Cody’s 2018 Base Build: Block 3 Recap

Cody’s 2018 Base Build: Block 3 Recap

  • February 5, 2018
  • Blog

#fitnessiscoming

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.

STRENGTH

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.

BIKE

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…

12-Week Base Builder Program

 

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed the insights and follow along for the 2018 season!

Cody Waite, Professional Off-Road Endurance Athlete & Coach
Follow me on Instagram & Facebook
Check out my Stock Training Plans, Custom Training Plans & Personal Coaching options to help you make the most of your training!

 

 

 

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.

The S:6 Base Builder Program: Block 4

The S:6 Base Builder Program: Block 4

  • February 3, 2018
  • Blog

It’s February and we’re now halfway through our Off-Season Base Build Program. Our local, in-house program of 45 Denver-based athletes are now beginning to feel the fitness gains! We’ve met 4 days a week, most weeks, for the last 12 weeks for indoor gym sessions, trainer sessions, and testing. A solid base of aerobic and strength training has been established in the first half of the program. We’re now prepared to build off the basic fitness and add some appropriate amounts of higher intensity work in the form of faster more powerful movements in the gym (plyometrics) as well as shorter and more powerful intervals on the bike in the sound half of the program.

This very same 24-week program is available as a downloadable training plan on Training Peaks ( 24-week Base Build Training Plan ). We also have a more condensed 12-week Base Build Training Plan available to those that prefer a shorter, faster build of early season base fitness. Both versions allow you to follow my programming on your own where ever you live!

Block 4 makes up weeks 13-16 in the 24-weeks of our Base Build Program. You can read more about previous blocks from links at top.

 

Block 4: Gym Sessions

After reaching Peak Strength in end of Block 3, we now have new one-rep maxes (1RM) in the Back Squat and Deadlift in hand. In Block 4 we re-set our training loads for the second half of the Base Build Program to make further progressions is strength. With new 1RMs established in both, we can target the exact loads more confidently while following a second strength build. This second build incorporates a lower volume rep scheme to make room for the addition of single-extremity stability movements and increased time spent on power-based plyometric movements in the second half of the base build.

Sets & reps in the strength moves will reduce, as we include more stability movements and increase plyometric loads.

The strength session programming will remain as 2 sessions per week. Session formatting will include a “heavy day” in the Back Squat in Session #1 of the week with “stability movements” in the hip-hinging category, similar to deadlifting. Inversely, Session #2 of the week is a “heavy day” in the Deadlift, with stability movements with the knee-extension & glute firing emphasis achieved  through squatting movements.

Following a warm-up and prior to the strength work, every session will include plyometric movements to activate and train the more powerful muscle fibers. Block 4 will include movements including basic box jumps, depth jumps, and floor jumps.

To finish sessions off, we include more complex stability/core movements like Heavy Carries, Renegade Rows, and Turkish Get-Ups to train the total body stability and strength through cross-lateral coordination. All combined, the strength work becomes more dynamic in the second half of the program while building off of the strength base that was established in the first half.

Block 4: Structured Trainer Sessions

As mentioned in previous installments, our Base Build program gradually increases intensity as fitness develops. We started by training the low-end “multi-hour” intensities through aerobic intervals, followed by aerobic-strength intervals in Blocks 1 & 2, respectively.  Block 3 progressed to Anaerobic Threshold intervals that targeted your 64:00-32:00 power output. Block 4 now progresses to intervals targeting your 8:00 to 16:00 power outputs that correspond to your Vo2 Max energy system.

With our shorter durations Vo2 Max intervals in Block 4 we maintain the same duration of work throughout the training block. We’ll target the specific power outputs, as determined through our testing protocol and calculations, of “Max 8:00 Power” (broken into 4 intervals) & “Max 16:00 Power” (also broken into 4 intervals). As we adapt to the work being performed each week, we gradually reduce the recovery interval duration in week 2, followed by another reduction in recovery durations in week 3. This model assumes each individual is adapting to the work from the previous week.

Adaptations to training can be seen by referencing HR in the training sessions. Using HR along with Power is critical to training effectively and knowing when to increase loads, or when to reduce loads in favor of more recovery. By using only power in training you miss a huge piece of the puzzle in terms of your body’s physiological response to the work you’re performing.

Remember, you don’t want to train any harder than necessary to achieve individual session goals. You may be able to “go harder” to achieve the desired power output, but if it comes at the cost of too much stress on the body, you only increase the recovery time required between sessions, and walk the line of doing too much and becoming overly fatigued (ie. sick or injured).

Heartrate Monitors allow us to see how we’re responding to the work (power) we’re applying. From session to session we want to see similar, if not slightly lowering, HRs at the end of intervals and during recovery between intervals. This indicates “status quo” and you’re adapting to the stress being applied. Unusually high HRs indicates maladaptation (fatigue, dehydration, stress, etc); ie. you must work harder to achieve the same power. HRs remaining higher than expected in recoveries between intervals also can indicate maladaptation; body is fatigued and struggling to recover from same efforts. Positive adaptations can be indicated by similar, or slightly lower, HRs at end of intervals, as well as fast drops in HR in recovery intervals; ie. the work you’re preforming (power output) is becoming easier for you to perform.

Assuming you’re adapting, we gradually increase training loads through recovery interval manipulation. Over the course of Block 4, by reducing the recovery durations between work intervals, we allow less time for HR to lower and physiological by-products to clear. We must begin the next interval in more fatigued state and thus can “get into” the proper training zone more quickly and therefore increasing the training load and stress applied to the body. This gradual increase in load should provide the stimulus for adequate growth and keep to far of over-reaching to minimum. This all in turn keeps the stress management aspect in check, recovery achievable, and consistency in tact and less likeliness of missing workouts to a minimum.

