« Base 1 Training, Part 2 | Main | Base 1 Training, Part 4 »



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

Joe Friel

Chris--Rules (and volume tables) are meant to be broken.

Ole Knutsen

Hi Joe,

What about juniors. They have a quite different progression than the rest of us. I believe we should address their VO2Max and stroke volume periodically. Your opinion?

Great blog!


Joe Friel

Ole--I think it would depend on how young the juniors are. For older juniors (16+) it's probably not a problem. But then there is quite a bit of difference in maturity for many at this age, especially 16 year olds. For those under 16 I would not be concerned with it. Their primary focus should be on developing skills and having fun.


Joe, I do believe you. When you say that I should focus on HIM training, would you recommend I adhere strictly to the workouts in my Training Peaks Virtual Coach plan? My goal is to really improve this year. I train a lot and want to do what is most effective. I plan on getting some lab work so that I can work within my appropriate zones during training. I do think that I have a tendancy (like most triathletes) to believe that going hard often is a good thing. I am learning though. I am re-reading your book, and your blog really helps as well. Thank you.

Joe Friel

Hi Jenny--Thanks for the follow up. The most important things for HIM at this time of the season are aerobic endurance, muscular force and speed skills. I will write about these in my next blog on Base 1 training.


Hi Joe,
Great advice here as ever, thanks. Quick question - I've just been trying out your protocol, went for two hours at Hr of 125-130bpm (lower base 2 for me), but as the session went on, my output lowered for the same heart rate. However, I'm not sure if this is due to weakness in my legs (I felt fine, though my knees ached a bit towards the end), or whether it is heart rate drift. My wattage dropped from 170 at the start to 150 by the end, so quite a decoupling there, keeping to the same gear throughout.
What are your thoughts on this?


I should add, it was on an indoor trainer, and the wattage drop happened after about an hour of riding.


Thanks again Joe. You mention decoupling above. I'd like to integrate a regular measure of this into my training plan but am constrained in terms of time available to ride. So I plan on doing the following power based 1 hour workout on a Wattbike once a week or so (got good control of environment with a/c + fan so overheating not an issue).
- 2-3 minutes ramping up to top of endurance
- continue to 30 mins at steady watts top of endurance zone
- at 30 mins step up intensity to top of tempo zone and continue to hour is up.

(I do this rather than a steady hour at endurance because the latter on a turbo is very boring. Also think interesting to see how decoupling is at tempo level)

At the end I get 3 measures of decoupling
A - In the first interval from where HR flattens after warmup ("point A") to 30 min point
B - In the second portion from where HR flattens after load increase to 60 minutes
C - From "Point A" through to 60 mins.

Done this once so far and already interesting results (decoupling from WKO)
A was 20 mins at 219W decoupling 1.4%
B was 27 mins at 249W decoupling 2.0%
C was 50 mins at 237W decoupling -1.6% (to be expected as HR lags power when shift up at 30 mins)

I take this to mean that my current endurance zone is in fact set too low and will increase it for future.

I'd be interested if you think this approach is valid, especially 50 mins is long enough in terms of a test time.

Joe Friel

Martin--Yes, indoor training forces us to make adjustments. Good luck with it.

Joe Friel

Gordon--Regardless of the cause, you decoupled quite a bit so need to keep working at it. Good luck!



For me, the Base phase also means more time in the weight room. What are your thoughts in regards to combingning weight training and low cadence, big gear force work? I typically avoid low cadence force drills on the bike, primarily because I have always operated under premise that squats, lunges, and leg press bring about similar gains in peddlig force. The combination of both seems likely to result in injury as well. What are your thoughts?

Joe Friel

Sam--Good observation on the injury thing. It really depends on the athlete and their susceptibility to injury. For some it could be a problem to do both - esp to knees. I happen to be doing both (squats-force reps on bike) myself right now and feel it's a very affective combination.


I do have a question about weight training through the base periods (Prep, Bases I, II, III.) I'm switching from Triathlon to Cycling this year, and as such I'm really needing to boost my strength on the bike. You recommend in the Cyclists' Training Bible that one should do 3 weeks in Prep in AA, a week in Prep in MT, and then 4 weeks in MS in Base 1. However, in the chapter on strength training in both the Cyclists' and Tri Training Bibles, you state that one could do as many as 12 AA workouts (about 4 weeks at 3 sessions/week), 5 MT workouts (a week at 3 sessions, a second week at 2 sessions), and then 12 sessions in MS (you put a strict limit of 2 sessions/week here, so this would imply that MS could last as long as six weeks).

For someone like me- who is both eager to build strength and enjoys training in the weight room- would you recommend persisting with a strength training program along the lines that I've described above: 4 weeks AA at 3 sessions/week, 2 weeks MT with a 3 session week and a two session week, and then 6 weeks at 2 sessions/ week? Following this would theoretically allow for intensive strength training through Base 2, which is when you recommend starting Force training on hills and Tempo riding.


