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  1. #1
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    Is base training dead?

    Not sure if this has been posted before or not, did a search and nothing came up. Interesting thought.

    http://ezinearticles.com/?Is-Aerobic...ad?&id=2162016
    A couple of years ago I proposed some radical ideas on cardio training for mountain bikers. Ever since then I've had a lot of people doubt my sanity. Aerobic base training has been a staple of training programs for decades and many an off season program for mountain bikers has included an extended period of time reeling off boring miles on a trainer. While some people embraced my concepts (and proceeded to achieve better "aerobic endurance" despite doing little to no aerobic training) many others have questioned why this concept is so different that the "scientific" one.

    Let me explain why this is - people in the strength training trenches figure out what works in the real world (which is MUCH different than a controlled lab setting) and then implement it. Sometimes what we do flies in the face of the traditional "science" of training. Sports scientists pick up on what we are doing, study it and then tell us why it works. This process usually takes about 5-10 years or more to go from the cutting edge in the trenches to being taught in the classroom.

    So, this meant that there was not a ton of scientific studies to confirm what I knew - aerobic base training simply does not work on a consistent basis in the real world. But, now there are two landmark studies that suggest that anaerobic interval training is vastly superior to the out dated models still being promoted by the mainstream fitness media.

    The main reason that mountain bikers felt compelled to include aerobic base training in their program was to increase their aerobic capacity. The scientifically accepted method to determine aerobic capacity is VO2Max (Maximum Volume of Oxygen Consumed), which is an indicator of how well your body can utilize oxygen. Aerobic training had been shown to increase your VO2Max, so therefore was considered necessary for overall cardiovascular development.

    However, strength coaches on the cutting edge realize that the best way to raise your VO2Max, and therefore your aerobic capacity, is through interval training, not aerobic training! While this may not make a lot of sense, it is true. Several recent studies on anaerobic intervals produced some of the largest increases in VO2Max ever seen, including studies done on aerobic training.

    One study in particular was done on what is popularly known as the Tabata Protocol. This method calls for 20 seconds of sprinting followed by 10 seconds rest and these mini-intervals are repeated 6-8 times per round. A workout may involve 1-3 rounds (complete recovery is allowed between rounds). Researchers found massive increases in the subjects VO2Max in addition to the anticipated increases in anaerobic endurance markers. The increases in VO2Max were some of the largest ever seen in a study and showed that aerobic training is not the only (nor the best) way to increase aerobic capacity.

    Another landmark study that came out in the September 2006 Journal of Physiology studied the effects of 20 minutes of interval training (30 second sprints followed by 4 minutes of rest) vs. 90-120 minutes of traditional aerobic heart rate zone training. They found that the interval group which did only 1 hour of exercise per week had the same improvements in aerobic capacity as the aerobic group. Did I mention the aerobic group spent 4-6 hours per week exercising?

    4 to 6 times as much exercise to get the same results in aerobic capacity? This isn't even taking into account that the interval group improved their anaerobic capacity, something the aerobic group did not. This finding is astounding and shows just how much time you can waste with aerobic training.

    I've mentioned this before and here is the proof - anaerobic intervals will increase your aerobic capacity as well as your anaerobic capacity but aerobic training does not increase your anaerobic capacity. All of this means that if you have limited training time (and who doesn't) you may be wasting your time with aerobic training. Anaerobic intervals are the only way to maximize the effectiveness of limited training time.

    Also, there is no evidence at all that you will burn out or get injured by training with intervals year round. This is simply a myth that has been told so many times that it has been taken as the truth. I challenge anyone to find me a single study that backs this claim.

    What has been found is that going straight into hard training (either strength or intervals or aerobic) without a preparatory period will increase the likelihood of injury. So, like everything else, you must work into full blown hard core intervals and cycle their intensity and duration but there is no reason you can not do intervals year round.

    Now, just to balance this out, there are 2 times when aerobic training has a place in your program. First, if you are so out of shape you can not tolerate even the easiest intervals then you should spend some time doing aerobic training to build your work capacity up a bit. But once you can do intervals you should make the switch.

    Second, aerobic exercise is great for active recovery (something I have also mentioned before). Going out for a light 20 minute jog or ride will help to flush blood into the muscles and help you recover from your strength training and interval sessions faster. Outside of these 2 things, though, aerobic base training may be dead.

    My mission in life is to bring our sport into the 21st century. You can get better results in aerobic capacity in less time while also increasing anaerobic capacity. This should be something that mountain bikers everywhere rejoice at because aerobic training is some of the most tedious and boring stuff around.

    The MTB Strength Training System is the world's only strength and conditioning program for the unique demands of mountain biking. Riders from around the world have discovered how they can climb faster, descend with more confidence and have more fun by upgrading the engine that drives their bike - their own body!

    Find out more about this unique program and how it can help you enjoy riding more by visiting http://www.mtbstrengthcoach.com
    While you are there you can find out how to sign up for a free sneak peak at The Ultimate MTB Workout Program, complete with a free workout.

    Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=James_P_Wilson

    Sounds like solid stuff. I guess the main issue I have is that one of the studies compares 1 hour anaerobic to 4-6 hours aerobic. What about races who do 30 mile races, or what about training 10+ hours per week, would you only need to do 2 hours anaerobic to match that? Anyway, its an interesting article.

  2. #2
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    I read this article last winter and cut out easy base miles and devoted more training time to mimic the intensity of racing-it's worked well for me this season. With this said I think James website is very helpful to a point but doesn't address the whole picture for XC racing.
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  3. #3
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    With this said I think James website is very helpful to a point but doesn't address the whole picture for XC racing.
    He does mention this a couple of times in respect to endurance MTBing, that his programs and way of thinking will not totally address the riders needs and that you will need extra mileage/time to cope with that part of the endurance equation. They should do for those riding DH, 4X , shorter MTB races and any recreational-type rider.

    I personally agree with what he says. Recently I did a 65 km 'enduro-type' event with no extra mileage (even cut down on it) and had been following James reasoning and finished in the top 50 (out of 600 riders). Would of been 13th if I had not had two punctures ( .

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    Most people who do short races overtrain. High intensity in various forms is great. My opinion (huge FWIW) is that if your race is 2+ hours long I think you'll need base training. And that threshold could very well even be 1 hr, but I feel pretty sure about 2+ hrs. Note base training should shift during your season, many do more in the beginning and less as the season progresses.

    I worked out with some of the first people to figure this stuff out in late 80s (this stuff being what is in the article). I was with one guy who worked out something like a half hour a day and was ranked top 10 in the US for his age group at 18 in an event that was shorter than 30 seconds. I could do laps around him if the event were 5 minutes or longer - the rest of us put in around 20 - 30 hrs per week depending, but he beat all of us in the super-short events at 30 minutes a day of training... Damn sprinters!

  5. #5
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    base miles=weight control

    I know that the concepts presented above are mostly true for me. I cannot be close to race form without doing substantial interval work above LT. However, long hours in the saddle below LT have two benefits (1) it's fun and (2) weight control.

    Most coaches who have a base component in the training program do so because they believe that it prepares the body to endure (and respond to) high intensity intervals. I am not sure I have seen anything indicating that this philosophy is incorrect.

  6. #6
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    I'm not ready to throw out decades of coaching experience in endurance sports based on what I see there alone. Sure we make advancements, but that is one guy commenting and it appears that article is also a little bit of an advertisment.

    My understanding of base training--and I've read a lot of stuff on exercise physiology as it applies to endurance athletes--is not that it is designed to increase VO2 max. You do VO2 max intervals for that purpose.

    The studies I've read suggest base training does the following:

    1. Over time it increases the size of mitochondria in our cells (the mitochondria are essentially the "engines" or powerplants of our cells--bigger mitochondria means a bigger engine);
    2. It increases the number of capillaries which carry blood to our muscles;
    3. It improves our body's efficiency in terms of converting oxygen and fuel (such as gylcogen) into energy so we get more out of what our cardiovascular system can deliver to our muscles;
    4. It starts to increase our muscle's ability to store the all important glycogen (critical for extended hard efforts and very long races); and
    5. It prepares our muscles, tendons, and ligaments for more vigorous training so that we can handle it without injury and overtraining.

    I read an article just a few years ago about a weight training program for football players and was surprised to learn they have their own "base training" in the weight room. Their yearly plan started with moderate weights with higher reps and multiple sets. For example, they were doing 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps as a base phase of training to prepare their muscles for later training. Once the base phase was complete, they then moved into heavier lifting that included much heavier weight, lower reps (1-5), and multiple sets (up to 5 or even more).

    I don't think base training is dead by any means. I do understand advancements are made all the time in our understanding of training and the physiology behind it, but time honored and proven principles probably shouldn't be dismissed too easily.

  7. #7
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    Base training is definitely dead for me. I completely skipped base training this season. However, I spent the winter doing very focused, sweet spot training with lots of intervals. My average training was 3.5 hours per week (all of it indoors on the trainer or spin bike). Even during the Ontario Cup race season my average training is only 7-9 hours per week.

