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  1. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by huckbucket View Post
    Pickles is the man. Dropped great nuggets. Here's the current dilemma;

    I love to feel fast, light and efficient (Saturday morning road worlds is my mutha fuckin jam)
    I love finding new roads and exploring
    I love jumping into my local Tuesday evening training road race
    I could be motived in a post-covid world to get highly focused to be competitive for hilly gravel races

    How does one balance all of those because it seems that training plans are focused on specific goals associated with dates (race, endurance, etc)?
    huck - lots of other good info here, but i'll chime in that I don't think your goals are all that mutually exclusive. I would make those Saturday and possibly Tuesday days your hard days from the sound of it with an easy spin Friday and Monday so you go into those rested. Guessing the Saturday ride would be longer than the usual _Tues/Wed_ night worlds that are common. In my area those Tuesday nighters are 1hr with many super threshold efforts thrown in via rolling hills or intense efforts at the front of a rotating paceline, the Saturday would be guessing are often longer 2hrs+ with some good hills at a brisk pace Z2/3 mostly with a bunch of Z4 efforts. Those two rides alone with proper resting and fuel would do a good bit of the makeup of your structure.

    You will want to pick an event (or two if they're about a week apart) as your A event and work backwards from it w/ 3 weeks on and 1 off/easy, B races are second class where you rest/taper before but aren't at your peak, C races should be treated as training only. Outside of those rides (provided my guesstimates for your Sat/Tues efforts) would add longer Z2 rides as much as possible and MAYBE another type of intense efforts. In the other efforts 2x20, 3x15 or other threshold efforts would be quite good for most gravel riding/racing, since those other rides likely cover the 1-5min efforts for hilly climbs and hopefully long distance

    My $0.02

    Btw I'm in a similar boat these days, trying to be fit for rides w/ my serious competitor buddies, but I'm not racing anymore. So I'm going to let some of the truly top end go for the ability to ride pretty hard for a longer time than I used to focus on. Planning on joining our Tuesday night 45-60m hammer fest as the primary hard ride with more volume mid-week and a long weekend 2hr+ ride that should be relatively steady Mountain Bike rides, then riding with my kids for active recovery.

  2. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tailwind View Post
    Alright I’ll hop in with a few questions:

    I have good base fitness and I’m ‘quick’ but not fast. I did the Colorado trail last summer and two years ago did the High Cascades 100 on a Pivot Switchblade in a 9 hours.

    I’m doing a few 100 mile MTB races this summer and I’m trying to work through how to make progress. I have an XC bike that’s 7-8lbs lighter, which seems like a good step.

    My precious training has just been ‘climb a lot’ and focusing on getting 15,000-20,000 feet of vert per week. Then doing some intervals, picking a steep 12+ degree grade and doing maximum efforts in a high gear for 60 seconds then coasting back to start and repeating.

    Is buying a heart rate monitor a good way of starting to train more with zones? Is it worth it to just try and track down a power meter and going the full step?

    Im not quite ready for a trainer... I know they’re effective but I think that would make me a little miserable right now. I would have to set it up in my office... and I work from home already so that’s to much time inside in the same space.
    1. HR monitor is helpful, Power meter is likely not worth it.
    2. I need to put together a "find your zones" guide.
    3. No trainer = no worries.

    If you like your big climbing weeks, I'd build them into the "Block periodization" that we're talking about.
    1. Big Climbing Week
    2. Longer, flatter week
    3. Recovery.

    Otherwise, I'd likely suggest doing less climbing, but doing it harder / faster.

  3. #103
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    Thanks pickles, I appreciate your answers to my questions and the many others; I have been taking notes. Good info for making it all funner!

  4. #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by XtrPickels View Post
    I think you can do it.
    For example:

    Saturday: Ride hard. If you're going to do it, do it. Take big pulls, leave it all out there.
    Sunday: Ride long, explore, but focus on riding base.
    Monday: Ride Shorter, focus on base.
    Tuesday: Tear their legs off.
    Wednesday: Easy Ride
    Thursday: Off
    Friday: Ride Base.

