Extended base build

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  • #40501

    Hi Guys,

    Hope all are well and surviving the strange and unfortunate times we find ourselves in.

    Simple question – given my plans for this year are completely blown, both ski mountaineering and road cycling, is there any benefit for me turning this year into an extended base building year and working >90% of the time in Z1 & Z2? As a recap I only started on UA protocol Sept last year but with no big ski tours or one day cycle events now likely for the rest of the year, is there any benefit in adding in any LT or Z4 work? Would time be better spent building up bigger aerobic base given it’s only had 7 months.

    As always, appreciate some guidance.

    Thanks and stay safe,

Posted In: Ski Mountaineering

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    Anonymous on #40512


    We have a saying: “You can never have too much base”

    We have been encouraging everyone we speak to to consider these cancelled events and restricted access times as a blessing in disguise. You can and should extend your base period. More will always benefit you.

    As to when and how to add intensity. Have you read this article? Use the guidelines laid out in that. Provided you do not have severe ADS there will be some benefit to adding some intensity to your program.


    derekosborne22 on #40517

    Hi Scott,

    Thanks for quick response and validation as this is what I understood from reading your book. Given I only started building mine Sept last year then lots of room for building.

    Re adding some intensity, I had missed the article referenced. Really good and useful but, as we discussed some months ago, at 64 years young it looks like by AeT is levelling out around the 120 mark and with an LT of around 152 there is a huge gap (I did LT treadmill test Dec 5th last year as per UA protocol and it came out at 152 which was slightly up on what I my previous “can sustain for an hour” of 148). Now maybe a full year of base building will raise it, but I’ve done over 200 hours Z1/Z2 (70% Z2) since Sept and suspect it’s only got a little more to go. Unfortunately can’t test right now as no access to treadmill – gyms are closed.

    Net, as I can’t get to the hills, nearly all my current exercise is on my road bike. Checking back to times/HR’s on some of my common routes I reckon I’m about 15% faster in Z2 than I was pre UA training which is fantastic. I would now like to turn that into some faster times overall but that needs me to do some work in Z3 with peaks into Z4 particularly on hills (there is no flat terrain near to me). If I keep to the guidelines in your referenced article and start adding Z3 then a little Z4 whilst keeping the volume of Z1/Z2 through to say Sept, then reverting back to Z1/Z2, will I be damaging my aerobic base?

    My long term goal is not competitive, rather it’s a desire to still do long multi day ski tours for years to come, and be fit enough to enjoy them. Put me on my road bike through the summer however, and there is still a little bit of a competitive streak against my younger cycling buddies :-).

    Any thoughts?

    Many thanks,

    hafjell on #40722

    Sorry for the thread jacking, but I’m in the same boat time wise. 49, live in a mountain town, have no time constraints on training except for work and family. Have had my back country season cut short and am now faced with 7 to 8 months of base building. Been running and hiking and not much else.

    My question, is it safe to increase 5 to 7% every week for that time frame (except obviously every fourth week for recovery)? I imagine the last days of the week in the fall will be very long. Any problem there?

    auvgeek on #42361

    is it safe to increase 5 to 7% every week for that time frame (except obviously every fourth week for recovery)?

    Nice to recognize a username from TGR.

    I’m not Scott or anyone and this reply is a little late, but, in my experience, that’s a BIG increase in volume. When I first started training using TFTNA several years ago, I wanted to make similar increases. I was in my mid-20s, feeling strong, and wanting an immediate effect. I ended up sick and injured over and over again with little progress from year to year.

    When you put this into a spreadsheet to compute total volume at the end of 7-8 months, you see how unreasonable it is. Let’s assume you’re on 1 month cycles: you increase your load 5% each week for week 2 and 3 and you have a recovery week on week 4 that is half of the week 3 volume. Let’s say you start off at a modest 5 hours a week of training. There are two scenarios for week 1 of each month:

    Scenario 1: Aggressively, you start week 1 of each month at 5% more than week 3 of the previous month. Week 3 for month 7 ends up being over 15 hours.

    Scenario 2: More conservatively, you start week 1 of each month by repeating week 3 of the previous month. Week 3 of month 7 would be 11 hours.

    Jumping from 5 hours to 11 hours in 7-8 months *might* be doable IF you are vigilant about sleep, low stress, and overall hygiene. You have to be VERY careful about monitoring how you’re feeling and by backing off at the first sign of sickness or deep fatigue or low energy.

    Tripling your volume in less than a year is just not reasonable, at least for me.

    derekosborne22 on #42419

    “is it safe to increase 5 to 7% every week for that time frame (except obviously every fourth week for recovery)?”

    My take on above – it depends, as always, and like auvgeek I’m not a Scott and only have my own experience to call back on.

    I’m in my 60’s and when I started on UA protocol was reasonably fit but from a traditional “harder is better” background. Having read their book I bought into the concept as it was what I was looking for at that time.

    Given my background I started slowly at 6hrs per week and had no problem with this sort of weekly increase for first three months of 100% Z1/Z2 training – it was “easy” training and I went from 6hrs to 15hr across 12 weeks on a 3×1 periodisation. I did find however, that once I was up around the 14-15 hrs finding that sort of time was becoming a challenge so took it back slightly and increased load: e.g. I dropped one Z1/Z2 session per week and added in a muscular endurance session; I started doing a treadmill walk weighted instead of all at body weight.

    Net, if you are coming in off a base of regular exercise, start slow, and genuinely keep to Z1/Z2 all of the time, then 5-7% weekly increase should not be a problem, but as auvgeek rightly says, that rate of increase can’t continue over the long term. As always, listen to you body and learn to adapt.

    Hope this helps.

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