With Block 1 in the books, we’re ready to progress into Block 2. As a quick recap, Block 1 on the bike focused on developing/refining pedaling skill through cadence drills, single-leg pedaling under varying loads, and training the Aerobic energy system with Aerobic Threshold intervals on the trainer and basic zone 2 rides outdoors. Block 1 in the gym consisted of learning the specific strength movements, working through any soreness, and cultivating basic strength to get things started. Get the full scoop in the previous post of this series: 2019 Base Builder: Block 1.
First we Recover.
Upon completion of Block 1, and between every block of our Base Builder program, we insert a recovery week. Our typical Base Builder structure is 3 weeks of training, 1 week of recovery. However this varies with the duration of the Base Builder Program you’re following (we have 12, 18 & 24 Base Builder Training Plan options). In-house, the pattern can vary slightly as we navigate the holiday season from November through New Years.
Recovery Weeks can take on different meanings for different athletes, and different phases of training. In general, recovery weeks are intended to allow for some form of rejuvenation. This can be in the form of fewer training days, easier training sessions, and more days off (lowered volume & intensity). For other athletes it may mean keeping the training consistency the same, while lowering the intensity of the training (maintain volume, lower intensity). For the more experienced athlete, a recovery week could consist of more riding, with all of it done at very low intensity (high volume). This variation is dependent on the overall training load and state of fitness, form, and fatigue an athlete is in. Bottom line, take rest if you need it, add miles in if you want it, but definitely keep the intensity low and be sure you’re eager to resume training when the new block begins.
Now Onward to Block 2!
The theme for our second of six blocks of Base Builder is Strength: aerobic strength on the bike & movement strength in the gym.
More trainer time! The two focal points are big gear, strength ILTs (isolated leg training, the one-legged pedaling), and big gear, low cadence aerobic “climbing”. Outside of those two points, continued pedaling improvements through high cadence spin-ups & steady spins are included to balance out the plethora of low cadence work within the sessions. Here are the progressions in our second block of Base Builder Training:
- Block 2 Spin-Ups: same basic warm-up drill. Start slow (90 rpm) and build cadence per 60, 30, 15 seconds to fast (120-150 rpm). Main thing to remember is super light resistance/gearing (like 40-60 watts). This will remove the aerobic & muscular demand (low HR & low power) and allow you to hit those high cadences and work the nueromuscular side of things. Goal is to achieve higher cadences than Block 1.
- Block 2 ILTs: these are perhaps the hardest efforts of each session in this block. In Block 1 we introduced these as skill drills, now they become hard work; as strength based intervals. We’ll be up to three-minutes per leg, pushing the biggest gear, biggest watts, at 55-60rpm, we can sustain for the entire 3:00. Rest 1:00. Then repeat with the other leg! Targeting muscular strength is point, but as you get better at these you can work harder (more watts) and get your HR up pretty high. Go big! No Aerobic Threshold (AeT) HR cap. *PRO TIP: think about connecting your lower body push (hip/knee extension) with an upper body pull (pull on same side bar as you push on pedals. Create a connection through your core to create more power! **The easy gear ILTs that were a challenge from Block 1 now become more for recovery between the big gear sets.
- Block 2 Aerobic Threshold Strength Intervals: the AeT intervals from Block 1 progress by layering in a strength component. Instead of 90 rpm, we’re dropping down towards 50 rpm (50-60 rpm) with increasing force requirements from the muscles. The other ‘add’ is to go from seated pedaling in Block 1 to standing pedaling in Block 2. By standing in a big gear/high resistance, at low cadence we shift the focus to climbing strength. The climbing keeps us engaged and our core muscles activated throughout. We’ll gradually work up to 30 continuous minutes of aerobic strength climbing. Our HR cap of 80% of max remains in place to keep us training the aerobic energy system.
- Surges: In the second or third week of Block 2 we’ll begin to add some surges to our aerobic strength “climbs”. These will be 15-second punches to a cadence of 70-75 rpm from our 50-60 rpm steady cadence in the last minutes of the intervals. The overall goal here is to get the HR & power up a bit and introduce some higher output efforts before we get into Block 3. Block 3 will target Anaerobic Threshold (32:00 power) and these little surges will get your HR up above the 80% cap and similar to where we’ll be in Block 3. These are fun too, as the intervals get really long to break things up a bit.
- Block 2 Steady Spins: getting a little longer duration, a little higher cadence, spin it out and offset the low cadence loading with this finishing spin. Shoot for 120-135 rpm for the duration prescribed.
Outdoor endurance rides should get a little longer. Keep them mostly easy to moderate (HR under 80% max) to train that aerobic energy system. If short on time or weather is not cooperating, get back o the trainer and re-visit the AeT intervals from Block 1 to train that aerobic system in less time.
Off-Bike (Strength) Progressions:
Block 2 build upon Block 1 in the loading progressions in the gym. Overall session formatting remains:
- Movement Prep
- Core Activation
- Squat/Deadlift Strength (*PRO TIP: knee/hip extension, similar to ILT focus!)
Block 2 brings continued cycles through Core, Push-Pull, & Power. As you cycle through these movement sets, increase training load by either adding more reps to the sets, or adding more sets. General rule of thumb: body weight movements add more reps to sets; weighted movements add more weight and sets. Either way, the goal is to do more work as you get stronger to keep the gains coming!
In the Strength sets (back squat/deadlift) you’ll gradually work up through higher loads (with reduced reps) on Session 1 of each week. Sessions 2 will then step back slightly and lower loads and increase reps. Consider session 1 to be a challenge, while session 2 is a little bit easier.The overall goal is to work up towards achieving a handful of reps as high as 90% of your 1RM by the end of the block. Progress slowly and listen to your body. The strength will follow.
Time to get strong and fortify that aerobic & strength base before we dive into Anaerobic Threshold training & peak Strength in Block 3.
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.