Here’s how it will look in our Wahoo Kickr Trainer Studio at Sessions:6…

Session 1

    • Set 1: 4×2:00 @ 8:00 power (2:00 recoveries)
    • Set 2: 4×4:00 @ 16:00 power (3:00 recoveries)

Session 2

    • Set 1: 4×2:00 @ 8:00 power (2:00 recoveries)
    • Set 2: 4×4:00 @ 16:00 power (3:00 recoveries)

Session 3

    • Set 1: 4×2:00 @ 8:00 power (1:30 recoveries)
    • Set 2: 4×4:00 @ 16:00 power (2:00 recoveries)

Session 4

    • Set 1: 4×2:00 @ 8:00 power (1:30 recoveries)
    • Set 2: 4×4:00 @ 16:00 power (2:00 recoveries)

Session 5

    • Set 1: 4×2:00 @ 8:00 power (1:00 recoveries)
    • Set 2: 4×4:00 @ 16:00 power (1:00 recoveries)

Session 6

    • Set 1: 4×2:00 @ 8:00 power (1:00 recoveries)
    • Set 2: 4×4:00 @ 16:00 power (1:00 recoveries)

 

Block 2: Endurance Sessions

As in Block 3, one or two longer duration outdoor rides each week is ideal. If the weather is not great for riding outdoors, taking things inside to the trainer can be an option; as can other outdoor aerobic activities like skiing, running, etc. to get the aerobic benefits.

Maintaining aerobic-strength through over-gear climbing intervals (as we did in Block 2 of this program) is very effective both indoors and out this time of year. Performing 3-10 minute intervals, adding up to 20-40 minutes of total time of intervals is good place to be. Specific sessions are provided in our downloadable training plans.

Your aerobic & strength base has been established in Blocks 1-3. More power in the gym and more power on the bike is the theme for Block 4. 

 

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.

Programs include:

•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.

The S:6 Base Builder Program: Block 3

The S:6 Base Builder Program: Block 3

  • January 15, 2018
  • Blog

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.

Programs include:

  • 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.

Cody’s 2018 Base Build: Block 2 Recap

Cody’s 2018 Base Build: Block 2 Recap

  • January 8, 2018
  • Blog

The second block of my off-season Base Build consumed the month of December. As we all know, the window of time between Thanksgiving and New Years is always a challenge. End of year business deadlines, family time, social activities, training time, and weather are all pieces in the “Life Puzzle” that must be assembled in this month of the year. I’m pleased to report that most of my pieces were large and few in numbers, so my puzzle went together with relative ease and success.

On the training front, I’m continuing to make some solid progress and I’m loving every minute of it.

Strength Training

As mentioned before, in my Block 1 Recap, Strength Training is going to be large part of my annual training program throughout my entire season. I’m turning 40 this year and I can really feel the effects of not strength training compared to the overall health and “feeling good” that comes with strength training. I don’t have any evidence to back it up, but I truly believe there are positive chemical/hormonal effects in the body when you lift heavy weights. I feel this is particularly valuable to take advantage of as we age. Kind of an “anti-aging” type thing: keep the muscles and hormones firing on all cylinders and we resist the degradation and slow the effects of getting older.

Use It or Lose It!

That said, Block 2 Strength Training consisted of continued strength building. Where Block 1 established a foundation of movement strength and got me passed the feeling of post-workout soreness with relative light loads, Block 2 began to pile on some weight. Over the 3 weeks I progressively increased the loads in my primary movements: the back squat & deadlift for the lower body; reaching a “peak set” set of reps in the last week at 95% of my one rep max.  For my “push-pull” upper body movements in this block I focused on the bench press and pull-up combo; also achieving some solid gains with a 160 lbs bench press and 5 sets of 10 strict pull ups.

Aerobic Training

For Block 2 I kept the same pattern of Strength Day, Trainer Day, Endurance Day as described in my Block 1 Recap. On the bike the focus moved from basic Aerobic Threshold (AeT) work I did in Block 1 to “Aerobic-Strength” work as a progression towards increased loads. The progression here is layering in the big-gear low-cadence component for the strength aspect, while maintaining aerobic HRs.

The goal was to train the heart in Block 1, followed by the muscles in Block 2, for maximum aerobic-strength development.

Trainer sessions included extended single-leg ILT work which also focused on large muscle recruitment with bigger gears at 60 rpm and increasing average power outputs over the 3 weeks. After the single-leg work, came the longer Aerobic-Strength intervals that consisted of standing up in nearly my largest gear, pedaling at around 55 rpm. Beginning with 4×5:00 in the first week and progressing to 3×8:00, 2×12:00, 2×15:00 and finally 1×30:00 in the final week to maximize muscular endurance. In week 3 we also added in some short surges at the end of the long intervals to introduce some higher power work (and make the time go by faster) by surging to 70 rpm for 15-seconds each minute. Good times!

Get the FULL details & specifics of our off-season Base Builder Trainer Series.

My outdoor endurance rides progressed along nicely in the first couple weeks of Block 2 while the Denver winter was slow to arrive. By mid-month however the temps finally dropped, we got a little snow, and the outdoor riding options decreased significantly in the final 10 days of so of my training block. This happens, and it happens nearly like clockwork every late December in Denver, so I was ready with a Plan B: more trainer time!

When things get unappealing outside, I bring them inside. For intended longer endurance rides, I trim the quantity and boost the quality just a bit to achieve the desired training stress (TSS) for the day.

For example: if the plan calls for a 4-hour ride at low intensity and 175 TSS, and it is snowing outside…

I take my ride indoors and do 2-hours with 2×30:00 at Aerobic Threshold HR/power as the main set. This alteration, along with a warm-up spin, a few sets of ILTs on both sides of the mainset, and a warm-down spin, and I still get my aerobic training and hit around that 175 TSS target for the day. Not too bad. Other options can also include subbing other activities like running or xc-skiing, but since I’m not running this year and skiing is a bit of a time suck, the trainer is my preferred method. If snow-day trainer rides were to become the norm, I would certainly seek the other alternatives out for more variation.

The trainer session example above is exactly what Kathy and I did on Christmas Eve when it was too cold and sloppy to get outside. Similarly, the day after Christmas we doubled up on the two trainer sessions we offered at the S:6 Wahoo Kickr Studio as part of Week 7 of the 2018 Off-Season Base Builder Program that day.

