2019 Base Builder: Block 1

2019 Base Builder: Block 1

  • September 28, 2018
  • Blog

We covered the basic structure of our Base Builder Program in our LAST POST. Now that we have that out of the way, we can dig deeper into the specifics of Block 1…

Block 1: On-Bike

Three Objectives:

  1. Testing to Identify Baselines
  2. Develop or Improve Pedaling Skills
    • High Cadence Spin-Ups
    • Isolated Leg Training
    • Steady Spins
  3. Basic Aerobic Development
    • Aerobic Intervals (to Aerobic Threshold)
    • Aerobic Endurance

1. Testing

As we begin our Base Build for the new season, most of us are coming off a (hopefully) brief period of little or no training following the conclusion of their race season. Some fitness loss is expected, and appropriate, at this time of the year. Testing as we get started is key to set a benchmark from where you are starting fitness-wise, and to reset your training zones to likely lower levels from your in-season (or end of last Base Builder season) highs.

Normal “loss of fitness” is around 10% for a 2-3 week transition between competitive season and Base Builder Season. Perhaps slightly less at lower intensities (say Aerobic Threshold, our 20:00 AeT Test); and maybe slightly more at higher intensities (say our 1-4 minute Anaerobic Power testing durations). For an athlete using an FTP based training zone calculator an example could be someone with a 300w FTP might see a reduction to 270w FTP when beginning their Base Build.

There are several different ways to test your aerobic cycling fitness. Here is a previous post that covers our Testing Protocol that we prefer. If you already have a testing protocol that you prefer (and have historical data) you can certainly use it. Our test focus on two ends of the fitness spectrum: Aerobic Power & Anaerobic Power. From here we can calculate a rate of fatigue between the two, as well as an FTP if you prefer to be FTP based with your training. Included in the Base Builder Plan is a Training Zone Calculator that will collect your testing data and spit out the corresponding training zones based off your aerobic & anaerobic fitness and rate of fatigue.

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2018/19 Base Builder Trainer Series

2018/19 Base Builder Trainer Series

Over the last 14 years we have formulated, tweaked, and perfected our off-season Base Builder Trainer Series to make this years 15th Annual Base Builder Trainer Series the most effective off-season programming to date!

Building your Aerobic Base on the bike through the Fall & Winter months is critical to Spring & Summer racing success. Gone is the old-school theory of long, easy miles as the only way to build your aerobic base on the bike. Long easy miles can be effective; however the time commitment and ability to put in those miles with limited daylight hours and less than ideal winter weather, long slow distance is rarely the most effective strategy. By replacing those long easy miles, with shorter, more focused, highly structured workouts mid-week, combined with a longer weekend ride(s) you can maximize your aerobic base building progression in the least amount of time (and workable around just about any family, school, work, and life schedule).

Our 24-week Base Builder Program is built around six 3-week training blocks (with a recovery week between), with each block focusing on a progressively higher intensity energy system:

  • Aerobic Threshold & Skill – HR zone 2: 2-4 hour power
  • Aerobic Strength – HR zone 3: 1-2 hour power
  • Anaerobic Threshold – HR zone 4: 30-60 minute power
  • Vo2 Max – 8-16 minute power
  • Anaerobic Power – 1-4 minute power
  • Peak Power – 0:05-0:30 second power

This progressive build of power through ascending energy systems allows for highly effective adaptation to each energy system and subsequently establishes a strong base of aerobic fitness upon the conclusion of the off-season program. Targeting the specific HR and/or power numbers as structured intervals within each block allows for maximum control of the workload that is designed to increase with the adaptation. Upon completion of the Base Builder Program a rider has trained every energy system in systematic order and now ready to take on their event-specific Race Preparation training program as they head into the Spring & Summer competitive-season.

Get the full run-down of our Base Builder Program.

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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.

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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.

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The S:6 Testing Protocol, Part 1:

The S:6 Testing Protocol, Part 1:

  • October 24, 2017
  • Blog

There’s More to Power than Just FTP.

