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All about Endurance


Zone 2 *that blue zone

Its 60-70% of of that Fuctional Threshold (FTP) or of your max heart rate.

Endurance training for cyclists is a multifaceted domain encompassing various training methodologies, physiological principles, and strategic implementations. This extensive guide will delve into the essence of endurance training, exploring its scientific underpinnings, benefits, and optimal application for cyclists.

Introduction to Endurance Training for Cyclists

Definition and Core Principles:

Endurance training in cycling focuses on enhancing a cyclist's ability to sustain effort over extended periods. It targets the aerobic energy system, aiming to increase the efficiency of oxygen use by muscles during prolonged cycling.

  • Aerobic Capacity: The cornerstone of endurance training, focusing on improving the body's ability to transport and utilize oxygen efficiently.

  • Training Volume: High mileage at moderate intensities, focusing on time spent cycling rather than the intensity of each session.

  • Energy System Development: Balancing between aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen) training to optimize endurance performance.

The Scientific Basis of Endurance Training

Physiological Adaptations:

Endurance training induces several physiological changes in the body, crucial for improving long-duration cycling performance.

  • Cardiovascular Adaptations: Includes increased heart stroke volume and cardiac output, leading to better blood flow and oxygen delivery to muscles.

  • Muscular Changes: Development of slow-twitch muscle fibers, increased mitochondrial density, and improved efficiency in energy utilization.

  • Respiratory Enhancements: Enhanced lung capacity and breathing efficiency, improving oxygen intake.

Metabolic Adjustments:

Endurance training shifts the body's energy reliance towards fat metabolism, conserving glycogen stores and improving fuel management over long distances.

The Importance of Endurance Training

Why Endurance Training Matters:

  • Foundation for Performance: Builds the base for higher-intensity training and racing.

  • Efficiency Enhancement: Improves the body's ability to use energy sources more effectively during prolonged exercise.

  • Injury Prevention: Helps in developing a robust musculoskeletal system, reducing the risk of overuse injuries.

Implementation in Training Regimes

When to Focus on Endurance Training:

  • Off-Season and Early Season: Prioritizing endurance training during these periods lays a solid foundation for more intense training phases.

  • Periodization: Integrating endurance phases into training cycles to ensure continuous development and avoid plateauing.

  • Long Rides: Incorporating long, steady rides into weekly training, gradually increasing duration and distance.

Training Strategies:

  • Varied Intensity: Combining low, moderate, and occasional high-intensity workouts to stimulate different physiological responses.

  • Consistency and Progression: Ensuring regular training with gradual increases in volume and intensity.

  • Recovery: Balancing training with adequate rest and recovery to allow physiological adaptations.

Endurance training is a cornerstone of cycling performance, demanding strategic planning, consistency, and an understanding of its physiological impacts. By integrating endurance work effectively into their training, cyclists can build a strong foundation, improve their efficiency, and enhance their overall performance.

Now we don't want only to do Just Endurance. it's important to have specific training for each Zone. Endurance is that base. It's like the foundation of the house upon which you will build.

Exploring the relationship between endurance training and mitochondrial development in muscles offers a fascinating insight into how exercise can lead to profound cellular adaptations. Mitochondria often referred to as the powerhouses of cells, play a crucial role in energy production, especially in endurance sports like cycling. Let's delve into the science behind this process.

Deep Dive:

Understanding the role of mitochondria in muscle cells is key to appreciating how endurance training impacts our body at a cellular level. Mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells, are responsible for producing adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy currency of the cell, through oxidative phosphorylation. This functionality is particularly crucial in muscle cells, where the demand for ATP is heightened during sustained physical activity. Endurance training leads to several significant adaptations in muscle mitochondria. Notably, it increases mitochondrial density, meaning that regular endurance exercise results in a greater number of mitochondria per muscle cell. This adaptation is vital for enhancing the muscle's capacity to generate ATP aerobically, thereby supporting prolonged endurance activities.

Beyond just increasing numbers, endurance training also improves the oxidative capacity of mitochondria. It does this by elevating the levels and activity of enzymes involved in aerobic energy pathways, thus enhancing their efficiency in utilizing oxygen to produce ATP. This improved efficiency is not just about producing more energy; it's also about changing how energy is produced. With more and better-functioning mitochondria, muscles become more adept at using fat as a fuel source. This shift is essential in endurance sports as it helps preserve glycogen stores for longer periods, allowing athletes to sustain effort for extended durations without depleting their energy reserves too quickly.

At the molecular level, these changes are facilitated by specific signaling pathways. For instance, the activation of AMP-Activated Protein Kinase (AMPK) during periods of low energy in cells, such as during prolonged exercise, plays a crucial role. AMPK activation stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis, the creation of new mitochondria. Then there's Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator 1-alpha (PGC-1α), often dubbed the master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis. PGC-1α is upregulated in response to endurance exercise and orchestrates the activation of genes critical for mitochondrial replication and function.