    In this scenario you're choosing 2 events instead of 2 workouts. I have no issues with that.
    Really appreciate the info. Super helpful and I can definitely do this. Thanks too VTskibum! Some great ideas as well.

    I have power and HR. So just to confirm;

    "Focus on riding base" --> What zones are we talking?
    "Easy Ride" --> This is at an embarrassingly slow pace, right? Like Z1 and 2 max.

  5. #105
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    Here's the weight stuff, part 1 of a few.

    What are you accomplishing lifting weights as a cyclist? You’re mostly doing one of a couple of things – either restoring imbalances/repairing atrophy, or you’re adding strength. On top of that I think we can break the people in this thread into some groups – those wanting to go fast for performance, those wanting to be generally stronger/faster but willing to compromise some for lifestyle/health, and maybe those with physical issues they want to fix.

    Adding strength is helpful in a few ways – you can increase the amount of power you can put into the pedals (increasing max watts), you can help build your FTP a little, and you can increase your upper limit, which helps make you more efficient and comfortable while working at lower levels.

    Increasing power: Generating power is critical for sprinting – no matter how much time you spend on the bike you will never create as much ability to create force as you will with weights. Pretty obvious. The other benefit is a little more subtle. Think of it as overclocking your muscles – if they have the ability to generate more force than you are asking them to on a normal ride or race, then they are within their comfort range and stay efficient during rides, even at the top end of your FTP. In other words, your aerobic system becomes the limiter, not muscle strength.

    Fixing issues: Repair and restoring is critical for cyclists because we get unbalanced. Knee and back issues are common, and its worse when we sit at computers all day for our jobs. Cyclists tend to get overdeveloped outside quad muscles, imbalanced backs above the waist, little upper body stability, and a lack of core strength. Additionally, as we get older, muscles that we don’t use, or compensate out of due to injuries, begin to atrophy and we don’t even notice. We just start moving differently, and issues develop over time. They cause pain, limited range of motion and lack of power, and more injuries because the body can’t be used correctly anymore. A great example of this is the bad knee cascade: the knee becomes unbalanced due to overdeveloped outside quads. Knee pain starts and it hurts to bend the knee to pick stuff up, so the person starts bending over at the back instead. This further atrophies the inside quad muscles as well as the glutes, and now instead of a nice solid load path for power from the shoulders through the hips through the knee and into the ankles and feet, there’s this disjointed dance that happens with the shoulders forward, the ass back, knees fairly straight with a result of pain and low power.

    You would be amazed how many cyclists over 30 or 35 can’t do a proper squat from the sequence mentioned above. Lack of lateral motion is just as bad – cycling and running are straight ahead linear activities, and the body is made to move around sideways, up and down as well going straight. If you don’t use it you lose it, and losing it cause real issues. A similar thing happens with injuries, where people never learn to refire the muscle correctly after they get hurt.

    So, before lifting you need to figure out a couple of things: first, what kind of physical issues are you dealing with – what repair and restoration do you need? Best done with a professional assessment, but without that you can do some of it yourself. Second, what are your goals? Obviously if you are a pro sprinter you will look for a very different outcome than a pro climber, and they’ll both be different from a recreational enduro guy, and different still from a person who’s just riding for general fitness. Some people are so beat up and in so much pain their main goal is just to move right and feel better. As a personal example, I’m much more focused on being strong and comfortable doing all my hobbies (skiing, biking, soccer, hiking, generally running around like an idiot) than I am in losing body mass on my upper body so I can climb a hill faster on my bike. Once upon a time that was true, but now carrying more muscle up top carries some protection that I want, and it’s a good trade off for me.

    Ok, that’s the intro, next we’ll get into how to do it.

  6. #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by huckbucket View Post
    Really appreciate the info. Super helpful and I can definitely do this. Thanks too VTskibum! Some great ideas as well.

    I have power and HR. So just to confirm;

    "Focus on riding base" --> What zones are we talking?
    "Easy Ride" --> This is at an embarrassingly slow pace, right? Like Z1 and 2 max.
    For both, I really mean base. I need to stop calling it "easy" and I edited a lot of instances where I said it, but obviously missed some.
    I see no reason to ride lower than base unless you're recovering during an interval. Even then, I try to get back to base for my recovery as soon as my legs are able too.

    Base = "Zone 2" / 65-70% of threshold wattage or 20-30 beats below threshold HR.
    Threshold = Steady power you can hold for in the neighborhood of 45 -60 minutes.

    Can estimate it by:
    Riders whom excel at shorter distances (e.g. efforts 20 min or less): 92% of 20 minute power or 95% of 30 minute power
    All others: 95% of 20 minute power.

  7. #107
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    Well, I think I screwed up my nice base training week with an 8 hour, 387 TSS gravel beatdown today.... Looks like another rest day tomorrow.
    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  8. #108
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    Ok kids, so if I have a few rides lined up at the end of March/early April that I want to feel really good on, how would you approach ‘training’ from here on out?
    I have ‘decent’ base (did a road climbing day two days ago and matched my summer times). All out Zone 4/5 intervals for a week, and then taper off? I haven’t ‘really’ hit those wattages yet this year except for a few one minute bursts.
    Thanks in advance.
    Forum Cross Pollinator

  9. #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by climberevan View Post
    Well, I think I screwed up my nice base training week with an 8 hour, 387 TSS gravel beatdown today.... Looks like another rest day tomorrow.
    48TSS/hr sounds like some pretty solid base work.
    "High risers are for people with fused ankles, jongs and dudes who are too fat to see their dick or touch their toes.
    Prove me wrong."
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  10. #110
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    Quote Originally Posted by rideit View Post
    Ok kids, so if I have a few rides lined up at the end of March/early April that I want to feel really good on, how would you approach ‘training’ from here on out?
    .
    If you're talking about regular mtb rides (as opposed to super long ones), I say the best thing is to do 3 or 4 sessions of VO2 max intervals (4x8mins as hard as you can sustain for the 8') this/next week and then take a rest (low volume/intensity) week before your trip. The benefits of shorter intervals come fast.

    (Edit: true VO2 max intervals are 3-5', but 8' might be more effective for building FTP and is a very popular protocol.)
    Last edited by climberevan; 03-17-2021 at 10:01 AM.
    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  11. #111
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    Regular mt. bike rides with dear friends that I haven’t ridden with in thirteen years. The older ones (above 75 and 80 y.o.!) might be on e-bikes.
    As for ‘training’, Sounds like what I had in mind.
    Thanks.
    Hard as I can sustain for 8 minutes is going to be an (ever more slowly) moving target!
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  12. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by climberevan View Post
    If you're talking about regular mtb rides (as opposed to super long ones), I say the best thing is to do 3 or 4 sessions of VO2 max intervals (4x8mins as hard as you can sustain for the 8') this/next week and then take a rest (low volume/intensity) week before your trip. The benefits of shorter intervals come fast.
    8 minutes is not a VO2 max interval. It’s a short LT interval.

    Shoot for 3 to 5 minutes for VO2 max. You want to be breathing as hard as you can for at least a minute.
    U.P.: up

  13. #113
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    Quote Originally Posted by stradissimo View Post
    8 minutes is not a VO2 max interval. It’s a short LT interval.

    Shoot for 3 to 5 minutes for VO2 max. You want to be breathing as hard as you can for at least a minute.
    True. Sorry for the misuse of the terminology. 4x8 does seem to be a very effective strategy in the literature, though.

    https://cyklopedia.cc/cycling-tips/long-intervals/
    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  14. #114
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    Quote Originally Posted by bean View Post
    48TSS/hr sounds like some pretty solid base work.
    It could be on the road, but on that kind of terrain it was a lot of Z3/4 with too much coasting. It's another data point in the earlier discussion about how mtb isn't ideal for controlled training. There's also the total body beatdown effect from riding rough terrain on a gravel bike for the whole day.

