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 9-12 in the 24-weeks of the Base Build Program.
Block 3: 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 3: 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 3: 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.
- 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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