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A Full Guide to Base Training: Part II

Posted by Mikey Ducard on

Welcome back! You’ve just finished reading the first part of our two-part guide to base training (haven’t you!), and now you’re ready to see what part two has to offer you and your training. So, let’s not dwell any longer, we can get stuck into the juicy bits now…

In this second instalment, we will be discussing, the following:

- How Much Base Training Should I Do?

- How Can I Get the Best from My Base Training Sessions?


How Much Base Training Should I Do?

How much base training you take on depends largely on experience, but a general rule of thumb is to do at least eight weeks of steady miles, paired with a good resistance training programme in the gym. After this is achieved, you can then think about progressing to the specialisation phase. It’s worth touching on the fact that when you do go to the gym, and you’re in there with bodybuilders, you shouldn't be looking to emulate them. This isn’t a slight on them; they just have totally different goals to you. They’re looking to bulk, and this isn’t what you’re trying to achieve – in fact, your goals should be to carry out functional strength core exercises that build functional speed and strength. Don't be tempted to get into the machines, just think about exercises that are going to compliment you as a rider.

Get involved with the free weights and use them for dynamic (moving) whole-body exercises. This is ideal for you because cycling involves large muscle groups working as one, producing stability and plenty of power. By using exercise machines, it isolates the muscles which means you won’t get the benefits of added power that dynamic exercises offer. You’ll notice the big difference when you’re on the summer set-up complete with fresh Koppenbergs!

Chuck a few spin-ups into your base training too. This is where you rev out your cadence to your maximum for a minute at a time. Unless you’re a mean sprinter who can bang out the cadence at the 200 rpm, hitting 160 rpm is pretty decent for a flat-out minute. Again, limit the time and frequency. Spin-ups are awesome for gaining improved leg speed, peddling technique, and aren’t as harsh on your vascular capillary network compared to high-intensity efforts. You want to throw this is into your regime occasionally, or you’ll totally round off those sharp speeds you built up over the season. Also, your base training plan should see at least one day every week with an extra-long endurance ride where you ride for several hours. This allows you to carry on building on the endurance development that you are doing through the week. This is a good time to gather your riding buddies and enjoy the group setting kind of ride.

Group rides are fun, and also help to develop riding skills and etiquette for when riding with others. Remember, train smart and be sure to ride how you feel. If you are tired, be sure to sit in or even drop out if necessary – don’t go emptying the tank early doors or you’ll bonk and be left in all kinds of trouble! On the flipside, if you’re feeling fine, get up top and lead the group for a bit.

One last thing to bear in mind is that group rides can be off-plan for base training, depending on what other people want to do. So, remember to stay on track and if the others are lighting it up every time you go out then give it a miss and stay focused on what you need to do as part of your training.

How Can I Get the Best from My Base Training Sessions?

Finally, we have a handful of pointers and things to take on board for you that will help to get the most from your base training:

Building an aerobic base is arguably the biggest part of off-season training as it’s the foundation upon which your season is built. So many riders don't realise their full potential on the bike because they neglect this vital element of their riding. Don't be that type of rider!

Base training is about getting your body nicely prepared for the efforts that await come the on-season, whether that be racing or in sportives.

Stay on track; remain between 50-75% of your max heart rate, and stick between 95 and 105 rpm.

Get a healthy balance of functional strength training tied into your plan to ensure you’re challenging the complete neurological system in your body.

Kill off the potential monotony of base training sessions by incorporating a very limited amount of high-intensity efforts (above 90% of your max HR) and use spin-ups to keep that freshness in there too.

Now, what are you waiting for? Get stuck into it; there’s no time to waste!

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