It’s the Off-Season. Time off from events means it’s Base Builder time.
Base Training, or Base Builder as we call it, is the theme for this time of year. Despite the common theme, everyone has a slight variation on what base training entails. However the overall theme is the same: to put in the training time to build fitness, from general to specific, before your next racing season.
Autumn and Winter is the time of the year most endurance athletes commonly associate with base training. At this time of year, we’re several months away from race season and it’s time to build our general fitness. With general fitness intact, you’re better able to handle the more demanding loads of race specific fitness that follows. General Fitness to us means the least race specific fitness. Since racing is a ways off, we can spend time on areas that either get neglected or we simply can’t afford to train when in the midst of racing season.
The Energy System Chain-Link Model
We think of fitness as links in a chain. One end of the chain is very low intensity (your all-day riding pace); and the other end of the chain is very high intensity (your 1 rep max anaerobic strength). The two ends of the chain are then connected by all the energy systems that lie in between. From high to low, these include: power movements in the gym, Peak Power on the bike, Anaerobic Power, Vo2 Max, Anaerobic Threshold, “Sweet Spot”, Aerobic Threshold, and Aerobic Endurance.
When we begin to build our base fitness for racing a bicycle we begin by training the outer most links (the least race specific). For example, we first focus on the two far ends of the energy system chain: peak movement strength (ie. weight lifting) and aerobic endurance. After that, from these two “ends” of the energy system chain we move progressively inward as we build base fitness. As a result, we progressively move towards the more race specific energy systems in the middle of the chain.
Strength & Mobility
On one end of the energy system chain is movement strength. We spend time gradually building peak movement strength by progressively lifting heavier and heavier weights. In our program, the focus is specifically on the squat and the deadlift movements as they pertain to both knee and hip extension similar to cycling. After a period of peak strength has been achieved, we progress to power production. In other words, producing high levels of force quickly, through lighter loads and faster movements.
Simultaneously, on the other end of the energy system chain we focus on aerobic conditioning. Here we build progressively through the aerobic energy systems. Including Aerobic Threshold & Aerobic Strength systems, Anaerobic Threshold, Vo2 Max and Anaerobic Power energy systems. It is finally here near the end of Base Builder that the two ends finally meet for some A-lactate training (producing max watts through sprinting) to complete your base fitness.
From here you are ready to dive into your more specific training that will prepare you for your racing goals. You can read more on our Race Prep Programming that picks up where Base Builder leaves off.
Our Base Builder Plans…
Our Base Builder Plans are created in three durations with two levels of volume:
- 12 Weeks, Low Volume
- 12 Weeks, High Volume
- 18 Weeks, Low Volume
- 18 Weeks, High Volume
- 24 Weeks, Low Volume
- 24 Weeks, High Volume
We program our Base Builder Plans into blocks of 2 to 4 weeks depending on the length of the plan selected. We find that targeting the strength and aerobic energy systems twice a week, each, is effective for most athletes during the winter months. This works well as both gym and structured interval sessions are highly effective performed indoors when weather and daylight hours limit most endurance athletes this time of year. Weekends during this base build period are reserved for getting outside and getting longer endurance focused training in through additional riding, running, skiing, etc. also building progressively over longer and longer durations, from 2-6 hours over the base build season.
Progression & adaptation are an essential element of our Base Builder.
The following is the energy system block programming that is used within all of our Base Builder plans:
- Block 1:
- Strength: Adaptation (getting familiar with exercises & executing best form)
- Aerobic: Skill Work (high cadence & single-leg pedaling) & Aerobic Intervals
- Block 2:
- Strength: Strength Build (increasing loads as adaptation allows)
- Aerobic: Aerobic Threshold (AeT) & Aerobic Strength (“big gear” work)
- Block 3:
- Strength: Strength Peak (working up to/near a one-rep max effort)
- Aerobic: Anaerobic Threshold (AnT) (aka. lactate threshold or “threshold”)
- Block 4:
- Strength: Power Adaptation (transitioning to lighter loads & faster movements)
- Aerobic: Vo2 Max
- Block 5:
- Strength: Power Build (working towards explosive movements)
- Aerobic: Anaerobic Power
- Block 6:
- Strength: Peak Power (maximum force & speed production)
- Aerobic: Peak Power
All Base Builder Plans Include:
- All the strength training details, including videos and set/rep schemes and calculated loads specific to your ability.
- Full Testing Protocol and Training Zone Calculator to identify HR and Power zones and track progress.
- Structured training sessions uploadable to your app of choice (Zwift, Wahoo, Garmin, Trainer Road, etc.)
- Bonus weekend training ride suggestions for either indoors or out.
Written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Sessions:6 Sport Performance & Waite Endurance. Looking for help with your endurance sport training? Check out the WE Training Plans, Custom Plans, and Personal Coaching options created to fit your needs and budget.