Further diving into the depth of mitochondrial function, we find that endurance training also influences the dynamics of mitochondria, including their shape, size, and number. Training can lead to an increase in mitochondrial fusion, a process where mitochondria combine to form larger, more efficient units. This fusion process is essential for maintaining mitochondrial integrity and function, particularly under the stress of prolonged exercise. Conversely, endurance training can also stimulate mitochondrial fission, where mitochondria divide and multiply. This balance between fusion and fission is a delicate dance that ensures cellular energy demands are met efficiently.

Moreover, endurance training affects the respiratory capacity of mitochondria, enhancing their ability to consume oxygen and produce ATP. This enhancement is particularly evident in slow-twitch muscle fibers, which are predominant in endurance athletes. These fibers become more efficient at oxidative phosphorylation, the process by which mitochondria generate ATP using oxygen, thereby improving the endurance capacity of the athlete.

Lastly, the impact of endurance training extends beyond just the muscle cells. It also influences systemic factors like blood flow, oxygen delivery, and nutrient transport, all of which play a role in supporting mitochondrial function and overall muscular endurance. This comprehensive approach to training, which combines cellular adaptations with systemic improvements, is what makes endurance training so effective for athletes looking to enhance their performance and overall metabolic health.

Practical Implications for Endurance Athletes

Training Recommendations:

  • Consistent Endurance Training: Regular, sustained aerobic exercise is key to stimulating mitochondrial adaptations. This includes long, steady-state cycling and interval training.

  • Intensity Variation: Both moderate-intensity, long-duration workouts and high-intensity interval training are effective in enhancing mitochondrial function, though they may stimulate different aspects of mitochondrial adaptation.

  • Nutritional Support: Adequate nutrition, particularly nutrients that support mitochondrial function (like omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and certain vitamins and minerals), can further enhance these adaptations.

The enhancement of mitochondrial function and density through endurance training is a central aspect of improving athletic performance in endurance sports. These adaptations not only increase the efficiency of energy production but also shift the muscle's metabolic preference towards a more efficient and sustainable energy source. Understanding and harnessing these mechanisms is fundamental for endurance athletes aiming to optimize their performance.

here is a brief example of a base plan...

October to January Training Plan

Week Structure Overview:

  • 3-4 days of cycling (mix of indoor and outdoor)

  • 2 days of strength training

  • 1 day of Pilates or TRX

  • 1 rest day

Week-by-Week Breakdown:

Weeks 1-4: Introduction Phase

  • Cycling: Begin with moderate indoor rides on Zwift (45-60 minutes) and easy outdoor rides (1-2 hours).

  • Strength Training: Focus on building general strength - compound movements like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses (2 sessions/week).

  • Pilates/TRX: Start with basic core strengthening and stability exercises (1 session/week).

  • Goal: Establish routine, gradually increase cycling duration.

Weeks 5-8: Base Building 1

  • Cycling: Increase indoor training intensity with longer Zwift sessions (up to 75 minutes), including some steady-state efforts. Outdoor rides should be longer, focusing on consistent effort (2-3 hours).

  • Strength Training: Introduce cycling-specific strength exercises, such as leg presses and lunges (2 sessions/week).

  • Pilates/TRX: Incorporate more dynamic movements for core stability and flexibility (1 session/week).

  • Goal: Build aerobic capacity, enhance muscular endurance.

Weeks 9-12: Base Building 2

  • Cycling: Further increase the duration of Zwift sessions (up to 90 minutes) with more structured workouts (e.g., tempo intervals). Outdoor rides should focus on endurance, with occasional tempo efforts (3-4 hours).

  • Strength Training: Start integrating power-oriented exercises, like plyometrics (2 sessions/week).

  • Pilates/TRX: Emphasize exercises that improve balance and functional strength (1 session/week).

  • Goal: Continue expanding aerobic base, introduce more intensity.

Weeks 13-16: Preparatory Phase

  • Cycling: Incorporate varied intensity in Zwift workouts (e.g., hill climbs, sprints). Outdoor rides should include hill repeats and longer endurance efforts.

  • Strength Training: Focus on maintaining strength levels, avoid overly fatiguing muscles (1-2 sessions/week).

  • Pilates/TRX: Maintain core strength and flexibility, introduce more challenging poses and exercises (1 session/week).

  • Goal: Refine cycling skills, maintain strength, and prepare for next phase of training.

Importance of Strength, Pilates, and TRX

  • Strength Training: Essential for improving overall muscular strength, which supports better power output on the bike. It also helps in injury prevention by strengthening the muscles around key joints.

  • Pilates: Enhances core stability, an important aspect for cyclists. A strong core improves balance, efficiency, and power transfer while cycling.

  • TRX: Offers functional training that improves strength, balance, and flexibility, crucial for cycling performance and injury prevention.

Building the Base

  • Aerobic Development: The base phase focuses on developing aerobic endurance. This is achieved through long, steady rides that increase mitochondrial density and enhance fat metabolism.

  • Progressive Overload: Gradually increasing the duration and intensity of rides ensures continuous improvement without overtraining.