Then came the big day of the “Quad-Trainer” session that Will Foley, a 20-year-old athlete I coach, and I did on December 28th. On this day we decided to smash ourselves with all four trainer sessions in the studio!

Each sessions was the same and consisted of spin-ups to warm-up, ILT strength work, 30 minutes aerobic-strength climb with 10 surges in last 10 minutes (to 175% FTP), and a 5:00 spin to finish it off. Here’s a brief rundown of that day…

  • 6:30 AM – Early rise, slow to warm-up, but not so bad.

  • 12:00 PM – After a big breakfast and a nap, feeling solid.

  • 4:30 PM – Power numbers are up and feeling strong!

  • 6:15 PM – Barely held on through the surges as muscular strength was fading fast and fast twitch fibers were nearly exhausted.

Despite relatively low-intensity training (HR only exceeded 150 bpm briefly with the surging), this was a monster muscular endurance day, and I felt the fatigue for the next few days. Totals on the day amounted to:

  • Five hours of total riding time

  • Two hours of big gear, low cadence, standing “climbing”

  • Forty 15-second surges over 175% FTP

  • Sixty minutes of pedaling w/ one leg

  • Thirty minutes of pedaling over 120 rpm

  • approx. 80 miles

  • 10,000 feet climbing equivalent

  • 368 TSS

This big day capped off my Block 2 Build with a nice exclamation point and I was now ready to recover for a few days before performing our Testing Protocol at week 8 of the off-season Build Program.

Week 8 Testing

After three easy days of recovery it was time for our second test of the my off-season base build. Our testing protocol consists of a 20-minute sub-max aerobic test, followed by three short duration anaerobic power intervals to see where the top-end is at and determine my new Fatigue Rate, track progress, and re-set training zones for blocks 3 & 4 of the program.

Get the FULL scoop on our Testing Protocol. 

My last test (first test of the 2018 off-season training season) was back in late October. As mentioned, in previous post, the results were quite dismal due to the extended break from/low-level of training I did through the end of summer and early fall.  So progress was anticipated simply from the boosted training volume, effort and structure…and gains we seen. Here’s the recap…

  • 20:00 Aerobic Threshold Power @ 148 bpm
    • Pre-Test 2017:  238w
    • Week 8: 256w
    • Recent “Best” from Summer 2015:  274w
  • 1:00 Max Power
    • Fall 2017:  499w
    • Week 8: 505w
    • Summer 2015:  529w
  • 2:00 Max Power
    • Fall 2017:  380w
    • Week 8: 403w
    • Summer 2015:  454w
  • 4:00 Max Power
    • Fall 2017:  324w
    • Week 8: 340w
    • Summer 2015:  382w
  • Fatigue Rate
    • Fall 2017:  8.7%
    • Week 8: 8.17%
    • Summer 2015:  6.9%
  • This calculates an FTP of
    • Fall 2017:  247w (3.70 w/kg)
    • Week 8: 263w (3.89 w/kg)
    • Summer 2015:  308w (4.71 w/kg)

Conclusion

My first 8 weeks of my off-season Base Build program has been very consistent and successful. I’ve increased my movement strength via increased loads in weight training, and I’ve improved my power on the bike, aerobic power and FTP, by roughly 8%. A solid start to the training season and progress that I intend to continue to make over the coming months.

A steady and consistent build is the key to creating a solid off-season base from which you can further build your race specific fitness later in the year.

My coming blocks of training include continued strength work, building towards peak movement strength in another 3-4 weeks; continued progressions on the bike in terms of duration of long rides and intensity of structured sessions. Simply said, long rides will get longer, while intervals will get a little shorter and more powerful as I begin to train my Anaerobic Threshold energy system.

Now on to Block 3!

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed the insights and follow along for the 2018 season!

Cody Waite, Professional Off-Road Endurance Athlete & Coach
Follow me on Instagram & Facebook
Check out my Stock Training Plans, Custom Training Plans & Personal Coaching options to help you make the most of your training!

 

 

 

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.

 

The S:6 Base Builder Program: Block 2

The S:6 Base Builder Program: Block 2

  • December 14, 2017
  • Blog

It’s December now and we’re digging into our second of six blocks that make up 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 and trainer sessions. 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.

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 complete 24-week Base Build Program on Training Peaks HERE.

  • Download our more condensed 12-week Base Build Program on Training Peaks HERE.

Programs include:

  • 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.

Cody’s Block 1 Recap

Cody’s Block 1 Recap

  • December 12, 2017
  • Blog

My off season training began the first week of November with a my pre-season testing to identify baselines and set accurate zones. Then followed that up with a week long trip to Arizona for the first of three Off-Season Training Camps. This first camp was more of a Training Camp Lite, as my fitness wasn’t in place for any real long rides or heavy training. Rather the goal was to return to consistent daily riding to find my rhythm, clear my mind, and get focused on training for the year ahead. I hit up 2-3 hours each day of riding for the sake of riding and having fun. No intervals, no thresholds to keep an eye on…just ride and enjoy!

Upon my return home I was ready to get to work with Block 1 of our Sessions:6 Off-Season Base Build Training Program.

You can read more about what we do in Block 1 in a previous post HERE.

My off-season training blocks are set up in the common 3-1 pattern of three weeks building fitness (ie. fatigue) followed by a week to de-load a bit to recover and absorb the training (ie. regain freshness). Off-Season Program Block 1 is very low intensity and focuses on adapting to strength training and gaining an aerobic base on the bike.

I’m a fan of routine. With a busy work, family and training schedule, developing a weekly schedule to follow helps me plan and stay consistent. I am also fortunate enough to be able to set up my work schedule as needed and get in more training time during the week than most folks. For this reason my weekly schedule varies slightly from those that we coach and train.