    In many ways I was forced to come to this approach by my work schedule and my physical limitations (too much training and insufficient recovery gets me into injuries). My fitness does not suffer greatly from lack of base training and long hours in the saddle.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by serious
    Base training is definitely dead for me. I completely skipped base training this season. However, I spent the winter doing very focused, sweet spot training with lots of intervals. My average training was 3.5 hours per week (all of it indoors on the trainer or spin bike). Even during the Ontario Cup race season my average training is only 7-9 hours per week.

    In many ways I was forced to come to this approach by my work schedule and my physical limitations (too much training and insufficient recovery gets me into injuries). My fitness does not suffer greatly from lack of base training and long hours in the saddle.
    One thing to consider is that you still have the base from all the previous years of 7-9 hours/week. Perhaps any or all of us who have been riding for years could take one off-season and focus on Tabita or other types of high-intensity training and see results.

    I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just curious to know if you can "get away with" that number of hours for a second consecutive off-season.

    How many hours/week do you think you'll get in this off-season?

  9. #9
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    I plan to do 3-4 hours this winter as well and basically maintain most of my fitness. I will ramp up a bit before race season starts to get closer to my peak. The rest comes during the race season and I tend to peak towards the end.

    What is important to remember is that I am 47 years old and just your average sport rider, with no expectations of massive improvements and podium placing.
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  10. #10
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    cut out base miles if you like, but realize that it is a step backwards. training plans for runners used to entail primarily "intervals", that ideology was challenged and overcome by Lydiard. although it is a different sport, the training principles apply.

    http://lydiardfoundation.org/pdfs/al_training.pdf

    periodization works. low intensity training has it's place. intervals are awesome and need to be utilized. of course we aren't all olympians that train full time... so compromises are made.

  11. #11
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    Periodization (and therefore base training) are not dead. After all, it's how the world champions in all major endurance sports train.

    The myth that base training consists of nothing but endless hours of mindless super-easy plodding, however, is dead.

  12. #12
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    Of course base training doesn't increase VO2Max as much as training near your VO2 max (with shorter, max effort intervals) will increase your VO2 max--it doesn't take a study to figure that out (at least in my mind). Just like running doesn't improve your cycling as much as cycling will improve your cycling.

    Also, Expert and above will have a hard time being competitive without some longer rides in their program. It's easier to avoid longer rides (and still be competitive) at Sport and Beginner levels.

    Finally, it all depends on individual strengths and weaknesses--someone with a good endurance base to begin with (maybe from years of riding or from other activities) can more easily avoid longer rides and still be competitive.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by whybotherme
    cut out base miles if you like, but realize that it is a step backwards. training plans for runners used to entail primarily "intervals", that ideology was challenged and overcome by Lydiard. although it is a different sport, the training principles apply.

    http://lydiardfoundation.org/pdfs/al_training.pdf

    periodization works. low intensity training has it's place. intervals are awesome and need to be utilized. of course we aren't all olympians that train full time... so compromises are made.
    Excellent points. Runners who are trying to be competitive or shoot for a PB tend to put a lot of focus on gradual increases in mileage ( I run miles, but bike km, weird, eh?) and consistency in training. Although there will always be "programs" telling them they can succeed on 3 days/week (usually with over half the weekly distance in one long run), experienced runners know that without the base they can't reach a peak.

    Cycling is differnet in that we can put in more weekly hours without injury and recover more easily from harder efforts. Talk about good news/bad news....sounds good, except it applies to your competition too!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by flargle
    The myth that base training consists of nothing but endless hours of mindless super-easy plodding, however, is dead.
    IMHO it's not as much of a "myth" as it is a "misunderstanding". Base training should be taken as referring to building one's aerobic capacity and aerobic efficiency/economy, the 2 being different but interrelated qualities. These qualities can be addressed with training at a wider variety of intensities and durations than simply LSD work. Somehow, the concept has become bastardized over the years, probably because many people do adopt a high LSD component to their base training (which makes perfect sense and achieves good results for some) to the point where base training is synonomous with LSD in many people's minds, which isn't the case. LSD can be a component, or even the foundation of base training, but base training can also be accomplished without LSD.

    There's usually more than one solution to any problem when it comes to training.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gatorback
    I don't think base training is dead by any means. I do understand advancements are made all the time in our understanding of training and the physiology behind it, but time honored and proven principles probably shouldn't be dismissed too easily.
    +1

    A sobering and neutralizing comment. Train like you play, play like you train.

    I'm much more interested in the physiological science behind the training; less interested in "this study had X participants. One group sat on their fat asses and ate donuts (control group) but another sat on their fat asses and ate donuts and picked their noses and saw AMAZING RESULTS IN NO TIME AT ALL!"

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by HSCoach2
    One thing to consider is that you still have the base from all the previous years of 7-9 hours/week. Perhaps any or all of us who have been riding for years could take one off-season and focus on Tabita or other types of high-intensity training and see results.

    I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just curious to know if you can "get away with" that number of hours for a second consecutive off-season.

    How many hours/week do you think you'll get in this off-season?

    IMHO this is the “million dollar” point. Years of base training will provide an athlete in any sport the foundation to improve with more “advanced” training in the future. I have seen this in the weight room with athletes who have been doing the same program for years and have hit a plateau. We make changes to their program and then the majority of them see improved results very quickly. Did the new program make them better? Not really. It was the change in programming and the body’s reaction to it caused the plateau breakthrough. However a new trainee would not necessarily have the same reaction to the same program because they did not have the years training a solid base from which to build up from.

    Point being is that if we have two groups of cyclists who most likely have similar training backgrounds in a traditional base building style. If one group continues training this way while the other group changes up their training I would think that the cyclist training differently would see performance advancements purely based on the body’s reaction to the different stimulus. A better study would be to compare cyclists who have only performed interval training their entire cycling careers to cyclists who have gone through the traditional base building training over the course of many years. Good luck finding that sample though.
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  17. #17
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    I don't have the patience or will to read the whole thing but got enough with 1/3...
    Its funny how people that write articles like the one posted by the OP, miss so many points and try to make everybody with little knowledge think that he is revolutionary and that something like base training should be dumped

    It would be funny to see how in the world you would start doing intensity work without being prepared for it???
    Have you seen a sedentary person doing intervals? how many do you think that person can handle? how is that person going to feel next day? 3 days later?
    As Gatorback said, what about tendons and ligaments? are they prepare for high intensity work?

    Intensity IS what increases your VO2max but it should be done in a periodized way and there is no magic formula. Depends on your training status and fitness level, goals, genetics, psycologic factors, etc
    Can you do high intensity work all the time: NO
    can/should you do base work all the time: NO

    Exercise is stress so you have to stress your system in order to induce adaptations (stronger, faster, etc) but if you push too hard you will overtrain or get injured and if you don't push yourself no adaptation will occur...

    There is a TON of scientific evidence that supports this but when you have people that only thing about how to sell whatever, they push stupid stuffs without the basic principles; then newbies try to do it since they don't know what is right or wrong and end up getting injured, overtrained or something else.....

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  18. #18
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    I did not mean to imply that I have no long rides in my program. I need a few long rides in the 3-4 hour range as I prepare for 8 hour races. But I do that prior to the long race, not prior to the start of the season, so it is not base training in the traditional sense.
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  19. #19
    LMN
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    There are many way to skin a cat.

    The idea behind changing the way you train as the season progress (periodization) is to stress your body in a different way. After training the same way for a length of time you are not improving anymore.

    If you are out of shape, or haven't done any long rides, a 3hr ride at 75% MHR is quite challenging. More than enough to overload you aerobic system. Do a couple of those followed by some rest and you will see improvement. After a while that ride will not be sufficient to induce a training effect; you need to vary the length and intensity to continue to improve.

    Skipping the base phase allows for a rapid progression to near race fitness. But how will you vary your training to allow progression during the season?

  20. #20
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    Lmn,
    What do you suggest for progression later in the season.
    I beleive I do a form of base training by doing a lot of BC skiing (Dec.-May) and then ride my bike medium effort for about two weeks(March/April 20-25 hrs) and start adding intensity after that. Do you just add variety to your interval sessions? and/or does switching up bikes give enough change to help w/progression like SS v. big squishy bike v. hard tail? I use my big bike early for lots of miles and abuse, then race bike, and move on to the SS in the fall. I do not know if I get stronger but I feel like it.
    Just curious, Thanks.
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  21. #21
    LMN
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    Quote Originally Posted by butryon
    Lmn,
    What do you suggest for progression later in the season.
    I beleive I do a form of base training by doing a lot of BC skiing (Dec.-May) and then ride my bike medium effort for about two weeks(March/April 20-25 hrs) and start adding intensity after that. Do you just add variety to your interval sessions? and/or does switching up bikes give enough change to help w/progression like SS v. big squishy bike v. hard tail? I use my big bike early for lots of miles and abuse, then race bike, and move on to the SS in the fall. I do not know if I get stronger but I feel like it.
    Just curious, Thanks.
    Ryon
    The quality of your base training really depends on what your skiing depends on. If you are DH skiing at resorts then you really aren't doing any training for cycling (unless you are doing non-stops top to bottom at Revelstoke but few can do that on a regular basis). If you are ski touring then you probably have a huge endurance base, but are lacking a bit in your high end. If you are doing nordic then you are probably are at a very high fitness level and trying to transfer that fitness to the bike.

