The S:6 Base Builder Program: Block 3

The S:6 Base Builder Program: Block 3

  • January 15, 2018
  • Blog

Happy New Year! January brings block 3 of 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 sessions, trainer sessions, and testing. 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.

Upon conclusion of Block 2 we took a little recovery time through the New Year holiday window and returned on January 2nd for our second of 4 testing sessions within our 6-month program. Our first test was at the end of October right before we kicked off official training; test two was 8 weeks later right after the new year, tests 3 and 4 will follow in 8-week cycles at the 2/3 point of the program and conclusion of the program. We prefer testing every 8-weeks as this provides enough time for fitness to evolve and provides a carrot of sorts to keep your training consistent so you make the improvements you’re looking for.

With test results in-hand we can check progress, reset training zones, keep motivation high, and get ready for further improvements over the next blocks of training.

Block 3 builds upon Blocks 1 & 2 with continued progressions in the gym and on the bike.

The weekly routine remains the same in the third block. Creating a consistent daily routine of the training pattern is an essential part of the program. Knowing exactly what you’re doing on any given day of the week: gym day, interval day, endurance day, recovery day; helps to establish the consistency in training that is so critical to progression and success.  In the following paragraphs I’ll break down the subtle progressions to be made in each of the three domains of training days. Block 3 makes up weeks 9-16 in the 24-weeks of the Base Build Program.

 

Block 2: Gym Sessions

Block 3 brings the final big push of heavy strength work in our primary movements for cycling specific strength: the Back Squat & Deadlift. Over the first 8 weeks of training, we’ve methodically increased the training loads, and allowed adequate recovery/adaptation time, to allow for a final build towards peak movement strength in a 1 or 2 rep max lift by the end of this block. Rep schemes become less and less as loads increase over the final 3 weeks of this build. The goal of the heavy lifting is to reach maximum, or near maximum, movement strength prior to shifting the focus towards single-leg stability movements and more explosive plyometric training in the second half of the Base Builder Program.

Along with the two key strength key movements, the Push & Pull movements for the upper body are further increased in loads and/or complexity of movement for continued progression. Core strength follows the same pattern of increased reps and/or complexity of movements that target all the muscles surrounding the hips: the low-back, glutes, and abdominal muscles for linear movement, and the glute-medeius and obliques for lateral movements.

Lastly, we begin to introduce more dynamic drills in to the session warm-ups that include “plate agility drills” (very low-hight jumping, landing and rebounding movements), and Depth Jumps (stepping off gradually higher heights to learn “landing mechanics”) to train the eccentric absorbing of plyometric impacts before learning the more explosive “rebound” jumps in the next block of training.

 

Block 2: Structured Trainer Sessions

The structured interval sessions become more power based in block 3. In the two previous blocks we trained the aerobic system with increasing duration Aerobic Threshold and Aerobic-Strength intervals. The lower-intensity Aerobic energy system is best trained via heart rate. As we progress to higher intensity energy systems, power becomes the focal point to set training loads, while using heart rate to identify adaptation (or lack there of) and future progression in loads.  You can read more about this concept in a previous post: Training Heart Rate & Power.

In Block 3 we progress to the next higher energy system: Anaerobic Threshold (aka. Zone 4, Lactate Threshold or just “threshold” training).  This energy system targets power levels between 32:00 and 64:00 power. The workouts in this program are designed to be performed on the indoor-trainer so we target the shorter duration 32:00 power (more powerful) to allow for shorter intervals (less mind-numbing).

We begin with just 18:00 of work in the first session, as 3×6:00 to ease into the effort of the new energy system, and progress over the weeks as through 24:00 of work and finally 32:00 of work at max 32:00 power. Each riders 32:00 Power is identified from our Testing Protocol and provides them with an exact workload to be training at. We can further manipulate things with the amount of recovery time between intervals, beginning with 3:00 and reducing down to just 1:00 in the last session of the block for the most demanding workout. Here’s how it looks in our Wahoo Kickr Trainer Studio at Sessions:6:

  • Session 1: 18:00 (total work duration) as 3×6:00, with 3:00 recoveries

  • Session 2: 24:00 as 4×6:00, with 3:00 recoveries

  • Session 3: 24:00 as 3×8:00, with 3:00 recoveries

  • Session 4: 32:00 as 4×8:00, with 3:00 recoveries

  • Session 5: 32:00 as 4×8:00, with 2:00 recoveries

  • Session 6: 32:00 as 4×8:00, with 1:00 recoveries

In addition to the Anaerobic Threshold intervals, we keep up with single-leg ILT intervals for one last block in order to reach peak effort for strength development. This coincides with the peak strength being achieved in the gym sessions. It is here that the complete connection between the knee and hip extension while maintaining proper shoulder and back stabilization in the Deadlift in the gym, and the hip-knee extension with proper core tension and pull on the handlebar on the bike in the 60 rpm high-tension ILTs is most apparent.