Here’s my typical training week* through the Off-Season:

  • Monday: Strength Day
  • Tuesday: Structured Ride (intervals, usually on the trainer)
  • Wednesday: Endurance (outside when weather is good, trainer when not good)
  • Thursday: Strength Day
  • Friday: Structured Ride (intervals, try for outdoors, trainer is cool too)
  • Saturday: Endurance (outside when weather is good, trainer when not good)
  • Sunday: “Flex Day” (these days riding with my 14-year old MTB racer daughters, or recovery ride, or day off)

*For “recovery” weeks, I’ll drop the structured ride in favor of easy recovery or endurance riding as desired.

These schedule works well for me. It allows for relatively low-volume (ranging from 10 hours early in off-season to highs around 20 hours in peak endurance training in summer months), twice weekly strength, twice weekly aerobic intensity, twice weekly endurance riding, along with plenty of recovery time.

Strength Training

On the strength side, I really let things go over the summer and regretfully didn’t maintain my strength gains from 2017 Off-Season Program very well. I ended up dialing back my loads (using our Strength Load Calculator) a bit to find the correct balance between challenging myself and not over-doing it. For the first three blocks of training, our program focuses specifically on the Deadlift and Back Squat to build cycling specific strength through knee and hip extension. In addition, we include a progression of Pull & Push movements for the upper body, as well as a lot core stability exercises for the back, abdominal, hip and shoulder muscles.

I ended up reducing my 1 rep max lift loads by about 20% over the maxes I achieved last off-season to set my training set/rep schemes.  I may end up reaching my maxes from last season by the end of the build, but the early scheme just felt too heavy, due to my lack of maintenance through the summer. I won’t make that mistake again!

We put far more focus on proper form and full range of motion over what numbers we can achieve. I always remind myself, and those we coach & train, we are endurance athletes training for endurance events, not weight lifters training for competitions; numbers don’t matter as much as proper form to engage all muscles appropriately which will help us achieve higher power outputs across all energy systems as well as build fatigue resistance.

  • 2017 1 Rep Maxes:
    • Back Squat at 200 lbs.
    • Deadlift at 220 lbs.
  • Adjusted 2018 1 Rep Max estimates:
    • Back Squat at 160 lbs.
    • Deadlift at 180 lbs.

I trained strength two times a week: Mondays & Thursdays. Rep schemes for Block 1 ranged from 50% to a peak of 1 set of 4 at 85% in the first session of week 3. The majority of weight lifted was in the 60-75% of 1RM range to build some strength volume and prepare the body for the heavier loads that follow in Block 2. By week 4 recovery week I am feeling strong and healthy. I truly believe that lifting heavy weights (for endurance athletes) helps to maintain a youthfulness that is unachievable through just riding your bike. I’m convinced there is hormonal change that occurs when lifting weights and it helps the body not only stay strong, but just feel better, recover faster, and stay healthier. I encourage all endurance athletes to lift heavy weights, and do it year ’round.

Aerobic Training

The weather has been unusually warm and dry thus far this Fall in Denver. This has allowed me to get outside a bit more than planned for. I’ve been able to get outside on the bike 3-4 days a week, in addition to one day on the trainer. I’m a HUGE fan of training on the trainer, regardless of weather. The quality is unmatched. However, I’ve been training (on the trainer) and racing for 20 years now, and I’m not going to really get any better. My pedaling efficiency is as good as it’s going to get, so spending time training high-cadence and single-leg drills aren’t going to do much for me. Sad but true. I will benefit more from just riding to stay loose and regain a cyclist aerobic base. All that said, I still want to maintain a weekly trainer session in first three blocks for “maintenance” work in the cadence and ILT work. If you have less than 20 years of trainer cadence and ILT drill in your legs, then you need to be on the trainer 2x a week! They will make you better.

My “Structured Ride” days (Tue & Fri) have been made up of Aerobic Threshold Intervals. Spending more and more time at just under 80%  of my max HR helps to build that aerobic power and fat-burning energy system simultaneously. It’s also an extremely time efficient way to get “aerobic miles” in without spending hours and hours and the bike (something else I also do not need with 20 years of high level training in my legs and heart).  These kinds of intervals are moderate in effort and actually pretty fun to do. They take enough focus to stay engaged in the effort, but they are not particularly fatiguing and they start to feel good as you get better at them.

My Endurance days have been just in the 2-3 hour range of easy to moderate effort riding. A mix of MTB and road. I’ve also, for the first time in 6 years, added in a weekly group ride with some of the faster “racers” in town. This hour long ride segment includes some brief periods of high-intensity riding to keep up with the front group. The first week was a bit of shocker (particularly with a 44t front ring), but I quickly found my old “road racing” legs and have been enjoying hanging with the group on Saturday mornings as part of longer ride.

Conclusion

Already after the first block of training I feel lighter and stronger on the bike. I’d guess my FTP has increased around 10 watts, just by the feel of it. My AeT intervals have gone from 240-250w to 260-270w for the 5-10 minute durations I’m targeting at this point. As I write this at the end of my recovery week after a 2.5 hour MTB ride, I don’t feel wiped out and in need of nap. This lets me know I’m adapting well and gaining fitness. Feeling the positive adaptions is crucial, as is seeing the numbers in my training log.

For the numbers geeks out there, in my Training Peaks Performance Management Chart I can also see I’m gaining fitness at a rate of around 5 CTL per week through Block 1. This will decrease a bit in Block 2 onwards, as the initial large fitness gain (20 CTL in the month of Nov.) is  partly due to the lower than normal starting point from being “out of shape”. From here forward a CTL increase of around 10 per month will be my target. I know from history that this is a good rate I can adapt to and not be stretched too thin. I’m starting Block 2 at 80 CTL and the plan is to reach a peak of 120 CTL by end of March. 110-120 has historically been a “high” for me that I can achieve with positive effects. Then from here I’ll have 5 weeks to decrease from 120 to around 100-105 as I PEAK for my early season target event in early May: USAC Marathon National Championships.

Now on to Block 2!

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed the insights and follow along for the 2018 season!

Cody Waite, Professional Off-Road Endurance Athlete & Coach
Follow me on Instagram & Facebook
Check out my Stock Training Plans, Custom Training Plans & Personal Coaching options to help you make the most of your training!