    What ever you are doing for skiing 20-25hrs is a huge number to start riding with. I would be temped to start riding a bit earlier but do a little, actually a lot, less volume.

    How to progress during the season really depends on your strengths and weakness. However 95% of all mountain bikers are limited by aerobic power, much more then road racing, aerobic power is the key ability for MTBing. Most are best served by focusing on the aerobic engine.

    Workouts such as
    -4hr at 70-75% MHR
    -3x20 minutes @80-90%
    -5x7 minutes @90-100%
    -5x4 minutes @best effort

    all work on your aerobic system. The key to continually improving your aerobic system is to do a workout that stresses it enough that it forces adaptation. Too often people get a favorite workout and get stuck in routine. Mixing these workout up can really help.

    Progressing during a season is actually very are hard to do. Most either come into the season at a high fitness level and then try and maintain or they come into the season out of shape and improve through out it. It takes a very good program and a motivated athlete to come into a season fit and then improve as season progresses.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    Progressing during a season is actually very are hard to do. Most either come into the season at a high fitness level and then try and maintain or they come into the season out of shape and improve through out it. It takes a very good program and a motivated athlete to come into a season fit and then improve as season progresses.
    Preach on brother man!!!!! Wish I had some of your expertise for setting up the lady's training!

  23. #23
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    I probably miss communicated the hrs. I do, roughly 20-25 hrs, every two weeks. Depending on my work schedule I get anywhere from 10-15 hrs a week. I do DH ski but the time I count toward training time is only the hiking/backcountry time. I will hike before the resort opens for roughly two hrs and then ski lift served for about two hrs...off to work. the weekends will give me more hike time with some of my trips being upwards of four hours. Do you see a time when a mtb'er would do shorter harder intervals than the above mentioned 4 min. ones?

    "Progressing during a season is actually very are hard to do. Most either come into the season at a high fitness level and then try and maintain or they come into the season out of shape and improve through out it. It takes a very good program and a motivated athlete to come into a season fit and then improve as season progresses."

    I agree with this completely. I don't really get out of race shape much but I also only seem to get a bit faster each season. I think this is due to better technique riding not necessarily the training.

    thanks
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  24. #24
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    MHR formula

    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    Workouts such as
    -4hr at 70-75% MHR
    -3x20 minutes @80-90%
    -5x7 minutes @90-100%
    -5x4 minutes @best effort
    LMN-Do you mainly do these on the road? AND...is the MHR based off of the 220-age formula?
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2fst4u
    LMN-Do you mainly do these on the road? AND...is the MHR based off of the 220-age formula?
    Can't speak for LMN, but the general answer for determining MHR is Noooooo! do not derive from a formula for this purpose. Results from formula to actual are materially different for enough people that it's not so helpful for this application.

    You can try to search for different protocols on the web for determining maximum HR, but here's one possibility;

    - Progressive warmup for 20-30 minutes, including a couple of "openers" about 5 minutes before the test, with the openers beign relatively hard efforts 30-60 seconds each.

    - Find a medium grade hill, probably paved (MTB OK for this) or else off road with good traction and lack of obstacles so that you can focus on pure physical output, with hill duration being at least 3 minutes for you from bottom to top.

    - Start test, with very hard effort for approx. 3 minutes or whenever you are start seeing black spots, falling over, etc.

    - Cruise back down, for total rest duration (i.e. light spinning) of about 2 minutes.

    - Hit another hill rep of 3 minutes. You should feel like you're pretty much going to die by the end of the 2nd rep, but if not...

    - Rinse lather, repeat for 1 more time for a 3rd reps. If you're still upright by that time you haven't gone hard enough.

    - Ideally you'd be wearing HR monitor that you can look to see your max value on later so that you're not trying to stare at your watch while doing reps.

  26. #26
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    I think I agree. Or maybe I'm just old school, or raced and ride too much road... It seems to me, and even moreso now that I'm in my mid 40's, is that getting in that winter base allows me to train that much harder with better recovery (less chance of injury?) throughout the season. It's also a nice change up from in-season training and it keeps you fresh throughout the season. Which is part of the reason I like mixing up training. I also believe that once the season starts you really only need to _train_ approximately 80% of the race distances.


    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    There are many way to skin a cat.

    The idea behind changing the way you train as the season progress (periodization) is to stress your body in a different way. After training the same way for a length of time you are not improving anymore.

  27. #27
    LMN
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2fst4u
    LMN-Do you mainly do these on the road? AND...is the MHR based off of the 220-age formula?
    I actually do very little training on road. I believe that as a mountain bike racer all my intensity should be done on my race bike, in my race position.

    The 220 - your age formula is useless for any reasonably fit individual. If you have been using an HR for a while then you probably know what your max HR is.

    I am not a big fan of prescribing intensity by HR or by power. PE is the best in my opinion. Actually if a set is designed properly then the athlete will generally do it at the desired intensity.

    For example if I want some one to do two 15 minute efforts at near maximal pace then I might give some like:
    2x15 minutes with 8 minutes rest. With that much rest the athlete will bury themselves knowing that they have time to recover.

    If I want them to two 15 minute efforts at thresold then I might give: 2x15 minutes with 1 minute rest. The athlete will self select the intensity that allows them to complete the workout.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by butryon
    Do you see a time when a mtb'er would do shorter harder intervals than the above mentioned 4 min. ones?
    Anaerobic work definitely has a role in mountain bike racing. It play a role in starts, short climbs, mid-race attacks, ect... All important but very small components of a mountain bike race. Those are the thing you work on when you have the fundamentals (climbing and descending) down.

    Short and hard intervals should be part of every ones program but the amount you do has to be watched very carefully.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    I am not a big fan of prescribing intensity by HR or by power. PE is the best in my opinion. Actually if a set is designed properly then the athlete will generally do it at the desired intensity.
    We were working out on a college ground at Te Awamutu one day when a group of pupils stopped to watch.

    "What's he [Richard Tayler] doing?" one asked.
    "Repetitions," I explained.
    They knew all about those. "How many is he going to do?"
    "I don't know."
    "What times is he running?"
    "I'm not timing him."
    They exchanged looks of disbelief. Was I supposed to be coaching one of New Zealand's best runners?
    Then I asked, "How far round is this track, anyway?"
    They knew then I did not know what I was talking about.
    When Dick finished and joined us, they asked him, "How many did you do?"
    "I didn't count them," Dick said.
    "What times were you running?"
    "I didn't time them."

    I decided it was time to explain to these boys, before they ran off laughing, that times and numbers were unimportant. What mattered was the effect on Tayler of what he was doing; and he knew better than I did what he wanted to do and when he had enough.


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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    The 220 - your age formula is useless for any reasonably fit individual.
    HRmax has nothing to do with fitness status and 220-age plus or minus 10-12 beats just covers 1 standard deviation of the population. Training will not increase your HRmax so if you are fit or not doesn't matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    If you have been using an HR for a while then you probably know what your max HR is.
    HRmax is very difficult to know; I would say that not even 50% of the people know their HRmax unless they have push themselves doing a graded exercise test on a lab.
    Reaching your HRmax is very painful and has to be reached on a steady state. You are about to puke and pass out
    Proper term would be peak HR

  31. #31
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    Hard as you can?

    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    I actually do very little training on road. I believe that as a mountain bike racer all my intensity should be done on my race bike, in my race position.

    The 220 - your age formula is useless for any reasonably fit individual. If you have been using an HR for a while then you probably know what your max HR is.

    I am not a big fan of prescribing intensity by HR or by power. PE is the best in my opinion. Actually if a set is designed properly then the athlete will generally do it at the desired intensity.

    For example if I want some one to do two 15 minute efforts at near maximal pace then I might give some like:
    2x15 minutes with 8 minutes rest. With that much rest the athlete will bury themselves knowing that they have time to recover.

    If I want them to two 15 minute efforts at thresold then I might give: 2x15 minutes with 1 minute rest. The athlete will self select the intensity that allows them to complete the workout.
    So, to perform your suggested workouts I should basically use the maximum amount of intensity for the suggested length of the interval, right?

    BTW I do 99.9% of my workouts on the trail as well.

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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Circlip
    Can't speak for LMN, but the general answer for determining MHR is Noooooo! do not derive from a formula for this purpose. Results from formula to actual are materially different for enough people that it's not so helpful for this application.

    You can try to search for different protocols on the web for determining maximum HR, but here's one possibility;

    - Progressive warmup for 20-30 minutes, including a couple of "openers" about 5 minutes before the test, with the openers beign relatively hard efforts 30-60 seconds each.

    - Find a medium grade hill, probably paved (MTB OK for this) or else off road with good traction and lack of obstacles so that you can focus on pure physical output, with hill duration being at least 3 minutes for you from bottom to top.

    - Start test, with very hard effort for approx. 3 minutes or whenever you are start seeing black spots, falling over, etc.

    - Cruise back down, for total rest duration (i.e. light spinning) of about 2 minutes.

    - Hit another hill rep of 3 minutes. You should feel like you're pretty much going to die by the end of the 2nd rep, but if not...

