I’m beginning to feel pretty fit, and becoming very eager for the coming racing season. My first event is about six weeks away with the Cactus Cup Mountain Bike Stage Race, in Scottsdale, Arizona. In between now and then, I plan to make continued improvements in fitness, primary through increasing intensity on the bike and in the gym. But before I get to that, let me report on what I’ve accomplished over the last 4 week block of training in my S:6 Off-Season Base Builder Program: Block 3.
Block 3 brought twelve weeks of a steady strength progression to a peak. If you recall from my Block 1 Recap, I was overly optimistic in my strength capabilities to start off 2018. I had to back things way down from my 2015 PRs to start training this year. I adjusted things down from 200 lbs. in the Back Squat and 220 lbs. in the Deadlift to 160 and 180 pounds respectively. These were the numbers I would use to base my loading through my first 12-week strength build. I felt these were very conservative and achievable, without applying too much stress and possibly disappointing, or worse, injuring, myself along the process.
I was very pleased with my progression in strength over the last 3 week block of heavier lifting. My strength came back more than I initially anticipated based off of the first few weeks of training back in November.
Through a consistent build in the Back Squat and Deadlift movements I reached solid one-rep max repetitions in both lifts at 185 lbs and 205 lbs., respectively. I’m very happy with these, as my squat form/depth has improved significantly this year with some extra attention in improving a greater range of motion and stability throughout he hips, hamstrings and adductors. Also as I age, if I can keep my heavy lifts in the same area (or even improve them slightly), I can consider that a solid win for sure.
With new 1RMs in hand, I’ll be doing a second strength progression over the next 12 weeks to see if I can exceed these numbers and possibly reach my 2015 PRs or even set new PRs in strength before my racing season begins. As a firm believer in strength training for endurance athletes, particularly Masters athletes, maintaining strength will help resists the effects of aging through greater fast twitch muscle fiber retention and minimize the losses in performance that often associated with aging.
Continuing the gradual progression through each energy system, from low to high, as I build my fitness base, Block 3 brought Anaerobic Threshold intervals into the mix. Training my current maximum 64-32 minute power, as determined by my testing efforts preceding this block, I begin to train the top-end aerobic energy systems. Intervals were between 8 and 16 minutes long in duration amassing 32 to 64 minutes of time spent at these power outputs per training session. These twice weekly Anaerobic Threshold sessions were all performed on the trainer.
I really like the trainer this time of year for structured work. It’s highly controllable! This makes each session exactly repeatable. This way I can keep an eye on my adaptation and progression to the workload from sessions to session via HR. This makes stress management easier and keeps me healthy and making progress.
Following the Anaerobic Threshold interval sets, I was able to include an Aerobic-Strength set to my twice weekly structured days. This “add-on” strength work was done either indoors on the trainer (on the cold days), or outdoors on Lookout Mountain (on the warmer days); both proceeding the indoor AT trainer sets mentioned above. This made for super solid 2-2.5 hour sessions on those days. Strength sets included about 30 minutes of big-gear, low-cadence, high-tension climbing intervals. These sets progressed from 8×3:00 in the first week, to 6×5:00 in week two, and 4×8:00 in the third week.
Wednesdays were mellow endurance rides of about 3 hours. Wednesdays seemed to always be a little chilly this last month and some snow left over from recent light snowfalls. So the mountain bike was the bike of choice most days to hit the snow-patchy roads and bike paths for 45-50 miles.
Saturdays were group ride days… and also extremely cold! For some reason group rides in Denver begin at 8:00 or 8:30am… in the WINTER!! I still don’t fully understand why this is, but it is what it is… and that is COLD!! Needless to say, I’ve put my winter riding gear to the test over the last 4 weeks or so and got the work done. To be honest, I’ve actually enjoyed the rides quite a bit, despite the cold. The extra effort required to stay warm along with being done with 60+ miles of solid riding before 11am feels great. After a second coffee and shower, I’m ready for the rest of the day!
AEROBIC BASE CAMP
To wrap up Block 3 I was able to get away for a 5-day training camp in Arizona in the final week. Low-intensity base miles, combined with sunshine and warm temps, were on the agenda. Five days of longer rides, of which, Kathy was able to join me for the first three. The last two I was on my own to tackle some ‘extra big’ rides. Last day of camp was made up of my favorite “AZ EPIC Ride.” Check out the short video below that highlights this awesome ride. I like to do this ride 2-3 times each winter to build fitness and also see where my fitness is at the time.
Some solid fatigue was accumulated in the Arizona desert during my winter base camp. After a few days of resting up I’ll be ready for Base Build Block 4!
My next block of training will continue to progress on the bike with Vo2 Max intervals and a slight increase in endurance volume. In the gym, I’ll re-set my training loads off my newly established current maxes and go through another strength progression while also incorporating more plyometric movements for power. Along with the plyos, cross-body stability movements that connect the upper body and the lower body through the core musculature (ie. getting more dynamic & sport specific) will be incorporated into the second strength progression. Read more on my upcoming Block 4 Strength & Bike Progression.
Ready to get your own Base Built for the coming season? Try my condensed 12-week version of my program to get you ready for Spring riding and racing. Available for download via Training Peaks…
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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