Periodized Training: The Build Phase

OES CylclistWhen training for an endurance-specific event like a century or metric century, a cyclist will need to go through several phases of training leading up to the event. The physical and mental demands of a long, tough ride are such that attention paid to proper planning and performing certain types of workouts will make for a more enjoyable ride come event day.  In the last few months leading up to your target event, your base training should begin to be reduced as you put a greater emphasis on intensity in your training. This phase of training, known as the Build Phase, is the next step towards advancing your fitness.

Build phases are blocks of training from three to five weeks in length in which the training duration and intensity are slowly increased above the work load you performed during the base phase. The number of build phases depends on the amount of time you have until the event you are training for. Each build phase is followed by a recovery week that is marked by a reduction in training duration/intensity and includes a specific workout to measure and track your improvement at the end of the week. This workout, called a benchmark, will help you determine if the training bout in the last phase has created an improvement in your level of fitness.

  1. Build phase I workouts
    1. Ride in a variety of gearings on the bike, focusing on spending time pedaling in different cadence ranges for extended periods
    2. Workouts should be at least an hour long, three days a week (preferably back-to-back) and up to three hours back-to-back on weekends
    3. Add in some drills to improve Force Production (low cadence climbing) once per week and rolling hills to extended climbs on the weekends

Once the first build phase has been completed, pay attention to how you feel after the benchmark workout and begin the next build phase. In this phase, the workouts are similar to the last phase but you will be attempting to do more reps of each drill or spending additional time in higher heart rate zones during your longer rides. At the end of each build, recovery is a key component and testing your fitness again with the benchmark ride will allow you to compare your results to previous tests and track how you are adapting to the training.

  1. Build phase II workout
    1. Ride in a variety of gearings on the bike, focusing on spending time pedaling in different cadence ranges for extended periods
    2. Weekday rides should be up to an hour and a half, three days a week, and up to three/four hours back to back on weekends
    3. Continue Force Production drills (low cadence climbing) once per week and rolling hills to extended climbs on the weekends
    4. Add in some extended, high intensity efforts on the longer climbs.

Using the build phases will help you transition into the larger efforts needed to create success in your training and during your target events.

Written by: Adam Fivehouse

Adam Fivehouse, USA Cycling LII Certified Coach, provides testing and coaching through Optimize Endurance Services. Contact him at 720-270-6876 or email Adam with training, coaching or testing questions. Or feel free to join us on one of our OES Training Rides. Ride details can be found on our Training Calendar.