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Winter Training - Endurance rides v Intervals?

JesseDJesseD Posts: 1,961
I have always used the winter to work on base fitness and endurance so lots of zone 2-3 long rides and a turbo once a week where I will venture into some zone 4 intervals but nothing to extreme, last winter I was coached and he adopted the same approach in my training plan and I had a pretty good following season with some early season wins which was only derailed mid season by a bereavement in the family which set me back a bit and i struggled to find form properly afterwards, although i did win the Vets crit champs at the end of the season for a 2nd year running.

However I got speaking to a club-mate on the weekend who uses a different approach and will do 1 long ride on the weekend for endurance but also does 2-3 turbo based interval sessions a week at a high intensity as he feels its better to keep the legs sharp but get proper rest afterwards, the result of this is he is as strong as an ox, a very very good road racer and time trialist, and has represented where we live at the Island Games and also won the Island Road and Crit champs this year.
This got me thinking about the approach I am taking and is it a case of tried and tested so why change or is the seemingly new approach to winter training better?

I'm interested in different approaches you take in regards to winter training and what sessions you do?
Obsessed is a word used by the lazy to describe the dedicated!
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  • NapoleonDNapoleonD Posts: 18,632
    The guys I coach have differing goals and the training reflects that. The time trial / road race guys have a fair bit more top end work, the ironman a lot of base/tempo with a bit of top end just to stop the boredom.
    I also phase the training so it builds up intensity over a block, retest, build again.
    Me personally, I have running races at this time of year so my training reflects that. I just keep on top of the cycling fitness.
    Twitter - @NapD
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  • JesseDJesseD Posts: 1,961
    Thanks NapD, i think the goals of myself v the extremely good rider from our club are very similar, we both race road and crits and next season I will be adding TT's into the mix as well.

    I think it was the difference in approaches to the same goals that interested me more than anything as I want to step up a division next year and race against the big boys.
    Obsessed is a word used by the lazy to describe the dedicated!
  • VamPVamP Posts: 674
    I think it's often tempting to look at what successful riders are doing and copy it. Just bear in mind that they are sometimes successful despite their regimen rather than because of it.

    Having said that, I do believe in specificity in training, so if you're after crits, train for the above threshold efforts rather than endless z2/3. Very few of us really need hours of endurance, most races are sub 2 hours.
  • joey54321joey54321 Posts: 1,297
    The benefits of "endless z2/3" isn't necessarily to make you a better rider for long durations (though it'll likely do that). Its to stress you aerobic system in ways that shorter rides can't (e.g. fatiguing slow twitch muscle fibers).

    Given that 85% of an individual track pursuit (4km, ~4mins for good guys) is aerobic you can start to understand how important the aerobic system is for crits of ~an hour.
  • JesseDJesseD Posts: 1,961
    VamP wrote:
    I think it's often tempting to look at what successful riders are doing and copy it. Just bear in mind that they are sometimes successful despite their regimen rather than because of it.

    Having said that, I do believe in specificity in training, so if you're after crits, train for the above threshold efforts rather than endless z2/3. Very few of us really need hours of endurance, most races are sub 2 hours.

    He isn't what i would call a talented rider per say (although he does have some obviously), he has worked hard and was coached by an ex-uk pro for a bit but then decided to go it alone as he reckoned he knew his body better than anyone else and knew how to adapt his training, since he started coaching himself he has flown. I was part of a 4up TTT with him as my final race of the season and he literally dragged the 3 of us round for the entire ride, we dropped one at the midway point and at one point we were rotating for his wheel as holding it was hard enough! we actually got 3rd overall on the day and we were on road bikes, and I reckon if he had raced it on his own he would have still placed 3rd!

    You are right about needing hours of endurance though as no races locally are usually over 2 hours with the exception of maybe 2-3 per year.
    Obsessed is a word used by the lazy to describe the dedicated!
  • JesseDJesseD Posts: 1,961
    joey54321 wrote:
    The benefits of "endless z2/3" isn't necessarily to make you a better rider for long durations (though it'll likely do that). Its to stress you aerobic system in ways that shorter rides can't (e.g. fatiguing slow twitch muscle fibers).

    Given that 85% of an individual track pursuit (4km, ~4mins for good guys) is aerobic you can start to understand how important the aerobic system is for crits of ~an hour.

