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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LT100 Build: First Half…

LT100 Build: First Half…

  • June 12, 2018
  • Blog

After a week off of training & racing in early May, I was refreshed and ready to hit it hard with a late-Spring training block as part of my 2018 Leadville 100 MTB build up. My previous post, LT100 Race Prep Plan, laid out all the details of the complete build-up to the August event following a customized version of our Ultra-Marathon MTB Race Prep Stock Plan.

The last four weeks have been focused purely on training.

Meaning, no racing over the last month until just this last weekend (June 9th) with the GoPro Vail Mountain Games XC race. This nice block of time has allowed me to focus on a re-build of sorts, building up some solid volume on the bike with longer outdoor rides while backing out the intensity in two week mini-blocks of training.

In the off-season, within our 24-Week Base Builder Program, we train in the more commonly found 4-week blocks: with 3 weeks of focused energy system training and 1 week of recovery/easy endurance. In our  Race Prep Phase we condense the training blocks into two-week mini-blocks of focused energy system work combined with increasing endurance volume.

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The S:6 Base Builder Program: Onto Race Prep…

The S:6 Base Builder Program: Onto Race Prep…

We wrapped up our 2018 off-season Base Builder Program with Block 6 at the end of April.

Our “in-house” athletes that stuck it out for the full six month program experienced some solid gains in off-bike strength and on-bike power, both on the aerobic end and the anaerobic end. In fact, every single rider saw improvements to the tune of 12-36% at estimated FTP, with a “class average” of 23%. Boom!

You can read the full the run down of our annual off-season Base Builder program by clicking the series of links above. With Spring here and race season is in full effect, what do we do next? With your solid strength and aerobic base established, it’s time to get more race specific and dial your training in with in-season Race Prep training.

 

RACE PREP TRAINING

Through our Base Builder Program we build fitness up. We start at the low end of the energy system chain focused on low-intensity aerobic training combined with technique work on the bike, and the early (lighter) form-focused resistance training in the gym. From here we build our base through gradual progression of intensity through increasing intensity with each successively higher energy system, and gradual increase in resistance training loads.

  1. Aerobic Endurance/Technique, “all day” power (4+ hours)

  2. Aerobic Threshold (AeT), “2 hour” power

  3. Anaerobic Threshold, 32:00-64:00 power

  4. Vo2 Max, 8:00-16:00 power

  5. Anaerobic Power, 1:00-4:00 power

  6. Peak Power, 0:05-0:30 power

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Cody’s 2018 Base Build: Block 6 Recap

Cody’s 2018 Base Build: Block 6 Recap

I made it (along w/ 40 other athletes I’m training in our 2018 S:6 Base Build Program)! 

The sixth and final block of my off-season Base Build has been completed. 24 weeks of progressive building of fitness over the off-season has brought my Base fitness to a solid platform for my 2018 season. Now it’s time to race! Of which, I’ve already done with the Epic Rides Whiskey Off-Road event last weekend (full recap here). 

You can get the full explanation of Block 6 (and others) in previous posts. The gist is that we bring the energy system chain to a peak, with our heaviest weight lifting attempts and peak-power “sprinting” intervals on the bike. The concept with our Base Build Program is to start on the low-end of the energy system spectrum with basic aerobic & skill development. From here, each block takes the athlete through progressively higher energy systems as fitness builds: Aerobic Threshold, Anaerobic Threshold, Vo2 Max, Anaerobic Power, and finally Peak Power. Along the way we build off-bike strength & power in the gym, and endurance with longer outdoor rides within the week. Read about it all here.

GYM SESSIONS

After the first strength peak in Block 3, in Block 4 we reduced the weight lifting volume (number reps) significantly to allow for more stability and plyometric work. A second low-volume strength build was included in the routine and I was pleased to continue to make strength gains despite the slight change of focus.  

I was able to increase both my max Squat & Deadlift by about 10% over January maxes. Reaching 200 lbs. (from 185) and 225 lbs. (from 205), respectively. These both matched my previous all-time PRs in the lifts from 2015. Pretty stoked. Also eager to maintain this strength through the race season, so I can continue to improve my strength in 2019. Overall, I’m feeling strong & healthy going into my racing season. 

STRUCTURED RIDES

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The S:6 Base Builder Program: Block 5

The S:6 Base Builder Program: Block 5

  • March 4, 2018
  • Blog

Spring is on the horizon and we’re 2/3 complete with our Off-Season Base Build Program with the final 1/3 coming up! I’m not going to lie, the last 8 weeks have been challenging for our 45 in-house athletes training with us Monday-Thursdsay each week. The middle third of our program is perhaps the most challenging on the bike with Anaerobic Threshold intervals (block 3) and even more so the Vo2 Max intervals twice weekly (block 4). Combine that with continued resistance training on Mondays and Wednesdays and you can see how the training load is reaching a peak. See exactly how we structured our Vo2 Max intervals on the bike in our previous post in this series: Block 4.

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!

Our upcoming Block 5 makes up weeks 17-20 in the 24-weeks of our Base Build Program. You can read more about each previous block from links at top.

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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 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.

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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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