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Base Training Question

Old 11-20-14, 05:30 PM
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Base Training Question

Not long ago I bought a book by Thomas Chapple (Base Building for Cyclists). This was mostly a general interest purchase rather than something to address a specific question or questions that were on my mind.

But this quite detailed book (doesn't make it right or wrong) said something that caught my interest. The context was riding during the 'base period' of a typical cycling season. And it said something like 'riding long/easy improves your ability to utilize/metabolize fats in long/endurance events where riding hard will somewhat degrade this capability'. It was something like that.

From what I recall there was no supporting data/studies referenced/etc. And there is certainly a bit of logic behind such a statement (kind of). So I thought that I would throw this concept out for general discussion.

Thanks.

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Old 11-20-14, 05:52 PM
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IMO it should say, "where only riding hard will somewhat" etc. My experience is that your body get good at doing what you do a lot. It seems to take a heck of a lot of riding over a considerable period of time to stimulate the fat burning thing, or at least it did for me. It's going to get good at it if you just ride a lot. However, if you're going to ride a lot, a great deal of time must be spent riding relatively easy or you overtrain.

I'm sure that riding easy/moderate does improve fat burning especially if you limit calories while doing it. I'm not so sure that there has to be a progression where you only ride easy for a long time and then pick up the pace. I think a mix of paces works fine, the invariable part being "riding a lot."
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Old 11-20-14, 06:39 PM
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For clarification this is what caught my attention. BTW, I believe that quoting this fits the 'fair use' provisions in US Copyright law.


During the early base training phase, cyclists often choose to ride with a group that requires them to maintain a pace too hard to be considered aerobic. This is a mistake you should avoid. It will not help you develop your aerobic endurance and can actually have just the opposite effect by teaching your body to rely on, or prefer, carbohydrates to fat....


Note that this is not a statement of overtraining. In fact the rest of the paragraph talks about the overtraining aspects of this as a separate/different consideration.

dave

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Old 11-20-14, 07:25 PM
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^Yes, I think that is correct. It's a pyramid. ~85% easy/moderate, 15% hard. Though I don't get as much "easy" as I probably should. But maybe no one does. A group ride might be 2' easy, 30' moderate, 2 hours moderately hard (zone 3), 1 hour hard (substhreshold & LT), and 5' anaerobic. That's way too focused on hard, so during the week I go easy/moderate to fill out the pyramid a bit. I probably still don't get as much base as I should. The modern "time-crunched" and HIIT training styles are focused mostly on the high end, because that's the most bang./hr. But the best results still come from riding a lot.

I was saying that you'd get overtrained if going hard was all you did 10 hours/week. Most folks would be cooked in 2 weeks. But go moderate for 8 and hard for 2 and no problem.
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Old 11-20-14, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
riding long/easy improves your ability to utilize/metabolize fats in long/endurance events where riding hard will somewhat degrade this capability
I think there is some truth to that. But the trade off is that you teach your body to become good at storing fat to use later during long endurance rides. So if your only concern is increasing endurance it's a good thing. But if you are trying to loose weight and there is any chance that one day you will not ride enough miles to offset your recently enhanced ability to store fat, then you're screwed.
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Old 11-21-14, 05:54 AM
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I wonder if there are any real studies that investigate this? This concept (which is not illogical) is common 'out there in amateur cycling land'. But so is the idea of "do not waste your time with junk miles".

Anyone aware of such a study(s)? It would seem very relevant to me.

Thanks.

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Old 11-21-14, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
I wonder if there are any real studies that investigate this? This concept (which is not illogical) is common 'out there in amateur cycling land'. But so is the idea of "do not waste your time with junk miles".

Anyone aware of such a study(s)? It would seem very relevant to me.

Thanks.

dave
The concept of "junk miles" is that too many cyclists spend too much time in zone 3, in between truly hard and truly moderate or easy. This tires the cyclist while providing neither the fat-burning advantage of easier rides nor the stimulation of harder rides. Hence the admonition that too many cyclists ride neither easy enough nor hard enough. I have Mr. Chapple's book. What he is preaching is far from the concept of "junk miles."