    I suppose the same would run true of a road race then as a larger % of the time spent will be aerobic
    Obsessed is a word used by the lazy to describe the dedicated!
  • VamPVamP Posts: 674
    joey54321 wrote:
    The benefits of "endless z2/3" isn't necessarily to make you a better rider for long durations (though it'll likely do that). Its to stress you aerobic system in ways that shorter rides can't (e.g. fatiguing slow twitch muscle fibers).

    Given that 85% of an individual track pursuit (4km, ~4mins for good guys) is aerobic you can start to understand how important the aerobic system is for crits of ~an hour.

    Yeah, you can do it more effectively with z4 work in my opinion. I don't purposely do any z2 - plenty of it happens as a by product. I do occasionally do extended z3 rides (2 or 3 hours), but the bulk of my work is z4, and the rest is mostly above.

    There isn't that much scope to keep inflating the aerobic once you're well trained. But the ability to reach above threshold (for longer or more frequently) is where the scope lies - at least for me.
  • VamPVamP Posts: 674
    JesseD wrote:
    VamP wrote:
    I think it's often tempting to look at what successful riders are doing and copy it. Just bear in mind that they are sometimes successful despite their regimen rather than because of it.

    Having said that, I do believe in specificity in training, so if you're after crits, train for the above threshold efforts rather than endless z2/3. Very few of us really need hours of endurance, most races are sub 2 hours.

    He isn't what i would call a talented rider per say (although he does have some obviously), he has worked hard and was coached by an ex-uk pro for a bit but then decided to go it alone as he reckoned he knew his body better than anyone else and knew how to adapt his training, since he started coaching himself he has flown. I was part of a 4up TTT with him as my final race of the season and he literally dragged the 3 of us round for the entire ride, we dropped one at the midway point and at one point we were rotating for his wheel as holding it was hard enough! we actually got 3rd overall on the day and we were on road bikes, and I reckon if he had raced it on his own he would have still placed 3rd!

    You are right about needing hours of endurance though as no races locally are usually over 2 hours with the exception of maybe 2-3 per year.

    Having a body that responds, and continues to respond to training is in itself a talent. We all have a genetically imposed ceiling we cannot rise above though. Some have it higher than others.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,001
    joey54321 wrote:
    Given that 85% of an individual track pursuit (4km, ~4mins for good guys) is aerobic you can start to understand how important the aerobic system is for crits of ~an hour.

    'Aerobic' covers such a huge effort range for that kind of comment to be accurate, given that anything that isn't 'anaerobic' is nominally 'aerobic' in any case. However, if I was preparing for a pursuit or some other 'short duration aerobic' event, I can't see Z2 rides being a huge help, given that most events like that are ridden at the other end (ie the top end) of the aerobic scale.
  • joey54321joey54321 Posts: 1,297
    VamP wrote:
    Yeah, you can do it more effectively with z4 work in my opinion. I don't purposely do any z2 - plenty of it happens as a by product. I do occasionally do extended z3 rides (2 or 3 hours), but the bulk of my work is z4, and the rest is mostly above.

    There isn't that much scope to keep inflating the aerobic once you're well trained. But the ability to reach above threshold (for longer or more frequently) is where the scope lies - at least for me.

    That is interesting as many coaches would say its the opposite. You hit a ceiling with non-aerboic development pretty quickly (which is why the pros aren't that much better in a 20-30s sprint. However, over 5 hours they absolutely destroy any amateurs. But obviously, if it works for you keep doing it!

    Imposter wrote:
    joey54321 wrote:
    Given that 85% of an individual track pursuit (4km, ~4mins for good guys) is aerobic you can start to understand how important the aerobic system is for crits of ~an hour.

    'Aerobic' covers such a huge effort range for that kind of comment to be accurate, given that anything that isn't 'anaerobic' is nominally 'aerobic' in any case. However, if I was preparing for a pursuit or some other 'short duration aerobic' event, I can't see Z2 rides being a huge help, given that most events like that are ridden at the other end (ie the top end) of the aerobic scale.

    Track guys and TP/P rides will often do lots of aerobic miles on the road too, its basically why Team Wiggins was set up, to get longer aerobic efforts at top races for the track riders. I agree, if short of time you perhaps need to bump the intensity up but there is a lot of value in developing a deep aerobic engine for anyone looking to compeat over a couple of minutes (i.e. nearly every bike racer).
  • VamPVamP Posts: 674
    joey54321 wrote:
    However, over 5 hours they absolutely destroy any amateurs.


