The Perfect Training Plan
In a week or two at most, we are launching open source training plans. We refer to the individual periods of a plan as a block. Each block has a goal. So how do you pick or design the perfect next block? You don’t 🙂 It’s always a compromise. Identifying a blocks primary goal will help you create or find the right block. The fundamentals behind base and build blocks fit into most riders seasons or annual training plans. Almost all pro-cyclist have both a base and build periods every season. Most enthusiast/traveller cyclists will benefit from them as well.
I talk with many top cycling coaches including Tour de France coaches. There seems to be a common agreement, there are a lot of terrible plans and workouts floating around these days that make little sense for any cyclist. I am not saying that open source training plans or TrainerDay will solve this problem or improve this soon. Just stating that’s our goal.
A Passion for helping others
I believe we need training plans created by people and coaches passionate about helping others stay safe, healthy and improve their cycling abilities. This might not be the most visually appealing plans and workouts or the most profitable but simple, targeted workouts are a great place to start . Here is a classic sweet spot workout with a single focus.
Consistency is the most important step in personal performance. A plan that keeps you consistent is a good plan. Being under-trained (within reason) is significantly better than becoming physically over-stressed. Error on the side of safety. Too much training stress will reduce your progress and it makes you vulnerable to illness and injury. It’s Stress + Recovery. Beginners frequently underestimate the important of recovery.
So how about exciting training blocks?
The best training blocks may not be the most exciting. The primary goal of most cyclists should be consistency. Variety can help with that goal. Picking the right plan or block frequently requires a coach. Many or most cyclists can’t or are unwilling to pay for coaches’ expertise. Most of us need to educate ourselves the best we can. Good self-coaching can get you far but until you are an expert you should be more conservative. Plans need continued evaluation and adjustments.
Learn from the experts
CTS is one of the top coaching organizations in the world. Study this video below and listen to Dylan’s complaints about many of the Zwift plans and workouts. Take notes. He gives a lot of clues as to how to design good plans and workouts. As Dylan points out Zwift is great, it’s just that some or many plans and workouts are of poor design. This video can take you a long way into designing or choosing a good winter plan. I really believe many of the ideas presented in this video represents the view of many of the top coaches. To repeat Zwift is great for group rides and racing, it can also create winter consistency for many cyclists. In addition, there are some quality workouts and plans in Zwift but you need to do a careful evaluation to pick something that makes sense for your goals.
Dylan might sound negative about Zwift workouts and plans. I believe he is primarily stating how many of these plans and workouts don’t follow well established best practices. He is also selling his coaching; we understand this. I believe most and possibly all of his points are true regardless of his motive. I will say not every fact is clear for example Dylan states putting the high intensity at the beginning of a workout. I am 100% sure what he means is putting high-intensity shortly after a proper warm-up.
Warmup, warmup, warmup
A warmup is so important, it will significantly reduce the chances of musculoskeletal damage. Your warmup should build to prepare you for the effort to come.
A proper warm-up typically means 20-minutes. The industry seems to have a trend of reducing the warm-up and cool down times. I have heard many time-crunched cyclists justify this. I can assure you it makes about as much sense as going to a fast-food restaurant so you can spend more time on your bike.
Dylan Johnson - CTS - The Problem with Zwift Workouts and Training Plans
Recovery, recovery, recovery
Did I say recovery? Build recovery into everything you do. Recovery is where your gains are made, not in training. You can’t forget this. Really hard training requires really hard recovery. Follow hard days with easy ones. Easy means Z1 power or lower Z2 heart-rate days. Always build in recovery weeks any time you are doing regular hard-workouts. Pros become pros through recovery.
Below is a classic 2-1 monthly pattern. Two hard weeks followed by 1 easy week. The bars represent hours per week, or even better is stress per week.
The 2-1 pattern makes sense during race season or other times when you need more event flexibility. Aging riders might benefit from 2-1 as well.
And this is a classic 3-1 pattern
3-1 is the primary bread and butter pattern.
Best of luck. As race car drivers say “keep the shiny side up.” ~Alex and the TrainerDay team.