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It’s all about the #base

Whilst it’s starting to get cold outside you are probably thinking more of sitting in by the fire than being on your bike but remember this is a great time to start your training for next year. Putting the miles in during the winter months will reap rewards come the start of the season and put you ahead of the competition.

So what is base training?

Most people have heard about base training but not everybody knows what it is and even less so on how this can improve fitness.

Let me explain…

‘Base’ training is lower in intensity, tending to be somewhere between easy/steady and constantly working but sustainable (a pace you could go at all day). It is generally longer, normally in hours rather than minutes than other types of training. The idea of this type of training is to make the time spent in the saddle more efficient thus meaning you can go for longer. The benefits of working at this intensity are the physiological changes that take place making you more efficient at using fuel, burning fat and ‘sparing’ your all-important limited muscle and liver glycogen (carbohydrate) stores. This is very important as your glycogen stores are very limited and even when fully topped up will only last between 30-90mins of intensive exercise.

The most accurate way to measure this is with a power meter or heart rate monitor. It is roughly between 60-70% of your maximum heart rate or 55-75% of your functional threshold power.

Who should be doing base training?

If you are new to cycling then this phase is very important and the bigger the base then the bigger the platform to work from when you start increasing the intensity. This type of riding has been proven over time to be very effective although it is very time-consuming. If you only have limited training time in the week then I would suggest you adopt another training method.

Base fitness is something that takes time to build although it also means it takes time to loose so it is something that you can build on year on year.

How much and when do I do it?

This phase is normally completed during winter and should be done around 6 months before your “A” race, The length of it depends on your fitness levels and how your body adapts to the training but generally around 8-12 weeks before the intensity increases going into the build phase.

Use these long sessions to work on your pedalling techniques by riding with a smooth efficient pedal stroke keeping a consistent force throughout the stroke. Also increasing your cadence to 95rpm+ for part or all of your ride will really help with your leg speed.

So even when it is cold outside why not set up your turbo and pop on a film!


James Walsgrove

My cycling career started in 2005 when I purchased my first road bike and I was immediately hooked. Since then I have completed numerous cycling challenges including Ironman, Lands’ End to John O Groats, Mt Ventoux (all 3 ascents), London to Paris, the BBAR challenge which included a 12hour TimeTrial and more recently the Mallorca 312.