    Very few amateurs train for races over 5 hours. But olympic track sprinters absolutely destroy amateurs also. Okay it's by seconds, but seconds are huge in the flying 200. A 12 second 200 hundred man isn't getting to 10 seconds any day soon.

    It would help if you weren't coming at this from the armchair perspective. Anyone who has been training effectively for a good few years will see little if any improvements at threshold. It just isn't inflatable. Yes you need to train there to keep it, but it cannot grow indefinitely. I have not seen improvements in my FTP in three years now.

    You mention IP - I ride mine at well over threshold - 100 odd watts over. So training at z2 is not specific to that. Plus there's the standing start and massively lopsided power delivery.


    Referencing what pros do is not really relevant.

    I don't think you'll find as many coaches as you think who'd disagree with my approach.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,001
    joey54321 wrote:
    Track guys and TP/P rides will often do lots of aerobic miles on the road too, its basically why Team Wiggins was set up, to get longer aerobic efforts at top races for the track riders. I agree, if short of time you perhaps need to bump the intensity up but there is a lot of value in developing a deep aerobic engine for anyone looking to compeat over a couple of minutes (i.e. nearly every bike racer).

    They may already do lots of 'aerobic' miles, because they are fundamentally still cyclists, so will ride by definition. However, that's not the same as saying that 'lots of base miles is useful prep for a TP', because it isn't. IME, the best preparation for track efforts is lots of track efforts of a duration similar to your target events.
  • VamPVamP Posts: 674
    Imposter wrote:
    IME, the best preparation for track efforts is lots of track efforts of a duration similar to your target events.

    Indeed.

    And then perhaps broken down into individual components, so for the example of IP you may train the standing start (essentially a sprint) separately, and also allocate a good chunk of time training in your aero position to optimize power delivery.

    You can replicate elements on your road bike or watt bike or whatever, but then you want to bring it all back together on the track. Specificity is king.
  • joey54321joey54321 Posts: 1,297
    I am not saying the old component to a pursuit is aerobic, nor am I saying you should only do 5 hour rides in Z2 to best prepare for a pursuit. I am saying that you need to accurately break down the demands of your choosen event. Many (almost all) cycling events are highly aerobic and as such, developing your aerobic abilities is important. Part of your what makes up your aerobic abilities are heavily dependent on adaption that occur on/after longer rides where, by necessity, the intensity is lower (say, Z2).

    What the pros do is not relevant for the majority of 'every day' athletes but it does give an indication of the how to train in a near ideal world and parts of that can be translated. Track rides don't do aerobic work just because they are cyclists, they go out on 5+ hours rides because it helps them in their event, it isn't a byproduct of just 'being a cyclist'. It is a targetted adaption they are after.


    FTP is generally far more trainable and adaptable than most areas of a power curve (generally the longer duration the more trainable). If you haven't seen a bump in your FTP in 3 years I suggest you mix up your training a bit. I've been cycling/racing for over 10 years and my FTP is still going up year on year (though not as much as it used to unfortunately ).
  • VamPVamP Posts: 674
    joey54321 wrote:
    I am not saying the old component to a pursuit is aerobic, nor am I saying you should only do 5 hour rides in Z2 to best prepare for a pursuit. I am saying that you need to accurately break down the demands of your choosen event. Many (almost all) cycling events are highly aerobic and as such, developing your aerobic abilities is important. Part of your what makes up your aerobic abilities are heavily dependent on adaption that occur on/after longer rides where, by necessity, the intensity is lower (say, Z2).

    What the pros do is not relevant for the majority of 'every day' athletes but it does give an indication of the how to train in a near ideal world and parts of that can be translated. Track rides don't do aerobic work just because they are cyclists, they go out on 5+ hours rides because it helps them in their event, it isn't a byproduct of just 'being a cyclist'. It is a targetted adaption they are after.


    FTP is generally far more trainable and adaptable than most areas of a power curve (generally the longer duration the more trainable). If you haven't seen a bump in your FTP in 3 years I suggest you mix up your training a bit. I've been cycling/racing for over 10 years and my FTP is still going up year on year (though not as much as it used to unfortunately ).

