The S:6 Base Builder Program: Block 2

The S:6 Base Builder Program: Block 2

  • December 14, 2017
  • Blog

It’s December now and we’re digging into our second of six blocks that make up our Off-Season Base Build Program with our local in-house 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.

Hopefully a routine has been established in the first month of training, and you’re beginning to feel some level of fitness returning after your end of last season break. You can get the full rundown in the first post of the Series: Off-Season Base Training: Primer, and get caught up through previous posts in the Series Links above.

Block 2 builds upon Block 1 with continued progressions in the gym and on the bike.

In my previous post I laid out the general weekly schedule that is built around three types of sessions: gym sessions, structured trainer sessions, and endurance sessions. We’ll continue to follow this scheme into block 2 and break down the subtle progressions in each of the three domains. Block 2 makes up weeks 5-8 in the 24-weeks of the Base Build Program.

Block 2: Gym Sessions

In Block 1 we focused on learning proper movements and creating a bit of a strength base from which to build from. Our Training Load Calculator Spreadsheet helped us determine our 1 rep max for the two primary strength movements in the Back Squat and Deadlift. With four weeks of strength work now under our belts, we are past the initial soreness phase, and we are better prepared to progressively increase the loads in these movements. With two strength sessions a week, Session 1 is the one we make the gradual progressions in load through more sets of fewer reps. Session 2 of each week allows for adaptation through fewer sets and slightly more reps.  We’ll work up to a weekly high of 80% 1RM, 85% 1RM and 90% 1RM in weeks 5, 6 and 7 respectively. Week 8 will reduce to just 1 lighter strength session as part of a recovery week.

In the Push-Pull Sets we continue to progress in loads and/or complexity of movements. Core sets also continue to progress to more reps and/or complexity of movement, while focusing on the truck stabilizing muscles of the low-back, obliques and anterior core muscles.

Block 2: Structured Trainer Sessions

Block 1 established some pedaling skills through high-cadence drills and single-leg pedaling. Simultaneously we included an aerobic build through Aerobic Threshold (AeT) Intervals of 3×5:00 in week 1, building to 2×12:00 by end of week 3. The primary progression in Block 2 is layering in more strength work. This is done in two ways…

1. Isolated Leg Training (ILTs) focus on low cadence, bigger gear efforts (ex. 53×15 @ 60 rpm) for durations of 3:00 per leg.

These intervals allow a time to focus on connecting the upper body pulling on the bars with the lower body pushing (extension) on the pedals (very much in same manner as the Deadlift with knee and hip extension occurring while pulling on the bar!).  Connect the upper back with the heel drive to produce more force, one rep after another at 60 reps per minute.

2. AeT Intervals transition from the medium-geared, seated @ 95 rpm variety to big-geared, standing @ 55 rpm variety. All while maintaining aerobic effort levels of 75-80% of max HR, just below the Aerobic Threshold HR.

Pedaling in a larger gear and lower cadence than “normal” requires greater force application to the pedals and tips the effort more towards strength development. Standing for these intervals simulates climbing and builds total body strength not only in the legs but the arms and trunk, particularly the lower back.

The Aerobic-Strength Intervals in Block 2 will progress from 4x 5:00 in Week 5: Session 1, to 30:00 long intervals in Sessions 1 & 2 in Week 7. At this point we will also introduce some “surges” at the end of the longer aerobic-strength intervals that will allow for brief amounts of increased power output (and elevated HR) to get a sneak peak of the Anaerobic Threshold work that comes in Block 3.

High-cadence work will remain in each session as part of the warm-ups and finishing “spin” to maintain pedaling efficiency and round out the stroke from the low cadence strength work that’s being performed.

Block 2: Endurance Sessions

Following Friday recovery days, the weekends are reserved for getting outside and going longer and having fun. As in Block 1, these sessions can be on the bike in the form of road rides, mountain bike rides, group rides, or more trainer/Zwift time if that’s what the schedule and/or weather dictates. Additional AeT intervals are a great “bang for your buck” fitness builder that can be executed in various modalities both on and off the bike. You can also easily sub various cross training activities like running, hiking, skiing and the like that includes an aerobic endurance component to help enhance your basic base fitness. After the holiday season and we get into Block 3, things will get a bit more specific for at least one of the weekend days, but for now, keep it fun and do what makes you happy.

