« Base 1 Training, Part 3 | Main | Force Reps »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Hi Joe,

Long-time fan with a quick question:

Does the on-the-bike strength workout you detail here replace the F1 workout you suggest for Base 2 in the book? I'm coming back to the sport after five years away so strength is a huge limiter at this point. I'm building up gradually but wonder which of those workouts will pay higher dividends on the climb once the racing begins?


In Cycling Past 50 p.78 you said that cruise intervals can be done year round. Do you still feel that it is okay for an experienced athlete to do this type of zone 4-5a work through Prep, Base 1, and Base 2 phases? Thank you. I enjoy your blog.


Hi Joe,

should we do force intervals, in Base 2 only, or we can keep doing them in next periods as well, in order to preserve muscular force?

I understand that the increase of climbing of next periods can help in force maintenance, but i usually climb at around 85 cadence. Is it enough for maintaining force, or should i do force intervals also?

Thanks for the extra valuable blog!

Joe Friel

Christopher--Yes you can continue force training into the later periods by doing maintenance sessions about once a week, probably as a part of another ability workout.

Joe Friel

Curt--Yes, I believe you can do them year round with no physically negative consequences. But it might become rather boring, especially once you've fully adapted and plateaued. Lack of variety is something that contributes to athletes becoming flat.

Joe Friel

Glenn--Rather than 'replace,' I'd suggest that workout as an addition to.



I have started reading your blog and find it rather interesting. I am getting ready to purchase your TrainingBible for MTB'ers. I am a former MTB racer. I was never a podium guy, but loved to ride/race. Unfortunately, I had a 3 year lay-off from cycling completely (long story). Anyway, I am getting back into riding with goals of racing. The big difference this time is that I want the podium spot(s).

With all that said, I have a question. It is a question that has always stuck in the back of my head and I could never get a straight answer from anyone regarding it. And please keep in mind that I have not read your books (as of yet) so if the question is answered within, please forgive me. I do plan to purchase soon. During Base training...when building aerobic endurance and whatnot...would it be counter-productive to do MTB rides that jack your HR? Rides that would not necessarily be considered training rides.

I love to ride. And being away for 3 years has only strengthened my desire to ride as much as I can when I can. Being that I have goals of being very competitive next season, I want to seriously train for next season's races. But, I do not want to pass on rides with friends throughout the winter because of fear for ruining my Base training.

What are your thoughts?


Hi Joe, on which days do you typically recommend doing the skills training? It would seem they are best added to an aerobic endurance day or early on as part of warming up for a ME or Force workout as opposed to during an easier, recovery based ride. (with the focus on recovery and not adding extra stress)


Joe Friel

Hi Ryan--Skills work can be done at any time in any workout.

Joe Friel

Tim--It's the age-old question at this time of year: Is there a downside to doing anaerobic endurance training in the Base period? I find nothing in the research which suggests there is. But then I also find no research specifically on this topic. It only takes about 6-12 weeks for the anaerobic systems to peak so getting started too early on it means at best an early plateau followed by an attempt to maintain it for endless weeks. That seldom happens as enthusiasm is eventually lost for such training (which always sounds like fun in the early winter). My experience has been that athletes who do lots of AnE training in the Base period peak much too early and are burned out by mid-race season. I have those I coach hold off on this type of training until Base 3 at the earliest. In Build 1-2 MTBers will do lots of this. Best to be looking forward to it then than dreading more of the same.

David Tichy

Hi Joe...thanks for your continuing great information. I have a question re base 1 & 2 training, what is your recommendation for riders who race all year round. (We have no freezing winters) We have finished our winter road season and have now commenced our summer crit racing season. After a month break (no riding for 2 weeks and 2 weeks of very easy rides) I am into Base 2 and wondering how to fit in a Crit race once a week. Is it a good idea to race instead doing force reps?

Cheers David in Tour Down Under land

Joe Friel

David T--There is no one-way to train that works for everyone. If you are racing year round, steadily improving and enthusiastic about training then it's working and I'd be reluctant to make many if any changes. On the other hand...


could you be more explained about "force intervals"?
The 6 revs at big gear/slow cadence, count for 1 set, or it's 3 repetitions of 6 revs that count for 1 set?
If this is the case (1 set=3X6 revs), then how long should we recover between reps?

Joe Friel

Christopher--On a hill do 6 complete pedal revolutions in a high gear that keeps cadence below 50. These are all-out, maximal efforts done seated. That's 1 rep/interval. Recover by spinning easily for 3-5 minutes. Repeat 2 more times. That makes 1 set. Do 1-3 such sets for a total of 3-9 reps/intervals. (Be careful of knees!)


Joe- A few more questions for you regarding force intervals. Do you recommend increasing the difficulty of these exercises from week to week? If so, how? Add reps? More pedal strokes? I tried this workout last night and was surprised by how easy it seemed (although I felt it today in my legs), maybe the hill I was on wasn't step enough, only around a 4-6% grade.


How do you advise road cyclists to set intensity for aerobic rides, particularly aerobic threshold rides, during Base training if their heart rate stays one zone below their power zone – by HR zone or by power? (assumes your HR zones derived from your LTHR protocol, Coggan’s power zones derived from a recent 40K TT). Does your advice differ from Base 1 to Base 2 to Base 3? Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

Joe Friel

Etan--start with a low number of reps/intervals (3 or so) and continue to add them over a few weeks. The intensity/power/effort should be max each time.

Joe Friel

Madeleine--If there is considerable difference between HR and power zones then use power zones. For example, my HR high z2 is low/mid-z3 power. So I use power. Same throughout training in base.


Joe, can you clarify? Above you mention "at or near the aerobic threshold which is usually about the 2 zone using my heart rate or pace system". In the Bible Zone 2 is Aerobic, Zone 3 Tempo, Zone 4 Subthreshold, Zone 5b Aerobic Capacity. I'm confused whether I should be at Zone 2 or Zone 4 HR during base 1 endurance.


whaddya mean, Base 2? My 2010 season isn't even over with ;-) LOL...

Joe Friel

Michael--zone 2



I'm about to start base training having gone through a prep period and I was wondering about VO2 training. I have asthma and my VO2 max was a significant limiter for me last season. I've been doing aerobic work at the gym (non-cycling) and can feel it's hard to utilise my lungs to full capacity, there's resistance when opening up the final 25%. Is it worth me doing (eg) Tabata intervals during the base period to try to improve this, or is there anything else you can recommend?



Joe Friel

Iain--I don't believe that VO2max intervals, or an increase in aerobic capacity, will change your asthmatic condition. Basically, it's likely that asthma will restrict your ability to do such intense training unless you are using a medication.

Steve Fleck


A great overview of off season base training should be. Great information presented in an easily understandable way.


Steve Fleck


Only 1-2 hours in zone 2? Isn't the base period when you want to do much longer rides (depending on your skill level) of 3-4+ hours?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Joe Friel's Sponsors

Blue Competition Cycles
"Specialized Bikes is my newest sponsor. I’ve been impressed with their bikes for a long time so I tried one. Had to have it. What a great ride!"

D2 Shoes
"I’ve been using custom-made D2 Shoes for years. Currently on my fourth pair. And, yes, they have midsole cleats as described in my blog."

ADS Sports Eyewear \
"ADS Sports Eyewear makes all of my glasses for casualwear, reading, cycling, golf and more. Hundreds of models from all the major manufacturers."


Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner