Cyclists: Maintain Balance During Base Training

The base-training period is the time to lay a strong foundation of endurance, force and speed skills.

It can also be a challenging time for training due to inclement weather, holidays, high volume and tempting group rides.

For all these reasons, it's important to maintain balance during Base.

  • Consistency is important, but it's OK to miss an occasional ride due to work demands, family obligations or inclement weather. If it was a key workout, consider swapping it to another day.
  • One of the best uses of your time during Base is to build core strength. This can be done at home with a physio ball and a medicine ball. Pilates and yoga are also excellent.
  • As you get to late Base, specificity becomes more important. Take advantage of the ability to cross-train while you can. This can be key to maintaining consistency throughout the winter.
  • Don't get sucked into becoming a Christmas Star. Many of us enjoy the social aspect of group rides but they often become slugfests. While an occasional spirited ride won't break your season, resist the temptation to become overly competitive in January. Dish out the hurting in-season, when it matters.
  • It's tempting to pile on miles during the holidays, but one week of super-high-volume training won't positively affect your peak and may even cause injuries if the increase is too dramatic.
  • Many people do their Base mileage at an intensity that is too low. Focus on upper heart rate Zone 1 (top 10 beats of that zone) to Zone 2. Some Zone 3 is normal during sustained climbing.

A note on zones: Zone 1 is considered a "very, very light" zone, with a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) of six to eight out of 20; Zone 2 is "very light to fairly light," RPE nine to 11; and Zone 3 is "somewhat hard," RPE 12 to 14.

Eddie Monnier focuses on helping cyclists train intelligently through his coaching business, Velo-Fit, LLC. Power-based training is one of his specialties, though he also coaches athletes by perceived exertion and heart rate (or better yet, all three). He is also an Expert level USA Cycling certified coach, a member of's Form & Fitness Panel and an active Category 2 road and track racer. To access other articles he has written, visit He can be reached at

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