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How do recovery weeks affect strength training? Do you recommend cutting out the lifting, and does your recommendation change with the period of weight lifting? Specifically, if I have one more week of Maximum Strength lifting and this is a recovery week, is it ok to lift now or should I do it next week?



Hi Joe,

I am a marathonmountainbiker that also has the problem of too much base to do : due to a kneeproblem I aborted racing in summer, had a superfine rest in september, had a nice preparation period in october (my hartrates are now back to normal after they were skyrocketing in october), i started base1 in november. Base 2 is planned for december, base 3 for januari and repeated in februari. Half march I leave for a trekking-hike up to 6150m in Nepal, and so real racing is only planned from june on.
I wanted to go from tempo/level3 over sweet spot (low level4) over level4 to VO2 max training, but the problem is : "when has there been enough of a certain level of training ?" or otherwisely stated : "how does one detect plato-ing and know it's time to go one with other stresses of training?"

Ow yes, mostly I'm on a bike with a powermeter, and - due to the hike - plan a three to five (and later to seven) hour hike, every week. A five hour hike seem to create the same training stress as a five hour level2 training... Also any comment on that ?

Fully appreciating your blog, having read almost all of your entries, they are o so helpfull for an even better understanding your books !!!

Joe Friel

Douglas--I generally have athletes back off on 1 or 2 MS sessions in a R&R week. They reduce loads or reps or sets. Depends on the athlete and what I know about them.

Joe Friel

Madeleine--Just so we're all on the same page, plateauing means there is no change in fitness over an extended period of time more than likely due to full adaptation to the training methodology. WKO+ will help with this as CTL will plateau. Otherwise, we are largely talking about the athlete's perceptions during common workouts or field test results.

Joe Friel

Mattias--Could be done either way. I tend to come down on the side of more base training usually.

Joe Friel

Mark--I'd suggest a long Prep period (non-bike training) starting whenever possible doing whatever the med person thinks is appropriate. (I'm not in a position to recommend what you should do.) Then when back on bike the base training ramp up is probably best done gradually. But, again, see what he/she thinks.


What about doing 4 weeks on and 1 week recovery? Any advice, tips? Am assuming like a mini recovery period after 2 weeks might be a good idea (maybe 2 days off instead of the typical 1 day off).

Joe Friel

Marcus--About anything is possible when it comes to periodization. Just depends on the individual.


Hello Mr Friel
Could you please let me know your thoughts on long periods of time ie two hour plus at zone 2 on the turbo.The weather in the UK is very bad at the moment and i will soon be starting the base3 period.Also on my rest week the total time is seven hours do i ride in zone 2 for the majority of this week to recover??

regards Rod

Joe Friel

Rod-Just posted something on how long to ride indoors. In a rest week just ride easy based on how you feel. That may be zone 1 early in the week and z2 a few days later. The idea is to rejuvenate.


Regarding Base 3 Cruise Intervals (M2), back on your blog (11/14/2009) you recommend "beginners" to do 3x4 min (12 mins. total, rest 25% of duration, once a week. Is this just for the first week, all of Base 3, or for the entire season?

My thinking is to start here, and slowly increase the time until I can do the 3-5 intervals of 6-12 minutes, as explained in the MTB Bible.

Thanks again!

Joe Friel

Johnw9--Yes, ME interval length should be increased over time to keep the body challenged to adapt.


Thanks Joe for a detailed analysis of the periods! But there is one question I live in a cold climate zone in Ukraine, as you suggest the transition from running to the bike? example I think this period will last at least 4 weeks.

Joe Friel

vadimdudnik - I don't understand the question. Sorry.


Hey Mr Friel.

I am currently in my base 2 stage in my 2011 season. However I have to spend my time on my trainer, because I live in Canada with right now average temps of 14'F. Any advice for training?

Joe Friel

Chris--To quote Eddie Merckx--"Train lots."


Hi Joe,

In base 1/2/3 what percent of workouts would you devote to HR zones 1/2/3? I hope that makes sense. I usually do z1/2 for base 1 and in base 2 and 3 start doing more zone 3 training. It has never been clear how much zone 3 I should be doing though. Any thoughts? This is for cycling/mtb. Thanks!

Joe Friel

Joel--The answer to all such general questions should begin with "it depends." I'll try not to say that but there are lots of variables here that I don't know anything about for you. The combined time in z1-3 will probably make up around 90% of your time in the base period. Variations on that come back to "it depends."


If a novice athlete has no intention of racing in the current season because they yet lack the ability to be competitive, but does intend to race the following season, which would you recommend:

1) an extended base period that includes the entire first season, the off-season, and the beginning of the next season, followed by a normal build-peak.

2) a normal base-build-peak with an arbitrary peak date with no race, followed by a transition and then another base-build-peak.

3) an extended base period that includes the entire first season, then a transition, and then a normal base-build-peak the next season.

4) None of the above.

Joe Friel

Mike--Any of the first 3 will work. If I was your coach I'd have to figure out which fits best with your goals, lifestyle, and temperament. There's is no periodization formula that works for everyone in every situation. Good luck.


Joe, your answer implies to me that you think all of the plans are likely to reach the same end state. This further implies to me that there is no obvious reason to train above power zone 2 (except for force reps) until 15-16 weeks before an A-priority race regardless of how far in the future the race is. Am I reading you right?

Joe Friel

Mi,e--The most important single thing is to build a lot of aerobic endurance in your long build update.


Hi Joe, I have a question. I have missed 2 weeks of Base 1 training due to an injury (concussion). I'm going to start back to training now. In your book "The Cyclist Training Bible" you say to go back one mesocycle so although according to my plan I should now be starting Base 2, I go back to Base 1. My plan had me doing Base 1, 2, 3, then Build 1, 2 and Peak 1 before my Priority A race (the transrockies mountain bike race).

My question is, is should I know only complete 2 Base (Base 1, 2) then begin my build phase at 11 weeks out, or keep the same Base period (1, 2, and 3) and shorten the Build period by 1 cycle?

Joe Friel

Rahul--You'll need to shorten something. Hard for me to say what as I don't know your unique training needs. A common way is to reduce each mesocycle by a few days. For ex, peak may be one week instead of two. Build 2 may be 3 instead of 4. Etc.


Hi Joe,

I've built a training plan for myself using your book 'Your Best Triathlon' and 'The Power Meter Handbook'. They are such great resources!

I'm in Base 2 for Ironman Canada, and my question for you is about hill training. This race has over 6k+ of climbing, yet I notice there's not any real climbing until the Build cycles begin, and even then the intervals are rather short whereas my race has some pretty significant sustained climbing.

I'm concerned that by waiting until I'm only 12 weeks out to start climbing and then to also only be doing shorter intervals that I won't be adequately preparing myself for the course. Should I be integrating any hills into my base training?

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