Mr. Chapple has studied it in his coaching practice as have many other coaches. I don't know of a long-term double blind study, but that sort of study is ill-suited to the complex issues involved in season-long periodized training. My practice has been to try out various theories on myself and see what they do for me. I've learned one thing for sure, and that is that lots of base miles are a huge help after the second hard pass of the day. The more the better. However I haven't had the discipline or sufficient interest in self-denial to stick with Mr. Chapple's program. The joy of whomping on someone who usually whomps on me always gets the better of me.
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Old 11-21-14, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by sprince View Post
I think there is some truth to that. But the trade off is that you teach your body to become good at storing fat to use later during long endurance rides. So if your only concern is increasing endurance it's a good thing. But if you are trying to loose weight and there is any chance that one day you will not ride enough miles to offset your recently enhancedability to store fat, then you're screwed.
IME riding easy/moderate doesn't teach your body to store fat, only to utilize it. However too many people eat more both on and off the bike than the calories they burn when doing more moderate rides. Make half the watts, eat less than half the food. It takes a lot of discipline. Chris Carmichael recently illustrated this with a century ride he and a buddy did, a moderate ride at conversational pace (for him), under 5 hours, while consuming only 120 calories/hour.

I think this is the origin of the idea that if you want to lose weight, you'd best do it in fall and winter, because once the season starts you're going to have to eat more, especially on the bike, to support the long hard efforts of the high season. Lance was said to go out for 6 hour rides in December with only water in his bottles.
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Old 11-21-14, 11:43 AM
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For example, last week was a fairly normal November week for me. I logged 7:14 training time: 1:27 Z1, 2:45 Z2, 1:55 Z3, 1:03 Z4, no Z5. I missed a day due to life, which would have given me about an hour more of both Z1 and Z2.
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Old 11-21-14, 12:46 PM
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Effect of endurance training on lipid metabolism in women: a potential role for PPAR? in the metabolic response to training | Endocrinology and Metabolism

Endurance training increases fatty acid oxidation (FAO) and skeletal muscle oxidative capacity. ... However, training doubled the levels of muscle PPARα, MCAD, and VLCAD. We conclude that training increases the use of nonplasma fatty acids and may enhance skeletal muscle oxidative capacity by PPARα regulation of gene expression.
Adaptations of skeletal muscle to endurance exercise and their metabolic consequences | Journal of Applied Physiology

Regularly performed endurance exercise induces major adaptations in skeletal muscle. These include increases in the mitochondrial content and respiratory capacity of the muscle fibers. As a consequence of the increase in mitochondria, exercise of the same intensity results in a disturbance in homeostasis that is smaller in trained than in untrained muscles. The major metabolic consequences of the adaptations of muscle to endurance exercise are a slower utilization of muscle glycogen and blood glucose, a greater reliance on fat oxidation, and less lactate production during exercise of a given intensity. These adaptations play an important role in the large increase in the ability to perform prolonged strenuous exercise that occurs in response to endurance exercise training.
Effect of endurance training on fatty acid metabolism: local adapta... - PubMed - NCBI

Older studies of humans seem to suggest a correlation between free fatty acid (FFA) turnover and oxidation on the one hand and plasma FFA concentration on the other hand during submaximal exercise. However, recent studies, in which higher concentrations of plasma FFA have been reached during prolonged submaximal exercise, have revealed a levelling off in net uptake in spite of increasing plasma FFA concentrations. Furthermore, this relationship between FFA concentration and FFA uptake and oxidation is altered by endurance training. These recent findings in humans support the notion from other cell types that transmembrane fatty acid transport is not only by simple diffusion, but predominantly carrier-mediated. During prolonged submaximal knee-extension exercise it has been demonstrated that the total oxidation of fatty acids was approximately 60% higher in trained subjects than in nontrained subjects. The training-induced adaptations responsible for this increased utilization of plasma fatty acids by the muscle could be located at several steps from the mobilization of fatty acids to skeletal muscle metabolism in the mitochondria. In this paper regulation at the transport steps and also at various metabolic steps is discussed.
Those are just the first three from a quick Google search.
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Old 11-21-14, 01:05 PM
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The closer you're riding to FTP your energy source skews more toward glycogen than fat. In fact, at and above threshold you're running off almost pure glycogen. So it makes sense that trained athletes (with higher FTP's) would burn more fat than untrained athletes at the same intensity.
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Old 11-21-14, 03:18 PM
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I have been all over Google here. Did any of these links (or any others for that matter) answer the question posed in this thread in your mind?The question posed is about training styles and performance outcomes.