In Block 2 we continue to build that off-season base by layering in more strength work.

This can be highly effective while time and daylight is limited, you’re traveling, and it’s chilly outside. By creating a strong strength base we will better prepared for the more demanding power-production work and increased volume that comes in Blocks 3 and 4.

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.

Cody’s Block 1 Recap

Cody’s Block 1 Recap

  • December 12, 2017
  • Blog

My off season training began the first week of November with a my pre-season testing to identify baselines and set accurate zones. Then followed that up with a week long trip to Arizona for the first of three Off-Season Training Camps. This first camp was more of a Training Camp Lite, as my fitness wasn’t in place for any real long rides or heavy training. Rather the goal was to return to consistent daily riding to find my rhythm, clear my mind, and get focused on training for the year ahead. I hit up 2-3 hours each day of riding for the sake of riding and having fun. No intervals, no thresholds to keep an eye on…just ride and enjoy!

Upon my return home I was ready to get to work with Block 1 of our Sessions:6 Off-Season Base Build Training Program.

You can read more about what we do in Block 1 in a previous post HERE.

My off-season training blocks are set up in the common 3-1 pattern of three weeks building fitness (ie. fatigue) followed by a week to de-load a bit to recover and absorb the training (ie. regain freshness). Off-Season Program Block 1 is very low intensity and focuses on adapting to strength training and gaining an aerobic base on the bike.

I’m a fan of routine. With a busy work, family and training schedule, developing a weekly schedule to follow helps me plan and stay consistent. I am also fortunate enough to be able to set up my work schedule as needed and get in more training time during the week than most folks. For this reason my weekly schedule varies slightly from those that we coach and train.

Here’s my typical training week* through the Off-Season:

  • Monday: Strength Day
  • Tuesday: Structured Ride (intervals, usually on the trainer)
  • Wednesday: Endurance (outside when weather is good, trainer when not good)
  • Thursday: Strength Day
  • Friday: Structured Ride (intervals, try for outdoors, trainer is cool too)
  • Saturday: Endurance (outside when weather is good, trainer when not good)
  • Sunday: “Flex Day” (these days riding with my 14-year old MTB racer daughters, or recovery ride, or day off)

*For “recovery” weeks, I’ll drop the structured ride in favor of easy recovery or endurance riding as desired.

These schedule works well for me. It allows for relatively low-volume (ranging from 10 hours early in off-season to highs around 20 hours in peak endurance training in summer months), twice weekly strength, twice weekly aerobic intensity, twice weekly endurance riding, along with plenty of recovery time.

Strength Training

On the strength side, I really let things go over the summer and regretfully didn’t maintain my strength gains from 2017 Off-Season Program very well. I ended up dialing back my loads (using our Strength Load Calculator) a bit to find the correct balance between challenging myself and not over-doing it. For the first three blocks of training, our program focuses specifically on the Deadlift and Back Squat to build cycling specific strength through knee and hip extension. In addition, we include a progression of Pull & Push movements for the upper body, as well as a lot core stability exercises for the back, abdominal, hip and shoulder muscles.

I ended up reducing my 1 rep max lift loads by about 20% over the maxes I achieved last off-season to set my training set/rep schemes.  I may end up reaching my maxes from last season by the end of the build, but the early scheme just felt too heavy, due to my lack of maintenance through the summer. I won’t make that mistake again!

We put far more focus on proper form and full range of motion over what numbers we can achieve. I always remind myself, and those we coach & train, we are endurance athletes training for endurance events, not weight lifters training for competitions; numbers don’t matter as much as proper form to engage all muscles appropriately which will help us achieve higher power outputs across all energy systems as well as build fatigue resistance.

  • 2017 1 Rep Maxes:
    • Back Squat at 200 lbs.
    • Deadlift at 220 lbs.
  • Adjusted 2018 1 Rep Max estimates:
    • Back Squat at 160 lbs.
    • Deadlift at 180 lbs.

