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Hi Joe,

Good post as always, very informative, but can I ask a question. You advised - "The sooner you are recovered the sooner you can do another BT workout. The more BT workouts you can do in a given period of time the more fit you become. The more fit you are the faster you race" - Why use periodization, why not just do a BT workout, recover and do another, all year round. Providing you recover well enough couldn't you get fit doing this method of training only?

FYI Im currently using periodization and it has worked previously but im always looking for other ways to train - I think I like training hard and struggle with base periods!

Joe Friel

Hi Gav--Good question but I think you may be a bit confused on what a BT workout is. You seem to be thinking that it is high intensity or race-specific. That isn't necessarily the case. A much longer than usual workout done at a low intensity is also a BT. Or a long mod-intensity workout on a hilly terrain could also be a BT. It's anything that stresses you regardless of what the cause of the stress was. BTs occur throughout the year. All that varies with periodization is that the nature of the BT workout changes. Good luck with your training!

Mike Saif

Joe, I like to eat raw nuts, especially almonds (very good for alkaline), cashews and pistachios. Are these good to get protein from? Also, I tend to have some chocolate milk and a fistful of cashews and raisins right after a ride as this gives carbs and protein. Is it a good mix and is it getting the protein from the right type? Thanks.


Thanks for posting this, it is very helpful and recovery is something I have been failing to do ideally (hence your first paragraphs about overtraining).

When you say recovery, does that include not only how your body gets stronger and adapts for the next workout, but can it include how sore your muscles will be the next day? If eat and recover properly, will my legs be less sore? Thanks again!

Mike Russell

As always, great post. My body screams for a nap after a BT and my wife always complains that without one, I am a grump.

Great post.

Jose Perez

hi Joe,
Thank you very much for your blog, is a inspiration and a source of good information for me a popular sport entusiast from spain.
Only to appreciate your work and again thak you


Joe Friel

Fearlessfood--Thanks for your comment. Recovery, esp sleep, may help to mitigate soreness the next day by a small amount. But that's just my guess. I've never seen any studies on this s related to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

Joe Friel

Mike S--The research I've read shows that only about 10g or protein is needed after a stressful workout, but I'm sure that would vary quite a bit with body size and how stressful, plus, perhaps, how much diet in diet generally. Nuts and milk post-workout would _probably_ give you enough.


I'm curious what you think about Mauro DiPasquale's advice to restrict carbs after workouts to prolong the anabolic window. The premise is that keeping glycogen low elevates insulin sensitivity for hours or even days, shifts the resting (and active) metabolism toward fat burning, and helps with the anabolic phase of muscle repair as well, as long as adequate protein is provided. See http://metabolicdiet.com/pdfs/articles/Post_Exercise_Carbohydrates.pdf Granted, he's focused more on bodybuilding, but the science is still relevant. Glycogen reserves will not be replenished as fast, but this would seem to help with training fat burning anyway. Keeping postworkout carbs lower would seem to be helpful for body composition issues as well as periods of training where weight training/strength building are prominent. I have found that I might not be able to train as intensely, but I wonder if the other benefits might be useful in the long run, or at certain periods of the training year.

Joe Friel

Hi Cynthia--It's an interesting idea. I've read about doing that before. There was a Euro guy back in the early 90s who also proposed something like this. He scheduled meal times, type of foods, workout types and timing, and sleep to achieve similar ends. Don't recall his name now. Anyway, I think it just comes down to what your goals are. There are many ways to achieve various results. Good luck!

Paul F

Good points Cynthia,

I've read a bit a research that also suggests it's not necessary to replenish your carbs so quickly after a workout. In other words a half tank full of petrol will operate just as efficiently as a full tank of petrol and athletes run the risk of over consuming resulting in increased storage of fat.

Post workout recovery strategies should include periods of time where you are continuing to metabolise fat at higher than normal rates, if you consume carbs too soon you may in fact surpress you ability to keep this happening, due to insulin release, which could be an effective protocol to follow for someone wanting to improve their body composition perhaps??




Good post ( as usual )

What are your thoughts on including caffeine in an immediate post-exercise diet? I've seen recent research+evidence that suggests caffeine aids in speedy recovery and the antioxidants in tea and even coffee are very good.


Joe Friel

Hunter...--I've never seen anything on that. Do you have lit references?


A quick search brought this up:


I dont exactly remember where i read it. Probably in popular cycling websites and their coaches' columns.

From purely personal experience, I would have to agree. If I can't take a nap right after a hard workout, then a cup of coffee seems to help the next day.


Joe, my schedule only allows me to train about 300 hours a year. Given that I usually never train for more than 8 hours a week, is it still possible to get overtrained?

Joe Friel

Jay--Thanks for your comment. I'm sorry but I really can't answer your question. Seems simple enough but there is so much that would be neccasry to know. For all I know you are 98 years old and find it hard to walk around the block. Or perhaps you are 25 and have a VO2max of 78. There are simply too many 'it depends.' Even if you start providing me with bio data I'd still not know what the level of overtraining might be for you. There is no formula for this. When I coach someone it takes me weeks to figure these sorts of things out. Good luck!

