Question: Winter is on its way, so I am creating a winter training program. What are some key sessions for keeping my fitness level on point during the base phase?
In the past, most cyclists and coaches believed that rides during the base phase should be low intensity. Those days are well behind us. We now know that it’s beneficial to include some intensity in the base phase of training.
These intervals should be significantly shorter than during the race season. For example, if your 3-minute VO2 power is 300 watts, it’s okay to perform efforts at 300 watts. But you should only maintain this power for about 60 seconds during your base phase. By performing repeated, high-intensity efforts shorter durations, you’ll target your aerobic efficiency, which is the focus of base phase training.
Two key sessions to include in base phase of training:
- During a long endurance ride, begin the session by performing 5 x 1 minute “hard” efforts, with 4 minutes of recovery after each interval. Don’t worry about hitting a specific power target for these 1-minute efforts. Ride on perceived exertion AKA “feel.” During your base phase, you will notice that for the same perceived exertion, you are producing more power. After completing these efforts, start your long endurance ride.
- The other session is an indoor workout where the focus is on performing repeated 30-second, zone 5 efforts. It’s fine to hit this higher intensity during the base phase as long as you decrease the duration. In this Zwift session, start with a “free-ride”: ride at your own pace.
After your warm up and free-ride, complete 2 sets of 6 x 30-second zone 5 intervals with 30 seconds of recovery. Throughout the winter base phase, you can include these workouts each week and increase the intervals.
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