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

Author

Jack Hain of Optimum Performance Coaching

Length

12 Weeks

Typical Week

5 Bike, 2 Strength

Longest Workout

4:00 hrs

Plan Specs

cycling road cycling beginner intermediate advanced masters weightloss power based hr based strength base period

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Summary

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

Stats

Training Load By Week
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours: 10:08

Back to Plan Details

Sample Day 1

1:00:00
Endurance

8 minutes in Zone 1.

Zone 2:
1 minute right leg only (nice and easy-keep left clipped it but just “along for the ride”. Focus on engaging hip flexors and hamstrings on the upstroke)
1 minute easy
1 minute left leg only (keep left clipped it but just “along for the ride”)
5 minutes.
1 minute high cadence should not go above Zone 2. Ride at the highest cadence you can without bouncing in your saddle. Keep it as smooth and efficient as possible.
2 minute easy spin.
5 minutes slow build from Zone 2 to Zone 5.
2 minutes Zone 1.

Spend the rest of the ride in Zone 2 with the last 10 minutes in Zone 1.

Sample Day 2

1:00:00
30 Minute Test

This test is very important. Do not skip it if you want this plan to be effective. It will determine your power/heart rate zones, which you will use as a guide until your next 30 minute test in 4 weeks.

Your average power in this TT is your approximate threshold. Use these numbers as a guide the upcoming block of training (until your next power test in week 4). Your average heart rate for the last 20 minutes of this test is your approximate threshold heart rate until the next 30 minute TT.

Power Zones:
Zone 1: <55% threshold power.
Zone 2: 55%-75% threshold power.
Zone 3: 75%-90% threshold power.
Zone 4: 90%-105% threshold power.
Zone 5: 105%-120% threshold power.
Zone 6: 120%+ threshold power.

Heart Rate Zones:
Zone 1 Less than 81% of threshold HR.
Zone 2 81% to 89% of threshold HR.
Zone 3 90% to 93% of threshold HR.
Zone 4 94% to 102% of threshold HT.
Zone 5 103% to 106% of LTHR
Zone 6 more than 106% of LTHR

Remember, your heart is slow to react, while power is immediate. Your heart rate should "float up" to these zones in a delayed manner when compared to power. Don't expect it to happen immediately. Your HR should be moving into the desired zone by the time you are 25% in to a given interval.

The Time Trial Layout:

10 minutes <55% threshold

At 55-75% threshold:
1 minute right leg only (nice and easy-keep left clipped it but just “along for the ride”. Focus on engaging hip flexors and hamstrings on the upstroke)
1 minute easy
1 minute left leg only (keep left clipped it but just “along for the ride”)
5 minutes
1 minute high cadence at less than 75% threshold power - ride at the highest cadence you can without bouncing in your saddle. Keep it as smooth and efficient as possible.
2 minute easy spin
5 minutes slow build from 75% to threshold power
5 minutes easy

30 minute time trial. Do this in an area with little to no stopsigns or stoplights. You want it to be uninterrupted. For the first 7.5 minutes, keep your power about 3% lower than you think you can maintain for the full 30 minutes. The middle fifteen minutes should be done at goal power output. During the last 7.5, you should empty the tank.

Spin easy to recover from the effort then finish the rest of the ride in the 55-75% threshold power ,with the last 10 minutes less than 55% threshold power to cool down.

Sample Day 3

1:00:00
Force Reps+Endurance

8 minutes in Zone 1.

Zone 2:
1 minute right leg only (nice and easy-keep left clipped it but just “along for the ride”. Focus on engaging hip flexors and hamstrings on the upstroke)
1 minute easy
1 minute left leg only (keep left clipped it but just “along for the ride”)
5 minutes.
1 minute high cadence should not go above Zone 2. Ride at the highest cadence you can without bouncing in your saddle. Keep it as smooth and efficient as possible.
2 minute easy spin.
5 minutes slow build from Zone 2 to Zone 5.
2 minutes Zone 1.

3x5 second low cadence sprints. Start around 30 RPMs then spin up as hard as you can. Make sure to engage core, keeping your back flat (don't let it round too much). 2-3 minute easy spin recoveries in between. If you feel any pain in your back or knees, skip this part.

Spend the rest of the ride in the Zone 2 with the last 10 minutes in Zone 1.

Sample Day 4

0:30:00
Core

Feel free to shoot me an email for a core routine. I have several and, ideally, you should switch up your routine every 1-2 months.

If you would like to, you can do core 3+ times per week, especially if you have back/knee issues.

Sample Day 5

1:00:00
Endurance+High Cadence

8 minutes in Zone 1.

Zone 2:
1 minute right leg only (nice and easy-keep left clipped it but just “along for the ride”. Focus on engaging hip flexors and hamstrings on the upstroke)
1 minute easy
1 minute left leg only (keep left clipped it but just “along for the ride”)
5 minutes.
1 minute high cadence should not go above Zone 2. Ride at the highest cadence you can without bouncing in your saddle. Keep it as smooth and efficient as possible.
2 minute easy spin.
5 minutes slow build from Zone 2 to Zone 5.
2 minutes Zone 1.

3x30 seconds high cadence with 30 second easy spin recoveries.. Work your cadence up until you're bouncing around in your saddle then back off to the highest cadence you can maintain without bouncing. The goal is to work your way up to 140+ RPMs. Keep your power in Zone 1 power during these intervals.

Spend the rest of the ride in the Zone 2 with the last 10 minutes in Zone 1.

Sample Day 6

1:30:00
Endurance

8 minutes in Zone 1.

Zone 2:
1 minute right leg only (nice and easy-keep left clipped it but just “along for the ride”. Focus on engaging hip flexors and hamstrings on the upstroke)
1 minute easy
1 minute left leg only (keep left clipped it but just “along for the ride”)
5 minutes.
1 minute high cadence should not go above Zone 2. Ride at the highest cadence you can without bouncing in your saddle. Keep it as smooth and efficient as possible.
2 minute easy spin.
5 minutes slow build from Zone 2 to Zone 5.
2 minutes Zone 1.

Spend the rest of the ride in the Zone 2 with the last 10 minutes in Zone 1.

Sample Day 7

2:00:00
Force Reps+Endurance

8 minutes in Zone 1.

Zone 2:
1 minute right leg only (nice and easy-keep left clipped it but just “along for the ride”. Focus on engaging hip flexors and hamstrings on the upstroke)
1 minute easy
1 minute left leg only (keep left clipped it but just “along for the ride”)
5 minutes.
1 minute high cadence should not go above Zone 2. Ride at the highest cadence you can without bouncing in your saddle. Keep it as smooth and efficient as possible.
2 minute easy spin.
5 minutes slow build from Zone 2 to Zone 5.
2 minutes Zone 1.

3x5 second seated low cadence sprints. Start around 30 RPMs then spin up as hard as you can. Make sure to engage core. 2-3 minute easy spin recoveries in between.

Spend the rest of the ride in Zone 2 with the last 10 minutes less than Zone 1.

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

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