  • Variety in Training: Mixing indoor and outdoor rides keeps the training engaging and allows for specific skill development.

  • Cross-Training: Strength, Pilates, and TRX work to build a strong, balanced physique, reducing the risk of overuse injuries common in cycling.

As a coach, I firmly believe in the immense value I bring to guiding cyclists through their training and racing seasons. My role goes beyond designing workouts; it's about being a mentor, advisor, and key supporter for my athletes.

There ar many examples of training plans you can follow out there, but I heavily emphasize getting or having a coach like I do myself to guide you and help you do it the right way and really benefit from the personalization because we are human after all.

What a coach like me can do:

1. Personalized Training Plans: I create training plans tailored specifically to each cyclist's strengths, weaknesses, and personal goals. This customized approach ensures effective improvement and progression in their performance.

2. Expertise in Periodization: My understanding of how to structure a training season is crucial. I balance training stress and recovery to prevent overtraining and ensure that my athletes peak at the right times for their key events.

3. Technical Guidance: Cycling is a skill-rich sport that requires proper technique, posture, and bike handling. I provide invaluable tips and guidance on these aspects, which are crucial for efficiency and injury prevention.

4. Motivation and Support: Training can be mentally and physically challenging. My role is to keep my athletes motivated and focused, especially during tough phases. I understand the psychological aspects of training and racing and offer the support needed to help them overcome these challenges.

5. Monitoring and Feedback: Regularly assessing the progress of my athletes and providing constructive feedback is a key part of my job. I make necessary adjustments to their training plans, ensuring continuous improvement and adaptation to their evolving needs.

6. Nutritional and Recovery Advice: I advise my athletes on proper nutrition and recovery strategies. It’s essential to fuel the body correctly and employ effective recovery techniques for optimal performance and health.


Endurance training, known for its benefits in improving athletic performance, also plays a significant role in enhancing metabolic health and promoting longevity. As a coach, understanding and communicating these benefits can help motivate and guide athletes in their long-term training goals. Let's delve into how endurance training contributes to metabolic health and longevity.

Impact on Metabolic Health

1. Improved Cardiovascular Efficiency:

  • Endurance training enhances heart function, leading to improved circulation and oxygen supply to the body. This reduces the strain on the heart and can lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

2. Enhanced Glycemic Control:

  • Regular endurance exercise improves insulin sensitivity, which is crucial in managing and preventing type 2 diabetes. It helps in more efficient use of blood glucose for energy, stabilizing blood sugar levels.

3. Increased Fat Oxidation:

  • Endurance training shifts the body's metabolism towards greater use of fat as an energy source, which can aid in weight management and reduce the risk of obesity-related complications.

4. Lowering of Blood Pressure:

  • Regular endurance exercise has been shown to help reduce high blood pressure, a key risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

5. Improved Lipid Profile:

  • It can lead to reductions in harmful LDL cholesterol and increases in beneficial HDL cholesterol, contributing to overall heart health.

Contribution to Longevity

1. Delaying Age-Related Decline:

  • Endurance exercise helps in maintaining muscle mass and strength, which naturally decline with age. It also preserves joint mobility and bone density.

2. Neuroprotective Effects:

  • Exercise has been linked to a lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. It promotes brain health by enhancing blood flow and stimulating the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports the growth and survival of neurons.

3. Reducing Inflammation:

  • Chronic inflammation is a risk factor for many age-related diseases. Endurance training can help reduce levels of inflammatory markers in the body.

4. Enhanced Immune Function:

  • Regular moderate endurance exercise is known to boost the immune system, helping to protect against various illnesses and infections.

5. Psychological Well-being:

  • Exercise is beneficial for mental health, reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, and contributing to a better overall quality of life.

The science of base training for cyclists is centered on developing a strong aerobic foundation, crucial for endurance and overall cycling performance. This period of training, typically in the off-season, focuses on increasing the body's efficiency in using oxygen and enhancing metabolic functions. Key adaptations include increased mitochondrial density in muscle cells, which boosts the body’s ability to produce energy aerobically. Endurance exercises during this phase lead to improved oxidative capacity of mitochondria, making muscles more efficient at using oxygen for energy production and increasing fat oxidation for longer, sustained efforts. This shift in energy metabolism is vital in endurance sports as it helps preserve glycogen stores.

Moreover, the base training phase involves a progressive increase in training volume and intensity, following the principle of progressive overload. This gradual approach allows for the development of endurance, strength, and muscular endurance without the risk of overtraining. The inclusion of cross-training activities like strength training, Pilates, and TRX is also crucial during this phase. These activities enhance overall muscular strength, core stability, and flexibility, contributing to better power output on the bike and reducing injury risks.

In summary, the science of base training is about building a robust aerobic engine and a well-conditioned body. It's a time for cyclists to lay the groundwork for the more intense training and racing that follows. This foundation is essential not only for peak performance in the racing season but also for long-term athletic development and injury prevention. Understanding and applying these scientific principles can inspire cyclists to approach their off-season training with purpose and dedication, setting the stage for success in their cycling endeavors.

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