Base Training-Scientific Evidence?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by bikeandfit, Jan 27, 2007.

  1. bikeandfit

    bikeandfit New Member

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    I'm looking for scientific evidence in support of low-intensity, high-volume base training. I can see the importance of it for those who want to race in long events, but how about if the longest event I care about is a 40K TT?
    I often see statements like "training is a pyramid, the wider the base, the higher the peak of fitness". Thomas Chapple devoted an entire book to this: "Base Building for Cyclists", but he didn't give any scientific evidence for it, though he did give some interesting anecdotal evidence, such as some of the riders he's coached lowering their lactate response after a period of low-intensity high volume. And of course there's the famous example of Lance getting stronger when Chris Carmichael got him to train more slowly.
    But there are some counterexamples from running. Base training is similar to runners long steady distance (LSD) training and there are some good runners who never followed that. One of the best distance runners of all time, Emil Zatopek, just trained with lots of short intervals ("quarters"). He even won the '52 Helsinki Olympic Marathon that way. Grete Waitz won her 1st NYC marathon, setting a world record in the process, on lots of higher-intensity track training, with her longest run only 12 miles.
    So is base training scientifically valid or is it just a tradition? If this has already been discussed in another thread, please refer me to it. Thanks!
     
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  2. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    lots of threads on it in this forum (i think) and the power forum.

    ric
     
  3. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Evidence that it will do *something*, or evidence that it does something better than something else? If the latter, what other training method(s) are you considering?

    I don't think that there's any question that taking an untrained person and making them ride for hours and hours over a period of several weeks will result in some fitness improvement. Is that really your question? :confused:
     
  4. bikeguy

    bikeguy New Member

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    Running isn't a good example. In the case of running, there is a lot more shock to the knees and spinal column plus possible foot and shin problems so cutting down on miles to train for a running competition may mean less pain, or even be a necessity. I rarely ever experience pain in my knees and back from cycling and zero foot and shin problems.

    -bikeguy
     
  5. bikeandfit

    bikeandfit New Member

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    Good question. I guess I meant vs shorter more intense training. Base training is not time efficient. I you took a sample of untrained people, made them ride for hours and hours for several weeks, and then put them through higher intensity training, would they really reach a higher fitness peak (the pyramid argument) vs. a group that had done a lot less of the lower intensity work but just as much high intensity training?
    I'm just curious about this because this claim is made all the time but I haven't seen evidence to back it up. I do base training myself and enjoy it. I also forgot to mention that I like Thomas Chapple's book, this wasn't intended as a criticism of it.
     
  6. bikeandfit

    bikeandfit New Member

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    Point well taken, I switched to biking after I wore out the cartilage in my hip running.:)
     
  7. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    The core of your program will not be made of low-intensity high-volume training. This is understood.

    Whether (or not) you prefer to begin a season with some low-intensity LSD, well I guess it depends if this type of training is an option early in the season where you live at the first place. Here in Canada, it's not, well at least not for me.

    If weather permits, I don't think one gets penalized by starting a season relatively low on intensity to later build up.

    Unless one goes crasy and injures himself, I don't think that what one does in november has a big impact on the results in racing season, especially since one can grow an interesting CTL mostly made of L2/3.
     
  8. bikeguy

    bikeguy New Member

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    I think the main idea behind base training in winter is to give the body a rest from the rigours of cycling hard while putting in lots of miles and getting the body prepared for harder training. I find it very hard to train 1 hr power and VO2 max power and there's no way I can do this for long without starting to burn out. Last year, I felt the best after having a nice 10 km walk home after getting a flat. i.e, better than taking a couple days off, and much better than after training 2 days in a row hard on 1 hr power.

    -bikeguy
     
  9. NomadVW

    NomadVW New Member

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    Like any event, for the genetically gifted, almost anything will work. I don't consider myself in the genetically gifted category. My peak event is also 160+ km distance, so I do value the long distance time if for no other reason than the time on the bike. If there is a mix of higher intensity training in on the long distances, great.

    I've also run a marathon and you'd be hard pressed to find any marathon training program that doesn't advocate training up to the long distances to prepare your body for the rigors of the distance.

    But, as was mentioned - this topic is beat up quite a bit in this forum here and all the others, especially this time of year. I find it hard to believe that the vast number of people that have used it, in and out of professional circuits, are all in the wrong. Whether or not that means there is something better for you for your events, well... YMMV.

    Threads as requested:
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t381090.html
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t381090.html
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t309424.html
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t270931.html
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t265837.html
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t227476.html
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t226626.html
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t205595.html
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t184493.html
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t683.html
     
  10. bikeandfit

    bikeandfit New Member

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    Thanks for all the replies. I'm convinced early lower intensity riding's a good idea if you have the time, for the various reasons given. I guess part of my confusion was that one justification I've seen for base training is getting the body to be more efficient at metabolizing fat and sparing glycogen, which only seemed relevant if your event is long enough that you have to worry about possible bonking. But some of the other reasons are relevant to shorter events also.
    Me neither! :) Thanks for all the threads, I've got some interesting reading to do.
     
  11. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    I think that your statement summarizes very well what low intensity base training is about.

    My fear isn't about burning out though. It's more about reaching a plateau too early in the prep season (which may lead to overtraining or burning out).

    I didn't schedule any low intensity base training for my riders this year, but I'm trying to acheive the best possible improvement without using the "big cannons" (yet).
     