    But it was awesome, and I'll sacrifice a little training value for that. It's not like I'm making my living on the bike anyway.
    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  15. #115
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    Well, you fuckers convinced me to start a small lifting program.... so yesterday afternoon I got inspired and put together a short 30-minute workout with the equipment I have at the house (with more on the way). Now I can't bend over to pull up my socks this morning.

    In all seriousness, I talked to Derek at Dialed Health this week and I'm going to pull the trigger on their programs/workouts for a while to see how it goes. I'll commit 2-3x a week; it's a lot easier to say when the trails are currently covered with a foot of snow.

  16. #116
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    Quote Originally Posted by climberevan View Post
    Well, I think I screwed up my nice base training week with an 8 hour, 387 TSS gravel beatdown today.... Looks like another rest day tomorrow.
    48 tss/hr is fine, Unless it was 50% threshold climbing and 50% no-pedaling descents.

    Which brings me to a good point:

    For Zone Training, it's not the average of where you were, it's the time accumulated when in each zone.

    30 minutes in Zone 4 + 30 minutes in zone 1 might average high zone 2 heart rate over the hour, but it's not the same as 60 minutes of zone 2 riding.

  17. #117
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    Quote Originally Posted by rideit View Post
    Ok kids, so if I have a few rides lined up at the end of March/early April that I want to feel really good on, how would you approach ‘training’ from here on out?
    I have ‘decent’ base (did a road climbing day two days ago and matched my summer times). All out Zone 4/5 intervals for a week, and then taper off? I haven’t ‘really’ hit those wattages yet this year except for a few one minute bursts.
    Thanks in advance.
    PM me some more info (training now, distances, terrain, finish time, strengths and weaknesses, etc.) and I'll put together a quasi-plan in this thread.

  18. #118
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    Quote Originally Posted by stradissimo View Post
    8 minutes is not a VO2 max interval. It’s a short LT interval.

    Shoot for 3 to 5 minutes for VO2 max. You want to be breathing as hard as you can for at least a minute.
    In my opinion, it's yes and no on this one.

    Repeats of 8 minutes done at 100-110% of threshold with shorter recoveries would fall into the Threshold workout territory. If these were done on short rest, they could induce a high amount of time at VO2max, but it'd be painful.
    Repeats of 8 minutes done at 115+% will require longer recoveries, higher Oxygen consumer, and fall into VO2max sets.
    Regardless, they're both above Critical power and as such will lead to maximum oxygen uptake. Eventually.

  19. #119
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    Quote Originally Posted by XtrPickels View Post
    For Zone Training, it's not the average of where you were, it's the time accumulated when in each zone.
    Thanks. This is something I've wondered about.

    I know the old Sieler 80/20 study that Polarized training has its roots in was based on self reporting of entire workouts characterized as easy or hard (as opposed to time spent in zone). Now that we all have power meters or at least HR, it sounds like we should think more about accumulated time in the desired zones.

    What I wonder about is on rides that are supposed to be Z2 endurance. In my example above, I wanted a long Z2 ride, but thanks to the terrain I spent 66.6% in Z1/2, 27.6% Z3/4, and 5.8% Z5+. This falls into the "pyramidal" classification.

    I think a lot of the "too hard for easy but too easy for hard" MTB rides we were talking about earlier would look like that, and I'm wary of falling into that trap. Or am I off base here? Should I really just look at the total time in zone compared with the grand total per week, say?

    Also, what do you think about the old Coggan/Allen idea of recovery time from a given TSS? The stuff I've seen says that rides around 400 should require several days of recovery, so how should they fit in a structured plan?

    Thanks again for taking the time to answer our questions!
    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  20. #120
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    Ok smmokan pulling the trigger motivates me to do the next installment in the weights guide.

    First part was the why, this part is the what.

