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Intervals during base training

rider217rider217 Posts: 70
I have seen conflicting evidence of whether to include intervals within a base training phase. The conventional plans (I use Joe Friel, but plenty of other examples) focus purely on aerobic work and advise against intervals during base 1. However, I recently read a coaching article from ABCC (I cannot seem to find an online version or equivalent) which advocated doing 1 interval session per week throughout base phases. E.g. do 20x1min intervals and then increase no. of intervals. This was based on evidence that intervals are much better for maintaining overall fitness.

Interested in thoughts/experiences from everyone here on the merits of each approach.

Cheers

Posts

  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    20 minutes of anything is aerobic. Any non-aerobic sources of energy would've been exhausted long before.
    Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/
  • SBezzaSBezza Posts: 2,173
    If you are a rider that has only just taken up cycling, then I would avoid intervals, until you have built up to them. If done properly they hurt big time.

    If you have been cycling a while, then doing some will be OK.

    One point I will make, is that if you had been competing all year, and training very hard whilst competing, you might not want to do intervals this late in the year. It really does depend on what sort of events you are targetting, when these are, and then tailoring a training plan around these.

    I do a mixture of different riding, and that will include some intervals, but nothing really too intense at this time of year.
  • BronzieBronzie Posts: 4,927
    jibberjim wrote:
    20 minutes of anything is aerobic. Any non-aerobic sources of energy would've been exhausted long before.
    Isn't the OP referring to 20 x 1min intervals............which would suggest Level 6 / Anaerobic Capacity?

    I suppose it would depend a great deal on what intensity you are riding the intervals at.
  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    Bronzie wrote:
    jibberjim wrote:
    20 minutes of anything is aerobic. Any non-aerobic sources of energy would've been exhausted long before.
    Isn't the OP referring to 20 x 1min intervals............which would suggest Level 6 / Anaerobic Capacity?

    If you're doing 20 of them unless you're on very long rest intervals (many minutes) it'll still be degrading to a mostly aerobic workout - the first couple would have a significant anaerobic component, but after that you'd not be not recovering enough so it was mostly still an aerobic workout. Of course it would be building the aerobic recovery mechanisms of the anaerobic work, but it still makes it essentially aerobic.
    Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/
  • Thanks all so far, quick reponses!

    The recommendation was doing 20 -30 intervals, typically of 1 minute intensity. I think the advised rest period was double the interval length, and break them down into sets of 5 intervals.

    Maybe I can try and rephrase the question as during base 1 phase, are you better to do a 1-2 hour level 2 aerobic ride, or to do an interval session as suggested. I'm considering this in a base 1 phase, so the early phase of the forthcoming season, rather than the end of the current.
  • SBezzaSBezza Posts: 2,173
    I would always do a mixture, be it level 2, level 3 or intervals, unless you have only started cycling recently, then build a decent level 2 / level 3 base, because without these, the intervals are likely to be poor quality IMO.
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 7,960
    20 to 30 one minute intervals is pretty tough! I wouldn't even do that sort of workout at peak fitness, let alone in winter! Unless the intervals are only moderately harder than the rest of the ride.
  • BronzieBronzie Posts: 4,927
    Agree with the above - done properly, 1 minute intervals are very tough and I'd struggle to do more than 15 or so in a session (like I said above, it depends on what intensity you attempt to ride them at).

    To answer your question, I certainly don't think there's any harm in doing a good mix of intensities right through the year, but I can't really see the benefit in doing lots of very intense work (Levels 5-6) in November unless you are racing cyclocross. If training time is limited, I think you'd get more benefit from focusing on Levels 2-4 at this time of year.
  • inseineinseine Posts: 5,786
    The main thing to remember is that training has to be progressive, so if you're doing 20 or 30 intervals now, what are you going to be doing in 6 or 7 months time?
  • eheh Posts: 4,854
    Christ I could never do 20 x 1 min intervals and then some, I'd die, even when I was fairly fit let alone now! I used to do pyramid intervals on the turbo in the winter for 45 mins then over time building up to an hour and they were great for fitness. However, they aren't easy and many a time i felt terrible for a while after. Oh and I had done a decent amount of club rides prior, so had some base already.
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 7,960
    I doubt I would do any more than 5 or 6 flat-out 1 minute intervals in any one training session.
  • sagaloutsagalout Posts: 338
    I had the same question as the OP.

