Cycling Base Training Pathway

The concept of base training has been a part of endurance training for decades. Laying a foundation of fitness early in the season sets the stage for success later on. With the help of Joe Friel, Dr. Stephen Seiler, and Dr. Andy Pruitt, we explore the how and why of this fundamental aspect of endurance training.

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A cyclist rides near Niwot, Colorado.

Welcome to the Cycling Base Training Pathway

Base training isn’t just about putting in endless hours of slow rides or runs. In this Pathway, we highlight the key components of base training as well as the strength and conditioning work that should be included in your base build. We also discuss how to analyze your base rides so you can take control of your progress.

In this Pathway, our team of experts, including Trevor Connor, Ryan Kohler, and Dr. Andy Pruitt, as well as some of the world’s most prominent researchers and coaches, including Dr. Stephen Seiler and Joe Friel, explain how to effectively plan your base season, monitor your efforts, and track your gains so you progress to the next phase of training with a strong aerobic engine.

Building blocks for success

In this critical article, Trevor Connor dissects an influential graph shared with him by his mentor, Glenn Swan. With a quick glance, the graph might appear overly simplistic. However, the concepts contained in this simple illustration have far-reaching implications for your performance as an athlete.

This graphical representation between training stress and performance level will help you to build your base, plan your season, map out your race block, and make the best of your off-season so you can make progress season after season. Click below to read this article.

Endurance Sports Training Performance Level versus Training Stress

The Relationship Between Performance Level and Training Stress

Eighty percent of what you need to know about endurance training can be illustrated by a simple graph. Coach Connor and his mentor Glenn Swan explore this simple concept.

It’s all about that base

Are you chasing the “fast” riders up every hill on your winter group rides, gasping for air at the top of each climb? Let’s change your mindset. Taking that approach in the base season will get you fast for a couple weeks, but you’ll have nothing left when the real season rolls around. Learn how to use heart rate to guide your efforts, arrange your training days to maximize aerobic adaptations, and create the right stress to generate key central adaptations. Click below to read this article.

Go slow to be fast.

Go Slow to Be Fast

The concepts of central and peripheral conditioning help explain why an effective training base period leads to speed and durability in the race season.

The importance of the long ride

Now that you’re going slower on your base rides, it’s time to dive deeper into the rationale for these long, steady miles. Learn about the adaptations you can only get from long rides, from muscle-fiber changes to improvements in metabolism. After reading this article, you will be able to execute the optimal long ride, and structure the base season for your lifestyle and athletic needs. Click below to read this article.

Two cyclists ride into the distance on dirt roads in North Boulder, Colorado.

The Importance of the Long Ride

Are you tempted to throw out those five-hour rides—not enough time or willpower, or maybe you find them boring? Don’t do it! Trevor Connor explores the adaptations that can only be gained from long, slow miles.

Focus on the 95%

Many athletes obsess about very specific topics: fasted training, supplements, recovery modalities, and so forth. In this episode of Fast Talk, we take a step back to discuss what we feel is most important and, frankly, what is going to give you the biggest return for your investment of time, sweat, and energy. If those specific things are the 5 percent—the proverbial marginal gains—we make the argument for focusing on the 95 percent, which are the fundamental training principles that bring the most bang for your buck. Click below to listen to this podcast.

A group of cyclists rides through forest

Forget Marginal Gains and Focus on the Fundamentals

In an age when athletes often focus on the specifics, we address the importance of focusing on the fundamentals: training, recovery, and functioning gear—the things that will bring you the greatest return for your investment of time, sweat, and energy.

Base Season Planning

How to plan your base season

Now that you understand the importance of base training, it’s time to plan your season to reap the rewards of a solid foundation. In this workshop, Coaches Trevor Connor and Ryan Kohler discuss the nuances of planning the base season, including everything from the appropriate intensity distribution to the expected time it should take to produce gains from both aerobic and anaerobic work, and much more. Click below to watch this workshop.

planning your base season

How to Plan Your Base Season

We discuss the nuances of base season planning, from the appropriate intensity distribution to the time it takes to produce gains from both aerobic and anaerobic work, and much more.

Preparing the body for training

We’ll say it again: The winter months aren’t for going fast, but for preparing the body for the real training to come in spring. There is nothing you can do in November or December to make you a superstar in May, but there is a lot you can do to make sure you’re burned out or injured by then.

With the help of Dr. Andy Pruitt, Coach Trevor Connor walks you through how to structure your winter preparation so you get to spring prepared to use that big foundation you’ve built. He highlights why this is a great time for strength training, how bike fitting fits nicely in November or December, and much more. Click below to read this article.

Strength and weight training for cyclists during base period

Winter Preparation for Spring Training

The winter months aren’t for going fast, but for preparing the body for the real training to come this spring.

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There are only three rides you should do

In this episode of Fast Talk, we aim to see the forest for the trees. We’re joined by some of the biggest names in sport science—Dr. Iñigo San Millan, Dr. Stephen Seiler, Joe Friel, and Dr. John Hawley, to name a few.

The scientific merit of the expert guidance in this Pathway will be discussed during this podcast episode. You will learn about a simple physiology-based zone system and why it’s important; how to execute your long ride and why there are no shortcuts; the difference between types of high-intensity workouts; and one of the most difficult rides to do—the recovery ride. Click below to listen to this podcast.