One other question:

I'm really wanting to build my cadence for next season, as well. However, in order to have enough of a downhill to do the Spin-Up drill in the area where I live (and I don't have a trainer), I would have to ride up some serious climbs. However it is quite windy where I'm living right now, and I noticed a huge difference just yesterday when I was out for an hour on a flat course. So could one easily substitute tailwinds for downhills when doing Spin-Ups?

Also, I've read that some cyclists known to do a lot of work on cadence- particularly Armstrong- would ride consistently for long periods of time at a rather high cadence. Would you recommend doing this- say, in coupling with a Zone 2 ride- rather than doing Spin Ups? (In other words, would this be just as beneficial as doing Spin Ups in building pedaling efficiency and cadence?)

Joe Friel

Paige--I really do like to have riders beginning to cut back on strength/weight training by Base 2. Sometimes it can't helped. When Prep is several weeks long it makes this more doable. But that is determined by when your first A race happens.

Joe Friel

Paige--You've got a lot of questions today. :) Must be the planning time of year for you. That's good.

Spin ups don't have to be on downhills or down wind, altho that is ok. They can be done just as easily on flats. And riding with a comfortably high cadence is a great thing to do this time of year also. My favorite for this is a couple of hours with feet solidly against upper inside of shoe without any significant downstroke. Tiring for quads but teaches to get through the top which is the major limiter for smooth pedaling. Good luck!


I know I'm not Joe (maybe, he can confirm or comment further on what I will say?), but I have been through a similar situation. After I rested my knee I could get my heart rate up easier, thus changing how my power zones and heart rate zones line up. Furthermore, I did a Livestrong sponsored Computrainer 40k time trial in March, I also have done other time trials, when I was fresher. When I did the Computrainer race I could only average about 174 beats a minute, but normally when I time trial I can ride in the 180's bpm. I had not taken a transition period more then a few days long in 5 years; in the last couple years I extended my high intensity training. Finally, you might not be rested enough, based on my own experience, which is mentioned above.

P.S. I think in a different blog even Joe Friel mentioned that late in the season (when racers are more aerobically fit), power may be unusually higher then heart rate, or the zones won't match up as well. Joe's words were not exactly like that, but I hope that made sense.



I've exceeded my seasons goals in TTing, and although I'm still PB'ing I'm also feeling a bit overtrained/overraced. This is my first year back after 30 years and I'm 45.

So now I'm thinking break off the racing build a massive base for next year. However is mid July too early to start base work for next season ? Perhaps it would be wiser to build more speed this year in 25 mile TT's to end of august, and then start basework in september - then next year - logic being that extra speed/power built this year would be easier to get back to this year ?

So in a nutshell, switch to basework now, or build on power now and start basework in 2/3 months time ??


Joe Friel

Paul--July is a a bit early to be working on base for next season assuming your first race is late winter-early spring. You'll just be burned out early again. enjoy life and ride for fun for a while.


Hi Joe,

Is it ok to include some hills during the base periods (1,2,3) for the long ride (E2)? Where I live, there are many hills and that makes it hard to plan a long ride without having to climb them, unless I do many loops on a boring short flat road. These 4 hills I have to cross have from 6 to 8 percent slope and are around 1.5 miles long each. FWIW, if I drop the cadence to 50-60, I can stay in zones 2 and 3 without problems.


Joe Friel

Alex--No problem.


I'm curious about the basis for the statement "It only takes a few weeks, perhaps 6 to 12, to achieve a very high level of anaerobic fitness." It seems to imply that anyone could become a 1 kilo sprinter in 6-12 weeks; albeit I realize that a 1 kilo sprint also has a large aerobic component. Can anaerobic fitness not be improved over several years? Or is it the case that what separates an expert 1 kilo sprinter from a novice with 6-12 weeks of anaerobic training is only aerobic fitness?

Joe Friel

Mike-- I think it's probably obvious that everyone is not capable of becoming a world class kilo rider in 12 weeks. But given one's current level of aerobic fitness, anaerobic fitness can be peaked within 12 weeks. After that it's just maintenance of that level. To go to the next highest level will require building aerobic fitness to a new, higher level.


Thanks for the reply, Joe. That makes sense and that was my assumption, but what is the basis for that? Is that your experience or was that a result of a study? I have seen studies that have shown a plateau in anaerobic fitness after X weeks of high intensity interval training where X was really low, but that does not necessarily imply that a higher level of anaerobic fitness cannot be obtained through a different type of training, does it?. Do elite athletes really still have the same level of anaerobic fitness at the peak of their careers as they did when they first started? Is the same true of neuromuscular power (e.g. CP0.2)?

Joe Friel

Mike--It's based on experience. Elite athletes typically become smarter, not more fit, as they age. There are limits to how fit one can become.

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