The strength and power on the bike achieved through he strength work in the gym becomes so clear at this pointing the program!

Block 2: Endurance Sessions

Our outdoor endurance sessions continue to lengthen in Block 3. Adding 10-15 minutes per weekend ride is a great place to be. You’re likely feeling your fitness really improving around this time of the program and getting more and more eager to test it out. Adding in a faster paced group ride on one day is a great option  for getting in some unstructured intensity to the program. Just keep it minimal and don’t smash yourself on any given ride where you need 3 days to recover from it. Keep things in moderation so daily recovery is achievable and you can keep your training consistent day to day.

Another great option, included in the training plan, is an aerobic-strength session, indoors or out, to maintain the aerobic-strength gains made in the previous block. Taking aerobic-strength outside on a local climb is often more challenging that indoors, so start with shorter durations, like 6×3:00, and build weekly from there. Again, the goal is to gradually build rather than smash yourself, so be conservative and patient and gains will be made safely and soundly.

At this point in the program, make getting outside and getting in longer rides (or hikes/skis if weather is poor) in on the weekend a priority to build your endurance.  If unsure if you should add in the group intensity to aerobic-strength, it’s better to stick with just going longer and longer and building up that fatigue resistance. These easier, long sessions should not require much in terms of recovery and you get the full endurance benefits. If getting outside or going longer, is not an option on a given day, then hit the trainer with some Aerobic Threshold intervals (from Block 1) to build endurance through a more time efficient manner at 80% max HR.

Block 3 brings max efforts in strength and the beginning of power-based training on the bike.

 

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.

 

 

 

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Cody’s 2018 Base Build: Block 2 Recap

Cody’s 2018 Base Build: Block 2 Recap

  • January 8, 2018
  • Blog

The second block of my off-season Base Build consumed the month of December. As we all know, the window of time between Thanksgiving and New Years is always a challenge. End of year business deadlines, family time, social activities, training time, and weather are all pieces in the “Life Puzzle” that must be assembled in this month of the year. I’m pleased to report that most of my pieces were large and few in numbers, so my puzzle went together with relative ease and success.

On the training front, I’m continuing to make some solid progress and I’m loving every minute of it.

Strength Training

As mentioned before, in my Block 1 Recap, Strength Training is going to be large part of my annual training program throughout my entire season. I’m turning 40 this year and I can really feel the effects of not strength training compared to the overall health and “feeling good” that comes with strength training. I don’t have any evidence to back it up, but I truly believe there are positive chemical/hormonal effects in the body when you lift heavy weights. I feel this is particularly valuable to take advantage of as we age. Kind of an “anti-aging” type thing: keep the muscles and hormones firing on all cylinders and we resist the degradation and slow the effects of getting older.

Use It or Lose It!

That said, Block 2 Strength Training consisted of continued strength building. Where Block 1 established a foundation of movement strength and got me passed the feeling of post-workout soreness with relative light loads, Block 2 began to pile on some weight. Over the 3 weeks I progressively increased the loads in my primary movements: the back squat & deadlift for the lower body; reaching a “peak set” set of reps in the last week at 95% of my one rep max.  For my “push-pull” upper body movements in this block I focused on the bench press and pull-up combo; also achieving some solid gains with a 160 lbs bench press and 5 sets of 10 strict pull ups.

Aerobic Training

For Block 2 I kept the same pattern of Strength Day, Trainer Day, Endurance Day as described in my Block 1 Recap. On the bike the focus moved from basic Aerobic Threshold (AeT) work I did in Block 1 to “Aerobic-Strength” work as a progression towards increased loads. The progression here is layering in the big-gear low-cadence component for the strength aspect, while maintaining aerobic HRs.

The goal was to train the heart in Block 1, followed by the muscles in Block 2, for maximum aerobic-strength development.

Trainer sessions included extended single-leg ILT work which also focused on large muscle recruitment with bigger gears at 60 rpm and increasing average power outputs over the 3 weeks. After the single-leg work, came the longer Aerobic-Strength intervals that consisted of standing up in nearly my largest gear, pedaling at around 55 rpm. Beginning with 4×5:00 in the first week and progressing to 3×8:00, 2×12:00, 2×15:00 and finally 1×30:00 in the final week to maximize muscular endurance. In week 3 we also added in some short surges at the end of the long intervals to introduce some higher power work (and make the time go by faster) by surging to 70 rpm for 15-seconds each minute. Good times!

Get the FULL details & specifics of our off-season Base Builder Trainer Series.

My outdoor endurance rides progressed along nicely in the first couple weeks of Block 2 while the Denver winter was slow to arrive. By mid-month however the temps finally dropped, we got a little snow, and the outdoor riding options decreased significantly in the final 10 days of so of my training block. This happens, and it happens nearly like clockwork every late December in Denver, so I was ready with a Plan B: more trainer time!