    There really isn't that much that happens at zone 2, that doesn't happen at z3/4. This is an old chart, but gets to the point quite nicely:

    Expected-Physiological-Adaptations-in-Sweet-Spot.png

    As for my FTP, I have been cycling/racing for a fair bit longer than you, so perhaps you haven't yet reached your potential. I fear I have exhausted mine :-)
  • VamPVamP Posts: 674
    On the point of track cyclists, it may be useful to further break them down into Sprinters and Enduros. Sprinters don't go on 5 hour rides. In fact they hardly ride their bikes at all :-)

    Enduros do a lot of stuff, but then they will typically race everything up to 50 lap scratch races, so their fitness requirements are more universal. Most will race road too as it's complementary.
  • VamP wrote:
    As for my FTP, I have been cycling/racing for a fair bit longer than you, so perhaps you haven't yet reached your potential. I fear I have exhausted mine :-)
    There's always room for improvement.
  • VamP wrote:
    On the point of track cyclists, it may be useful to further break them down into Sprinters and Enduros. Sprinters don't go on 5 hour rides. In fact they hardly ride their bikes at all :-)

    Enduros do a lot of stuff, but then they will typically race everything up to 50 lap scratch races, so their fitness requirements are more universal. Most will race road too as it's complementary.
    Sprinters will still do some endurance rides for weight management.
  • VamPVamP Posts: 674
    VamP wrote:
    On the point of track cyclists, it may be useful to further break them down into Sprinters and Enduros. Sprinters don't go on 5 hour rides. In fact they hardly ride their bikes at all :-)

    Enduros do a lot of stuff, but then they will typically race everything up to 50 lap scratch races, so their fitness requirements are more universal. Most will race road too as it's complementary.
    Sprinters will still do some endurance rides for weight management.

    Lol, not the ones I know.
  • NapoleonDNapoleonD Posts: 18,632
    VamP wrote:
    VamP wrote:
    On the point of track cyclists, it may be useful to further break them down into Sprinters and Enduros. Sprinters don't go on 5 hour rides. In fact they hardly ride their bikes at all :-)

    Enduros do a lot of stuff, but then they will typically race everything up to 50 lap scratch races, so their fitness requirements are more universal. Most will race road too as it's complementary.
    Sprinters will still do some endurance rides for weight management.

    Lol, not the ones I know.

    I think it’s more to keep them out of the pub/cafe than for training benefit!
    Twitter - @NapD
    Strava - Alex Taylor (sportstest.co.uk)
    ABCC Cycling Coach
  • NapoleonD wrote:
    VamP wrote:
    VamP wrote:
    On the point of track cyclists, it may be useful to further break them down into Sprinters and Enduros. Sprinters don't go on 5 hour rides. In fact they hardly ride their bikes at all :-)

    Enduros do a lot of stuff, but then they will typically race everything up to 50 lap scratch races, so their fitness requirements are more universal. Most will race road too as it's complementary.
    Sprinters will still do some endurance rides for weight management.

    Lol, not the ones I know.

    I think it’s more to keep them out of the pub/cafe than for training benefit!
    Keeping them out of trouble is a consideration, especially with full time athletes with a lot of downtime on their hands.
  • reacherreacher Posts: 416
    VamP wrote:
    As for my FTP, I have been cycling/racing for a fair bit longer than you, so perhaps you haven't yet reached your potential. I fear I have exhausted mine :-)
    There's always room for improvement.
    Question on training, is it possible for an older rider, say around the 60 year mark without any particular natural talent, to reach 3.5 watts per kilo by training hard, obviously it's possible as all things are, but is that an unrealistic goal for an average rider ?
  • There are others on the forum with far more specialist knowledge of cycling related physiology than myself but personaly I don't see why not. I have ridden with plenty of cyclists aged 50+ over the years who I would suspect have a watts per kg around that mark. I wouldn't consider myself as someone with a physiology built for cycling or endurance sports in general but with lots of training I have become a pretty fit cyclist.
  • reacherreacher Posts: 416
    There are others on the forum with far more specialist knowledge of cycling related physiology than myself but personaly I don't see why not. I have ridden with plenty of cyclists aged 50+ over the years who I would suspect have a watts per kg around that mark. I wouldn't consider myself as someone with a physiology built for cycling or endurance sports in general but with lots of training I have become a pretty fit cyclist.

    Ok' thanks, forgot to say this would be for an hour climbing
  • Ok' thanks, forgot to say this would be for an hour climbing

    Should still be achievable. Obviously weight does become a factor on a climb but if you have good aerobic fitness you should be able to a given power output over an extended period on a climb. If you are towards the lighter end you may even be able to hold a higher power on a climb, my 5, 20 and 60 minute power numbers are higher on a climb than on the flat.
  • joe2008joe2008 Posts: 1,919
    It seems Peter Sagan's Winter Training consists of very little riding above his Maximum Aerobic Power, which is 60-70% of his FTP.