    - Rinse lather, repeat for 1 more time for a 3rd reps. If you're still upright by that time you haven't gone hard enough.

    - Ideally you'd be wearing HR monitor that you can look to see your max value on later so that you're not trying to stare at your watch while doing reps.


    This is one of the reasons people die. WARNING for you (yes, you that are reading this) DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS IS YOU HAVE TWO OR MORE THAN THE FOLLOWING FACTORS:
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    - FAMILY HISTORY OF CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE
    - BMI OVER 30
    - HYPERTENSION
    - DYSLIPIDEMIA
    - INSULIN RESISTANCE OR DIABETES

  33. #33
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    I found this statement on base training on the roadbikereviews site. I think it's pretty excellent:

    Building fitness is about overload. You can overload with either intensity or volume. Base is about volume overload. Base training should consist of ramping up your miles significantly and decreasing your intensity. Most people do it wrong and decrease both their mileage and intensity and therefore get LESS fit, rather than more fit. The reason most people do this is that they are trying to employ a training system that is totally impractical unless you live in Southern California and do not have a job in the winter.

    Most people would be better off with hard intervals in the winter because they don't have the weather or daylight to do base training right.
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBW
    HRmax has nothing to do with fitness status and 220-age plus or minus 10-12 beats just covers 1 standard deviation of the population. Training will not increase your HRmax so if you are fit or not doesn't matter.

    HRmax is very difficult to know; I would say that not even 50% of the people know their HRmax unless they have push themselves doing a graded exercise test on a lab.
    Reaching your HRmax is very painful and has to be reached on a steady state. You are about to puke and pass out
    Proper term would be peak HR

    I have tested probably 100 cyclist in a graded test in a lab. In nearly every case max HR that the cyclist though they had was within a couple of beats of the one found in the lab. As I said someone who use an HR monitor regularly knows their max HR.

    It has been found that in a trained athlete max HR does not drop with age. Which means the 220 minus your age approach is completely useless for a trained cyclist.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBW
    This is one of the reasons people die. WARNING for you (yes, you that are reading this) DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS IS YOU HAVE TWO OR MORE THAN THE FOLLOWING FACTORS:
    - OVER 45 YEARS OLD
    - FAMILY HISTORY OF CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE
    - BMI OVER 30
    - HYPERTENSION
    - DYSLIPIDEMIA
    - INSULIN RESISTANCE OR DIABETES
    Really.

    How many deaths are their each year in North America from people trying to obtain their max HR?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli
    I found this statement on base training on the roadbikereviews site. I think it's pretty excellent:

    Building fitness is about overload. You can overload with either intensity or volume. Base is about volume overload. Base training should consist of ramping up your miles significantly and decreasing your intensity. Most people do it wrong and decrease both their mileage and intensity and therefore get LESS fit, rather than more fit. The reason most people do this is that they are trying to employ a training system that is totally impractical unless you live in Southern California and do not have a job in the winter.

    Most people would be better off with hard intervals in the winter because they don't have the weather or daylight to do base training right.
    Hey Ponch,

    I agree with the first paragraph. But I would question "Hard Intervals" in the second paragraph. I guess it depends on total volume, and type of Hard Intervals. If these were "Hard Intervals" meaning 20min or longer sustained efforts, then yes, I would go with that. But shorter.. I would save for later.

    I use periodization, and will be doing plenty of 30min-1hr intervals this winter. They are grueling, depleting, and exhuasting, but not necessarily Intense (above threshold). After 2 months of long and steady intervals it is not easy crossing over to the more intense (race specific) interval work, but after a few weeks of speed intervals (30sec on/30sec off) I respond well to a block of 2-3min power intervals and usually see a noticable bump in perrformance. But first, I do beleive the motor needs to be built with long and steady... and the intensity/volume of which will depend on total training volume. Try to find a combination that will be as much as I can handle. Glycogen depletion seems to occur with this training, and I think that may be one of the driving stimuli in building the motor during base training.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli
    I found this statement on base training on the roadbikereviews site. I think it's pretty excellent:

    Building fitness is about overload. You can overload with either intensity or volume. Base is about volume overload. Base training should consist of ramping up your miles significantly and decreasing your intensity. Most people do it wrong and decrease both their mileage and intensity and therefore get LESS fit, rather than more fit. The reason most people do this is that they are trying to employ a training system that is totally impractical unless you live in Southern California and do not have a job in the winter.

    Most people would be better off with hard intervals in the winter because they don't have the weather or daylight to do base training right.
    I think your first statement is correct, but I don't necessarily agree with second.

    Through out the season what it takes to achieve overload changes. During the fall and winter most cyclist lose fitness. Usually a break from training, and other activities leads to a loss of form. When somebody starts training again they don't need to ride as long or as hard to achieve overload. As their fitness improves they need to alter the intensity and duration to continue to achieve an overload.

    The main challenge with the traditional base model is that as training progresses to achieve overload you have to do huge volumes. Volume amounts that are not achievable for a working cyclist.

    The average working racer is better off to add intensity instead of increasing volume to progress.

  38. #38
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    To add to LMN's post, I would also suggest that the fitness achieved through volume training does not really address the requirements of short XC races. The huge efforts and quick recovery demands are better addressed via intensity overload.
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    Quote Originally Posted by serious
    To add to LMN's post, I would also suggest that the fitness achieved through volume training does not really address the requirements of short XC races. The huge efforts and quick recovery demands are better addressed via intensity overload.
    If you are racing for more than a minute, it is primarily an endurance sport. Gains from intensity overload are relatively quickly attained, and are much more useful when done on a background of excellent aerobic fitness.

  40. #40
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    flargle If you are racing for more than a minute, it is primarily an endurance sport.

    So you train for anything longer than a minute the same way?

    I am not suggesting that you start intervals without establishing a decent fitness background. I am suggesting that you can maintain 90% of your fitness during winter with interval training. No need for base training unless you start from relatively low fitness.

    I can do 3-4 hour rides at the end of winter with no problems, but I would not waste my time dong them for 1.5 hour races.

    And when I do 3-4 hour rides in preparation for 8 hour solos, they are nothing like the base training we are discussing. They are done at my upper limit.
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  41. #41
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    Disguise winter intervals as CX racing... helps with the whole lack of motivation and mental burnout thing. :-D

    Did that last year for the first time and it definately helped maintain my fitness into this year's XC season and I just upped the volume from there. Definately doing it again this year with more CX racing and at a higher level.

    I've never "base trained." Mostly because I get bored and end up riding harder than I "should" when I've set out for an endurance or base ride. Never seemed to hurt me though. I just ride and keep pushing my body. When I don't have enough endurance for what I want to do, I just up the volume/duration of rides, but always continue to do overload, speed work, intervals, whatever you want to call it. I don't think I've ever done a "proper" set of intervals. I just ride as hard as I can until I can't feel my hands then rest until I can breath through my nose then do it again. I started wearing a HR monitor earlier this year and I liked just knowing where I was at, but I was always disspointed with the number when I was going my "hardest."

    Sorry if this is more personal data than this thread was intended for. I just thought it would supply a sort of "case study" of someone who's never "base trained" but still has good results ( Cat 1 *'s & |||'s ).
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    Quote Originally Posted by serious
    So you train for anything longer than a minute the same way?
    In base training, yes. Just to put it in specific terms, if racer A were targeting a marathon race six months from now and racer B were targeting a short-track race six months from now, and they had the same amount of time to train, I'd see no need to train them any differently.

    Of course, as the event drew closer, their training would diverge. That's the whole point of periodization, the trend from general to specific fitness. Peter Snell doing the Waiatarua run right alongside Barry Magee.

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    As an aside, let's clearly distinguish between what "works" and what is optimal. Any sort of training will "work", in the sense of getting a person reasonably fit and able to race. But look at the elites of racing, and they almost all follow some sort of periodized training plan, they don't just hack away at the same style interval training year-round.

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    Quote Originally Posted by serious
    flargle If you are racing for more than a minute, it is primarily an endurance sport.

    So you train for anything longer than a minute the same way?
    The Power Duration curve would indicate that to be true.

    Raise 1-hr power (threshold) and all durations will be lifted. Doing this with a periodized training plan has proven to be most effective. Build the motor (base/build training) then add specificity (intensity and address specific demands of the event). Specificity training does not take nearly as long as building the motor. After 6 or so weeks of intensity, many see a fast response in anaerobic performance.

    It just depends on how big you want the motor to be.. the bigger, the faster, up to the point of genetic maximum. What does it take to reach genetic max, and what are the goals.. most people will not reach potential, so a comprimise is made. Whatever makes one happy with their performance.

    Basically, the base/build will determine power, and specificity will add the final touches towards peaking power output, and specific performance requirements for the event.

    Endurance is about power, the more power at threshold, the better ones ability to maintain higher power outputs for extended durations.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by flargle
    In base training, yes. Just to put it in specific terms, if racer A were targeting a marathon race six months from now and racer B were targeting a short-track race six months from now, and they had the same amount of time to train, I'd see no need to train them any differently.

    Of course, as the event drew closer, their training would diverge. That's the whole point of periodization, the trend from general to specific fitness. Peter Snell doing the Waiatarua run right alongside Barry Magee.
    Good post, as your one following this.