I trained strength two times a week: Mondays & Thursdays. Rep schemes for Block 1 ranged from 50% to a peak of 1 set of 4 at 85% in the first session of week 3. The majority of weight lifted was in the 60-75% of 1RM range to build some strength volume and prepare the body for the heavier loads that follow in Block 2. By week 4 recovery week I am feeling strong and healthy. I truly believe that lifting heavy weights (for endurance athletes) helps to maintain a youthfulness that is unachievable through just riding your bike. I’m convinced there is hormonal change that occurs when lifting weights and it helps the body not only stay strong, but just feel better, recover faster, and stay healthier. I encourage all endurance athletes to lift heavy weights, and do it year ’round.

Aerobic Training

The weather has been unusually warm and dry thus far this Fall in Denver. This has allowed me to get outside a bit more than planned for. I’ve been able to get outside on the bike 3-4 days a week, in addition to one day on the trainer. I’m a HUGE fan of training on the trainer, regardless of weather. The quality is unmatched. However, I’ve been training (on the trainer) and racing for 20 years now, and I’m not going to really get any better. My pedaling efficiency is as good as it’s going to get, so spending time training high-cadence and single-leg drills aren’t going to do much for me. Sad but true. I will benefit more from just riding to stay loose and regain a cyclist aerobic base. All that said, I still want to maintain a weekly trainer session in first three blocks for “maintenance” work in the cadence and ILT work. If you have less than 20 years of trainer cadence and ILT drill in your legs, then you need to be on the trainer 2x a week! They will make you better.

My “Structured Ride” days (Tue & Fri) have been made up of Aerobic Threshold Intervals. Spending more and more time at just under 80%  of my max HR helps to build that aerobic power and fat-burning energy system simultaneously. It’s also an extremely time efficient way to get “aerobic miles” in without spending hours and hours and the bike (something else I also do not need with 20 years of high level training in my legs and heart).  These kinds of intervals are moderate in effort and actually pretty fun to do. They take enough focus to stay engaged in the effort, but they are not particularly fatiguing and they start to feel good as you get better at them.

My Endurance days have been just in the 2-3 hour range of easy to moderate effort riding. A mix of MTB and road. I’ve also, for the first time in 6 years, added in a weekly group ride with some of the faster “racers” in town. This hour long ride segment includes some brief periods of high-intensity riding to keep up with the front group. The first week was a bit of shocker (particularly with a 44t front ring), but I quickly found my old “road racing” legs and have been enjoying hanging with the group on Saturday mornings as part of longer ride.


Already after the first block of training I feel lighter and stronger on the bike. I’d guess my FTP has increased around 10 watts, just by the feel of it. My AeT intervals have gone from 240-250w to 260-270w for the 5-10 minute durations I’m targeting at this point. As I write this at the end of my recovery week after a 2.5 hour MTB ride, I don’t feel wiped out and in need of nap. This lets me know I’m adapting well and gaining fitness. Feeling the positive adaptions is crucial, as is seeing the numbers in my training log.

For the numbers geeks out there, in my Training Peaks Performance Management Chart I can also see I’m gaining fitness at a rate of around 5 CTL per week through Block 1. This will decrease a bit in Block 2 onwards, as the initial large fitness gain (20 CTL in the month of Nov.) is  partly due to the lower than normal starting point from being “out of shape”. From here forward a CTL increase of around 10 per month will be my target. I know from history that this is a good rate I can adapt to and not be stretched too thin. I’m starting Block 2 at 80 CTL and the plan is to reach a peak of 120 CTL by end of March. 110-120 has historically been a “high” for me that I can achieve with positive effects. Then from here I’ll have 5 weeks to decrease from 120 to around 100-105 as I PEAK for my early season target event in early May: USAC Marathon National Championships.

Now on to Block 2!

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed the insights and follow along for the 2018 season!

Cody Waite, Professional Off-Road Endurance Athlete & Coach
Follow me on Instagram & Facebook
Check out my Stock Training Plans, Custom Training Plans & Personal Coaching options to help you make the most of your training!




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.