We covered the basic structure of our Base Builder Program in our LAST POST. Now that we have that out of the way, we can dig deeper into the specifics of Block 1…
Block 1: On-Bike
- Testing to Identify Baselines
- Develop or Improve Pedaling Skills
- High Cadence Spin-Ups
- Isolated Leg Training
- Steady Spins
- Basic Aerobic Development
- Aerobic Intervals (to Aerobic Threshold)
- Aerobic Endurance
As we begin our Base Build for the new season, most of us are coming off a (hopefully) brief period of little or no training following the conclusion of their race season. Some fitness loss is expected, and appropriate, at this time of the year. Testing as we get started is key to set a benchmark from where you are starting fitness-wise, and to reset your training zones to likely lower levels from your in-season (or end of last Base Builder season) highs.
Normal “loss of fitness” is around 10% for a 2-3 week transition between competitive season and Base Builder Season. Perhaps slightly less at lower intensities (say Aerobic Threshold, our 20:00 AeT Test); and maybe slightly more at higher intensities (say our 1-4 minute Anaerobic Power testing durations). For an athlete using an FTP based training zone calculator an example could be someone with a 300w FTP might see a reduction to 270w FTP when beginning their Base Build.
There are several different ways to test your aerobic cycling fitness. Here is a previous post that covers our Testing Protocol that we prefer. If you already have a testing protocol that you prefer (and have historical data) you can certainly use it. Our test focus on two ends of the fitness spectrum: Aerobic Power & Anaerobic Power. From here we can calculate a rate of fatigue between the two, as well as an FTP if you prefer to be FTP based with your training. Included in the Base Builder Plan is a Training Zone Calculator that will collect your testing data and spit out the corresponding training zones based off your aerobic & anaerobic fitness and rate of fatigue.
2. Pedaling Skills
Our twice weekly ‘structured workouts’ on Tuesdays & Thursdays will begin with cultivating pedaling skills in three exercises:
- Isolated Leg Training (ILT)
- Steady Spins
You can learn more about our Skill Proficiency philosophy HERE.
Spin-Ups are our preferred warm-up method on the trainer. These are performed in your easiest gear, light resistance, and begin at a very slow cadence, progressing to higher and higher cadences with increases at the specified interval duration. Starting at 80rpm you might increase to 120 or 130 rpm in week 1 and progress to 150+ rpm by week 3 depending on your ability. The goal with Spin-Ups is to gradually warm-up through increasing leg speed and heart-rate while remaining smooth and fluid to round out pedaling ability while minimizing energy loss.
ILTs are single leg pedaling, at either low cadence with high resistance, or higher cadence at light resistance. Single leg pedaling trains the nueromusclualr system to maintaining tension on the chain throughout the pedal stoke. This translates to improved traction and more power throughout the pedal stroke. The low rpm, high resistance version also includes a strength component to it as you gain the skill and fitness to push hard on the pedals throughout the stroke.
Steady Spins come at the end of each session to start the warm-down recovery process. Back to the small gear/lightest resistance and spin the highest cadence you can while maintaining good form for the prescribed duration. This may be 110 rpm for some, or 130 rpm for others. Hold it there and focus on smoothness and keeping your HR low (hence the the lightest gear/resistance requirement).
3. Aerobic Development
Our twice weekly ‘structured workouts’ on Tuesdays & Thursdays will include Aerobic Threshold Intervals, while the weekend rides should include some longer outdoor riding at the “zone 2” level when possible. Group rides and fun exploration rides are ideal. If riding outside isn’t an option, head back to the trainer for the Aerobic Intervals included within the plan.
Aerobic Threshold is the point where your metabolic system balances between “fat burning” and “sugar burning” fuel sources. The more fit you are aerobically the faster you go at this Aerobic Threshold. Fit people burn fat more efficiently and can move pretty darn fast while remaining aerobic. Out of shape people will require sugar for fuel to get up a flight a stairs. Our goal is to maximize your aerobic training and elevate your effort (power) at Aerobic Threshold so you can go longer and faster on less and less carbohydrate so when you need to go really hard (use carbohydrate) you have it available and can really crush it. Burning up your carb stores when just cruising along with the group will leave with little left when the intensity ramps up (ie. you get dropped).
This balance point occurs for most folks right around 80% of max Heart Rate. This is where we want to train (or just below) to maximize aerobic fitness and utilize fat for fuel while working moderately hard. Our testing protocol will help you identify your max heart rate when you go full gas for the Anaerobic Power Test. From here our Calculator will spit out your HR zones and power zones for your Aerobic Interval training. Typical interval duration is 5:00 to 20+ minutes in length. Follow the progressive plan and you’ll build your aerobic fitness throughout our entire Base Builder Program.
You can learn more about our Aerobic Conditioning Philosophy HERE.
Block 1: Off-Bike
Twice weekly gym sessions are key to the whole Base Builder progression. You can read more on our strength philosophy HERE. We’ve polished our strength approach a bit more for the 2019 season to make the sessions even more effective and time efficient. The session formatting looks like this:
- Movement Preparation
- Core Activation
- Push-Pull Sets
- Strength/Stability Sets
The Movement Prep, Core Activation, and Push-Pull sets are designed to improve mobility, activate muscle groups, strengthen the core musculature (includes torso, hip, back & shoulder muscles), and in essence ‘warm you up’ for the Strength and/or Stability sets that follow.
The focal point of the Strength progression is on two key movements:
- Knee Extension (Back Squat)
- Hip Hinge (Deadlift)
These are the primary movers for increased muscle recruitment for power generation on the bike. First we gradually develop technique & strength in these movements, before adding ‘instability’ to the movement by training unilaterally (with one leg) and/or requiring balance.
Following the strength work, we finish with more elastic movements that include quick loading & rebounding of muscle tissues and/or quick, explosive movements for power production. The final minutes of the training session are for light mobility work that includes both dynamic & static stretching to improve range of motion and “tightness”.
Block 1 is all about getting familiar with the structure & movements within the program. Sets are short, loads are light, and movement is slow and deliberate to help establish good form, proper movement, and minimize soreness. You can view all of our movements on our YouTube Channel to get a full understanding and demonstration of each.
That is Block 1 in a nutshell. Time to establish a routine, find your rhythm and stay consistent to start making some progressive gains as we head towards 2019.
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.