Base Building 101 (part1)

Base Building 101 (part1)

  • 14 Nov Off

Building a Base- The how and whys


It’s the time of the year where talk of LSD (long slow distance) rides surface.  With the cooler weather upon us and the elevated motivation, make these mile count!

Blue=current fitness

Base building- What is it, how much, how long, and how hard.

  • Base miles are rides that are done in zones 2 and 3 designed to illicit specific physiological adaptations needed to grow your aerobic fitness and pave the way for the more trying efforts later in the season. If you are using heart rate you will want to target 65-75 percent of your maximum heart rate. For those using a power meter the goal is 70-80% of your FTP (functional threshold power).  Ideally, you want to spend 40-50% of your weekly ride time in this range.  The length of this period can last anywhere from 6-12 weeks. What determines the length of time my athlete’s need to spend is this range is largely predicated on a number of factors: What their current fitness level is; what objectives they have for the upcoming season; and how much time they can dedicate to training.

How will I know when to progress to the next phase of my training?

  • A hard and fast number doesn’t exist but what a coach will evaluate is the athlete’s efficiency factor. At the start of the base building period I review files to get a measure of the athletes output in the form of watts along with the input needed to produce that power through heart rate. I then divide the power by the average heart in turn yielding an absolute number.  Over time you will notice an upward trend where the athlete will be producing the same power with less effort. When the trend stabilizes, its then time to embark on the next phase of training.  When plotting the points an absolute number isn’t pertinent, the trend is what’s monitored.

The why

  • Riding at a steady pace in the ranges outlined above force your body to make changes that in turn make you more efficient over time. Such changes consist of increased oxygen consumption, burning fat as fuel, increased capillaries, mitochondria multiply and enlarge, and an increase in muscle glycogen storage.

Before you jump on a group ride or decide to chase down a pack up the road know that riding faster with less effort requires structure, discipline, and particular level of mental fortitude. Group rides and their static nature WILL NOT suffice at this point in the year. Although the power and heart rate averages generally fall within the prescribed ranges, the steady state, constant application of force on the pedals is non-existent. Grab two or three friends and you can easily make it work. The larger you build your base, the higher your peak level of fitness, and the longer you can stretch your peak. Having trouble sorting your data or unsure if your plan is on point- call 845-629-8299 or email me at

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