dave
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Old 11-21-14, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
I have been all over Google here. Did any of these links (or any others for that matter) answer the question posed in this thread in your mind?The question posed is about training styles and performance outcomes.

dave
Or if not against performance then something that measures (for a given level of effort) a change in "how far" fat metabolism can be stretched.

dave
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Old 11-21-14, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by achoo View Post
Those are just the first three from a quick Google search.
Good job! I'm curious, what were your search terms? Thanks.
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Old 11-21-14, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
Or if not against performance then something that measures (for a given level of effort) a change in "how far" fat metabolism can be stretched.

dave
Well . . . the thing is that this fat burning business is an adaptation in response to endurance training, as is well documented in achoo's links. If one doesn't care about endurance performance and only wants to put out max effort for short periods like a track sprinter might, then endurance training would be contraindicated. This document:
https://www.ridethetrack.com/pdf/train_rodamaker.pdf
explains training differences for track events of differing lengths.

I thought Chapple went into why fat burning is important for roadies quite well: IIRC, in his experience it increased power output by having the rider utilize more energy pathways. That's one thing. In my own experience, fat burning is important because it spares glycogen. We have a limited amount of that, but we have a virtually unlimited supply of fat. So the higher the proportion of fat we can burn at a given power output, the faster we can go over a long time period because we can titrate our glycogen supply and make it last for the whole ride. Hence the dictum to spin faster on long distance rides, thus using more oxygen but sparing leg glycogen.

How far can it be stretched? Certainly for 24 hours. 24 hour TTs exist, and a fast rando rider can complete a 600k route in about that long without bonking. Then there's RAAM. I don't know how much glycogen can be replenished during their short 2 or so hour rest periods. I don't think it can be replenished during exercise, but I don't have a link for that. But RAAM racers obviously run mostly on fat and blood sugar.
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Old 11-21-14, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Well . . . the thing is that this fat burning business is an adaptation in response to endurance training, as is well documented in achoo's links. If one doesn't care about endurance performance and only wants to put out max effort for short periods like a track sprinter might, then endurance training would be contraindicated. This document:
https://www.ridethetrack.com/pdf/train_rodamaker.pdf
explains training differences for track events of differing lengths.

I thought Chapple went into why fat burning is important for roadies quite well: IIRC, in his experience it increased power output by having the rider utilize more energy pathways. That's one thing. In my own experience, fat burning is important because it spares glycogen. We have a limited amount of that, but we have a virtually unlimited supply of fat. So the higher the proportion of fat we can burn at a given power output, the faster we can go over a long time period because we can titrate our glycogen supply and make it last for the whole ride. Hence the dictum to spin faster on long distance rides, thus using more oxygen but sparing leg glycogen.

How far can it be stretched? Certainly for 24 hours. 24 hour TTs exist, and a fast rando rider can complete a 600k route in about that long without bonking. Then there's RAAM. I don't know how much glycogen can be replenished during their short 2 or so hour rest periods. I don't think it can be replenished during exercise, but I don't have a link for that. But RAAM racers obviously run mostly on fat and blood sugar.
The question on my mind is illustrated in the following example. Take two identical cyclists who train in the following different ways