    First, figured out what your goals are. As mentioned, are you currently racing and want to improve top end speed, or interval speed? Are you trying to fix a beat up body? Come back from injury? Are you now wanting to be recreationally fast and willing to sacrifice a little speed for a more all around fit frame? It's too much to handle all of that here, so we'll hit some common situations, but feel free to ask for your specific situation.

    Some general stuff:

    Form is really important. Look each exercise up on youtube. You want to do the exercises with form that targets exactly what it's trying to fire. For squats, for example, you need your load path to run straight down. If you are bent over like good mornings and you aren't bending your legs, you're just making an existing problem worse.

    Counterbalancing matters. If you push, do the pull also. Example - if you do bench press, make sure to do rows or something else that builds the back muscles to counteract the pecs you are building with the bench presses. Again, cyclists often get out of balance from riding so part of what we are doing is fixing that - don't create new problems.

    Do not neglect core. It provides stability for everything else you do, especially lower back stuff.

    There are a million opinions on how to lift: dynamic programs, low rep high weight, 5x5, high rep low weight etc. No consensus. This is my opinion: for endurance athletes there are two schools of thought - low weight high rep and high weight low rep. I like high weight low rep, because I think that high rep work essentially adds stress to muscles already trying to recover from training rides. Low rep high weights make the muscles work harder but for shorter time, so there's less lactic acid to clear out. (that's not exactly correct but I don't want to spend the time to explain it in more detail) Suffice it to say that low reps with high weights seem to interfere less with recovering from an already full cycling or running training load, so I think most people should stay with that.

    Be conservative when you start! If you haven't lifted for a long time (or ever) you can hurt yourself easily, especially with sketchy form. Don't pop a hammy. And it won't usually happen lifting - it'll happen on a ride later that day or the next.

    Rest is critical, as always. The older you get the more rest is needed. Young guns can lift all the time and recover fine. As you get older you have to be more careful. I've tried to assume below that each scenario is based on an age and tune the number of workouts to that.

    Specifics:

    Scenario 1: committed racer trying to increase interval and top end speed performance

    In this case you are willing to sacrifice long term body stability and general health for short term (even if it's years) performance. You cannot add any extra mass that doesn't make you go faster. You want to concentrate on leg stability and strength, a little core, and power. You exercise should include:

    Squats, Heels elevated squats, hack squats, spanish squats and sissy squats (even out and stabilize the quads)
    Deadlifts, RDL, dumbbell RDL, sumo deadlifts (hamstrings - power)
    Calf raises - body weight and loaded
    Lunges - walking, bodyweight, loaded with dumbbells (great for knees)
    Lateral lunges, weighted and BW (stability)
    Leg curls - towel or slider, on back using balance ball (cautious here if your hammies are already overloaded)
    Hip thrusts (riders often weak here)
    Some lighter core work - keep things strong but don't overdue it. nothing holding anything heavy. V ups, russian twists, sit ups, planks on elbows, side planks, etc.

    You would want to make sure you cycle through these and that you are balancing push with pull. To start maybe 2-3 times per week in the offseason, no more than 2 times per week in shoulder season, once a week during season for maintenance. This is helping create an unsustainable body by the way - inbalanced top to bottom. But it's a trade off for speed.

    Scenario 2:

    Enduro kind of rider, or fast recreational roadie, or general mtn biker. Still want to go fast but don't mind carrying an extra 10 pounds of muscle. Want some full body fitness and better general health. This assumes you don't have any major inbalances - we'll get to those next. We're going to do the stuff above, but now need to add upper body and connection between upper and lower.

