Off-season maintenance/training

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by TTer, Sep 19, 2003.

  1. TTer

    TTer New Member

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    What should I do now my racing season is almost over? I'm planning to start 'proper' regimented training in the middle of December, so I've got almost 3 months of unstructed training.

    How much fitness should we lose in the off-season? Is any acceptable? I guess the "top-end" fitness can be lost (ie. VO2max and maybe TT-pace intervals -- bye bye) but should we keep up cycling volume at about 50%?

    What's the current thinking on cross-training? Various older books I've read (from the 1990's) recommend taking 2-6weeks off and then beginning again with cross-training (e.g. running, swimming) to maintain/build aerobic base yet give the athlete a mental and physical break from cycling.

    Some of the latest books say cross-training is garbage and since it's not cycling specific you will lose a lot of cycling fitness. The latest thinking seems to be take a 2-week break (max) then get back to unstructured training (ie. when you feel like it) but still get in a good 6-8hours per week (i usually manage 10-12hours per week).

    I know it's a long time until next season now, but working on aerobic rides with friends, pushing LT (the 1mmol LT :)), seems like an easy yet worthwhile aim?
     
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  2. Benny bum drops

    Benny bum drops New Member

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    Focus on the other things during your easier build up training too. Flexibility, strength that kind of thing. A few press-up sit ups, leg raises and stuff can make a big difference to feeling and looking fit. when you're not training hard its easier to build some suppleness too.
     
  3. J-MAT

    J-MAT New Member

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    TT'er:

    It all depends on your season, your personality and your goals. If you love racing and going fast, losing fitness is never really acceptable unless you are sick or injured. If you want to go faster next year, you need to build power now, not during racing season.

    Crosstraining is training, but it's not a bicycle. No form of crosstraining turns your legs in circles like pedals/cranks do. All crosstraining really does is keep your heart pumping.

    If you are burned out on riding, crosstrain. If you are not burned out on riding, don't crosstrain.

    I like intensity all year round. Once I have something that I have worked hard for, I don't like to let that go for any reason if I care about it.

    Cycling is the toughest sport there is, it takes a long time to get fast, and you loose fitness fast if you don't train hard.

    If you can hold 300 watts now for a 25, why spend many months trying to get back to where you are now???

    Winter is the time for building power. You should start the 2004 season with more power than at the end of the 2003 season. 350+ watts is entirely possible. Shoot for at least a 10 watt increase a month.

    Since you live in lumpy land, do your power work mostly on the turbo.

    Good luck!!!
     
  4. Benny bum drops

    Benny bum drops New Member

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    Some sound ideas but if you're serious about racing work out your season carefully and develop your workload appropriately. As an elite in winter it gets so frustrating with al the 2nd n 1st cats braining themselves in december january and february thinking they'll go up a level.Yet each year you get to May in the season and they suddenly lose form and plateau or go backwards. Every self respecting elite willl have a fallow period to recover fom the exertions of the summer, go back to the base work, fix the weaknesses and build the solid base you can't afford to work on properly in peak season. You don't say how north you are in the northern hemisphere but you'l get ill if you dream of doing summer race work in cold weather for a start. If you goback to base and progress your training through the winter properly you wil not be going back. Anyone who thinks you can train to maintain the same level of fitness in the off season is either heading for illness, major plateau, or simply isn't working hard enough to peak during the season.
     
  5. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    There is a definate need for a 'down' period if only to give your mind a break from training. However as long as there is a good level of planning in the training program through the year there is no reason why you can't do intensity all year round. The problem with most riders that 'blow up in May' is that they have increased their training too much/been doing inappropriate training.
    But what is base? All of the adapations that can be acheived with so called 'base' training can be acheived in less time with high intensity training.

    I also think that many people underestimate the training they do in the winter with the gym, spinning, circuit training, etc. Much stready state (base) training out of the season is being done at around the LT (maintained for long periods) and leads to the development of the LT (remember that the LT occurs way below TT pace). People also do hillier rides, train with groups that are fitter, etc. during the winter.

    Given that people tend to do less intensity during the winter they need to increase volume to maintain the training stimulous (hence people think that low intensity and high volume is a must during the winter). People with little time to train can maintain the intensity but complete a much lesser volume than others over the winter and come out in a similar state.
    Why? Many riders ride CycloX and track during the winter with MTB or Road during the summer (including one of our UK national champrions and he wins championships in winter and summer!!!). However these riders use a different way of planning training so that they have 2 or 3 seasons a year (i.e. double or triple periodisation and not single periodisation). Getting through the winter in the state you want too will just take planning (and a break from the rote and tradition of British training regimes).
     