Peter Karlsson


Here's another noob question from me, hope you put up with my lack of knowledge. I'm thinking about recovery rides.

I guess I'm missing out on something here since everyone seems to do them. But; what good are them compared to no riding at all? Wouldn't that be even more of a recovery? I guess recovery rides are supposed to keep fitness from declining too fast, but during taper I've got the impression that the opposite is used to keep fitness from dropping too fast, but still not getting much stress; to cut volume and keep intensity: the absolute opposite of a recovery ride.

Also, recovery rides are quite similar to what people not training usually do on their bike, resulting in i guess, well, not much at all? That's fine if you want recovery, but again, if nothing is gained, isn't the alternative, complete rest, better time spent?

Trying to find possible reasons here. Maybe if you practice high-cadence during them, to gain economy? But again, isn't that what you do at sprints and intervals at high intensities?

Thinking about how to spend training hours wisely; if recovery rides are, for an example 1/3 of the total training time, and they contribute little above doing nothing at all, isn't that wasting 1/3 of total training time? Which seems like a huge waste of time.

But I guess I'm lost here, since everyone are doing them. Please enlighten a beginner, Joe.

Cheers /Peter

Joe Friel

Peter--Great question! This is a topic on my list of things to write about here. So I'll just touch a couple of points. More to follow at a later date.

Following a hard workout/s you need to do something to assist the body with recovery. For the novice the best things is doing nothing at all. For the advanced athlete doing a light workout helps to speed recovery (compared with doing nothing).

As I've said here before, frequency of training improves economy. Pedaling a bike (or running, swimming, etc) frequently, even if it's casually, improves one's ability to pedal a bike/run/swim/etc (compared with infrequently). If one does 3 hard workouts a week and takes 4 days off economy will suffer and it will show up in reduced performance eventually.

Sorry for the brevity. More later. Check back.

F. Berinstein

Hi Joe,

I'm fairly new to triathlon training, but not an unfit beginner. I've noticed as I advance in my training intensity, that I'm not sleeping as well as usual. I wake up at least once a night and have a hard time falling back asleep, which means i'm not feeling rested in the morning. I've always been a good sleeper, so not sure what's going on. Is this my body's way of adapting to intensity?
Many thanks,

Joe Friel

F. Berinstein--Yes, it certainly could be due to training, esp if you do a workout late in the day. I used (early 1990s) swim with a masters group at 7pm. I can recall having a hard time going to sleep those evenings. Your body may also be adapting to the new stress of tri training.

Jack Billingham

Hi Joe,

I am an age group triathlete/duathlete and have just finished an intense 6 week training programme, leading me upto a race in the Netherlands in 3 weeks. I have been doing a lot of threshold work in an attempt to improve speed. Now i am feeling seriously overtrained. Up until 3 weeks ago i felt great. However since then have become increasingly tired, dizzy spells, unable to train generally. I know these are all signs of overtraining syndrome. I have taken a week totally off and feel slightly better but with the race a few weeks away i feel complete rest until then could be the only way of making the startline?! Any thoughts?

Thanks, Jack

Joe Friel

Jack Billingham - Yes it certainly sounds as if you need rest. There's no way of knowing how much. Play it by ear daily. Try an occasional easy workout to see how you're feeling. It's also a good idea to see your doctor to be checked for such diseases as mononucleosis and Lyme disease as they have similar symptoms to overtraining.

Patrik Hast

Hi Joe!

Thanks for a great and intersting blog. I´ve read a few of your books and Im also using trainingpeaks.com. I have a question related to overreaching and recovery.

As a mountainbiker Im a novice, doing my second year. Though this is my first year with a trainingplan including training hours (275). However Ive been active in sports in many years, so in that case Im not a novice in context of training. Im 33 years old.

Recently Ive finished my base 3 training, and during my last session (about after 40min) my thighs Went all numb and powerless. I had no more energy at all in the legs, however I didt feel exhausted in any other way. Heart wise it wasnt a heavy workout.

Previous week Ive been having a rest week with about 3h training. Two days ago I was to suppose to do CP30 test, but I fel low in Power in legs, and after about 10min of 30 test minutes (warm up not included). No energy in my legs to pedal. I also have trouble rising my pulse. Last time I did the test I had average of 178, this time 160. Of course my idea is to rest, but I feel fresh in mind an body, but just not the legs. Any advice?

I also wonder if I should skip build up (which suppose to begin this week) and continue with base 3, since Im novice to mtb?

Joe Friel

Patrik--I suspect you are just experiencing local fatigue in the legs from training. Before testing it's a good idea to get 2-3 days of greatly reduced training/day off to help ensure that you are ready for it. I think continuing on with base 3 is a good idea.

Patrik Hast

Thanks for your quick answer Joe. I did exactly what youre telling me and still the same feeling in the legs and low pulse during the test like the week before during my workout. Should I treat a local fatigue in any other way than a regular fatigue? And if this fatigue doesnt go away, any ideas?

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