    All the leg stuff above
    Landmine squats (stability and power)
    All the core stuff above but add - heavy russian twists, suspended knee ups, weighted situps, landmine twists (stronger core)
    Good mornings, GHDs (lower back)
    Bench press, incline bench press, dumbbell press, squeeze press, close grip barbell press (think of it like armour)
    Pendlay rows, jansen rows, strict upright rows, dumbbell rows, prone rows (upper and middle back)
    Pull ups, variety of hand positions, weight and bodyweight (heavier you are the harder they are)
    Dips, weighted and bodyweight (back of arms and back)
    Lateral raises, bowing lateral raises, prone lateral raises (shoulders)
    Overhead press, dumbbell overhead press (shoulders)
    Standing curls, dumbbell curls, spider curls, hammer curls, strict curls with elbow on inside of knee, preacher curls
    Tricep extensions, band pull downs, overhead tricep raises, face pulls, dumbbell tricep extensions, dumbbell PJR pullovers

    Same thing as above - cycle through these to balance push and pull. You should be doing twice a week for each of upper body, lower body and core work. Bail on the second leg day and core day, or both, if you have a big event that week and want to be ready for it. The idea is that you are doing this consistently year round so missing some workouts now and then doesn't matter.

    Scenario 3: You have inbalances you need to fix.

    I decided not to tackle this here. There are too many variables. If you want individual help with either checking yourself out or if you know you have issues post them and we can handle case by case.

    More general notes on lifting:

    I've listed a bunch of exercises on each line. Generally, they are interchangeable. You want to change it up to different exercises within each muscle group (each line above) so your body doesn't adapt to a single movement, plus some slight variety works muscles differently and it's better for your body. It's often good to pick some main moves and repeat them for a few weeks, then change those up. The smaller moves vary more often.

    Every 4-5 weeks you should have a very, very easy week. Either lift really light that week or don't lift at all. Between rest weeks you want to focus on building strength each week, so repeating moves those weeks helps. Then next cycle change the moves up.

    If you haven't lifted before start light. You will be really sore two days later - the older you are, the more sore you will be.

    One of the cool things about a real, consistent lifting program: if you are carrying extra weight, most people see really progress with that after 8-12 weeks. If you are already in race shape you will need to eat more.

    If you are on the high weight, low rep plan, you will be between 4-6 reps for things like bench press and 6-10 reps for things like lateral raise. Generally the higher the weight you can move with that particular muscle group the lower the reps.

    Ok, probably enough for now. Next installment will tackle how to set yourself up at home if you don't have access to a gym (or don't want to go there) with options from just using bands to a full weight setup.

  21. #121
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    Quote Originally Posted by climberevan View Post
    Thanks. This is something I've wondered about.

    I know the old Sieler 80/20 study that Polarized training has its roots in was based on self reporting of entire workouts characterized as easy or hard (as opposed to time spent in zone). Now that we all have power meters or at least HR, it sounds like we should think more about accumulated time in the desired zones.

    What I wonder about is on rides that are supposed to be Z2 endurance. In my example above, I wanted a long Z2 ride, but thanks to the terrain I spent 66.6% in Z1/2, 27.6% Z3/4, and 5.8% Z5+. This falls into the "pyramidal" classification.

    I think a lot of the "too hard for easy but too easy for hard" MTB rides we were talking about earlier would look like that, and I'm wary of falling into that trap. Or am I off base here? Should I really just look at the total time in zone compared with the grand total per week, say?

    Also, what do you think about the old Coggan/Allen idea of recovery time from a given TSS? The stuff I've seen says that rides around 400 should require several days of recovery, so how should they fit in a structured plan?

    Thanks again for taking the time to answer our questions!
    1. Seiler is definitely based on sessions. He looked at a lot of historical training data and this was the best they could do. When we move to time in zone, I think the total time of the days devoted to base specific intensity ought to be closer to 70 to 75% per week, depending on the training strategy. These numbers typically do not incorporate well with Block Periodization where you may be either 90% base or 40% base on the weekly view. Looking at it per training cycle is likely more accurate.

    2. Each specific ride does not and should not follow any sort of Low to High Intensity split as it would not lead to enough stress to induce adaptation (see below). In a perfect training world, rides should be focused on either Base or Intensity.
    3. Personally, I think your ride was fine. This is part of having fun while riding. I bet it was a great day, despite it not being perfect for training.

    Two things to consider
    1. I would have pushed a little harder to avoid Z3. If you need to go harder than base, you might as well to go low Z4.
    2. Now that you had your fun ride, if you want to maximize your base week, then try to be really good about adhering to Z2 for the rest of the week. (This is assuming you're doing Block Periodization). If not, just count this time toward your weekly allotment of Z4/5 and call it good.