When things get unappealing outside, I bring them inside. For intended longer endurance rides, I trim the quantity and boost the quality just a bit to achieve the desired training stress (TSS) for the day.

For example: if the plan calls for a 4-hour ride at low intensity and 175 TSS, and it is snowing outside…

I take my ride indoors and do 2-hours with 2×30:00 at Aerobic Threshold HR/power as the main set. This alteration, along with a warm-up spin, a few sets of ILTs on both sides of the mainset, and a warm-down spin, and I still get my aerobic training and hit around that 175 TSS target for the day. Not too bad. Other options can also include subbing other activities like running or xc-skiing, but since I’m not running this year and skiing is a bit of a time suck, the trainer is my preferred method. If snow-day trainer rides were to become the norm, I would certainly seek the other alternatives out for more variation.

The trainer session example above is exactly what Kathy and I did on Christmas Eve when it was too cold and sloppy to get outside. Similarly, the day after Christmas we doubled up on the two trainer sessions we offered at the S:6 Wahoo Kickr Studio as part of Week 7 of the 2018 Off-Season Base Builder Program that day.

Then came the big day of the “Quad-Trainer” session that Will Foley, a 20-year-old athlete I coach, and I did on December 28th. On this day we decided to smash ourselves with all four trainer sessions in the studio!

Each sessions was the same and consisted of spin-ups to warm-up, ILT strength work, 30 minutes aerobic-strength climb with 10 surges in last 10 minutes (to 175% FTP), and a 5:00 spin to finish it off. Here’s a brief rundown of that day…

  • 6:30 AM – Early rise, slow to warm-up, but not so bad.

  • 12:00 PM – After a big breakfast and a nap, feeling solid.

  • 4:30 PM – Power numbers are up and feeling strong!

  • 6:15 PM – Barely held on through the surges as muscular strength was fading fast and fast twitch fibers were nearly exhausted.

Despite relatively low-intensity training (HR only exceeded 150 bpm briefly with the surging), this was a monster muscular endurance day, and I felt the fatigue for the next few days. Totals on the day amounted to:

  • Five hours of total riding time

  • Two hours of big gear, low cadence, standing “climbing”

  • Forty 15-second surges over 175% FTP

  • Sixty minutes of pedaling w/ one leg

  • Thirty minutes of pedaling over 120 rpm

  • approx. 80 miles

  • 10,000 feet climbing equivalent

  • 368 TSS

This big day capped off my Block 2 Build with a nice exclamation point and I was now ready to recover for a few days before performing our Testing Protocol at week 8 of the off-season Build Program.

Week 8 Testing

After three easy days of recovery it was time for our second test of the my off-season base build. Our testing protocol consists of a 20-minute sub-max aerobic test, followed by three short duration anaerobic power intervals to see where the top-end is at and determine my new Fatigue Rate, track progress, and re-set training zones for blocks 3 & 4 of the program.

Get the FULL scoop on our Testing Protocol. 

My last test (first test of the 2018 off-season training season) was back in late October. As mentioned, in previous post, the results were quite dismal due to the extended break from/low-level of training I did through the end of summer and early fall.  So progress was anticipated simply from the boosted training volume, effort and structure…and gains we seen. Here’s the recap…

  • 20:00 Aerobic Threshold Power @ 148 bpm
    • Pre-Test 2017:  238w
    • Week 8: 256w
    • Recent “Best” from Summer 2015:  274w
  • 1:00 Max Power
    • Fall 2017:  499w
    • Week 8: 505w
    • Summer 2015:  529w
  • 2:00 Max Power
    • Fall 2017:  380w
    • Week 8: 403w
    • Summer 2015:  454w
  • 4:00 Max Power
    • Fall 2017:  324w
    • Week 8: 340w
    • Summer 2015:  382w
  • Fatigue Rate
    • Fall 2017:  8.7%
    • Week 8: 8.17%
    • Summer 2015:  6.9%
  • This calculates an FTP of
    • Fall 2017:  247w (3.70 w/kg)
    • Week 8: 263w (3.89 w/kg)
    • Summer 2015:  308w (4.71 w/kg)

Conclusion

My first 8 weeks of my off-season Base Build program has been very consistent and successful. I’ve increased my movement strength via increased loads in weight training, and I’ve improved my power on the bike, aerobic power and FTP, by roughly 8%. A solid start to the training season and progress that I intend to continue to make over the coming months.

A steady and consistent build is the key to creating a solid off-season base from which you can further build your race specific fitness later in the year.

My coming blocks of training include continued strength work, building towards peak movement strength in another 3-4 weeks; continued progressions on the bike in terms of duration of long rides and intensity of structured sessions. Simply said, long rides will get longer, while intervals will get a little shorter and more powerful as I begin to train my Anaerobic Threshold energy system.

Now on to Block 3!

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

Cody Waite, Professional Off-Road Endurance Athlete & Coach
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