Alternating periodization: improved specificity for greater fitness gains?



LMN

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Jan 18, 2010
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bubsy said:
I think if you go back to page 1 you'll see a table explaining that the best addaptions that increse aerobic capacity and lactate threshhold occur more at L 4/5, except glycogen storage which while important it is not not going to be the limiting factor for increasing aerobic capacity,
how much L 4/5 each athlete can handle is going to depend on a whole range of things but l can tell you that l do zero focussed L2 and almost no focussed L3 below 85% of FTP except for a tiny bit of lower L3 when doing loads of L 5/6 before an A race and l have not yet seen a plato in aerobic capacity/power in the last ~3yrs and the biggest gains came in the last 18mths when l completly gave away all focused L 2/3 training, so perhaps you may need to do some more research?

I am well aware of the table from page 1. The table implies that adaptations occur the quickest from L4 work, it doesn't imply that greatest adaptations occur from L4. Which makes great adaptations in Aerobic Capacity 1hr at L4 or 4hrs at L2? The answer, it depends.


Your basing your opinion on your own experience which is definitely of value. But generally we don't do the best job of examining our own training.

I coach 7 elite athletes every one of them has at a minimum has been a Provincial champion. They are all very talented and have had success because or despite my programs. Over the past five years I have experimented with a vast array of training strategies with them. With that very limited sample size I have found a couple things:
1. Throwing out L3 and below makes someone fast really quick. Unfortunately they quickly reach a plateau that I at least have been unable to get them to break through.
2. One or two cycles have mainly L2 and L3 training leads to a slow build up of form but allows the athlete to progress to a higher peak fitness in the season.


A simple example of how effective L2 work can be. With all my athletes right now I am doing a big L2 block. All of them have experienced a significant increase in threshold power during the block. I have seen on average a 6% gain in threshold power. This is with limit intensity work.
During the next block I will add more intensity (L4 and some L5) to their training. The stress will be different and they will adapt to it quickly and continue to improve.

These are elite athletes their time, talent and training dedication is vastly different then most peoples. For them L2 work is a critical part of their season. The years where I did limited L2 work with them were quite disappointing.
 

doctorSpoc

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Nov 18, 2005
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LMN said:
What do L2 and L3 rides do?

They raise your Aerobic Capacity (the maximum amount of Oxygen you can use). They do not result in rapid gains in fitness or form, the improvements are over the Long Term.

L4 and L5 work improves your Aerobic Power, the percentage of your Aerobic Capacity you can use. The results from this are rapid but also plateu.

It is Aerobic Capacity work that allows you to improve from year to year. Focusing just on Aerobic power will allow you to reach the same peak fitness level year after year, but the yearly progression will not be there.

+1

how you should also think about this is that you want to maximize TSS. and given the amount of time you have to give to cycling, you do this in different ways.. basically the less time you have the higher the intensity you will uses.. [edit] more percentage of total time doing L4/5[edit]

plus VO2max is maximized very quickly (4-6 weeks) so you just do a couple workouts a week with some VO2max before the racing season starts and you are good to go.. there is no reason to be doing them all year long when they impeded you from doing L2, L3 and 4.. as LMN that's what is going to get you the year over year improvements.. so that's what you want to be doing in the off season when you're not racing so maxing out VO2max is not any sort of priority..
 

doctorSpoc

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bubsy said:
I think if you go back to page 1 you'll see a table explaining that the best addaptions that increse aerobic capacity and lactate threshhold occur more at L 4/5, except glycogen storage which while important it is not not going to be the limiting factor for increasing aerobic capacity,
how much L 4/5 each athlete can handle is going to depend on a whole range of things but l can tell you that l do zero focussed L2 and almost no focussed L3 below 85% of FTP except for a tiny bit of lower L3 when doing loads of L 5/6 before an A race and l have not yet seen a plato in aerobic capacity/power in the last ~3yrs and the biggest gains came in the last 18mths when l completly gave away all focused L 2/3 training, so perhaps you may need to do some more research?

yeah L4,5 is king at those adaptations.. but the thing is, like you said, one can only do so much dedicated L4/5 in a week. so if you want to pile on even more TSS and make even more gains.. how you do that is by ramping intensity down a tic.. a small down tic allows you do do WAY more volume and that big increase in volume more than makes up for the slightly less efficient adaptation.. think of it this way.. i only get two checkmarks instead of 4 but i'm doing 4 times the volume so i'm still way ahead.