  12. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    There's no question that some lower intensity riding is a very good idea relative to the short hard intervals you mention in your original post. The problem is that you really haven't defined "low intensity" in any meaningful way. If you're talking about loads of miles at 60 -70% of your one hour pace or old school LSD (which you imply when talking about buring fat over glycogen) then I think you'll find a lot of folks on this forum don't really do a lot of that. If you're talking about a solid base of Sweet Spot Training (SST) where you're working at roughly 88 - 94% or your one hour power then you'll find more takers here. These aren't hard, make ya puke intervals like Zatopek's quarters you mention but they're not long crusing miles either. You'll burn both fat and gycogen during these SST repeats of 10 to 30 minutes or more but they're definitely aerobic.

    Bikeguy mentions how he finds it hard to train one hour and VO2 max power early in the year. I definitely agree with training VO2max too early and even 1 hour power if you're trying to nail your best 40K TT power in each effort. But SST oriented base training is a lot easier to do week in and week out this time of year and does quite a bit to improve your one hour power at the same time.

    So, IMHO if you're talking about old style LSD riding as in -stay in the small ring and spin for hours on end during January- then I'd say that sort of early season work is only for folks with too much time on their hands or who are coming into the sport with very little fitness and need to burn a lot of fat in a low impact way. But for most competitive cyclists a solid "base" of SST work is a lot more efficient use of training hours, still improves overall power and does get the body ready for shorter, harder interval work later in the training season.

    So I guess I'd say "base training" is crucial. The question is how you define "base training".

    -Dave
     
  13. bikeandfit

    bikeandfit New Member

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    Thanks Dave, I think I was confusing more modern interpretations of base training such as "sweet spot" training with "old style spin for hours in the small ring". What you define as base training makes a lot of sense.
     
  14. fergie

    fergie Member

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    Very true. I define base for a track sprinter ones 5min power and strength in the gym. Most grizzle about doing 5mins at that.

    Kirk Willet defines base as 20min power for a Pro road rider.

    At worst I would like to know I could go hard for the duration of my goal event. That is my definition of base. Doing this three times a week for long periods of time doesn't make as much sense.

    Hamish Ferguson
    Cycling Coach
     
  15. POGATA

    POGATA New Member

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    As far as I know, most pros do long rides at low intensity during the winter months, is that just because they`re bored and don`t have anything else to do?
     
  16. kentkreitler

    kentkreitler New Member

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    There's a very nice Norweigan study that states that long slow distance training is very good, if you want to look at the surrounding nature...
     
  17. Roadie_scum

    Roadie_scum New Member

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    It's not winter here, so perhaps it doesn't count, but most of the protour guys I've spoken to or seen out on the bike have been doing a mixture of crit racing, maybe a little track, and a bunch of SST style riding - tempo climbing and motorpacing. There's some long L2 in there as well, but it's far from predominant.
     
  18. BlueJersey

    BlueJersey New Member

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    What do you mean "as far as you know?" No offense but do you mean books and articles you read about how the pros train during the off season? You know, there are riders and coaches here who actually have personal encounters with the pros and they may tell you the otherwise about them doing LSD.

     
  19. Thom_y

    Thom_y New Member

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    Here's the Disco's winter camp schedule:

    Tue – Jan 23 – Arrival Day – while the mechanics and some staff have already been in place for some time getting things ready, today's the day all the riders and staff arrive plus it's clothing distributon time - to say it will be hectic is quite the understatement!

    Wed – Jan 24 – shake off the cobwebs day, and what better way than 4 hours at a moderate pace on the new bikes? There will be plenty of time to make adjustments and get things dialed in, plus it'll be the first time to see the team in force in their new kits! Our good friends from Nike and Trek will be on hand to help answer any bike, cycling shoe or clothing related questions.

    Thu – Jan 25 – picture time! All riders and staff will get their official headshots done as well as the very popular team photo. But as you know, it's not all play at all here in Socal, 4.5 hours on the bikes right after the photo shoot.

    Fri – Jan 26 – more pictures, but this time "in action" and on the bikes. A light day of training, just 2 hours, but then an afternoon of interviews to have ready for future publication. Add in several meetings planning out the season for the managers and staff.



    Sat – Jan 27 – hope those saddles are breaking in 'cause the boys are heading out for 6.5 hours of solid riding… after lunch the remaining interviews will get done.

    Sun – Jan 28 – if you liked yesterday, you'll love today, just an hour less: 5.5 hour ride

    Mon – Jan 29 – bring on the media! It's time for the press to roll in, but not before the boys get 4 hours bike time first…

    Tue – Jan 30 – a slight respite from training – just 2.5 hours – but then more and more media interviews

    Wed – Jan 31 – wake up, go ride for 4 hours, then some very important meetings as each rider gets his 2007 season finalized in one-on-one meetings with the Directors. If you signed up to attend CTS' training camp, we'll see you that evening!

    Thu – Feb 1 – another long day on the bike as the boys head out for 5.5 hours, and then more one-on-one meetings after dinner

    Fri – Feb 2 – time to head to Ojai for the sponsor weekend , but the bus isn't the way: 6.5 hours on the bike is! It's time to meet the sponsors that evening with a reception and dinner thereafter.


    Of course, you will have to get someone to check out what their SRM-equipped Treks are recording in terms of intensity of the rides.
     
  20. POGATA

    POGATA New Member

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    so the intensity factor is around 0.85 then?
     
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