Short Cut Through The Pain Cave

The season is coming closer and most cyclists, who train toward some kind of goal in some kind of structured fashion, are currently putting in their “base miles”. Base mile rides are those long and easy-paced bike rides that are so hard to fit into the schedule of all time-crunched, yet ambitious weekend warriors.

As most of us know, there is simply no way around building the necessary aerobic fitness base without the help of at least a few long and steady sessions on the bike. However, invested-time-effect ratio of base mile riding is rather limited. After 4-8 weeks of a progressive base mile regimen, one would have to exponentially increase the amount of time spent in a steady pace to make significant gains.

So instead of just adding more weeks of base miles, which would simply maintain the achieved fitness level, there are a few alternatives to make fitness gains in a more time-efficient manner. In a previous blog post, we have already explored so-called “fat rides”. Such rides can be included in a base mile regimen. In this post we are going to talk about another alternative to avoid additional weeks of base mile riding. The emphasis is on “additional”. What I am about to explain should not be done without a good aerobic base (At least 4 weeks of base miles). Also important to know is that the following form of training should not be combined with base miles within the same training phase.

I am talking about HIT (high-intensity training), which is one of the most time-efficient forms of training when employed correctly. It’s especially great if one is confined to a trainer due to weather. Let me give you the key points:

  • A HIT phase consists of 2-4 weeks.
  • A HIT phase should be preceded and followed by a base mile phase of equal length.
  • One week of HIT has 2-3 sessions. No lifting and no long rides.
  • There is always at least one day off between HIT sessions, meaning no riding!
  • A single HIT session is 60-90 minutes long.
  • A HIT session begins with 30min of vigorous warm up in a higher endurance zone.
  • Start with 4-5 intervals per session in the first week and then add one interval to each session per week.
  • The 2.5min intervals are done at your 5min-power (aka 5min critical power, aka CP5), meaning the highest average power you can possibly maintain for 5min.
  • Rest between intervals consists of light spinning (very light). Start the next interval as soon as your heart rate falls under 60% of your max heart rate.
  • If during any interval, despite your best effort, your average power drops more than 20% below your goal wattage, call it a day and finish your session with a light spin.

Here is what a 3-week HIT phase could look like:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Week 1 Day Off HIT
30m warm Up
5x2.5m at CP5
15m spin
Calisthenics
30min body weight exercises
HIT
30m warm Up
5x2.5m at CP5
15m spin
Day Off HIT
30m warm Up
5x2.5m at CP5
15m spin
Easy Ride
2h in lower endurance zone
Week 2 Day Off HIT
30m warm Up
6x2.5m at CP5
15m spin
Calisthenics
30min body weight exercises
HIT
30m warm Up,
6x2.5m at CP5
15m spin
Day Off HIT
30m warm Up
6x2.5m at CP5
15m spin
Easy Ride
2h in lower endurance zone
Week 3 Day Off HIT
30m warm Up
7x2.5m at CP5
15m spin
Calisthenics
30min body weight exercises
HIT
30m warm Up
7x2.5m at CP5
15m spin
Day Off HIT
30m warm Up
7x2.5m at CP5
15m spin
Easy Ride
2h in lower endurance zone

Have fun in the pain cave and as always: Keep Striving – with Strivemax
Rich