 

 

 

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.
The S:6 Base Builder Program: Block 1

The S:6 Base Builder Program: Block 1

  • November 11, 2017
  • Blog

We offer a 24-week Off-Season Base Build Program to our local athletes in Denver. We meet 4 days a week, most weeks, for 6 months for indoor gym and trainer sessions. 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.

The following blog series will share some specifics of what each block of training is made up of and how we progress through our 6-month long base build to reach serious fitness by Spring and ready to dive into more specific Race Prep training for your goal events. The same progression occurs in our truncated 12-week version of the plan; however progression occurs at a much faster pace. This plan is ideal for the more experienced athletes with years of base in their legs or for those that don’t have the time or patience to spend 6 months building a killer base of fitness for the upcoming season.

The first of six blocks comprising our Base Building Program focuses on returning to structured training, finding your rhythm, and adapting to the movements.

There are three basic categories of sessions that make up our regular training week:

  1. Gym Sessions (strength/mobility)

  2. Trainer Sessions (structured/intensity)

  3. Outdoor Sessions (endurance)

Ideally for most, you can fit two of each into your weekly routine, comprising of six sessions a week. Depending on your time available for training, you may be able to include additional sessions within the week for added volume. Additional sessions would typically be recovery or easy endurance in nature, as opposed to intensity. Rarely would a third intensity session be beneficial for an endurance athlete.

Overall training program volume can also be adjusted by the duration of the outdoor endurance session(s). More experienced athletes, and those with more time availability, can choose to increase their long rides to higher durations as appropriate for their current training progression. Increasing the long rides needs to be done methodically and progressively over time, rather than randomly or haphazardly. Being accustomed to 3-hour endurance rides and then throwing in a 6-hour epic ride one week is typically too much and leads to several days of sub-par (or missed) training due to the extra fatigue and need for recovery following such a big ride that you have not built up to appropriately.

Training consistency is the key: days of training lead to weeks, which lead to months, which lead to years.

The early blocks of training in our Off-Season Base Building Program are relatively “easy” as we are gradually adapting to the workload. Be patient, as things will get “harder” in time, but we must take these first steps is establishing a base of movement patterns and technique before we increase resistance or move more powerfully.

Becoming too over zealous, or impatient, with your training is counter productive. It results in needing more recovery above and beyond the norm. The goal with training is to apply just enough stress to your physiology that requires a small amount of recovery time on a daily basis. You want to be able to recover from training with relative ease day-to-day. Occasionally, maybe once a week, you might have a single stretch session, or the accumulation of several solid days in a row, that requires an extra easy day to recover from. This is normal and good. Doing too much, too soon leads to unnecessary soreness and fatigue that will cause you to lose daily consistency and lack of progression. In other words, you want to do just enough training to elicit the response you’re after; doing more than necessary results in a reduced training response due to the need for more recovery.

1. BLOCK 1: Gym Sessions

Goal number one is to learn the exercise movements and session structure. In-house, we focus heavily on proper technique and creating effective (and safe) movement patterns over the first 4 weeks of training. Every gym session is structured the same in Blocks 1-3 as:

  • 5:00 Movement Prep
  • 10:00 Warm-Up
  • 20:00 Strength Set
  • 8:00 Pull/Push Set
  • 8:00 Core Stability
  • 9:00 Mobility

The primary focus of blocks 1-3 is developing strength in two key movements: the Back Squat and Deadlift. Using our spreadsheet load calculator you can see your specific loads for every set and rep for every session throughout the 3 month build. The specific movements/exercises and set possibilities for the other segments of the sessions are presented on our Sessions:6 YouTube Channel.

Specifically for Block 1 of our program, the back squat and deadlift Strength Progression begins with lighter loads and higher rep counts to allow for learning and adapting to the movements, and building a strength base. Achieving proper form and full depth of movement is essential for both safety and effective muscle recruitment. Each session gradually builds the load scheme to a high point in the first session of week 3, with a final set of 4 reps done at 85% of an known or estimated 1 rep max rep. Week 4 returns to lighter loads for a bit of recovery and more time to focus on form and full range of motion. If training on your own and you’re unsure of your form, consider working with a personal training for a few sessions to assist in your learning and execution.

2. BLOCK 1: Trainer Sessions

Our trainer sessions in Block 1 focus on two elements: neuromuscular training & aerobic conditioning. The neuromuscular piece is often very difficult from a muscle recruitment standpoint for athletes that are not accustomed to higher cadence pedaling. On the flip side, the aerobic intervals typically feel “too easy” for athletes that are used to pushing themselves too hard on a regular basis.

  • The neuromuscular training consists of low-gear, high cadence pedaling. We achieve this through the Spin-Ups as a warm-up exercise, again in the ILT (isolated leg training) intervals, and yet again in the high-cadence Spins at the end of the sessions.
    • Spin-Ups:  rpm progressions from 80-90 as a low and building at different intervals up to 115-145 as a high. All performed in easiest gear with light resistance and as smoothly as possible.
    • ILTs: single-legged pedaling. Little gear for smoothness and big gear for strength development. Beginning with just 1:00 durations and increasing to 3:00 per leg over the first block.
    • Spins: training to hold higher than normal cadences over extended periods of time. Performed in easiest gear, light resistance to remove any muscular assistance and reduce the cardiac demand.
  • The aerobic conditioning comes in the form of AeT (aerobic threshold) Intervals. We start with 3×5:00 of these in the first sessions and increase to 5×5:00, then 3×8:00 and finally 2×12:00 by the last session of the block. Targeting your aerobic threshold HR (as determined from testing effort, learn more HERE), in normal gearing/cadence for the 5:00-12:00 intervals.

