. You can read all the details in my recent two blog posts here: Testing Protocol, p.1 and Testing Protocol p.2. I’ve followed this protocol for the last 5 years so I have a good grip on what “good” is for me and these numbers are far from it. Here are the current details compared to my 2015 numbers leading up to my 15th place at Leadville 100:

  • 20:00 Aerobic Threshold Power @ 148 bpm
    • Fall 2017:  238w
    • Summer 2015:  274w
  • 1:00 Max Power
    • Fall 2017:  499w
    • Summer 2015:  529w
  • 2:00 Max Power
    • Fall 2017:  380w
    • Summer 2015:  454w
  • 4:00 Max Power
    • Fall 2017:  324w
    • Summer 2015:  382w
  • Fatigue Rate
    • Fall 2017:  8.7%
    • Summer 2015:  6.9%
  • This calculates an FTP of
    • Fall 2017:  247w (3.70 w/kg)
    • Summer 2015:  308w (4.71 w/kg)

What does all this mean? 

Simply put, I’m out of shape compared to a previous best power numbers in my 30s. These numbers compared to two years ago provide me with some goals to shoot for in my training. I have nine months to get back to these numbers, or slightly higher which is my goal. In 2015 I was actually coming off of serious back injury that limited my early winter training volume, and I was thinking I was going to race triathlon in that year, so my cycling base was pretty minimal in 2015. This leads me to believe that starting from a healthy starting point this year, and a full focus on the bike, I can exceed my 2015 numbers and perhaps even surpass my numbers from back in my 20s.

Where to start? 

From here, with baseline numbers in hand, I’m ready to get into focused training for November. I have two goals for the month:

  1. Get back to Strength Training
  2. Begin to rebuild my Aerobic Base

First move is getting back into regular strength work in the gym to begin to rebuild some strength. This is KEY for masters athletes (of which I am now!). Over the last several seasons I have found that progressively building strength in the back squat and deadlift exercises helps to improve the top end power numbers and resistance to injury. Combined with other dynamic strength movement to improve push-pull strength and core stability helps keep the body strong, healthy and more fatigue resistant. You can check out my Off-Season Strength Program to try for yourself on Training Peaks HERE.

On the bike, my focus will be on the opposite end… on aerobic training. I will slowly ramp up the volume with consistent regular riding, targeting my Aerobic Threshold by accumulating time in my AeT HR zone (138-147 bpm) and improving my pedaling efficiency through some specific cadence work and single-leg drills on the trainer. Both of these measures will help to improve my fatigue resistance and gradually lower my Fatigue Rate. You can check out my Off-Season Cycling Base Builder Program to try for yourself on Training Peaks HERE.

Ready, set, go… 

To really help me clear my mind and get back into training mode, I planned a “Training Camp Lite” in Arizona for the first week of November. Even though I don’t actually have the fitness to do tons of riding at the moment, getting away and into a new environment can be a super motivating and fun way to spark the motivation. I plan to ride everyday for 2-3 hours to get the ball of success rolling for 2018.

By following along with me this year, hopefully you can find a thing or two to implement to your own training and help your 2018 being a successful one as well!

Thanks for reading and I hope you decide to follow along for the 2018 season!

Cody Waite, Professional Off-Road Endurance Athlete & Coach
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