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Base Training is Dead?

Posted March 08, 2015 03:01AM by Skye in the Cycling Forum

Skye
Skye Skye Nott
@TheStaminist   Skye Nott Staminist.com
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Joined: 3 years ago   Posts: 508

The latest research indicates that nearly all training gains can be achieved with relatively short, high intensity workouts

The "traditional base training" plan of doing long miles at endurance pace in the winter seems to be no longer needed, which is great news for us non-pro's. My spare time is always at a premium, so even though HIIT requires a lot of mental strength, I'd rather do my suffering on short high-intensity intervals than long, cold, wet winter rides. It saves a lot of wear on your gear, and it's also a lot safer.

Of course, I'm still planning on doing some long rides, simply because I enjoy exploring far away places and new roads. It's a great way to burn calories, and training variation is necessary for best results. And while I can do intervals and sweet spot work on the indoor trainer, I can't bring myself to do any kind of endurance riding for more than a few hours on the turbo.

Why Base Training in Winter Will Never Make You Fast by CTS coach Jim Rutberg puts it this way:

"Riding the same weekly training hours that you are already habituated to (because that’s all the time you have) at lower intensities than your fitness can already support won’t produce a stronger base of aerobic fitness"

That makes a lot of sense to me. Put in terms of the Coggan PMC chart, if you use that or something similar to track your training, if your Acute training load (Fatigue) isn't above your Chronic training load (Fitness), you're not getting any gains.

The main argument you see in support of traditional base training is that it develops a different kind of endurance mitochondria, or fat burning efficiency, or lactic processing pathways versus high-intensity training. Unfortunately, the research doesn't support this, as it's been shown that more mitochondria improves performance at all intensity levels.

Finally, while it's true that long endurance miles will burn fat, it seems like a time-inefficient way to lose weight if it provides no physiological advantages over HIIT. You might as well just go on a diet and do more intervals.

What do you think? Lots of people, and some coaches too, still think that lots of Zone 2 riding in winter is the right way to go.

What's your winter training plan? Sticking with traditional base training, or doing intervals?

GCN did a video about the latest research into base training and winter training in general, watch it here:



And here's a video that presents the common arguments in favour of traditional base training:




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Skye
Skye Skye Nott
@TheStaminist   Skye Nott Staminist.com
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Joined: 3 years ago   Posts: 508

It seemed counterintuitive to me at first that that intervals could improve endurance - stated another way, that anaerobic training could produce aerobic benefits - but that's exactly what the research is indicating.

Quoting from Marc Perry at BuiltLean regarding general fitness and conditioning exercise:

"For decades, the medical establishment erroneously believed that strength training could not offer the cardiovascular benefits of traditional cardio exercise. This is partly because the energy systems that predominate during strength training are the two anaerobic systems (phosphagen and glycolitic), which do not require oxygen.

Recent research and empirical evidence, however, has proven conclusively that strength training, and in particular high intensity strength training (aka Metabolic Resistance Training) can offer substantial cardio benefits such as improving the size, strength, and functioning of the heart and increasing VO2 max without many of the negatives that come with completing traditional cardio exercise. It’s not often cited, but the cardiovascular system serves to support the muscular system, not the other way around."


Of course, you must have a baseline level of fitness to do intervals - if you're coming from an untrained level (or returning after a long absence) then of course you'll have to build a base before you can do intervals. It's also very important to ramp up the intensity (training load) from intervals slowly. You're not going to be doing 8x max 120 second intervals straight away.

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Skye
Skye Skye Nott
@TheStaminist   Skye Nott Staminist.com
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Joined: 3 years ago   Posts: 508

Finally, here's a link to the 2012 study that's quoted so often as changing the way people think about HIIT and aerobic benefits:

Physiological adaptations to low-volume, high-intensity interval training in health and disease
Authors Martin J. Gibala, Jonathan P. Little, Maureen J. MacDonald, John A. Hawley

Exercise training is a clinically proven, cost-effective, primary intervention that delays and in many cases prevents the health burdens associated with many chronic diseases. However, the precise type and dose of exercise needed to accrue health benefits is a contentious issue with no clear consensus recommendations for the prevention of inactivity-related disorders and chronic diseases.

A growing body of evidence demonstrates that high-intensity interval training (HIT) can serve as an effective alternate to traditional endurance-based training, inducing similar or even superior physiological adaptations in healthy individuals and diseased populations, at least when compared on a matched-work basis. While less well studied, low-volume HIT can also stimulate physiological remodelling comparable to moderate-intensity continuous training despite a substantially lower time commitment and reduced total exercise volume.

Such findings are important given that ‘lack of time’ remains the most commonly cited barrier to regular exercise participation. Here we review some of the mechanisms responsible for improved skeletal muscle metabolic control and changes in cardiovascular function in response to low-volume HIT. We also consider the limited evidence regarding the potential application of HIT to people with, or at risk for, cardiometabolic disorders including type 2 diabetes.

Finally, we provide insight on the utility of low-volume HIT for improving performance in athletes and highlight suggestions for future research.

Read the full article here http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/jphysiol.2011.224725/full

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Skye
Skye Skye Nott
@TheStaminist   Skye Nott Staminist.com
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Joined: 3 years ago   Posts: 508

So if traditional winter base training is no longer necessary, how do you structure your off-season training?

Seems like GCN has been reading my mind, because they just released this video on that exact subject.

Modern coaching is adopting "reverse periodization" which essentially means doing intervals and sweet spot training in the short dark winter months, and then adding more aerobic work as the days get longer and the weather improves.



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