Before diving into another season of training on the bike, or jumping into serious training for the first time, it helps to know a few things about your current fitness as you get started…

  • Where is my fitness at right now? Identify a baseline from which you plan to improve.
  • What are the best ways to spend my training time? In order to maximize your improvement.
  • What effort levels should you should be training at? Set your training zones.

These insights can be found through power testing on the bike. For many years, a rider’s FTP (Functional Threshold Power) has been the focal point of where a rider’s fitness is and from what to set their training zones from. FTP works well. It shines light on one area of fitness and can be re-tested again and again to check for improvement.

By definition, your FTP is the power you could sustain for one hour, full gas. I say could sustain because who’s going to go all-out for an hour to find this value? So it’s become common place to go hard for 20-minutes and subtract 5% from your average power. Pretty much the Gold Standard, and everybody accepts it. Even going all-out for 20 minutes is pretty tough on your own, so more recent models are doing either one or two 8-minute intervals and subtracting 5-10% from those averages to estimate FTP. All said and done, these methods of FTP testing highlight one energy system (v02 max) and calculate the FTP from a “one size fits all” percent reduction from the test effort. From here, it doesn’t tell you much else. Does it work? Sure. However, if you’re like me, you would likely prefer more.

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Training With Power Or Heart Rate?

Training with Power or Heart Rate?

  • October 19, 2017
  • Blog

We get this question a lot…

What’s the better metric for training on the bike: Power or Heart Rate?

Since power-based training has risen to the status of “must have” for effective training for serious cyclists, the use of heart rate as a training metric has been tossed aside by many. The power meter is a wonderful tool, and one we strongly recommend (in fact all our Personal Coaching clients are required to use power), without the simultaneous use of heart rate you are only seeing half of the story and getting half of the benefits.

So our answer is: BOTH power & heart rate are needed for maximum training effectiveness!

Using one without the other is a mistake. Here’s why…

  • Power (watts) is the direct measurement of the amount of work that is being done. Many will say, “a watt is a watt, and watts don’t lie”. This is true, power is an absolute. You either have it or you don’t on a given a day. However, the effort required to produce those watts on any given day is effected by many variables, and that is where HR comes in.
  • Heart Rate (bpm) is an indirect measurement of your bodies response to the work (power) being done. You might hear people poo-poo HR. They’ll claim that it’s affected by so many outside variables, such as sleep, hydration, elevation, temperature, fatigue and so on that the usefulness of HR is no longer valued. But…why are these affects considered a negative attribute? When in fact, it’s these very affects wherein the value of training with HR comes in!

Let’s look at this example of a training block using both power & HR…

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The S:6 Off-Season Base Builder Cycling Plan (a Deep Dive!)

The S:6 Off-Season Base Builder Cycling Plan (a deep dive!)

  • August 18, 2017
  • Blog

The stationary trainer is one of the best tools in your training arsenal.

The highly controllable environment makes it one of the most effective ways to improve your cycling power. By allowing your workouts to be controlled using variables like time, gearing, cadence, power and heart rate you can more easily execute precise, repeatable intervals. On the trainer you can eliminate the uncontrollable variables found in outdoor workouts like varying terrain, wind, weather, traffic, etc. You can focus solely on the work you are performing to make the most out of the time you are putting into your training.

Our 24 Week Base Builder Program/Plan, as well as its condensed little brother: the 12 Week Base Builder Program/Plan, are both designed to be performed during your “off-season”. The term off-season is referring to time off from racing, as opposed to time off from training. This concept is explained in a previous post, Ideas for Your Off-Season.  During this off-season base-building phase your primary objectives are to develop a strong aerobic system and build sport-specific strength.

Training Blocks

Our 24-week Base Builder program is built around six 3-week training blocks. Each block has a specific training focus that builds upon the previous block in intensity and training load. Within each block there are three weeks of loading (training) followed by one week of recovery (low-intensity), before getting into the next block. Each training block targets a specific energy system and the overall progression is from lowest intensity to highest intensity before reaching a peak at the end of your base build.

The energy system block progression on the trainer includes the following:
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