1) 9 hours per week with say 30% at/above 93% of his/her lactate threshold

2) 9 hours per week with say 5% at/above 93% of his/her lactate threshold

Assume that overtraining is not an issue in either case. Now both #1 and #2 are heading toward 'the century of a lifetime' where in 12 weeks said cyclist will get $2000 for every minute under 5 hours that he/she finishes a reasonably fast course century. Is somehow #2 better off because of his/her better ability to preferentially metabolize fat? Maybe that is true but I am not seeing this in my research (or this discussion) outside of what Chapple says.

dave
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Old 11-21-14, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
The question on my mind is illustrated in the following example. Take two identical cyclists who train in the following different ways

1) 9 hours per week with say 30% at/above 93% of his/her lactate threshold

2) 9 hours per week with say 5% at/above 93% of his/her lactate threshold

Assume that overtraining is not an issue in either case. Now both #1 and #2 are heading toward 'the century of a lifetime' where in 12 weeks said cyclist will get $2000 for every minute under 5 hours that he/she finishes a reasonably fast course century. Is somehow #2 better off because of his/her better ability to preferentially metabolize fat? Maybe that is true but I am not seeing this in my research (or this discussion) outside of what Chapple says.

dave
At 9 hours/week, I'm seeing best results from 10-15% subthreshold/LT and less than 5% suprathreshold. Others may have different results - everyone is different. You have to experiment on yourself. It's known as walking the knife edge. You want to do as much as you can do without falling into overreaching/overtraining. You definitely don't want to sacrifice needed intensity in favor of more low end work. The question for you to answer is, for you, how much is "needed intensity?" One definitely needs intensity to increase one's power. That's why we do hill repeats and speed work. Chapple is saying that one gets best results from also incorporating a lot of base. You might want to get Carmichael's The Time Crunched Cyclist and compare his recipe for max power from short workouts to what Chapple is saying. I don't think they're advocating different systems, just that the less time you have, the higher the percentage of high end.

Overtraining is always an issue. In fact, it's the issue.
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Old 12-22-14, 03:09 AM
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Originally Posted by sprince View Post
I think there is some truth to that. But the trade off is that you teach your body to become good at storing fat to use later during long endurance rides. So if your only concern is increasing endurance it's a good thing. But if you are trying to loose weight and there is any chance that one day you will not ride enough miles to offset your recently enhanced ability to store fat, then you're screwed.
Bingo. I know a lot of fat cyclist who ride tons of "base miles".
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Old 12-22-14, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by sprince View Post
I think there is some truth to that. But the trade off is that you teach your body to become good at storing fat to use later during long endurance rides. So if your only concern is increasing endurance it's a good thing. But if you are trying to loose weight and there is any chance that one day you will not ride enough miles to offset your recently enhanced ability to store fat, then you're screwed.
Originally Posted by qualia8 View Post
Bingo. I know a lot of fat cyclist who ride tons of "base miles".
That would somehow seem to be an odd reaction for the body to make. Short of starvation there is pretty much always an ample supply of fat - the issue being the ability to metabolize it at a high rate.

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Old 12-22-14, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
That would somehow seem to be an odd reaction for the body to make. Short of starvation there is pretty much always an ample supply of fat - the issue being the ability to metabolize it at a high rate.

dave
I agree, it's not about storing enough fat for the effort, since that would be a very small amount. I think weight gain is just a side effect of that kind of training unless you're really careful, due to the hormone shifts in cardio. (Kind of a junky link, but it links to several good studies on the topic.)

Targeted cardio for better fat loss results | Puravida Fitness
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Old 12-22-14, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
That would somehow seem to be an odd reaction for the body to make. Short of starvation there is pretty much always an ample supply of fat - the issue being the ability to metabolize it at a high rate.

dave
It's well known to coaches and cyclists who train a lot that the time to lose weight is in the winter when we do a lot of base miles. That's because when one rides at a lower intensity, one will burn mostly fat and thus the ride makes one less hungry after. Glycogen and blood sugar remain high. The reason one sees fat cyclists who ride base is because they eat a lot more then they should for the amount of riding they do. Duh. You go out for 2 hours a day and ride base with only water and then eat your normal maintenance diet - you'll lose weight. Try that with hard efforts and well, they won't be hard.