but like i said if you don't have that extra time then you can keep intensity higher to maximize those adaptations..

the volume of time you have to dedicate to cycling should absolutely dictate what sort of intensity you should be doing in the off season and during your build
 

bubsy

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Sep 5, 2004
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doctorSpoc said:
yeah L4,5 is king at those adaptations.. but the thing is, like you said, one can only do so much dedicated L4/5 in a week. so if you want to pile on even more TSS and make even more gains.. how you do that is by ramping intensity down a tic.. a small down tic allows you do do WAY more volume and that big increase in volume more than makes up for the slightly less efficient adaptation.. think of it this way.. i only get two checkmarks instead of 4 but i'm doing 4 times the volume so i'm still way ahead.

but like i said if you don't have that extra time then you can keep intensity higher to maximize those adaptations..

the volume of time you have to dedicate to cycling should absolutely dictate what sort of intensity you should be doing in the off season and during your build

Yep not arguing about anything you posted here pretty basic stuff really, howerver l have all the time in the world at the moment to train, 25hrs + p/wk if l wish and have had for at least 12mths yet I still don't see the piont in dedicated level 2/3 sessions, the added training is not needed for the events l compete in, if can't train at 85% or higher I rest, l don't continue training at a reduced effort. My training is usually 60-80min in the 87-96 % per session when that reaches 100+ min per session I ramp intensity up a tick untill I'm back at 60-80min per session, when there is little improvement in duration in these intervals l don't go back to lower intensity l go to L 5 :eek: and do a block, so my hours actually don't fluctuate that much year to year and still no dedicated L2/3.
Not that l have anything against L 2/3, as you say the adaptions still occur at those intensities one just needs to spend more time in them but long days in the saddle week after week year after year at any intensity makes me loose interest in cycling which is not really a good thing for long term gains but what ever floats peoples boats I guess.

My post was aimed at LMN and the impression l got from his post was that only L 2/3 increases aerobic capacity and L 4/5 does not increase aerobic capacity only aerobic power, he then goes on to say that it is aerobic capacity that allows us to progress year to year and by his definitions that means only L 2/3 training as he states that L 4/5 only increases aerobic power and will only see you reach the same peak fitness level year after year but the yearly progression will not be there WTF? do you agree with that?
 

LMN

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Jan 18, 2010
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bubsy said:
Yep not arguing about anything you posted here pretty basic stuff really, howerver l have all the time in the world at the moment to train, 25hrs + p/wk if l wish and have had for at least 12mths yet I still don't see the piont in dedicated level 2/3 sessions, the added training is not needed for the events l compete in, if can't train at 85% or higher I rest, l don't continue training at a reduced effort. My training is usually 60-80min in the 87-96 % per session when that reaches 100+ min per session I ramp intensity up a tick untill I'm back at 60-80min per session, when there is little improvement in duration in these intervals l don't go back to lower intensity l go to L 5 :eek: and do a block, so my hours actually don't fluctuate that much year to year and still no dedicated L2/3.
Not that l have anything against L 2/3, as you say the adaptions still occur at those intensities one just needs to spend more time in them but long days in the saddle week after week year after year at any intensity makes me loose interest in cycling which is not really a good thing for long term gains but what ever floats peoples boats I guess.

My post was aimed at LMN and the impression l got from his post was that only L 2/3 increases aerobic capacity and L 4/5 does not increase aerobic capacity only aerobic power, he then goes on to say that it is aerobic capacity that allows us to progress year to year and by his definitions that means only L 2/3 training as he states that L 4/5 only increases aerobic power and will only see you reach the same peak fitness level year after year but the yearly progression will not be there WTF? do you agree with that?