    3. I don't like recovery per TSS. In concept and on paper it makes sense. However, there is so many more factors. Were you underfueled? Then you'll have a higher cortisol release. Did you do anything to improve recovery, Massage, Protein, etc.?

    General Thoughts:

    Adaptation:
    The point of "training" is to get better, otherwise you might as well ride for the sake of having fun.

    To get better you need to adapt and to adapt you need to have a reason (stimulus) to get better.
    To get better, you need to make improvements that are induced by that stimulus AND they need to be the right improvements.
    You need both of these.

    Workouts = Stimulus
    Recovery = The time to rebuild.

    Stimulus:
    The work that we do is the signal for change. If you always do the same work, or you always do work that doesn't challenge you then there is a weak signal for change. You do not get better. This is with everything in life.
    This is also why studies that show the largest improvement for HIIT training are in non-athletic populations. The athletic people already do things like this, so it doesn't help them much. I can show studies that support / disprove the HIIT theory just based on the subjects they recruited.

    Most riders need to get their signal in the correct direction: Fix their training intensities and workout focus. This often leads to immediate improvements.
    Riders that are training well can either mix up their training and something different, potentially aiming their stimulus off-target (e.g. "Muscle confusion" (which is perhaps good for weight training, but not endurance training), OR they can make the signal bigger by going longer or harder.

    Going harder, however, is still relative to your fitness. If 5x5 minutes at 120% of threshold is a good workout, it does not mean that 5x5 minutes at 130% is better... because you probably can't do that. It means that if your threshold is 300w, then 5x5minutes at 360 is perfect. And when you improve, 360 won't be enough anymore. You now need to do 5x5minutes at 120% of your new threshold of 315w. So, bump those intervals up to 378w.

    Same for base training: If 70% of threshold is great for 2 hours of base, it is not better to go 2 hours at 75%. This might be harder, but you're changing the aim of the stimulus, so you are not going to get the adaptation you need. Instead, as you get better, continue doing 70% of threshold for base rides, but know that it'll now take 3 hours to have the same signal that 2 hours use to have.

    This also applies to the individual workout session:
    Option 1: Ride 5 minutes at Z5 for each ride for 5 rides, Ride base for the other 55 minutes. (This is 5x5 minutes at Z5 per week)
    Option 2: Ride 4 days of 60 minutes of base, Ride 1 day with 5x5 minute Z5 intervals (This is still 5x5 minutes per week)

    Option 2 is far better than Option 1, because a single bout of 5 minutes at Z5 is not challenging to your body. It won't be a large enough signal to change.
    However, if you do them all at once, you may feel fresh on the 1st and 2nd, but by the 5th Z5 effort you are spent. This is a big signal to change.

    This is why Block Periodization can be Effective. It creates a very strong stimulus for change in a moderate amount of time.
    However, the downside to Block Periodization is that each individual session can really only be 85% of your potential, because if you gave 100% each day you couldn't finish the week. You trade a little bit of signal each day to have that signal compound day over day.
    (This is like skiing, A 20" dump overnight is real fun, but 5 days of 4" makes for a great week).

    This is also why I switch back to a traditional plan as events get closer. This way I can dig really deep in the individual sessions, just like you do in an event, without having to save some for tomorrow's workout.



    E.g. One Ride with 5 sets of 5 minutes at VO2 is a larger signal for adaptation than
    Last edited by XtrPickels; 03-18-2021 at 02:47 PM.

  22. #122
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    Xtrpickes I'm curious what you'd do in my situation: I'm a few weeks from finishing a 10-12 hour/week, 18-week long off-season sweet spot plan from Fascat. Seemed good, but I slacked on the longer weekend rides when the skiing got good in February. So I probably rode as little as 6 hours/week for a bit there. For goals, I have a gravel race July 10th (120 miles/11k vert).