3. BLOCK 1: Outdoor Sessions

Getting outside in this block consists of basic, low-intensity riding. Nothing too special here. Just good ‘ol easy base miles. Generally speaking, the more time you can spend on your bike at these low intensities the better.  You can ride on the road or the trails. Whatever makes you happy and feels good. If you’re struggling to loose some weight, it’s more important to keep the HRs low so you stay aerobic and build that fat-burning energy system over anything else. This may mean sticking to flatter roads, and either riding by yourself or your “slower” friends. If you’re a bit more experienced and/or already near your ideal body composition, you can ride some more challenging rides and/or faster paced group rides that get you HR up just a bit more. Just keep the high-intensity to a minimum and keep it fun. Lastly, you can also opt for cross-training outlets like nordic skiing, snowshoeing, uphill hiking, etc. for building aerobic endurance off the bike as weather and interests dictate.

Focus on finding your training routine and establishing a schedule that you will be able to sustain for many weeks to come.

Consistency is king and starting things off light and fun will help to ensure you look forward to each days training session and build the confidence in regular daily training. Once you get the ball rolling in Block 1 you ‘ll be ready to increase the load (slightly, be patient) in Block 2.

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.

Programs include:

  • 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.

 

The S:6 Base Training: Primer

The S:6 Base Training: Primer

  • November 9, 2017
  • Blog

Welcome to the Off-Season. Your Race Season ended a few (or maybe several) weeks ago and you’ve taken some time off from structured training and racing in favor of recovery.  After this brief period of time, you’re suppose to “detrain” and lose some fitness in order to restore freshness and enthusiasm for training. Then it’s time to get your baseline testing in to see where you’re at with your fitness and reset training zones for starting your off-season base training program. See my previous two posts for more on this: Testing Protocol, Part 1 and Testing Protocol, Part 2 explain the details of our testing philosophy.

With your baseline testing done and training zones configured, you are now ready to get to work!

Building a Base or Base Training are the popular buzz phrases for this time of year. Everyone has a slight variation on what this exactly entails, but the overall theme is to put in the training time to build fitness, from general to specific, before you dig into your next racing season and/or race specific training. With the exception of cyclocross racers, Autumn and Winter is the time of the year most endurance athletes commonly associate with base training. We’re several months away from race season and it’s time to build the general fitness required to enable us to handle the more demanding loads of race specific training that comes in Spring and Summer.

At Sessions:6, General Fitness to us means the least race specific fitness. Since racing is a ways off, we can spend time on areas that either get neglected or we simply can’t afford to train when in the midst of racing season. This means we first focus on the two far ends of the energy system “chain”: peak movement strength (ie. weight lifting) and aerobic endurance. From these two “ends” of the energy system “chain” we move inward progressively as we build base fitness, towards the more race specific energy systems.

Strength & Mobility

On the high-end strength side we spend time gradually building peak movement strength by progressively lifting heavier and heavier weights; focusing specifically on the squat and the deadlift movements as the pertain to both knee and hip extension. After a period of 12 weeks and peak strength has been achieved, we progress to power production: producing high levels of force quickly, through lighter loads and faster movements. Plyometrics and olympic lifts are common in this phase for the more advanced athletes.

Aerobic Conditioning

Simultaneously, on the other end of the spectrum, the low-intensity aerobic end of the energy system chain, we focus on aerobic conditioning progressively building over 10-20 weeks through the Aerobic Threshold & Aerobic Strength systems, Anaerobic Threshold, Vo2 Max and Anaerobic Power energy systems. It is finally here near the end of Winter or early Spring that the two ends finally meet for some Alactate training (producing max watts through sprinting) to finish off your “Base Building” phase, or Off-Season training period. From here you are ready to dive into your more specific training that will prepare you for your specific racing goals. You can read more on the energy system “chain”, or scale, concept in a previous post: I. Aerobic Conditioning

Progression & Adaptation are Essential for Building your Off-Season Base.

We divide our Off-Season training into the common 4-week block pattern of training: with 3 weeks of progressively accumulating training stress before taking a step back with a week of reduced stress to allow for absorption the work done and positive adaptation before beginning the next block. Every other recovery week includes an Aerobic & Power Test to track progress and adjust zones as you gain fitness. We’ve created our most comprehensive off-season Base Builder to build progressively over a full 24 weeks of training. We also have our truncated 12-week version that progresses at twice the speed for those that don’t have the extended base period time available, or just simply aren’t interested in building a 24-week base of fitness before their race specific training.

In the following example, I will layout our Complete 24-Week Base Build Program. This version consists of 6-blocks of training with each block building upon the previous while giving specific attention to the strength work and energy system being trained. For the 12-week Base Build version, you can imagine the blocks being compressed into 3 blocks of training over 3 months time, while still progressing through each of the 6 energy systems in the example. The blocks progressively build in this order:

  1. Block 1: November
    • Strength: Adaptation (getting familiar with exercises & executing best form)
    • Aerobic: Skill Work (high cadence & single-leg pedaling) & Aerobic Intervals
  2. Block 2: December
    • Strength: Strength Build (increasing loads as adaptation allows)
    • Aerobic: Aerobic Threshold (AeT) & Aerobic Strength (“big gear” work)
  3. Block 3: January
    • Strength: Strength Peak (working up to/near a one-rep max effort)
    • Aerobic: Anaerobic Threshold (AnT) (aka. lactate threshold or “threshold”)
  4. Block 4: February
    • Strength: Power Adaptation (transitioning to lighter loads & faster movements)
    • Aerobic: Vo2 Max
  5. Block 5: March
    • Strength: Power Build (working towards explosive movements)
    • Aerobic: Anaerobic Power
  6. Block 6: April 
    • Strength: Peak Power (maximum force & speed production)
    • Aerobic: Alacate

We find that targeting the strength and aerobic energy systems twice a week, each, is effective for most athletes during the winter months. This works well as both gym and structured interval sessions are highly effective performed indoors when weather and daylight hours limit most endurance athletes this time of year. Weekends during this base build period are reserved for getting outside and getting longer endurance focused training in through additional riding, running, skiing, etc. also building progressively over longer and longer durations, from 2-6 hours, over the six month long base build season.

Following this plan November through April, come May you are super fit and highly tuned across all energy systems with a super solid base established.

