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  1. #1
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    another periodization question - anyone do a 3 week cycle?

    seems most common for riders to adopt a 4 week cycle, where 3 weeks build and the 4th week is a less intense week to rest and recover. the beauty of this is that it matches the calender month fairly well, and it seems natural to think in 4 week blocks.

    however, i find myself getting a little burnt out in the the middle of the 3rd week when it's supposed to be the highest training week of the cycle. not necessarily now (because i'm doing mostly preperation) but i'm remembering how it was last season. i would almost always be dragging at work, over sleeping, and not enthusiastic about training.

    i'm trying to figure out if a 3 week cycle would work better for me, allowing me more frequent times to recover, or if i should tough it out with the "regular" 4 week plan.

    any thoughts on this?

  2. #2
    Lurker for Life yonderboy's Avatar
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    I'm going to go out on a limb and say give it a try for cycle or two and see how you feel. You're still early enough that you won't cause any long-term issues, in my opinion. Part of your training should be experimenting to improve and keep yourself from hitting a plateau, anyway.

    I've done a 5-4-3 week cycle before with good results, for example.

  3. #3
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    i spent some time today at work thinking more about this. i wrote two training plans, one using a 4 week cycle and one using a 3 week cycle over 3 months and compared them.

    i will still end up with the exact same training time over that duration, the only difference is that i don't cut back as much for the recovery weeks. but i get one more week of recovery than i would otherwise.

    i think your approach makes sense. perhaps i'll try it for my base1 training and see how it feels.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    I've tried two types of training cycles: 3 weeks on, 1 week recovery and 2-2.5 weeks on, 1 week recovery.
    Both have worked well for me, but I use them under different circumstances.

    when I am focusing on endurance training or things specific to TT prep, then I tend to go with the 3 week on, 1 week off plan. That's because my body is naturally suited to endurance and TT (ie great efficiency and high lactate threshold) and those workouts don't tire me out too much. HOWEVER, when I am doing things that involve sprint workouts, crit drills, then I tend to shorted the ON periods because I need more recovery.

    Now that I have the powertap, I look at the TSS scores, IF, and compare that to how I feel and make adjustments accordingly. It's a lot easier now for me to tell when I am approaching my limit and to back off a bit.

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    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snicklefritz

    when I am focusing on endurance training or things specific to TT prep, then I tend to go with the 3 week on, 1 week off plan. That's because my body is naturally suited to endurance and TT (ie great efficiency and high lactate threshold) and those workouts don't tire me out too much. HOWEVER, when I am doing things that involve sprint workouts, crit drills, then I tend to shorted the ON periods because I need more recovery.
    this is very interesting. last season i was doing a ton of intervals, sprints, hill repeats, etc. and not much long endurance riding. i think those types of workouts wore me out enough that i had trouble just getting to the recovery week. i even needed to take a couple of longer breaks from the bike because i kept feeling like i couldn't get enough rest.

    the more i think about this, the more i think a 3 week cycle makes sense for me.

  6. #6
    Killing Rabbits
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    3-week cycles seem to work better for me. I tended to work too hard on week 2 when using a 4week cycle, making week 3 of much lower quality than it should have been. This does lead to more recovery weeks but it also allows for more revisits to “the edge.”

    For women I would suggest basing the cycle on their menstrual cycle. The hardest week should be around ovulation when hormone levels are in their favor (LH) and the recovery week should be right around/after menstruation when the bodies ability to recover is reduced, due to the rebuilding going on in the reproductive organs.

    Side note... not only is the 4 week cycle arbitrary (based on a month) the 7 day block is not really based in science. It is used because athletes’ lives are based on weeks and exercise has to fit into that schedule. Some preliminary work with pros suggests a 10 day block is better for adaptation. However, only pros can screw with their schedule that much… for the rest of us life gets in the way.

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    Or avoid "institutionalized overtraining" by avoiding pre-planned rest periods altogether. Train as long as you're making progress, rest when you have to. http://www.roble.net/marquis/coaching/rushall7.html

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    Killing Rabbits
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    Quote Originally Posted by asgelle
    Or avoid "institutionalized overtraining" by avoiding pre-planned rest periods altogether. Train as long as you're making progress, rest when you have to. http://www.roble.net/marquis/coaching/rushall7.html
    Stage racers need to train the overreaching ability. How well would that guys athletes compete when both they and the competition feel like trash? A periodizer would have experience working in that state. “Been there, done that.”