    The problem with traditional base training is most people don't really understand it. If you head out for a long slow ride then you are just wasting your time. An aerobic capacity ride should be at a duration and intensity that will over load you.

    In other words if you don't find a 3hr ride hard, then you probably are not riding fast enough.

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by perryr
    The Power Duration curve would indicate that to be true.

    Raise 1-hr power (threshold) and all durations will be lifted. Doing this with a periodized training plan has proven to be most effective. Build the motor (base/build training) then add specificity (intensity and address specific demands of the event). Specificity training does not take nearly as long as building the motor. After 6 or so weeks of intensity, many see a fast response in anaerobic performance.
    But the response is quite often limited to 6 weeks. After another 6 weeks of training there is very limited gains.

    A good periodized program should allow an athlete to progress throughout the season and achieve a higher level of peak fitness.

    What works for 6 weeks does not necessarily work for 6 months.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flargle
    As an aside, let's clearly distinguish between what "works" and what is optimal. Any sort of training will "work", in the sense of getting a person reasonably fit and able to race. But look at the elites of racing, and they almost all follow some sort of periodized training plan, they don't just hack away at the same style interval training year-round.
    agree.

    i have done "base" in the past and have also skipped the LSD in base, but was still riding, with more intensity and intervals, but much less volume (about half). the results were similar, but I did feel burnt out MUCH earlier in the season without the LSD. 2 hour plus races, there was also more fade. base helps me with my overall endurance and it allows me to recharge.

    i like letting my fitness drop in fall and start building it up again. it let's my body and more importantly my MIND recharge. i do a little intensity in base, just not like in build - much less.

    overall, for me the two most important things are frequency and variety. ride often, but at varied efforts.

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    Here is an article that makes a very persuasive case for periodization and therefore "base training":
    http://sportsci.org/2009/ss.pdf

    Low intensity (typically below 2 mM blood
    lactate), longer duration training is effective
    in stimulating physiological adaptations and
    should not be viewed as wasted training time.

    The effects of HIT on physiology and per-
    formance are fairly rapid, but rapid plateau
    effects are seen as well. To avoid premature
    stagnation and ensure long-term develop-
    ment, training volume should increase sys-
    tematically as well.

    An established endurance base built from
    reasonably high volumes of training may be
    an important precondition for tolerating and
    responding well to a substantial increase in
    training intensity over the short term.

  49. #49
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    flargle: Of course, as the event drew closer, their training would diverge.

    Then why even mention what happens 6 months before? Can't you just accept that we don't need base training if we are already fit and stay fit through the winter?

    flargle: Here is an article that makes a very persuasive case for periodization and therefore "base training"

    Why do you keep associating periodization with base training? Periodization, as a concept is all about training in blocks of varying intensity, including a recovery block. Are you suggesting that the slow riding week (the recovery block) is base training?
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  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by serious
    flargle: Of course, as the event drew closer, their training would diverge.

    Then why even mention what happens 6 months before? Can't you just accept that we don't need base training if we are already fit and stay fit through the winter?

    flargle: Here is an article that makes a very persuasive case for periodization and therefore "base training"

    Why do you keep associating periodization with base training? Periodization, as a concept is all about training in blocks of varying intensity, including a recovery block. Are you suggesting that the slow riding week (the recovery block) is base training?
    Linear periodization is the division of training into blocks from high volume/low intensity to high intensity/low volume. The purpose of this is to keep the effects on physiology from becoming stagnate and reaching a plateau. If an athlete just does low intensity/high volume work (base training) they will plateau. In the same manner if an athlete solely does high intensity/low volume work (interval training) they will also plateau. The study that flargle posted shows that athletes need to have a plan to work from one end of the spectrum to the other so that in the long term they are constantly improving. If you read the study it does not discount high intensity/low volume work (interval training) on an already seasoned athlete. In fact it even discusses the rapid results shown on that group. However it also shows that with rapid results come rapid plateau and therefore recommends an 80:20 split between low intensity/high volume work(base training) and the high intensity/low volume work (interval training).
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    Thanks Yeti2424, I do understand and agree with all you wrote, but why equate low intensity training with base training?

    By definition, base training is an early strategy to build a fitness base. Once that is done, I no longer refer to any low intensity training as base training. I just call it low intensity, recovery period, easy block.

    But at least now I understand where flargle is coming from.
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    Quote Originally Posted by serious
    Why do you keep associating periodization with base training?
    The three paragraphs I quoted above give a rationale for why lower-intensity/high-volume training ("base training") precedes HIT training and why year-round HIT training is suboptimal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by serious
    Thanks Yeti2424, I do understand and agree with all you wrote, but why equate low intensity training with base training?

    By definition, base training is an early strategy to build a fitness base. Once that is done, I no longer refer to any low intensity training as base training. I just call it low intensity, recovery period, easy block.

    But at least now I understand where flargle is coming from.
    The original post was an article comparing traditional aerobic base training to high intensity interval training. From my understanding traditional aerobic base training is long miles at a sub maximal pace (low intensity/high volume). Generally most linear periodization macro-cycles I have seen seperate the base training and recovery cycles. They start with low intensity/high volume, then move on to moderate intensity/moderate volume, followed by high intensity, low volume, testing, and then finally with a de-load/recovery cycle of low volume/low intensity. The process is repeated using the results from the testing.
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  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by serious
    Thanks Yeti2424, I do understand and agree with all you wrote, but why equate low intensity training with base training?

    By definition, base training is an early strategy to build a fitness base. Once that is done, I no longer refer to any low intensity training as base training. I just call it low intensity, recovery period, easy block.

    But at least now I understand where flargle is coming from.
    Just because you are fit does not mean that you need to skip base training.

    Long steady miles are of value when they stress you. If your riding has been primarily short and high intensity then a long ride will be quite challenging. You will overload your aerobic system and force adaptation.

    It is the change of training stress that is of value. When you stress your body in a new way you get adaptation.

    As a coach I have tried skipping the base phase and had sub-par results. The athletes were fit and fast right away, they were spring time heroes but they didn't improve as the summer progressed. I find when as athlete get a good aerobic base through long steady rides they can progress throughout the season and reach a higher peak fitness.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN

    As a coach I have tried skipping the base phase and had sub-par results. The athletes were fit and fast right away, they were spring time heroes but they didn't improve as the summer progressed. I find when as athlete get a good aerobic base through long steady rides they can progress throughout the season and reach a higher peak fitness.
    that is pretty much exactly my experience.

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    flargle: The three paragraphs I quoted above give a rationale for why lower-intensity/high-volume training ("base training") precedes HIT training and why year-round HIT training is suboptimal.

    The OP quoted an article that gives a rationale why base training is not all that critical, so I need to consider that as well. So far, that article seems to make some sense. Maybe expert/elite riders need a bit more, but at my level ... it might be good enough. That is all I am saying.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    But the response is quite often limited to 6 weeks. After another 6 weeks of training there is very limited gains.
    Agreed.. but if I were aiming to peak for a single event, I would be good for it. Like you say, there is the rest of the season as well, and that really complicates things. If there is enough time between peak events, I can usually come back around to peak form.

    But to progressively build and perform well throughout the season requires a killer plan and an athlete that can stay with it.. not to mention a training history that well defines what they are capable of. The second half of the season is definitely the most challenging for me. Maintaining focus, keeping motivation high, definitely not easy finding the perfect mix of all the various things that go into a plan!!

  58. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    Really.

    How many deaths are their each year in North America from people trying to obtain their max HR?
    What about 6 cardiac events per every 10.000 tests (ACSM statistics)
    Sudden cardiac death occurs in 1 every 15.000.......

    I guess is not that much to you

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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    I have tested probably 100 cyclist in a graded test in a lab. In nearly every case max HR that the cyclist though they had was within a couple of beats of the one found in the lab. As I said someone who use an HR monitor regularly knows their max HR.
    I guess you only test elite athletes then.....ahem

    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    It has been found that in a trained athlete max HR does not drop with age. Which means the 220 minus your age approach is completely useless for a trained cyclist.
    Is that your empirical point of view or do you have scientific data to support that because as far as I know, HR GOES DOWN with age, trained or not.

    Cardiac output decrease with age and the decrease is a product of heart rate..... read about standard deviations....that explains why not everybody fit the 220-age and NOT because training negates the decrease

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    Quote Originally Posted by BBW
    What about 6 cardiac events per every 10.000 tests (ACSM statistics)
    Sudden cardiac death occurs in 1 every 15.000.......

    I guess is not that much to you
    I think you are mixing data sets here. The facts you are stating (I assume) are from people doing stress test under the eye of a physician. People who in all probability are looking for some sort of a problem and unfortunately in some cases find one.

    However most people, particularly those who post in a MTB forum on XC racing, face minimal risk of dieing from reaching max heart rate.

    Posting some thing in this forum in CAPITAL letters about the risk of dieing from a max HR test is nothing more than fear mongering.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BBW
    I guess you only test elite athletes then.....ahem

    Is that your empirical point of view or do you have scientific data to support that because as far as I know, HR GOES DOWN with age, trained or not.