    Curious what you'd do next if you were me: I think I need to get lots of hours in the saddle to get ready for that long race, but I'd like to also raise my FTP as much as possible before then too. I could just start some of that sweet spot plan again, but maybe there's a better route to go for training this far out from my event?

  23. #123
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    Quote Originally Posted by kathleenturneroverdrive View Post
    Xtrpickes I'm curious what you'd do in my situation: I'm a few weeks from finishing a 10-12 hour/week, 18-week long off-season sweet spot plan from Fascat. Seemed good, but I slacked on the longer weekend rides when the skiing got good in February. So I probably rode as little as 6 hours/week for a bit there. For goals, I have a gravel race July 10th (120 miles/11k vert).

    Curious what you'd do next if you were me: I think I need to get lots of hours in the saddle to get ready for that long race, but I'd like to also raise my FTP as much as possible before then too. I could just start some of that sweet spot plan again, but maybe there's a better route to go for training this far out from my event?
    I know Frank from Fascat fairly well and he's had great success with his athletes.
    However, I am just not a fan of SweetSpot training.

    Sweetspot is based off the work of Andrew Coggan and Hunter Allen. The research that supports it does so by indicating that Z3 is the optimization of Duration and Intensity. It's the highest workload (intensity) that can be maintained for long bouts of training. In theory, this ought to maximize the stimulus that I mention in the post above.

    However, in my experience this is not the case. It might be hard training, but it's not specific enough. This is because it over taxes the aerobic system to the point that anaerobic has to contribute, but does not tax the anaerobic system enough for adaptation.

    Energy Systems:
    Aerobic: Primarily slow-twitch muscle fibers that are weak, yet efficient. The electric Motor in the Prius. This system burns carbohydrate and fat using oxygen. You want this to be as strong as possible for any endurance event: whether that event is 1 hour or 10 hours. We use low blood lactate concentrations as a proxy measurement of this system being the primary contributor.

    Anaerobic: Primarily fast twitch fibers that are strong, but tire quickly. The gas motor in the Prius. This system primarily burns carbohydrate without oxygen. As the anaerobic system is utilized more, blood lactate increases. This system works ON TOP of the aerobic system. If you are doing a 120% 5 minute interval you are using both systems near maximally.

    When training the aerobic system, it is best to stay at intensities that allow the aerobic system to do the work without anaerobic help (e.g. Z2). If you ride harder in Z3, your body will begin to look for shortcuts to help out and that shortcut is a little anaerobic help. However, this is just a little bit of help and doesn't stimulate the anaerobic system like Z4 / Z5 do.

    With riders whom do a lot of Z3 work, we tend to see higher baseline lactates, which means their anaerobic system is working during easy workloads. This is like running the gas engine in the Prius all the time, you're going to run out of fuel sooner.

    I'm not saying don't train in a sweetspot manner, especially if you've had success. However, I have never recommended it to anyone,

    5 vs. 3 zone system:

    Z1 & Z2 = Z1 in a 3-zone system
    Z3 & Z4 = Z2 in a 3 zone system
    Z5 & Z6 = Z3 in a 3 zone system.

    This is where I break with Seiler a bit; I think there is benefit to Z4 training with longer intervals (in addition to Z5 intervals), whereas he's mostly recommending Z5 intervals only.

  24. #124
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    Quote Originally Posted by XtrPickels View Post
    My Wife is 39 and a 33 minute 10k runner.
    She never lifts weights...
    Damn. Less than 4mins off (~40sec/mile) the world record. Speedy for sure.

  25. #125
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    Thanks for all that! I'm not a sweetspot zealot at all so would be interested to see what a polarized plan does in comparison.

    This is probably a super basic question, but if my target is a 120 miles race with a lot of climbing, in a polarized plan would my hard days mostly be the same in terms of duration/intensity for the next few months, but my easy days get longer and longer until I'm close to race length/duration a few weeks out from the event?
    Last edited by kathleenturneroverdrive; 03-18-2021 at 12:27 PM.

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