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Winter Base Training: Build Your Aerobic Engine - 8-12 hours/week

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Winter Base Training: Build Your Aerobic Engine - 8-12 hours/week


Jack Hain of Optimum Performance Coaching


12 Weeks

Plan Description

This is a 12 week plan designed to build your aerobic base. I highly recommend following it up with "Crit, Road Race, TT All-Rounder Build and Taper (6-10.5 hours/week)" if you want to build race specific fitness on top of the aerobic base this plan will help you build.

For many riders, it's enticing to ride hard year round. However, by doing this, you are limiting your long term development and compromising your body's ability to reach new levels of power production during the season. Being patient here is key to having a successful season.

This is because building your aerobic base allows you to:
-Complete a higher volume of high intensity training after Base, which will increase your power at threshold and V02 max.
-Optimize your body composition by increasing your fat burning capacity.
-Increase your ability to recover quickly from hard rides during the season.
-Allow you to do more total work during the season, leading to continual improvement.
-Allow you to ride further into the season without burning out.

A few important notes:
-On endurance (Zone 2) and tempo (Zone 3) intervals, pay attention to your heart rate. If your heart rate is drifting above the prescribed zone and it gets significantly harder to maintain your power output, use heart rate to determine how hard you go.
For Reference:
Power <55% threshold = Zone 1 = Less than 81% of LTHR (Threshold Heart rate)
Power between 55-75% threshold = Zone 2 = 81% to 89% of LTHR
Power between 75-90% threshold = Zone 3 = 90% to 93% of LTHR
Power between 90-105% threshold = Zone 4 = 94% to 99% of LTHR
Power between 105-120% threshold = Zone 5a 100% to 102% of LTHR
Power between 120-150% threshold = Zone 5b = 103% to 106% of LTHR
Power > 150% threshold = Zone 5c More than 106% of LTHR
It's ok if this means your power drifts below the prescribed zone while your heart rate is in the prescribed zone. This is called cardiac drift and means that you need to let your power slip to build your aerobic base effectively. Letting your heart rate continue to climb will overtax your aerobic system and will prevent you from maximizing your training adaptations.

-Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you have, if you find anything confusing, or you find typos. I'm here to help.

Technical Notes on what this plan does:
-Begin to increase mitochondrial density. It is believed within the scientific community that building your aerobic base increases the number of mitochondria, while building anaerobic fitness increases the size of your mitochondria. Developing a larger number of mitochondria before working on building the size means greater power production during the season.
-Increase blood plasma volume. This decreases the viscosity of your blood, increasing efficiency. This is something you will continue to improve through V02 max training once the season begins.
-Increase power production at your lactate threshold, especially after you integrate focused V02 max training later in the season.
-Increase your muscle glycogen stores. This allows you to store more carbohydrates in your muscles and liver as fuel. In other words, it increases the number of "matches" you have to burn, which leads to greater power production and an enhanced ability to attack and respond to attacks multiple times during races. Again, you will see the effects of this after a few weeks of V02 max training/racing after completion of this plan.
-Begin the process of slow twitch muscle hypertrophy. This increases your fat burning capacity and conserves muscle glycogen to attack and respond to attacks. This is pertinent to finishing strong in races.
-Increased muscle capillarization. This increases power output by allowing your body to transport a greater quantity of nutrients to your muscles while clearing out toxic byproducts caused by exercise.
-Interconversion of type IIb to IIa muscle fibers. This results in increased fat burning ability.
-Increased heart stroke volume. This allows you to pum

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Training Plan Sample Week


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
Bike x5
09:16:00 04:00:00
Strength x2
00:52:00 00:30:00
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
09:16:00 04:00:00
00:52:00 00:30:00

Training Load By Week

This plan works best with the following fitness devices:

  • Power Meter
  • Heart Rate Monitor

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