    Cardiac output decrease with age and the decrease is a product of heart rate..... read about standard deviations....that explains why not everybody fit the 220-age and NOT because training negates the decrease
    My testing experience is definitely not limited to elite athlete. As I said anyone who had used an HR for a reasonable length of time had a pretty good idea of their max HR rate.

    It has been a long time since I read the study and I cannot find it on line right now. But what was found that among a trained athlete Cardiac output doesn't drop with age (I should say the rate of drop is greatly diminished).

    My experience matches this. My max HR is exactly the same as it was 15 years ago. Athletes who I coach who are in the their mid-40s have also not experienced a max HR.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    I think you are mixing data sets here. The facts you are stating (I assume) are from people doing stress test under the eye of a physician. People who in all probability are looking for some sort of a problem and unfortunately in some cases find one.

    However most people, particularly those who post in a MTB forum on XC racing, face minimal risk of dieing from reaching max heart rate.

    Posting some thing in this forum in CAPITAL letters about the risk of dieing from a max HR test is nothing more than fear mongering.
    Facts are from general population under supervision of nonphysician (trainer, exercise physiology,etc). That's why people with a high risk should do this supervised and the only reason I posted that was to make people aware; in other words, it doesn't hurt to know that there is a risk and the consequence is death. Not a very high incidence, true.. but real....
    Are you going to tell me that elite athletes don't die doing exercise? XC racers are not immune Althougth I prefer to take my chances exercising!!!

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    Sorry to revive this. I have just read a lecture concerning the latest facts about training science. A few athletes were controlled during a 11 days training period with 15 HIT-units (high intensity training) being included, for example 4 x 4mins with 90-95% heart freq. max. After each HIT-unit the VO2max capacity increased between 0,3-0,6%. This progress in this special 11 days training period can be compared to a period of 6 weeks training in a more "traditional" way.

    What does that mean?

    Well, one may think, base training is dead. But thatīs false. Though HIT-units create a fast progress it does not mean that ambitious endurance athletes (and I am just talking about these guys) just need to train a few mins each day HIT-programs. They would never reach a high competition level.

    All those of a high level need changing and specific training strains for further development: quite long base training to stand long lasting competitions (70% strain) and HIT-units, clever be done prior an important race. Just one training method means stagnation.

    But for sure there is no need to train these huge training quantities of the 70īs or 80īs, like marathon runners in the past doing stupid 250 k/week. The trend is to reduce this due to clever arranged training programs with more HIT-units. For example the best marathon runners actually from Kenia do 140-200 k/week max. I heard about some world class runners never doing more than 160 k and these 160 k only a few weeks prior important competitions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.SJ
    But for sure there is no need to train these huge training quantities of the 70īs or 80īs
    Todd Wells might disagree (Pro XCT (series) winner and US National XC Champ):
    Link to Todd's Base Training

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    Quote Originally Posted by BBW
    I guess you only test elite athletes then.....ahem



    Is that your empirical point of view or do you have scientific data to support that because as far as I know, HR GOES DOWN with age, trained or not.

    Cardiac output decrease with age and the decrease is a product of heart rate..... read about standard deviations....that explains why not everybody fit the 220-age and NOT because training negates the decrease
    You don't talk to many athletes in their 40's and 50's do you? My max HR hasn't dropped a bit since I first got a HRM 15 years ago in my mid 30's.

    The 220-age formula was based on data from heart attack patients taking stress tests after their heart attacks. Like a broken clock it works for some people, but any formula will work for somebody.

    http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Myth-O...-Age&id=678707

    MHR is kind of useless anyway, it's a lot more useful to know your Lactate Threshold Rate and also much safer to do the tests.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.SJ
    Sorry to revive this. I have just read a lecture concerning the latest facts about training science. A few athletes were controlled during a 11 days training period with 15 HIT-units (high intensity training) being included, for example 4 x 4mins with 90-95% heart freq. max. After each HIT-unit the VO2max capacity increased between 0,3-0,6%. This progress in this special 11 days training period can be compared to a period of 6 weeks training in a more "traditional" way.

    What does that mean?

    Well, one may think, base training is dead. But thatīs false. Though HIT-units create a fast progress it does not mean that ambitious endurance athletes (and I am just talking about these guys) just need to train a few mins each day HIT-programs. They would never reach a high competition level.

    All those of a high level need changing and specific training strains for further development: quite long base training to stand long lasting competitions (70% strain) and HIT-units, clever be done prior an important race. Just one training method means stagnation.

    But for sure there is no need to train these huge training quantities of the 70īs or 80īs, like marathon runners in the past doing stupid 250 k/week. The trend is to reduce this due to clever arranged training programs with more HIT-units. For example the best marathon runners actually from Kenia do 140-200 k/week max. I heard about some world class runners never doing more than 160 k and these 160 k only a few weeks prior important competitions.
    I agree, a foundation of solid base (aerobic) conditioning should be established by endurance athletes. This was my first year on the road bike and my first year adhering to a solid 3 month base training plan in the winter. I did my first race last spring with only base training (endurance-tempo zones) and was just as fast as as previous year when pounding out the intervals. After the base was built I added in the intervals and peaked which gave me a 1st place in sport class (first time ever). So...base+higher abilities=faster than you were with a poorly planned out season. My 2cents
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    Quote Originally Posted by perryr
    Todd Wells might disagree (Pro XCT (series) winner and US National XC Champ):
    Link to Todd's Base Training
    Thomas Frischknecht, MTB Marathon World Champ, "only" 12-16 hours/week in the winter, 15-20 hours/week in the summer. Sounds better than 35 hours/week...

    To avoid misunderstandings: It really depends on what you are doing. Training for marathon runners is different compared to that of an ultra distance cyclist, who sits perhaps 12 hours on a saddle.


    Isnīt it clever to save time with more effective programs, if you can reach the same level with them (or even better)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.SJ
    Thomas Frischknecht, MTB Marathon World Champ, "only" 12-16 hours/week in the winter, 15-20 hours/week in the summer. Sounds better than 35 hours/week...
    Thomas has been a pro for 20 years! He's 40, I bet he doesn't (shouldn't) do the 20+ hr weeks of a euro pro. But don't think for a minute that he didn't (hasn't).

    Giant volumes of LSD is still quite popular, but not necessarily required. It depends on the events, race schedule, length of season.. and what works best for the athlete. But regardless, I bet all successfull pros go through a period of establishing base that is in one way or another "a really big workload".

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    Quote Originally Posted by perryr
    Thomas has been a pro for 20 years! He's 40, I bet he doesn't (shouldn't) do the 20+ hr weeks of a euro pro. But don't think for a minute that he didn't (hasn't).

    Giant volumes of LSD is still quite popular, but not necessarily required. It depends on the events, race schedule, length of season.. and what works best for the athlete. But regardless, I bet all successfull pros go through a period of establishing base that is in one way or another "a really big workload".
    You are right. Thatīs what I tried to say somehow, obviously I have been too clumsy. As you wrote, giant volumes of base training are still popular (obviously creating a great effect), but arenīt necessarily required (because other methods also work).

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    It is a bit ridiculous to keep referring to pros when talking about training. Pros have the time and the genetic make up to spend all kinds of hours on a bike. Pros need base training, even if for no other reason but to cover all bases.

    The question is how important is base training for the average person with a job, with limited time and with less than ideal genetics. Clearly it is not as important as staying in shape during the off-season and doing 1-2 hard workouts per week based on short interval sessions. If this is not obvious from the studies done out there, then you guys are missing the point.
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    As I think, the general, modern training principles fit to every person, only performed in a shortened way.

    All riders with limited time or the strong will to put a limit into their training time for good reasons (me too), may think about replacing some sessions on bike with a hill-run.

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    The training people do is usually a direct function of how much time they have, as that time goes down intensity has to go up....no way around it. The question then becomes, how do you modify this training later in the season?

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    Quote Originally Posted by perryr
    Todd Wells might disagree (Pro XCT (series) winner and US National XC Champ):
    Link to Todd's Base Training
    This week I'll hopefully log in 35 hours at a very steady pace that is about as hard as I can ride after the 5 weeks leading up to this week

    35 hours?! Jesus! I can barely scrape elite cat on 4 hours a week training, no wonder these guys fly off the front like they have engines!

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    Quote Originally Posted by serious
    It is a bit ridiculous to keep referring to pros when talking about training.
    I don't think many here are planning to emulate a Pro's training plan. But most everyone here is trying to put together a plan to reach peak fitness. If you want peak fitness, then do what the fastest guys do. Problem is time, energy and age, so most of us have to make a comprimise.. and whats debateable is how to compose that comprimise.

    IMO opinion the base period is about conditioning the body to handle a maximum workload. When race season starts are we gonna have the fitness to rock and the capacity to continue training and racing at our best level for several months. Whats it take to build that capacity? Definitely a ton of work, but figuring out what that ton of work should consist of is an endless debate!

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    I fully agree. After trying both intervals and L.S.D. (no pun intended), it was LSD that allowed me to make the transition from being dominant in Cat 2 to being competitive in Cat 1. Without putting in the base miles, I simply wasn't ready for riding at intensity over the usually 50% greater distance in XC races.