  6. J-MAT

    J-MAT New Member

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    Benny bum drops:

    Like I said it depends on your season, goals and personality.

    If you are a new/injured rider, riding slow in the winter is good, but if you ended the season on a high note, why do you want to lose your fitness just because the season is over???

    Many people erroneously believe you will burn out if you train hard in the winter. If you properly recover, you will not only not burn out, you will make consistent progress.

    Years ago riders used to stop riding over the winter and pack on 20+ lbs. They spent the spring getting fit. By summer they were in good shape, but weren't any faster than the year before.

    Different year, same speed. What a waste.

    I've never met a racer yet that had too much speed. The racing season with it's pressures makes for a less than ideal time to improve fitness. Many riders just try to survive.

    Eddy Merckx trained hard all year. He rode 6-day races in the winter. He dominated from Feb.-Oct. Maybe if more riders trained hard in the winter, they would have been able to challenge him more.
    I don't recall anyone saying that Merckx was headed for illness, plateaued, or not pushing hard enough.

    Base miles won't "fix" anything related to race performance such as sprinting speed, acceleration, or breakaway power. Low intensity riding will make you worse in these areas.

    The best time to improve fitness is in the off season. That means building your aerobic power as much as possible through shorter, moderately high/high intensity efforts.
     
  7. Aztec

    Aztec New Member

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    I've been struggling to understand this same topic for a long time. What, exactly, is base fitness and how do you know when you have it? If it's as you describe, why bother with such training at all? I am dead slow, averaging something like 16 mph for 20-30 miles if I press to 160bpm average. Not impressive! Do I have base fitness? Maybe I do, because I can ride at 175-180 bpm (max = 192, I think) for an hour. Maybe I don't because I'm so slow!

    I had been thinking I'd do long, slow distance rides over the winter at ~130 bpm. Then pick up intensity work in the early spring. Maybe this is the wrong approach and I should work at a higher intensity for less time, which suits me just fine in those colder months!
     
  8. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    I have asked J-Mat the same question in another thread; what is base and how do you quantify it/know when you have it?

    High intensity training can bring about all of the changes that people say that base training brings only in less time. Base training is tradition (i.e. long slow miles) and a little out dated.
     
  9. Aztec

    Aztec New Member

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    Perhaps base training is needed as an introduction and a way of building fitness at a lower intensity so that high intensity training can be done long enough to be useful? For example, if we tried to do VO2 interval training right out of the box on Day 1, we'd not be able to do it for long enough to help. I know that longer slow distance riding has made it so that I can ride hard longer.

    Another analogy would be with weightlifting. Stepping into the gym and doing 20-rep squats to failure would be useless. You must build in intensity over time. Lower intensity, volume training is needed to build some muscular endurance first. Only then can you REALLY hit the squat work hard.
     
  10. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    While there is definately a need to introduce cycling (and any exercise) to an individual by gradualy building up both intensity and volume, I don't think this represents 'BASE' training given that many people would recomend that even good riders do it.

    Rather I think that BASE training is a term used to group the high volume of training done prior to the season. This training has in the past been of low quality and stated reasons for doing it are increaseing VO2 max, LT, efficency, joint and tendon strength, weight loss, etc. My problem with this is that increasing the quality of the training and reducing volume, all of these adaptations can be acheived without traditional 'BASE' training.

    Unfortunatly, most individuals don't have the time to train required by traditional 'BASE' training to adapt in the desired way resulted in wasted training.

    Also if you can't define it or measure it (and no one has explained either to me over a number of years) how do you know when you have a 'decent base'.
     
  11. Aztec

    Aztec New Member

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    But it ,ight be just as I described... try hammeroing out intervals without having done a lot of hours at lower intensity. Those intervals will be mighty short. And since they'll be such a high % of your total capacity, they'll be awfully tough to recover from.

    I think a separate argument is that you must get a certain amount of training volume in for proper adaptations, and it just isn't possible to do it all at high intensity. Well, it would be if you were in phenomenal shape already and could blast out lengthy intervals (without burning out).
     
  12. TTer

    TTer New Member

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    2LAP, what do you (and the scientific community) classify as base? Low intensity riding below LT (the 1mmol LT)?

    I tend to think of 'base' as riding at 145-155bpm (for someone with HR max of 190) at a level we're you're just starting to accumulate lactate (ie. just pushing over that 1mmol threshold) for a consistent long (2hour+) ride.