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthalpic
    Stage racers need to train the overreaching ability. How well would that guys athletes compete when both they and the competition feel like trash? A periodizer would have experience working in that state. “Been there, done that.”
    First of all nothing in what I wrote or cited in any way addressed the question of periodization, we are only talking about the best way to incorporate rest into a training plan. Is it more beneficial to train this "overreaching ability" as you call it or to increase fitness at a faster rate? One of the basic principles of training is overload and if someone is fatigued, she can't stress her body beyond what it has done previously and so there is no overload; just further accumulation of fatigue. By training as hard as possible up to the point where no further overload is seen and then resting until training can resume at a level where overload is once again possible would allow the fastest rate of improvement.

    Then again, I don't understand this concept of "overreaching ability". What exactly is this and how is it improved by training in a fatigued state? It seems to me the objective for training for a stage race is to minimize the fatigue generated each day while riding at the speed necessary to be succesful. The most effective way to do this is to minimize the amount of energy expended and increase fitness to accumulate the lowest TSS (to use the terminology from power-based training) for the required effort.
    We know from power data from professional riders that they never accumulate as much fatigue in training leading up to a three-week tour as they do in the final week of the race. Rather, they control fatigue so that they can continue training to raise their fitness to the highest possible level at the start of the race so that fatigue will be minimized during the competition.

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    Overreaching ability could be oversimplified as mental toughness. The psychological aspect of being able to work through discomfort, even at sub par performance levels due to built up fatigue, is only a small part. The other aspect of mental toughness is subconscious. During states of fatigue the central governor will only activate muscle fibers if it “knows” that the body will not suffer permanent damage by continuing. In reality your muscles never really get tired, the body just senses markers of muscle damage and fuel depletion and ceases work to protect itself – the muscle could still fire. You can train the central governor to go into damaging levels of workload if you promise to pay it back with an unloading period. The power of the subconscious brain and biochemical feedback patterns cannot be underestimated.

  11. #11
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    Friel suggests that older cyclists may benefit from a 3-week cycle because they need more recovery than younger cyclists.

    Bob

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    You scare the **** out of me!!!! No wonder why I always have very "fullfilling" dreams whenever I am on my rest week or even on a rest day. To the point that I would tell myself "this isn't happening" or "the dreams can't be real" or "this would be so nice if it can actually happen." For the original poster, you don't want to overload your 2 weeks training week with a 3 weeks of workload. Yeah, you can recover sooner but you also increase more stress on your body during the 2 weeks. Your solution is either to train it through. Yes, the only time your legs aren't tired is during the end of your recovery period or when you peak. If you race bikes and train, your legs will always be tired somewhat. You have to work on your recovery. You need to eat food that can speed up your recovery, period. I won't tell you what I eat. I can be 90% recovered the next day after a 3 hours of high tempo ride. Another option is obviously cutting down your work load volume or intensity in order to "make it" to the 4th week. If you lift weight, stop it now. It only tires you and does nothing good on the bike.

    Well, I train with a power meter so I know how much stress I am putting on my body. I guess that's the beauty with training with a power meter. BTW, the 4 weeks cycle is arbitrary. Personally, I have trained through 2 6 weeks blocks. In another words, I haven't taken a week of rest for 6 weeks straight. Only took 1 week off on the 7th week. I see that this is the off season and my training isn't that intense. So, there is no need for me to rest on the every 4th week.


    Quote Originally Posted by Enthalpic
    Overreaching ability could be oversimplified as mental toughness. The psychological aspect of being able to work through discomfort, even at sub par performance levels due to built up fatigue, is only a small part. The other aspect of mental toughness is subconscious. During states of fatigue the central governor will only activate muscle fibers if it “knows” that the body will not suffer permanent damage by continuing. In reality your muscles never really get tired, the body just senses markers of muscle damage and fuel depletion and ceases work to protect itself – the muscle could still fire. You can train the central governor to go into damaging levels of workload if you promise to pay it back with an unloading period. The power of the subconscious brain and biochemical feedback patterns cannot be underestimated.