    I'd also like to make note of the psychological effects of high intensity. If you really think you can go hard enough for the required number of hours per week to make up for a lack of good burn in 3-5 hour rides, I believe that you'll burn out pretty quickly.

    Base, Build, Peak is what has always worked.


    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    Good post, as your one following this.

    The problem with traditional base training is most people don't really understand it. If you head out for a long slow ride then you are just wasting your time. An aerobic capacity ride should be at a duration and intensity that will over load you.

    In other words if you don't find a 3hr ride hard, then you probably are not riding fast enough.

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    The factor that most "weekend warriors" don't consider this time of year is actually obtaining week to week overload.

    The training that my wife and I came up with to increase our annual adaptation required a modified work schedule so that we could get a 3 hr training ride mid week.

    If you end load your weeks and cannot get enough volume mid week to carry enough stress to force adaptation, then your gains using the lowER intensity Base building period will be severely limited.
    Try to be good.

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    We also must keep in mind a lot of this high volume training is to reduce body weight (fat and upper body muscle).

    A big part of the early season is to get the body weight down to "around" race weight. For most, this can only be achieved with big volume and not a lot of eating. I hate to bring up Lance examples, but in the early season he does (did) a lot of 4-6 hour rides over lunch time of the day so he would "eat lunch" on the bike opposed to being home for lunch.

    It is very difficult to get your mass down without ridiculous volumes for a lot of people. Some people are naturally light, but most struggle - even the pros.

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    Maybe I've just been hitting the power meter KoolAid a bit too hard but I find it hard to even discuss base training or periodization without using the Performance Manager concepts.

    Base Training means slowly and steadily building your chronic training load (CTL). You can achieve this with lots of 6 hr LSD rides or with 2hr tempo rides or with 1 hr threshold intervals. But the question is what level of intensity allows you to efficiently and consistently build your CTL week after week without causing a peak/plateau/burnout. I've found that doing a mix of endurance, tempo and threshold work can be maintained indefinitely and you can throw in 2-a-days to bump up the stress as the base season goes on.

    I've had good results by simply focussing on CTL building. During the week this means regularly measuring/training my tempo and threshold power (the so called "Sweet Spot" as you can quickly rack up training stress but can recover from it easily). On the weekends, this means long days.

    Doing anything higher intensity requires too much recovery and eventually leads to a reduction in overall stress but an increase in form - peaking in essence. You simply can't sustainably increase your CTL by doing VO2Max or anaerobic intervals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by perrygeo
    Base Training means slowly and steadily building your chronic training load (CTL). You can achieve this with lots of 6 hr LSD rides or with 2hr tempo rides or with 1 hr threshold intervals. But the question is what level of intensity allows you to efficiently and consistently build your CTL week after week without causing a peak/plateau/burnout.
    Put my own way: If you keep your training loads/stress going strong during the off-season, you'll have a strong foundation come Spring.

    I would add: If you keep your training loads/stress going strong during the off-season, you'll be achieving what most amateurs don't do during the winter. In my experience, most amateurs training load goes down in the winter (sometimes because they're on the bike about the same number of hours but the intensities are lower--or, just because they're on the bike less hours.) Keep it going (without burning out--and in fact, while becoming more fresh) is the key.
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    Ok, we all see a need of hard training to get fit in the race season. And we all know, that there are several ways to achieve this level and that some people obviously donīt work for it as much as others have to do (lucky guys!).

    For me the question is: Is it possible to stay away from giant volumes of training hours/kilometers, but getting almost the same level, just with another training program?

    I think so. Base training is important, but instead of summing up lots of kilometers day after day with base training especially in the winter it also works to do perhaps one or two long units/week with base training intensity/duration (to imitate the needed race time); this will cause a training effect due to the duration/quantity. But all the other units have to be done with more quality and a little bit faster than usual (80% heart rate freq.). Also two hard units in the winter >90%. In the summer prior race day the last weeks only need to be done with higher volume and more and harder Hit-units. This saves time and is effective.This method explains, why some world class marathon runners do only 140k - 200k with the same good results like those doing 250k.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.SJ
    For me the question is: Is it possible to stay away from giant volumes of training hours/kilometers, but getting almost the same level, just with another training program?
    I'll keep coming back to the performance manager concept of chronic training load (CTL). There is a substantial body of evidence that CTL is a highly correlated with your preparedness to race and take on higher-intensity work. It is, in a very real sense, your base - the long-term training stress you've become accustomed to.

    Now the units may not mean anything to you here but lets just say that 100 training stress score (TSS) = 1 hour maximal time trial. The conventional wisdom is that a CTL of 90 TSS/day is a good base for a top amateur rider to begin racing and high-intensity work. That means 630 TSS per week - and there are many ways to achieve this:

    At the following intensities, here is approximately how many hours per week you'll need to put in to achieve that level of training stress.

    Zone 1: Easy/Slow riding: 32 hours
    Zone 2: Endurance/Base miles: 15 hours
    Zone 3: Tempo: 9.5 hrs
    Zone 4: Threshold/TT pace: 6.5 hrs
    Zone 5: VO2Max intervals: 5 hrs
    Zone 6: Anaerobic: 3.3 hrs
    Zone 7: All-out sprint: 1.5 hrs

    For Zone 5 and above, that volume of work is simply not sustainable. For example, when you go out and do a Zone 5 workout, putting in 30 minutes at that intensity is a big big effort - it is not possible to repeat that 6 days a week to rack up the overall training stress.

    On the other end of the spectrum, who has 20+ hours a week to train? And who has enough daylight and good weather in the dead of winter to put in hours a day? And even if you did, how well does that low-intensity riding overload your body and prepare you? After a while you'll just get good at riding slowly.

    So in the middle we have the "Sweet Spot", Zones 3 and 4, which give us a good dose of training stress in a reasonable amount of time but can repeated day after day. Moreover, that moderate intensity targets some important physiological systems that easier riding just cant get.



    Of course you can throw in some long rides if you need to and if your schedule and the weather allow it. And you can throw in the occasional high-intensity workout. But the bread and butter is Zones 3 and 4 - the sweet spot - to maximize base training.

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    Excellent contribution perrygeo. This can be a confusing topic but I think you've explained it as clearly as is possible.

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    +1 on PerryGeo's post.

    Another idea here is that most elite runners do "doubles" during their base training to increase overall mileage without doing too many runs over 10 miles. When you reach a certain level of fitness, you can recover during the day from an AM 5 mile run, and then do another after work, putting in 10-12 miles on just an average, relatively easy day.

    This fits in with the CTL building idea, and is one of the reasons I try to bike commute year-round, even if it is only 6km each way when I take the direct route.

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    matt (perrygeo) knows what he is talking about. great post matt. hope maybe i get to see you at some point this year. miss racing with you bud!
    Try to be good.

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    Perrygeo

    Thank you, splendid.

    If I understand this schedule in a right way, it is possible to save time with

    - shorter, but more intense training than usual, but also without too hard units during preparation time in the winter (= Zone 3,4)
    . in the summer some longer rides, if needed, and also some sessions in Zone 5+. Correct?

    What does Zone 3 or 4 mean translated into heart rate frequency?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails
    Excellent contribution perrygeo. This can be a confusing topic but I think you've explained it as clearly as is possible.
    +1,000

    excellent post perry

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    Quote Originally Posted by perrygeo
    But the bread and butter is Zones 3 and 4 - the sweet spot - to maximize base training.

    I don't think you can make a blanket statement like that. If you have only 8hrs a week to train then that may be true (I don't think it is).

    If you are starting your base training right now and race season is April to July, then focusing on Zones 3 and 4 for the base period is going to mean that you are pretty quick in January and maybe faster in February but in all likelihood you will stop improving at that point. Most will actually start to slow down. I would expect only a small percentage of people who followed such a plan to actually race in June and July.

    The problem with higher intensities is they are hard and take a lot of mental focus to get the most out of them. Most people cannot sustain the mental intensity required to train at those intensities for months/years on end.

    The other issue is in order to keep improving you have to change training stimuli. After a month or two of zone 3/4 training you are not going to get much more. Doing those intensity zones early makes it hard change stimuli and be doing race specific workouts as the season gets near.

    Too many people focus on the 20hr mark. Base weeks of 20+ are for people who have been training for years and have the time to recover and train. Most of us, myself included, would be unable to handle a 20hr+ workload week after week even if we didn't work.

    A good safe "base training" plan would be something like:

    Monday: OFF
    Tuesday: 1-2hr steady MTB ride
    Wednesday: 2 - 2.5hr road ride.
    Thursday: 1.5hr fun group ride.
    Friday: OFF
    Saturday: 3hr MTB ride
    Sunday: 3hr road ride

    Total time about 12hrs

    Do that week in week out for the next three months. Mix the load by choosing harder and easier routes. Then in March/April add some structured intensity and you will have a great season.


    With my athletes this year I am doing thing a little bit different. We are actually starting with a four-week MAP block and then shifting to do some massive base work.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    The problem with higher intensities is they are hard and take a lot of mental focus to get the most out of them. Most people cannot sustain the mental intensity required to train at those intensities for months/years on end.