This will allow you to then start your race-specific training that will focus specifically on the energy demands of your target event(s). The Race Prep Training  phase and how that looks is different for each athlete depending on their upcoming target events. Race Prep is whole topic in and of itself that I will discuss in the future. That said, as early as February you will find your fitness building and race-ability there that will allow you to jump into some early season races of choice. Even though you’re still “building your base”, by the last third of the program everyone will be able to race, and race quite well, despite not being in “peak” fitness. Racing this time of year is fun, motivating, and necessary part of the training process. It is definitely good to do some races during your off-season base build.

Off-Season Training begins with Block 1.

Follow along in our monthly posts as we dive deeper into each individual block of training and explain in more detail what we are doing with our athletes and those following our programming.

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.

Programs include:

  • 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.

Getting Ready For 2018

Getting Ready for 2018

  • November 7, 2017
  • Blog

After a crazy busy summer (mentioned in previous post), things are finally coming back together for Fall. Kathy and I both had an amazing experience over the last few months being a part of the NICA sanctioned Colorado High School Mountain Bike League and coaching the Green Mountain Composite High School Mountain Bike Team. It was so fun and so rewarding to see these kids get excited to race their bikes. Not to mention see our own kids who both really surprised us with not only how good they were right off the bat but also how much they loved it!

On the business front, I really had a productive couple of months preparing for the 2018 training season. Writing new training plans for our remote athletes, marketing our in-house Off-Season Training Program for our local athletes, and getting Personal Coaching clients dialed in for the new year ahead.

With all this solid work behind us and things back on track, I’ve finally turned the corner on gaining enthusiasm for my own training and racing goals for 2018.

After many weeks of chewing on things and talking through things with Kathy, I think I’ve narrowed down the bulk of my 2018 racing schedule. Assuming budgets are similar to years past, I’m still working through some final sponsorship details for 2018, here is what I have in mind for 2018:

Tentative 2018 Race Schedule

 

Now with some race plans written down, it’s time to get to work on rebuilding some fitness! 

So I have to be completely honest here… I don’t think I’ve ever been this “out of shape.” Seriously.

I started racing mountain bikes when I was 16 years old, and I haven’t stopped training or racing for anything longer than maybe 2 weeks at a stretch once a year. The funny thing is I haven’t really stopped riding over the last 3 months, but for the most part the riding I’ve done has been super short, super low-key, and there has been no intensity, much less racing… FOR 3 MONTHS!!

I may look the same, weigh basically the same, maybe be a little less tan; but I can really say that I feel slow, and any significant riding feels hard, and some of the last rides I did with the high school team really took a lot out of me.

Well we have to start somewhere, and getting started is often the hardest part! To officially kick the start of my training off, I jumped on the trainer for a Power Test to see exactly where I’m at and to reset my training zones. WOW that hurt! and the numbers were a little depressing.

But the good news is I can only go up from here and I plan to share with you over the next several months exactly how I go about improving these baseline numbers.

The testing I like to do is a bit different than the standard. You can read all the details in my recent two blog posts here: Testing Protocol, p.1 and Testing Protocol p.2. I’ve followed this protocol for the last 5 years so I have a good grip on what “good” is for me and these numbers are far from it. Here are the current details compared to my 2015 numbers leading up to my 15th place at Leadville 100:

  • 20:00 Aerobic Threshold Power @ 148 bpm
    • Fall 2017:  238w
    • Summer 2015:  274w
  • 1:00 Max Power
    • Fall 2017:  499w
    • Summer 2015:  529w
  • 2:00 Max Power
    • Fall 2017:  380w
    • Summer 2015:  454w
  • 4:00 Max Power
    • Fall 2017:  324w
    • Summer 2015:  382w
  • Fatigue Rate
    • Fall 2017:  8.7%
    • Summer 2015:  6.9%
  • This calculates an FTP of
    • Fall 2017:  247w (3.70 w/kg)
    • Summer 2015:  308w (4.71 w/kg)

What does all this mean? 

Simply put, I’m out of shape compared to a previous best power numbers in my 30s. These numbers compared to two years ago provide me with some goals to shoot for in my training. I have nine months to get back to these numbers, or slightly higher which is my goal. In 2015 I was actually coming off of serious back injury that limited my early winter training volume, and I was thinking I was going to race triathlon in that year, so my cycling base was pretty minimal in 2015. This leads me to believe that starting from a healthy starting point this year, and a full focus on the bike, I can exceed my 2015 numbers and perhaps even surpass my numbers from back in my 20s.

Where to start? 

From here, with baseline numbers in hand, I’m ready to get into focused training for November. I have two goals for the month:

  1. Get back to Strength Training
  2. Begin to rebuild my Aerobic Base

First move is getting back into regular strength work in the gym to begin to rebuild some strength. This is KEY for masters athletes (of which I am now!). Over the last several seasons I have found that progressively building strength in the back squat and deadlift exercises helps to improve the top end power numbers and resistance to injury. Combined with other dynamic strength movement to improve push-pull strength and core stability helps keep the body strong, healthy and more fatigue resistant. You can check out my Off-Season Strength Program to try for yourself on Training Peaks HERE.

On the bike, my focus will be on the opposite end… on aerobic training. I will slowly ramp up the volume with consistent regular riding, targeting my Aerobic Threshold by accumulating time in my AeT HR zone (138-147 bpm) and improving my pedaling efficiency through some specific cadence work and single-leg drills on the trainer. Both of these measures will help to improve my fatigue resistance and gradually lower my Fatigue Rate. You can check out my Off-Season Cycling Base Builder Program to try for yourself on Training Peaks HERE.

Ready, set, go… 

To really help me clear my mind and get back into training mode, I planned a “Training Camp Lite” in Arizona for the first week of November. Even though I don’t actually have the fitness to do tons of riding at the moment, getting away and into a new environment can be a super motivating and fun way to spark the motivation. I plan to ride everyday for 2-3 hours to get the ball of success rolling for 2018.

By following along with me this year, hopefully you can find a thing or two to implement to your own training and help your 2018 being a successful one as well!

Thanks for reading and I hope you decide to follow along for the 2018 season!