I wrote a fairly long reply clarifying my statements. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be here. So hold your horses.
 

doctorSpoc

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Nov 18, 2005
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bubsy said:
My post was aimed at LMN and the impression l got from his post was that only L 2/3 increases aerobic capacity and L 4/5 does not increase aerobic capacity only aerobic power, he then goes on to say that it is aerobic capacity that allows us to progress year to year and by his definitions that means only L 2/3 training as he states that L 4/5 only increases aerobic power and will only see you reach the same peak fitness level year after year but the yearly progression will not be there WTF? do you agree with that?

i don't want to speak for him but, i don't think he means that doing L 4/5 will result in absolutely no year over year gain.. i know i don't.. just that for someone that has loads of time to train (more than around ~10hr a week), their year over year gains could be much greater if they slightly cut back on either the volume or intensity of L4/5 since this allows them to do a disproportionate much larger total volume of TSS. not wanting to do all those extra hours is a choice, but it still doesn't change the fact that if you cut down or ticked down intensity a little and you have the extra time and energy to make significantly greater year over year gains.. not a matter of absolutes but a matter of degree.. a slightly lower intensity results in almost the exact same adaptation but can be done for a much longer period of time.. it's not a 1 for 1 thing.. the volume increase you can do is disproportionately greater.. so you're farther ahead in the end.

also, i'm not sure how you do your workouts, but for myself.. if i'm doing say a 1.5hr "Threshold" workout.. e.g. 2x20 i'm still doing quite a bit of L2/L3.. 50% of my time is at L2/3.. 15min warmup, 10mins between intervals and 15mins cooldown..

just curious.. what do typical races look like for you? that matters as well.. if you're looking at less than two hour long races primarily, then what you are doing is likely good enough especially if you have a lot of years in your legs.. as others have eluded to there are a lot of variables to consider when deciding what your training schedule will look like..
 

bubsy

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Sep 5, 2004
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Whilst l can't speak for LMN either he seemed quite adamant in his post that training primarily L 4/5 year round (as I do with a little top end L3 or "SST as it's called" in the mix) won't lead to increases in aerobic capacitty but focusing on L 2/3 training will, maybe he can come back to this thread and explain what he meant?

As far as the length of my races go all are 2-4hrs long unless l do a local crit but haven't done one of those in a few years as well as some multiday events and the odd weekend stage race, we are lucky here in OZ as there is racing year round, right now it's mostly short crits and l think there have been a few out door track carnivals as well, Oh yeh there are some MAD bastards right now doing a 6 day tour down in Adelaide in 40 deg heat called the TDU or something, screw that too hot for me l'll continue with my L 4/5 training in airconditioning for now.
 

LMN

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Jan 18, 2010
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bubsy said:
Whilst l can't speak for LMN either he seemed quite adamant in his post that training primarily L 4/5 year round (as I do with a little top end L3 or "SST as it's called" in the mix) won't lead to increases in aerobic capacitty but focusing on L 2/3 training will, maybe he can come back to this thread and explain what he meant?

Since I am new to forum a moderator must check that my post are not spam before they are posted, hence the delay in response.

What I said was in general. L2 work does effect aerobic power, just as L4 work does effect aerobic capacity. But for both the primary training effect is what I said ealier.

I have a good example of progression.

Two athletes I coach started racing seriously at the same time, about 2004. They both started off as Cat 4 road riders and Expert MTB (they had MTB raced as juniors). Although both were initially fast, but to different degrees.

One athlete (lets say athlete A) won a couple of cat 4 races and squeaked out some top podium expert results. The other athlete (athlete B) tore through Cat 4, 3, 2 in a single season. I remember watching him in a break in a crit with riders like Danny Pate and Svien Tuft.

That season I started coaching athlete A, over the past six years he has gone from a nobody to placing in the top 10 at Canadian MTB nationals in elite. Athlete B unfortuately lived in the Yukon (it gets really, really cold, -40C, for months and months on end). I didn't coach him at the time but his program was a diet of L4/L5 work with just about no L2 work. He is still stupidly fast but not much faster than he was after his first year of training. Athlete A is now the quicker of the two.

It will be interesting to see if my program with significantly more L2 work will allow athlete B start to improve year after year (he now lives in a warmer climate).
 

SolarEnergy

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LMN said:
They raise your Aerobic Capacity (the maximum amount of Oxygen you can use)
...
L4 and L5 work improves your Aerobic Power, the percentage of your Aerobic Capacity you can use.

Would anyone be kind enough to explain the difference between aerobic power and aerobic capacity (especially in the context of this thread)?

Would this difference be the same than that between Vo2Max and MAP? (the latter being defined by some lab testing protocol?)

Thanks