    The other issue is in order to keep improving you have to change training stimuli. After a month or two of zone 3/4 training you are not going to get much more. Doing those intensity zones early makes it hard change stimuli and be doing race specific workouts as the season gets near.
    I mostly agree with perrygeo that doing zone3/4 for most of the off-season probably would likely create a solid aerobic base, but it would also be very mentally taxing for most people (and it may neglect other needs), so in that sense, I also agree with LMN.

    Having a successful off-season can be a tricky balance--balancing the need to get a strong aerobic base with other needs, in particular, the need to have some mentally refreshing time, and to remain motivated deep into the season.

    One possible way to have a strong winter, but avoid burnout in early season is to have a decent sized "break" in early spring or late winter--a week or two off followed by a week or two of mostly fun/easy riding. I did that with one rider (it was hard for him, because he was anxious to get out and race) but it worked wonders and he had a very long and successful season, even winning his state champ in August.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    We are actually starting with a four-week MAP block and then shifting to do some massive base work.
    Care to elaborate on the reasoning behind this? It seems interesting.
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    Quote Originally Posted by millennium
    One possible way to have a strong winter, but avoid burnout in early season is to have a decent sized "break" in early spring or late winter--a week or two off followed by a week or two of mostly fun/easy riding..
    Basically, what you're donig is incoprporating a transition period right before the start of racing season. I was actually thinking of trying something similar this year. The point being to give the body and mind a rest before the most taxing part of the year. I suspect this will help me stay focused later in the season (last month or so when I usually lack motivation).

    My plan was to peak very early in the season (aiming for 2nd race) then get back to transition and base for a 2nd peak in the last races of the season. I think it might be a good idea even though the initial peak might not yield results because of lack of proper races to get in racing mode mentally.
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  91. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by PissedOffCil
    Care to elaborate on the reasoning behind this? It seems interesting.
    For an elite level athlete MAP is the big one in MTB racing. It can be argued that a 6 minute all out effort is the best predictor of performance.

    With this in mind I want to hit MAP twice this year. Hitting it at the beginning of training should produce some rapid initial gains. As the rate of improvement levels off I will switch the stimuli to aerobic capacity work for a couple of months. During this time I expect their MAP will either drop slightly, stay the same or improve (I suspect it will be the later); either way they will finish their base with higher MAP then normal.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  92. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    For an elite level athlete MAP is the big one in MTB racing. It can be argued that a 6 minute all out effort is the best predictor of performance.

    With this in mind I want to hit MAP twice this year. Hitting it at the beginning of training should produce some rapid initial gains. As the rate of improvement levels off I will switch the stimuli to aerobic capacity work for a couple of months. During this time I expect their MAP will either drop slightly, stay the same or improve (I suspect it will be the later); either way they will finish their base with higher MAP then normal.
    Honestly, I would expect it to drop.

    I read something recently about an athlete which did MAP related intervals for a couple of weeks and saw big improvements. After a gain of 8-10% (and plateau) he reverted to his usual training and it only took a couple of weeks before his MAP reached the level it was at before the MAP specific intervals period.

    Just saying, not that it applies to everybody or that your base couldn't incorporate some workouts specific to maintaining the higher MAP, but in general peak fitness drops quickly and endurance last for a lot longer. If you just revert to LSD after a period of MAP specific workouts, I would expect the MAP to drop fairly quickly.

    What would you include in you base following the MAP period?
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  93. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by perrygeo
    The conventional wisdom is that a CTL of 90 TSS/day is a good base for a top amateur rider to begin racing and high-intensity work. That means 630 TSS per week - and there are many ways to achieve this:

    At the following intensities, here is approximately how many hours per week you'll need to put in to achieve that level of training stress.

    Zone 1: Easy/Slow riding: 32 hours
    Zone 2: Endurance/Base miles: 15 hours
    Zone 3: Tempo: 9.5 hrs
    Zone 4: Threshold/TT pace: 6.5 hrs
    Zone 5: VO2Max intervals: 5 hrs
    Zone 6: Anaerobic: 3.3 hrs
    Zone 7: All-out sprint: 1.5 hrs
    Excellent post, Performance manager Rocks! I have close to 4years data in my PMC and it is amazing what I can uncover as far as what works best (for me).

    To add a bit more.. lets assume a CTL of 90 is the goal, and rider is currently at a CTL of 60.. (riding along and trying to keep some basic fitness). To grow to 90, the rider will need to progressively increase the daily TSS, while at the same time recovering and adapting to keep building the load. Lets use a 3-week build, 1-week rest cycle.

    Week 1, Build, 75 TSS/day, 525TSS/wk
    Week 2, Build 90 TSS/Day, 630TSS/wk
    Week 3, Build, 105 TSS/Day, 735TSS/wk
    Week 4, Rest, 60TSS/day, 420TSS/wk
    CTL is now 70TSS/day, ramp rate was 2,4,6,-2
    Next Cycle, 90TSS/day, 105, 115, 60, CTL now 80TSS/day
    Next Cycle 105, 115, 125, 60, CTL now 90TSS/day

    That took 3months of progressive build with sturdy ramp rates to reach 90TSS/day. TSB rarely goes positive. The last cycle concluded with a week @ 125TSS/day, or 875TSS. For myself, a 875TSS week would consist of time spent in zones as follows:
    Z1 - 3h
    Z2 - 5.5h
    Z3 - 2.0h
    Z4 - 2h15m
    Z5 - 45min
    Z6 - 30min
    Total 14h

    In a nutshell, 90TSS/day doesn't seem so ominous.. but when you figure out how to get there.. its a pretty big job. And really, 90TSS/day isn't a very high CTL, many try to break 100, and many spend plenty of time @120+. Plus you have to factor missed workouts, illness, etc..

    And to add salt to the wounds, as CTL rises we would hope power would be improving. As power imporves, zones are recalculated and the avg power to achieve 1TSS point just increased. More work to generate the same TSS. Base building is a big job.. even at lower volumes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    If you are starting your base training right now and race season is April to July, then focusing on Zones 3 and 4 for the base period is going to mean that you are pretty quick in January and maybe faster in February but in all likelihood you will stop improving at that point.
    That has been my experience.

  95. #95
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    Quote Originally Posted by PissedOffCil
    Honestly, I would expect it to drop.

    I read something recently about an athlete which did MAP related intervals for a couple of weeks and saw big improvements. After a gain of 8-10% (and plateau) he reverted to his usual training and it only took a couple of weeks before his MAP reached the level it was at before the MAP specific intervals period.

    Just saying, not that it applies to everybody or that your base couldn't incorporate some workouts specific to maintaining the higher MAP, but in general peak fitness drops quickly and endurance last for a lot longer. If you just revert to LSD after a period of MAP specific workouts, I would expect the MAP to drop fairly quickly.

    What would you include in you base following the MAP period?

    I know where you are coming from.

    Except over the past couple of years when I have done a traditional base period I have noticed with my athletes a significant improvement in MAP power from start to finish. Really this makes sense. MAP is maximum aerobic power, a base period focuses on the aerobic system. There should be an increase in MAP power.

    Plus a MAP block at the start of training will not achieve peak fitness, no where near actually.

    Generally, even during a base period I do maintenance intervals. Intensity, never stops, it is the volume of intensity that changes.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

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    Most people don't have sense enough to take any time off. You will find them feverishly hammering away on their trainers all winter. They essential maintain roughly the same condition year round ...including the chronic tight hip flexors, IT band and associated low back pain.

    Maybe base training should changed to be 4 weeks dedicated to massages, stretching and learning how to work on your own bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GlazedHam
    Most people don't have sense enough to take any time off. You will find them feverishly hammering away on their trainers all winter. They essential maintain roughly the same condition year round
    Thatīs pretty true. As LMN also said, thereīs a need of giving your body different training stimuli to avoid stagnation (even on a high level). Quite relaxed weeks in between will also help to benefit from a proper regeneration. I have good experiences with having a break after a good form in spring to start again in the early summer to get into peak form in late summer/early autumn.

    Last race season was quite good, but now I want to try out sthg. new. I strongly feel attracted to reduce training time (wife, children, sense of training) and therefore I will put more quality/speed in my units during the winter months, cutting off long units down to just one quite long unit per week. Only a few weeks prior a race I will enlarge the volume/HIT-units. I will see, how it works.

  98. #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    Generally, even during a base period I do maintenance intervals. Intensity, never stops, it is the volume of intensity that changes.
    This is certainly the reason behind what you experienced and precisely what' I'll be trying out this winter on myself. I like being my own lab rat!!!
    Check out my SportTracks plugins for some training aid software.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PissedOffCil
    This is certainly the reason behind what you experienced and precisely what' I'll be trying out this winter on myself. I like being my own lab rat!!!

    LMN has a few lab rats to play with. The one in the US is looking to step higher onto the podium next year.
    Try to be good.

  100. #100
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    Thats the beauty of endurance sports

    Quote Originally Posted by whybotherme
    LMN has a few lab rats to play with. The one in the US is looking to step higher onto the podium next year.
    everyone is a lab rat, because the bodies are diferent and react accordingly. Many factors to consider. Is about 75% science 25% magic.

    We too are going for a higher podiums next year, take no prisoners this is war.

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