    I tend to think of 'base' as the old LSD (long slow distance) work that happens on sunday morning club runs. On these slow easy 'social' rides my HR can be below 130 for 95% of the ride and this is hopeless for training.

    Do these definitions match yours?
     
  13. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    I don't think that the scientific community talks about BASE much, but there really isn't that much info on training out there anyway. I don't use the term in coaching either, using Zones or relative intensities to describe training.

    I do agree with your definitions though (and the amount of importance you place upon them). I do like club runs though; rarely for training - mostly for fun and social.
     
  14. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    I agree 100%
    They would be shorter in duration before you fatigue, but would these provide a lesser stimulous for adaptation? I'm not so sure that they would. Fatigue represents 100% of the capacity used up for fit and unfit riders.

    Also a less fit person would get greater gains from the same session as a fitter person as they have a greater margin for improvment and 'the law of diminishing returns'.

    Intervals should be done at specific relative intensities so that LT or VO2 max or 50% or 95% has the same effect for you and me. However what differs being the power output that is done, i.e. a less fit rider would simply go slower during the intervals. Riding at absolute intensities (some people recomend gears and cadences or even speed) means that the response to the same training session would be very different between two riders of different fitness.
    Given that High Intensity requires lots of recovery you would have to cut down training time, which I always view as a bonus :) To work at low intensity, I simply wouldn't have enough hours in the day to get the adaptations that I wanted (as I work).

    I think you need to mix up high and low intensity work in a periodised program to get the best out of yourself. I think my point is that even during the off season when many riders are doing 'base' training, better performances will be found by including some high intensity work!
     
  15. J-MAT

    J-MAT New Member

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    What is a base???

    Well, to me, it means a rider has enough low intensity miles in their legs to effectively absorb the rigors and demands of high-intensity training without suffering negative effects such as tendonitis, chronic fatigue, back pain, etc.

    Let's take weights. If you have never lifted weights before it's probably a good idea to start out light and easy before you start doing max efforts inside a power rack. If you are just starting out as a runner, it's best to run slow and easy for a while before you try to start running 6 minute miles.

    A base is a foundation, something that in itself is not impressive, but is capable of supporting something of much greater value, a high-level of fitness.

    If you are injured or new to the sport, your fitness level will be low. These riders should develop some kind of base before jumping into a high-intensity program.

    Once you have fitness, I think it is a waste to let it slip. At this point your base is well established, and building on it will only make you faster the next season.

    Can athletes achieve results without a base??? Yes, but the probably of injury or other setbacks makes this unwise.

    Winter is by far the best time to get aquainted with a stationary trainer and high-intensity intervals, as long as your body can handle the workload.
     
  16. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    This seems to be my problem with base training; as it is a very 'wooly' (undefined) concept it is dificult to advise others to do it. Also given that it can't be measured its dificult to know when you have it or even know it exists.

    I am much happier recomending higher intensity sessions where gains can be measured and we know specificaly the adaptations that are occuring.
     
  17. TTer

    TTer New Member

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    This is very imprecise JMAT! This is why in my previous post I was trying to 'pin down' what is effective 'base' training rather than these vague ideas of 'low intensity' (e.g. <55% of MHR is low intensity) and a 'foundation' to build on.

    Of course you cannot just start with high intensity intervals, and base is good, but what is base?

    A more concrete example such as 150 to 200 hours in 3-4months at a heart rate of 140-155bpm (ie. slightly taxing the aerobic energy systems) would be more guidance.
     
  18. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    While I agree 120% that beginner riders can't just do a session of 'high intensity intervals', I see no harm in allowing even very new riders (as long as they have a doctors approval and are obviously in a good state (i.e. not obese, not smoking, etc.)) to do periods of high intensity or a 'reduced' session of intervals.

    Why do you not carry over a base or foundation from one season to the next?
    Even provding training guidance in this way wouldn't be very good as people would respond differently, to both a given amount of time and a given intensity. People with different training status and ages would obviously need different training advice.

    Last time I had my LT tested it fell on 150 bpm, so I could maintain this for a few hours and be quite fatiguing.
     
  19. Aztec

    Aztec New Member

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    I am planning a break in my schedule thru mid-Oct until maybe December, and then firing up again to train for track season (everything but sprints) that starts in late May. I'll have to re-think how much base training I will really need/want.
     
  20. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    You may want to remain active, even if thats not on the bike.
     
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