During the summer we tend to ride a lot harder, so we have to eat on the bike or lose our glycogen and then we'll have a recovery drink etc. after, so it's much harder to lose weight then. We need to keep the calories coming in order to be able to do the next hard ride, maybe tomorrow.
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Old 12-30-14, 10:15 AM
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just going to chime in.. if you want to lose weight then the best way is to eat less. There are tons of fat guys that ride bikes in a training manner. And there are tons of skinny people that do minimal cardio.

As for base miles, to me it seems that "base mile" is another way of saying.. ride as hard as you can without invoking your leg muscle in a way that triggers growth aka hypertrophy (muscle break down to spur muscle growth). For most people this would be zone 2

As with most physical activities repetition begets efficiency and increased productivity. So the more base miles that you do in theory will mean that you will be able to ride faster without using your legs muscles (glycogen). Basically the pros log so many base miles that their zone 2 is equivalent to your FTP.

Train for type of riding that you will mostly be doing. No need to log endless base miles if your typical ride is 40 miles with the occasional 100 miles.
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Old 01-09-15, 06:58 AM
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Hi, first post. So, please excuse my layman terms. This conversation to me seems to contradict studies or magazine articles (I have no links) that show that cross-training yields improvements in both aerobic and anaerobic performance.

I understand aerobic improvement to mean faster for longer miles or just longer miles, and anaerobic improvement to mean more powerful or faster for a short period such as sprint or steep hill.

My impression prior to reading this thread was that gym squats would complement long miles. However, I'm interpreting the above to say that my muscles' changeover to efficient fat consumption will be stunted by the need for immediate energy in a gym squat. Would you please or confirm or educate me?
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Old 01-09-15, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by fnckr View Post
Hi, first post. So, please excuse my layman terms. This conversation to me seems to contradict studies or magazine articles (I have no links) that show that cross-training yields improvements in both aerobic and anaerobic performance.

I understand aerobic improvement to mean faster for longer miles or just longer miles, and anaerobic improvement to mean more powerful or faster for a short period such as sprint or steep hill.

My impression prior to reading this thread was that gym squats would complement long miles. However, I'm interpreting the above to say that my muscles' changeover to efficient fat consumption will be stunted by the need for immediate energy in a gym squat. Would you please or confirm or educate me?
How many of those articles or studies use couch potatoes or close to couch potatoes as subjects?
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Old 01-09-15, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by fnckr View Post
Hi, first post. So, please excuse my layman terms. This conversation to me seems to contradict studies or magazine articles (I have no links) that show that cross-training yields improvements in both aerobic and anaerobic performance.

I understand aerobic improvement to mean faster for longer miles or just longer miles, and anaerobic improvement to mean more powerful or faster for a short period such as sprint or steep hill.

My impression prior to reading this thread was that gym squats would complement long miles. However, I'm interpreting the above to say that my muscles' changeover to efficient fat consumption will be stunted by the need for immediate energy in a gym squat. Would you please or confirm or educate me?
"Cross training" is usually inferred to mean another modality of aerobic or anaerobic training. Strength work is usually referred to as such.

No, squats won't hurt your ability to burn fat as long as what you are mostly doing is aerobic training and only squatting once or at most twice a week. If twice, IME once lighter, once heavy. Both newbies and elites squat. For cycling, I believe the half-squat is the more effective exercise. To start with, once a week just do one-legged half-squats on a chair with a couple fingers on a nearby wall. Work up to 6 sets of 20, then you'll be ready to barbell squat. Complement that with one-legged calf raises on a stair, just one set to exhaustion.

I think that strength work has little effect on fat burning because one spends such a tiny percentage of one's training time actually doing the exercise. 3 sets of 12 squats, maybe 2.5 minutes total out of maybe 10 hours training?

What Chapple is saying is when you are trying to build aerobic base, do that on your rides. Don't ride sometimes hardish, sometimes easyish. Ride a steady moderate pace, below where one starts to breathe hard.
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