  13. #13
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    i'm not too concerned about tire or sore legs at this point. at the level i'm riding, any leg fatigue is gone within a day at the most.

    my diet is much improved, and i've developed some good eating habits over the past few months that have really stuck with me. it does make me feel better all around.

    i really agree with this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Enthalpic
    3-week cycles seem to work better for me. I tended to work too hard on week 2 when using a 4week cycle, making week 3 of much lower quality than it should have been. This does lead to more recovery weeks but it also allows for more revisits to “the edge.”
    just looking at this month, i can already see that i'm going to have trouble logging in more training time than i did last week (2nd week). so, unless i really ride a lot this weekend, my 3rd week may end up a little on the weak side.

    my natural tendency is to train when i feel the strongest, and that always occurs in the second week and never in the third week. i believe the 4 week cycle is just too long for me and if it's reducing my performance then i need to rethink it. thankfully i have time now to experiement.

    thanks for the all good replies so far.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timmhaan
    thankfully i have time now to experiement.

    thanks for the all good replies so far.
    +1 The most important thing is to listen to your body. What works for one person won't necessarily
    work for someone else. For me, I do best when I have a full 7 days of rest with mostly easy spin rides alternating with days off. When I do that I can peak correctly and sustain that peak for a while. One of my friends absolutely can't do that or his performance numbers (ie SRM/powertap) suffer. He needs to do something every couple of days (throwing in some short but hard efforts) otherwise he gets really slow.

  15. #15
    部門ニ/自転車オタク NomadVW's Avatar
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    I think the important thing everyone is saying is "listen to your body." Recover smartly when you do recover, regardless of HOW you recover or WHEN you recover.

    Right now I don't have a "real" recovery week planned until the end of February, beginning of March. I am smartly planning my days to allow recovery between hard/shorter workouts and the long rides so that I get the most out of each, with 1 guaranteed complete day off each week.

    Like others have said, a lot of this is easier to quantify when you switch to training with a powermeter, but the numbers aren't everything so you still have to listen to your body. Watch your resting heart rate, speed of weight loss - if any, RPE from training ride to training ride.

    As far as 2 on 1 off goes, I'd be curious to see how it works for you if you make that switch. Mostly because 2 weeks on seems definitely on the short side to me. Look forward to hearing your successes with whichever plan you succeed with.
    Envision, Energize, Enable

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    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NomadVW

    Like others have said, a lot of this is easier to quantify when you switch to training with a powermeter, but the numbers aren't everything so you still have to listen to your body. Watch your resting heart rate, speed of weight loss - if any, RPE from training ride to training ride.
    no power meter here, and no plans to get one just yet. i'll be assigning RPE to each workout and mutiplying it by the duration to come up with an estimated workload. as long as i'm consistent in how i assign RPE, the workload should be accurate enough to determine the weeks training load. i think, for my needs, that will be adequite. i want to try to keep it simple, yet useful enough that i can chart my progress. regular testing during the "recovery" weeks will help with feedback. i have easy access to a park loop which will work perfectly for the tests.

    it's fun to think about this stuff in the off season. helps keep boredom at bay. now all i have to do is follow through with it all.

  17. #17
    Used to be a climber.. GuitarWizard's Avatar
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    I've used RPE up until last winter/spring when I got my first HRM. Comparing RPE to the HR zones, I was actually very close....
    1999 Trek 2500 - hit by a car on it in May, 2011 and currently bikeless

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    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarWizard
    I've used RPE up until last winter/spring when I got my first HRM. Comparing RPE to the HR zones, I was actually very close....
    i use an HR every once in a while to find my LT level, but i don't use it for most of my rides. you're right - you can get very close by feel. RPE is pretty useful, as long as you're being consistent.

  19. #19
    部門ニ/自転車オタク NomadVW's Avatar
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    The problem I've always had with RPE, and I'm curious to know how you guys deal with it, is things like quantifying interval workouts.

    I can pretty much "RPE" a steady tempo ride, or longer threshold days. But those days I go out to go hammer up and down a hill, I usually have to ride 10-20 miles home after the intervals. By that time, the legs have recovered from the repeats, and my mind gets to thinking "Well, that wasn't so bad" and I think I'd underestimate my RPEs.
    Envision, Energize, Enable

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    Used to be a climber.. GuitarWizard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NomadVW
    The problem I've always had with RPE, and I'm curious to know how you guys deal with it, is things like quantifying interval workouts.