    I've decided to follow 'the black book' and that stresses that its really important not to do any intense work during the base phase as it undoes all the good work. That's slightly inconvenient as I'm doing the Xmas Cracker Sportive in a couple of weeks.

    I haven't been riding for long - just over a year - and I know my base is censored (as confirmed under lab test with the sportstest guy) so I want to spend the winter in such a way that I get properly setup for next year.

    Wondering whether to ditch the sportive, or just ride it at endurance pace (whilst will be tough as its hilly) or if in the grand scheme of things it wont make any difference
  • BronzieBronzie Posts: 4,927
    sagalout wrote:
    Wondering whether to ditch the sportive, or just ride it at endurance pace (whilst will be tough as its hilly) or if in the grand scheme of things it wont make any difference
    Not sure how you can ride a sportif at anything other than endurance pace (ie the overall intensity, rather than what you do on each climb).

    But in the scheme of things, a good mix of intensity all year round is probably not a bad thing.
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 7,960
    sagalout wrote:
    Wondering whether to ditch the sportive, or just ride it at endurance pace (whilst will be tough as its hilly) or if in the grand scheme of things it wont make any difference



    I hate to spout doctrine, but a Sportive is NOT a race. So ride the damn thing and enjoy it. Do the best you can and enjoy the fact you are having a great ride over the Christmas period. Don't worry about what anyone else is doing on the ride.

    And if you want to be 'competitive' - work towards better fitness and tackle some more at a harder/faster pace next summer.
  • SBezzaSBezza Posts: 2,173
    Pokerface wrote:
    sagalout wrote:
    Wondering whether to ditch the sportive, or just ride it at endurance pace (whilst will be tough as its hilly) or if in the grand scheme of things it wont make any difference



    I hate to spout doctrine, but a Sportive is NOT a race. So ride the damn thing and enjoy it. Do the best you can and enjoy the fact you are having a great ride over the Christmas period. Don't worry about what anyone else is doing on the ride.

    And if you want to be 'competitive' - work towards better fitness and tackle some more at a harder/faster pace next summer.

    +1

    The black book is a guide to getting fitter, it is not a personal training plan, and as such should be used as a guide rather than gospel.

    Even when I do an endurance ride, if I hit a hill, I will be over my endurance effort, unless I got off the bike and walked up the hill. The aim of these endurance rides is to have an overall effort for the ride at an endurance effort, not stick rigidly to one zone. Bear in mined you could only stick in the endurance zone if you lived somewhere totally flat.

    I wouldn't suggest going balls out, but the occasional increase in effort for a hill is normal.
  • Jeff JonesJeff Jones Posts: 1,865 Editor
    sagalout wrote:
    I've decided to follow 'the black book' and that stresses that its really important not to do any intense work during the base phase as it undoes all the good work.
    I wouldn't say intervals are actually detrimental to your fitness, more that doing them right from the start of winter might limit your long term peak. But throwing a few in now and again during 'base phase' certainly won't hurt.
    Jeff Jones

    Product manager, Sports
  • sagaloutsagalout Posts: 338
    Thanks, that was the clarification I was after......only because it specifically states not to do any intensive activity that is going to take you out of the endurance zone, and to pick routes that are flat for this reason....but I realise the book is fairly old and thinking moves on.

