It’s December now and we’re digging into our second of six blocks that make up our Off-Season Base Build Program. Hopefully a routine has been established in the first month of training, and you’re beginning to feel some level of fitness returning after your end of last season break. You can get the full rundown in the first post of the Series: Off-Season Base Training: Primer, and get caught up through previous posts in the Series Links above.
Block 2 builds upon Block 1 with continued progressions in the gym and on the bike.
In my previous post I laid out the general weekly schedule that is built around three types of sessions: gym sessions, structured trainer sessions, and endurance sessions. We’ll continue to follow this scheme into block 2 and break down the subtle progressions in each of the three domains. Block 2 makes up weeks 5-8 in the 24-weeks of the Base Build Program.
Block 2: Gym Sessions
In Block 1 we focused on learning proper movements and creating a bit of a strength base from which to build from. Our Training Load Calculator Spreadsheet helped us determine our 1 rep max for the two primary strength movements in the Back Squat and Deadlift. With four weeks of strength work now under our belts, we are past the initial soreness phase, and we are better prepared to progressively increase the loads in these movements. With two strength sessions a week, Session 1 is the one we make the gradual progressions in load through more sets of fewer reps. Session 2 of each week allows for adaptation through fewer sets and slightly more reps. We’ll work up to a weekly high of 80% 1RM, 85% 1RM and 90% 1RM in weeks 5, 6 and 7 respectively. Week 8 will reduce to just 1 lighter strength session as part of a recovery week.
In the Push-Pull Sets we continue to progress in loads and/or complexity of movements. Core sets also continue to progress to more reps and/or complexity of movement, while focusing on the truck stabilizing muscles of the low-back, obliques and anterior core muscles.
Block 2: Structured Trainer Sessions
Block 1 established some pedaling skills through high-cadence drills and single-leg pedaling. Simultaneously we included an aerobic build through Aerobic Threshold (AeT) Intervals of 3×5:00 in week 1, building to 2×12:00 by end of week 3. The primary progression in Block 2 is layering in more strength work. This is done in two ways…
1. Isolated Leg Training (ILTs) focus on low cadence, bigger gear efforts (ex. 53×15 @ 60 rpm) for durations of 3:00 per leg.
These intervals allow a time to focus on connecting the upper body pulling on the bars with the lower body pushing (extension) on the pedals (very much in same manner as the Deadlift with knee and hip extension occurring while pulling on the bar!). Connect the upper back with the heel drive to produce more force, one rep after another at 60 reps per minute.
2. AeT Intervals transition from the medium-geared, seated @ 95 rpm variety to big-geared, standing @ 55 rpm variety. All while maintaining aerobic effort levels of 75-80% of max HR, just below the Aerobic Threshold HR.
Pedaling in a larger gear and lower cadence than “normal” requires greater force application to the pedals and tips the effort more towards strength development. Standing for these intervals simulates climbing and builds total body strength not only in the legs but the arms and trunk, particularly the lower back.
The Aerobic-Strength Intervals in Block 2 will progress from 4x 5:00 in Week 5: Session 1, to 30:00 long intervals in Sessions 1 & 2 in Week 7. At this point we will also introduce some “surges” at the end of the longer aerobic-strength intervals that will allow for brief amounts of increased power output (and elevated HR) to get a sneak peak of the Anaerobic Threshold work that comes in Block 3.
High-cadence work will remain in each session as part of the warm-ups and finishing “spin” to maintain pedaling efficiency and round out the stroke from the low cadence strength work that’s being performed.
Block 2: Endurance Sessions
Following Friday recovery days, the weekends are reserved for getting outside and going longer and having fun. As in Block 1, these sessions can be on the bike in the form of road rides, mountain bike rides, group rides, or more trainer/Zwift time if that’s what the schedule and/or weather dictates. Additional AeT intervals are a great “bang for your buck” fitness builder that can be executed in various modalities both on and off the bike. You can also easily sub various cross training activities like running, hiking, skiing and the like that includes an aerobic endurance component to help enhance your basic base fitness. After the holiday season and we get into Block 3, things will get a bit more specific for at least one of the weekend days, but for now, keep it fun and do what makes you happy.
In Block 2 we continue to build that off-season base by layering in more strength work.
This can be highly effective while time and daylight is limited, you’re traveling, and it’s chilly outside. By creating a strong strength base we will better prepared for the more demanding power-production work and increased volume that comes in Blocks 3 and 4.
Interested in giving it a try yourself?
Download our 24-week Off-Season 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.
Shop Rudy Project for the best helmets & eyewear for the most demanding athletes. Use code: s6racing at checkout and receive 50-62% discount on all their gear.