    I can pretty much "RPE" a steady tempo ride, or longer threshold days. But those days I go out to go hammer up and down a hill, I usually have to ride 10-20 miles home after the intervals. By that time, the legs have recovered from the repeats, and my mind gets to thinking "Well, that wasn't so bad" and I think I'd underestimate my RPEs.
    Yeah....you always think that after a hard workout. Your body has this wonderful ability to not completely remember pain. I could be absolutely DYING on a climbing repeat workout, and then 10 minutes afterwards on the way home, think to myself that it wasn't THAT bad.
    1999 Trek 2500 - hit by a car on it in May, 2011 and currently bikeless

  21. #21
    cmh
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    I don't plan any rest weeks into my training. I am forced to take time off the bike due to work and family often enough that I don't need any planned rest weeks. I up my training for a week or a few days before business or family trips that keep me off the bike.

  22. #22
    Now Racer Ex Vinokurtov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by R600DuraAce
    If you lift weight, stop it now. It only tires you and does nothing good on the bike.
    This, of course, runs contrary to what most good coaches will tell you and contradicts part of LA's off season workout program, but believe it if you want. I've seen weight and strength work add several hundred watts to a sprint, but that's something measurable, and should be avoided. The fact that track sprinters use anabolics and weights to go faster would have no bearing on cycling either.

    Timmhaan, You might want to look at your intra weekly cycle and perhaps further lighten your "light" days during the week. Those are essentially small recovery periods, in your case you might be doing too much on those days and it's adding to your fatigue level. Folks tend to be a bit more fixated on the total at the end of the week than the quality of work during.

    And I've found, for me at least, that having downloadable data has been pretty illuminating. My own RPE hasn't correlated very well to my actual TSS/IF scores for the sum total of my rides, especially the longer ones where, as mentioned earlier, you tend to have a selective memory about the efforts. You can pick up Polar HRM's with download functions and equipment on Ebay for around $100. Might be worth it, at least you could track time in zones.
    "I may not be as strong as I think I am, but I know many tricks, and I have resolution" - Santiago

  23. #23
    Banned. El Diablo Rojo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by R600DuraAce
    If you lift weight, stop it now. It only tires you and does nothing good on the bike.
    .
    Where does this information come from!?

    In the last few days I've heard that lifting weights does nothing to improve your on bike performance. Base miles are useless. A smooth circular pedal stroke is not as good a square rough pedal stroke. This is all counter to what my coach has me doing.

    Before I hired my coach, I never lifted weights or even stepped foot in a gym. I just rode 'lots' with out any care to what I was doing on the bike. My pedal stroke was more akin to a rectangle than a circle.

    Since I hired a coach he's had me in the gym, I now use periodization which includes base miles and he's had me work hard to smooth out my pedal stroke. What has all this useless instruction got me? More power, more endurance, and a much higher LTHR. Man what a waste of time and money

  24. #24
    Theodore Roosevelt's idol TheKillerPenguin's Avatar
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    ^ That's money better spent on a set of aero wheels.
    Masochism is a training adaptation.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by R600DuraAce
    If you lift weight, stop it now. It only tires you and does nothing good on the bike.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vinokurtov
    This, of course, runs contrary to what most good coaches will tell you and contradicts part of LA's off season workout program, but believe it if you want. I've seen weight and strength work add several hundred watts to a sprint, but that's something measurable, and should be avoided. The fact that track sprinters use anabolics and weights to go faster would have no bearing on cycling either.
    I've never heard any good, or even moderately competent, coach say weights will improve endurance cycling, which is all R600DuraAce wrote. Sure there are benefits to weight lifting, but none of them relates to endurance cycling. The closest thing to a benefit from weights I've heard any coach suggest is that for riders who drop all anaerobic work in the winter, weight lifting reduces the rate of decline in anaerobic capacity. Even he admitted, though, that this was not really a direct benefit because simply replacing some of the time in the gym with anaerobic work would provide much greater benefits.

    What track sprinters do (remember this means 500 m or less, the 1000 m is considered an endurance event) has no bearing on endurance cycling. The force/power profile for sprinters is very different from road cyclists and is the one extreme case where strength is a limiter to performance.

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