    I know a sportive isn't a race, however I did this one last year, and once on the move I WILL want to beat last years time (which I completed at close to threshold pace) - its just human nature! Its also quite hilly. Its not crazy compared to Hardknott etc but it does have a few steep climbs and there's no way I can keep within an endurance HR over those hills, so again it was clarification that this part of the Black book is outdated and it wont actually be detrimental. Ideally I'd like to ride it a decent pace, if only to keep warm, but my primary aim is next years TT season, and its those results in April I'm most bothered about.
  • sagaloutsagalout Posts: 338
    This is specific advice from the 'black book' I'm referring to.
    Please read this next paragraph carefully:

    While you are creating this all-important base it is essential that you do not
    become involved in any high intensity effort whatsoever. This means no
    sprinting, no racing with club mates and no hard circuit training in the gym.
    In fact don't to see your heart rate exceed the top of Level 2 even when
    climbing. To ensure this doesn't happen, I suggest you stay on flat or slightly
    undulating terrain for the time being. Any high heart rate training before the
    aerobic base is fully developed will simply cancel out the benefits so don't do
    it! The time will eventually come when I will want you to raise your effort but
    it isn't now)
  • SBezzaSBezza Posts: 2,173
    sagalout wrote:
    This is specific advice from the 'black book' I'm referring to.
    Please read this next paragraph carefully:

    While you are creating this all-important base it is essential that you do not
    become involved in any high intensity effort whatsoever. This means no
    sprinting, no racing with club mates and no hard circuit training in the gym.
    In fact don't to see your heart rate exceed the top of Level 2 even when
    climbing. To ensure this doesn't happen, I suggest you stay on flat or slightly
    undulating terrain for the time being. Any high heart rate training before the
    aerobic base is fully developed will simply cancel out the benefits so don't do
    it! The time will eventually come when I will want you to raise your effort but
    it isn't now)

    I can't see this being nothing more than a guess, if you have been cycling for years, and then decide to follow the black book, you could already have a massive base, so doing high intensity stuff wouldn't be an issue.

    If you are new to cycling, building a decent base first is a good idea, high intensity stuff needs a solid foundation. This is what I mean by being a guide. It is a generic plan not tailored to you, so taking it as gospel is not a good idea IMO
  • inseineinseine Posts: 5,786
    I had a go at the black book last year and quite enjoyed it, which is the main thing IMO. If it keeps you motivated through the winter it can't be bad and I liked the progressively harder intervals that took 4 months IIRR. I have to say though that I've tried Freils book and a couple of personal coaches and I've never gone dramatically or worse.
    Like I said before you have to build progressively and consistantly. What was good about the black book was that i was never tired so I didn't have any lows that I seem to get easily if I overdo it.
  • Saga you will be fine on the cracker, first climb is a little steep but the rest i would describe as undulating noy hilly, i think a few efforts on the climbs wont do you any harm.

    I did the black book and became abit of a zone drone and it was hard to ride at threshold after following it, took a while before my ability to suffer in races came to me.

    Enjoy the cracker , im doing it, hope weather permits!
  • milesemilese Posts: 1,233
    I've just had a look at the race calender and the first race I'm targeting is the 19th of Feb.

    What would be an appropriate time to start ramping the intensity up?

    First thing in the new year to give me 6 weeks?
  • yogiyogi Posts: 456
    Got a whole plan if you want it Miles?
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    Milese wrote:
    I've just had a look at the race calender and the first race I'm targeting is the 19th of Feb.

    What would be an appropriate time to start ramping the intensity up?

    First thing in the new year to give me 6 weeks?

    First race you are targetting, or the first race you are doing? Big difference.
  • milesemilese Posts: 1,233
    P_Tucker wrote:
    Milese wrote:
    I've just had a look at the race calender and the first race I'm targeting is the 19th of Feb.

    What would be an appropriate time to start ramping the intensity up?

    First thing in the new year to give me 6 weeks?

    First race you are targetting, or the first race you are doing? Big difference.

    First race I'm doing.
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    When's the first race you are targeting?
  • ChiggyChiggy Posts: 261
    Base training for cycling usually takes three years. Between the ages of nine and twelve.... :D
  • milesemilese Posts: 1,233
    P_Tucker wrote:
    When's the first race you are targeting?

    By targeting you mean one that I particulary want to do well in?

    As its my first season I dont really have any particular event I want to peak for. In the interests of my motivation it would be good to start strong, although I dont want to peak too early and suffer for it.
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