    Mon: 2 hours easy.
    Tues: 3.5 hours with 4-6 x 10 mins at 85% MAP
    Wed: 4.5 hours with 2 or 3 hills of 10 to 20 mins at 90% MAP
    Thus: 1.5 hours coffee ride for recovery
    Fri: 3.5 hours with 2 to 3 x 12 x 1 min at 100-105% MAP
    Sat: 4.5 hours aerobic ride; sometimes adding some 3 minute torque efforts on climbs at 50 to 60 rpm.
    Sun: Rest

    So nothing to note above zone 2 really then.
  • VamPVamP Posts: 674
    joe2008 wrote:
    It seems Peter Sagan's Winter Training consists of very little riding above his Maximum Aerobic Power, which is 60-70% of his FTP.

    Mon: 2 hours easy.
    Tues: 3.5 hours with 4-6 x 10 mins at 85% MAP
    Wed: 4.5 hours with 2 or 3 hills of 10 to 20 mins at 90% MAP
    Thus: 1.5 hours coffee ride for recovery
    Fri: 3.5 hours with 2 to 3 x 12 x 1 min at 100-105% MAP
    Sat: 4.5 hours aerobic ride; sometimes adding some 3 minute torque efforts on climbs at 50 to 60 rpm.
    Sun: Rest

    So nothing to note above zone 2 really then.


    I think you'll find that his FTP is 60-70% of his MAP.
  • VamPVamP Posts: 674
    reacher wrote:
    VamP wrote:
    As for my FTP, I have been cycling/racing for a fair bit longer than you, so perhaps you haven't yet reached your potential. I fear I have exhausted mine :-)
    There's always room for improvement.
    Question on training, is it possible for an older rider, say around the 60 year mark without any particular natural talent, to reach 3.5 watts per kilo by training hard, obviously it's possible as all things are, but is that an unrealistic goal for an average rider ?

    I wouldn't pick age as being the most important limiter here. I know a 70 year old with 5 w/kg.

    For some it will be easy to reach 3.5 w/kg, for others impossible. It's impossible to say from your data points how close your (hypothetical?) average rider is already to their natural limits, or even how hard they train.

    If this is an 'asking for a friend' kind of question, what's your current FTP in w/kg, how hard do you train, and how long have you been training at this intensity.

    I.e. if you're at 2.5w/kg, have been at between 80 and 100 CTL for the last 4 years then I'd say you're very unlikely to make 3.5 Unless youhave a lot of weight to lose.
  • okgookgo Posts: 4,368
    joe2008 wrote:
    It seems Peter Sagan's Winter Training consists of very little riding above his Maximum Aerobic Power, which is 60-70% of his FTP.

    Mon: 2 hours easy.
    Tues: 3.5 hours with 4-6 x 10 mins at 85% MAP
    Wed: 4.5 hours with 2 or 3 hills of 10 to 20 mins at 90% MAP
    Thus: 1.5 hours coffee ride for recovery
    Fri: 3.5 hours with 2 to 3 x 12 x 1 min at 100-105% MAP
    Sat: 4.5 hours aerobic ride; sometimes adding some 3 minute torque efforts on climbs at 50 to 60 rpm.
    Sun: Rest

    So nothing to note above zone 2 really then.

    FTP is often around 75% of MAP give or take. So he's certainly doing some solid stuff.

    My MAP is probably give or take about the same as my 5 minute power. So doing 20 mins just below that would be tough.
    Blog on my first and now second season of proper riding/racing - www.firstseasonracing.com
  • joe2008joe2008 Posts: 1,919
    okgo wrote:
    FTP is often around 75% of MAP give or take. So he's certainly doing some solid stuff.

    My MAP is probably give or take about the same as my 5 minute power. So doing 20 mins just below that would be tough.

    No according to Cycling Weekly:

    "3.5hr ride with long intervals
    On the second day, the work on the bike becomes a little more specific. This is not a simple endurance ride or a steady-pace one. Instead, over a 3.5-hour ride, Peter will do four to six repetitions of 10 minutes at 85 per cent of his maximum aerobic power — not his FTP but rather his aerobic threshold (FTP indicates the anaerobic one). This aerobic power equates to around 60 to 70 per cent of his FTP."

    http://www.cyclingweekly.com/fitness/tr ... V6jy4jq.99
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