Two cyclists ride up Boulder Sunshine Canyon bike ride

The Big Picture—The Three Types of Rides You Should Do

We’re breaking down the three rides you should do – long rides, high-intensity rides, and recovery rides.

Long. Slow. Distance.

In this workshop, Coaches Trevor Connor and Ryan Kohler analyze ride data from one of Trevor’s LSD (long, slow distance) rides in order to explain the correct execution of one of these fundamental rides. In addition, they sift through WKO5 data in order to define “aerobic threshold” and what it represents. Click below to watch this workshop.

Long Slow Distance Ride Analysis in TrainingPeaks WKO

What Exactly Is a Long Slow Distance Ride?

Coaches Trevor Connor and Ryan Kohler analyze ride data from one of Trevor’s LSD (long, slow distance) rides in order to explain the correct execution of one of these fundamental rides.

How to do a LSD ride

Can you take the LSD ride too far by setting your goal wattage and riding exactly at that prescribed range? Coaches Trevor Conner and Ryan Kohler analyze a ride by one of Trevor’s athletes to answer this question. Click below to watch this workshop.

how steady should your long slow distance rides be?

How Steady Should Your Long Slow Distance (LSD) Rides Be?

The execution of long slow distance rides might sound simple, but many people struggle to get it right. Can you be too steady on your LSD rides?

Can you go too long and too slow?

Now that you understand the purpose of the LSD ride, how to execute it, and how to analyze your ride, we learn from Dr. Stephen Seiler how to determine your ideal intensity and duration for low-intensity workouts. Click below to watch this workshop.

two women ride long, slow ride

How Long, How Slow? Here’s How to Find Your Ideal Low-Intensity Workout Effort.

At what intensity should athletes perform long, slow distance workouts? Dr. Stephen Seiler lays out a method for athletes to figure out their own, ideal intensity and duration for low-intensity workouts.

LSD on the MTB

If you’re a mountain bike athlete, you understand just how variable the terrain can be on the dirt. This can make it difficult to keep your power steady. So, is it possible to do a base ride on the MTB? Coaches Ryan Kohler and Trevor Connor dive into a variety of ways to accomplish a base ride and suggest specific things you can do on your MTB rides to make them more productive, consistent, and appropriate for the base period. Click below to watch this workshop.

A mountain biker rides a trail at Joder Ranch

How to Do Base Rides on the MTB

The variable terrain of most MTB trails makes it difficult to keep power steady. So, is it possible to get solid base rides on the mountain bike?

For time-crunched athletes

For many of us, the winter months are the most appropriate time for base training, which typically involves (at least the occasional) long slow base miles. However, when most amateur athletes, especially those with a family, struggle to find 10 hours when it’s cold and dark outside.

This is when it helps to take a closer look at training principles, to learn the most effective ways to take advantage of the limited time we have. Can we substitute volume with intensity? How can we change our schedule and overall plan to make room for training blocks that stress the system? How can indoor cycling help fill some holes?

group of cyclists

Base Training for Time-Crunched Athletes

It’s hard to find time to fit in the long, slow miles that traditionally comprise the base season. Coach Trevor Connor offers suggestions for improving life-training balance, understanding quality versus quantity, and more.

More than just riding

Base training has traditionally been all about long, slow rides. But they’re challenging if you live in the northern hemisphere and either hate the cold or lack the necessary equipment to ride safely outdoors when road conditions are perilous and light is limited.

In this Fast Talk episode, we discuss how best to deal with the challenges that plague the northern hemisphere in winter. You’ll learn how it’s the perfect time to find a host of new ways to stay motivated, add variety to your training methods, reinvigorate your work ethic, and, ultimately, set yourself up to improve performance when the racing begins later in the year. Click below to listen to this podcast.

Fast Talk Podcast Q&A indoor cycling

Innovative Approaches to Base Training, with The Cycling Gym

We discuss ways to stay motivated, add variety to your training methods, reinvigorate your work ethic, and improve performance for next season.

Strength Training

In this next series of podcasts and workshops, you will learn why strength training is beneficial during the base phase. Whether you’re a beginner venturing into the gym for the first time, or a seasoned gym rat, these resources will provide you with the fundamentals: what to do, how to do it, and how many times to lift those hunks of iron.

Finally, you will learn several key movements that can help prevent injury. Before you get too far into the base season, be sure to find a way to incorporate some of these exercises into your routine. Bank some consistency now for a big payout during the season.

Weightlifting in the gym

A Cyclist’s Guide to the Weight Room

We cyclists can get a little lost in the weight room. So Jess Elliott helps us understand the fundamentals of strength workouts.
core strength side plank with Jess Elliott

Strength and Conditioning: Core Exercises for Cyclists

Strength and conditioning coach Jess Elliott walks through a multi-planar approach to core integrity to build stability, efficiency, and resilience.
Dr. Andrew Pruitt Fast Talk Podcast

Preventing Cycling’s Most Common Injuries, with Dr. Andy Pruitt

Dr. Andy Pruitt dissects some of the most common cycling injuries and how to approach prevention so you can stay healthy.

Join the conversation

Do you have additional base training questions that you would like answered by our staff and endurance community? Head over to our Forum and post there to collaborate, find additional answers and insights, and contribute your tips for optimizing base training.

STILL NEED HELP?

Base training is a fundamental component of endurance performance. If you still need help with planning or executing your base training, schedule a free consultation with us and we will help you develop an individualized path forward.

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