In Part 1 I discussed the principles behind Base training, and how it aims to improve your cycling. In Part 2 I shall discuss how to structure your Base training.
Now that we understand the idea of Base training we can now plan set about planning in those sessions. As Base training provides that solid base of fitness for your harder more intense training it should take up a large proportion of your training plans for a given event. The Base training phase can be between 8 and 24 weeks, with a longer Base period being preferable to allow for the maximum gains to base fitness.
This overall Base Period should be split into 3 smaller Base periods, in order to better target the desired changes discussed in Part 1, which can be called Base 1, 2 and 3. In each smaller Base Period the intensity of workouts remains the same, with the volume of training increasing each week in order to overload the body to gain performance. It is only between the smaller Base periods that intensity of your workouts increases, that is to say the work outs in Base 2 are harder than Base 1 and those in Base 3 are harder than Base 2.
As this is the first part of your training year Base 1 focuses less on specific race fitness and more on supplementary improvements. It is during this period that your maximum strength training sessions will occur, and should be the main focus of this block, ensuring adequate rest between sessions. Your on bike workouts during this time should focus firstly on pedalling technique, high cadence or 1 legged pedalling sessions. With just one session dedicated to a long endurance ride, zone 2, per week.
During Base 1 you may not notice much in terms of a fitness or speed improvement as there is little specific bike work. However this period of training is dedicated to those neuromuscular adaptations discussed in Part 1, making your pedalling more efficient, saving you energy in those harder sessions later on in the season.
In Base 2 the focus shifts more towards the bike and away from the gym. Maximum strength training finishes, with weights sessions focusing on muscular endurance, lower weights and more reps. Although these sessions are still important they take less of a priority than in Base 1, meaning that they require less focus on recovery prior to the sessions.
Your on bike sessions begin to incorporate more intensity, with your priority workouts focusing on Zone 3 work. There is still some pedalling technique workouts, similar to those in Base 1, which can be used on your easier days recovering from your harder workouts. Your long endurance rides should still be at a relatively low intensity but can include some zone 3 work.
During Base 2 you will begin to feel more fatigued than in Base 1, so it is important to schedule in a recovery week every third or fourth week, where both workout volume and intensity reduce in order to recover. It is during this recovery that the changes to your performance take place. As you approach your rest week you may feel as if your performance is dropping off, this however is normal as this feeling of fatigue is required to kick-start he changes in your body to improve your performance. After the rest week you will feel the performance improvements.
In Base the bike becomes your focus. There is still a small focus on the gym, with a single workout a week, focussing on the upper body and core. Bike sessions now include more work in zone 3 and some work in zone 4, although this is limited to once a week, and is intended to prepare you for the harder sessions to come. Long rides are still a focus on the weekends, but these should include more zone 3 riding than previously.
There should still be some neuromuscular work on the bike but it is now becoming more race specific, with focus on techniques. This includes practice sprints, not at full gas, but focusing on position on the bike and leg speed.
Again like in Base 2 you will feel more and more fatigued as you approach your rest week, but this is expected. Make sure you use the rest week to recover fully as after Base training the fitness you’ve gained will be used to push on and perform harder efforts preparing you to race.
So there it is, what Base training is, what it does and how it’s done. I hope these two posts have been useful and will help you plan a successful winter.