Cody Waite, Professional Off-Road Endurance Athlete & Coach
Follow me on Instagram & Facebook
Check out my Stock Training Plans, Custom Training Plans & Personal Coachingoptions to help you make the most of your training!
The S:6 Testing Protocol, Part 2:

The S:6 Testing Protocol, Part 2:

  • October 30, 2017
  • Blog

In my previous post (The S:6 Testing Protocol, Part 1) I talked about the importance of testing to track the progress of your training. Through testing we look to see improvements in power outputs at specific interval durations over 6-12 weeks between testing. I explained how we prefer to test over FOUR different durations:

  • One longer one at a specific sub-maximal aerobic heart-rate, to identify Aerobic function
  • Three shorter maximal efforts to identify ones Anaerobic Power.

I also introduced the concept of identifying your Fatigue Rate. This sheds light on where your aerobic fitness, or endurance, is compared to your top-end strength/power. With this data, we can then track improvements in power as well as improvements in fatigue resistance (ie. endurance). Through testing and training we attempt to maximize both ends for peak performance.

The goal with training is two-fold: maximize your power output & resistance to fatigue, ie. endurance. The tricky part is, improvements in one usually results in the decrease in the other; and what gets tracked, gets trained.

Improve your Aerobic Power to improve your fatigue resistance.

The first part of our testing protocol is our Aerobic Threshold (AeT) Test. This includes a 20:00 sub-maximal interval for best average power at your AeT Heart Rate.

What’s your AeT Heart Rate?

Your AeT HR is approximately 80% of your Max Heart Rate. This is the rough point where your energy production, or fuel source, reaches the balance point between fat burning and sugar burning. In general, below this HR we’re burning more fat for fuel, and above this HR we’re burning more carbs for fuel. Training just below our AeT HR we are maximizing our fat-burning aerobic energy system and creating endurance. The faster we can go while maximizing fat for fuel extends how far and how hard we can go in a race. Improved aerobic fitness preserves precious glycogen stores and allows for more power over greater durations. Maximizing aerobic power is a goal for every endurance athlete.

Your Aerobic energy system comprises your longest training durations.

These are your 3+ hour rides at a steady but low intensity. These sessions build your aerobic infrastructure (heart, blood vessels, mitochondria, etc.), and fat-burning capabilities. Your Aerobic Threshold (AeT) energy system, is “next level” fat-burn training while improving the power you can produce while remaining aerobic. Your AeT power would be the max power you can achieve for around 2-2.5 hours. However, our test interval is only 20:00 minutes in duration, so the power number you achieve in the test is not your true AeT Power, because your power would continue to decline if you were to stay at the target HR for another 100 minutes. This 20-minute aerobic power number you see in your test is still valuable as a metric to improve over time as you build your aerobic fitness.

Using our Training Zone Calculator spreadsheet, you will see your 20-minute AeT Power from your test result, as well as your true AeT Power calculated from both your Fatigue Rate and the rough guideline of 85% of FTP.

Identifying your Aerobic Threshold power is part 1 of our 2-part testing protocol. Part-2 is identifying your Anaerobic Power and rate of fatigue as you increase output durations.

Find your Fatigue Rate, here’s how we do it…

After a solid warm-up from the AeT Test interval, we do a 1:00, a 2:00 and a 4:00 test for max power; each with 4-8 minutes recovery between test efforts. With the doubling durations we can calculate the percentage that power drops off between the 1:00 and 2:00 intervals, and the 2:00 and 4:00 intervals. This percentage of decline in power is referred to as your Fatigue Rate. For the moderate to well-trained athlete, this Fatigue Rate remains pretty constant as you extend outwards in doubling durations. Example: 4:00 to 8:00, 8:00 to 16:00, 16:00 to 32:00, and so on.

Using our Training Zone Calculator Spreadsheet, athletes can plug their test results in and the spreadsheet spits out a Fatigue Rate percentage and the resulting training zones specific to their power and rate of fatigue. Not only does the Fatigue Rate help to calculate the training zones, but it sheds light on the “Power vs. Endurance” scale that an athlete is currently experiencing.

A high Fatigue Rate indicates that an athlete slows down at a high rate and could benefit from more endurance training (ie. more “low-end” aerobic training). Conversely a low Fatigue Rate means the athletes endurance is solid, but could use more strength or power training (ie. more “top-end”, as strength training and/or high-intensity intervals).

Over the years we have found that a Fatigue rate between 8-9% to be a good balance point between Power and Endurance.

The end goal then with training is not to simply achieve this balance point, but to continue to increase your “top-end” power: 1, 2, and 4 minute powers, while maintaining a Fatigue Rate of around 8%. This would achieve more power across all durations of output and faster racing!

I was first introduced to this concept of declining output percentages and rates of fatigue as a means to measure fitness many years ago at a coaching conference from a running coach, and soon after from a cycling coach experimenting with power numbers. Since then I have continually been intrigued and have it found it to be very insightful with the athletes I train and have coached over the years.

Our Power Testing protocol does a great job of identifying an athletes top-end power, as well as where their aerobic development is at the time through their Fatigue Rate and AeT Testing numbers. Our goal is always to continually increase the short-power numbers through strength & plyometric training in the gym along with appropriate doses of high intensity training on the bike. As the short duration power numbers rise, we must also address aerobic fitness on the other end to prevent the Fatigue Rate from getting too high. We do this by incorporating longer endurance rides and/or AeT intervals into a an athletes program.

In the end, it’s a continually sliding scale of ‘power vs. endurance’ that must be constantly addressed, and never ignored, in order to maximize performance.

 

Curious to give our Aerobic and Anaerobic Power Test at try? Schedule your testing at Sessions:6 HERE

Part 3, of our Testing Protocol Series will provide some real world examples from some of our athletes, and what to do with your results.

 

You can also purchase our 24-Week Off-Season Trainer Series from Training Peaks that includes our testing protocol as well as a complete build through each energy system to improve your top-end power and fatigue resistant endurance. Check it out HERE

 

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.