Hi there and welcome to Lewis’s Tips & Training page.

With the knowledge and experience Lewis has gained with his profession throughout his career, who better to help get you ready for that big event or training plan.  If you have any questions for Lewis then please feel free to contact us on the contacts page and He’ll get back to you with some helpful suggestions.

To start lewis has kindly shared the start of all training ” Base Training”.

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Base Training

During winter or the beginning of your training for an event it’s best to start by doing some ‘Base Training’.  Depending on how far away your event is depends on how long this type of training should last. You would want the first quarter to half of your training in this manner.

Base Training will help you put in place the first big foundations for everything else to build on – it essentially teaches your body to deal with a given amount of training and this means that later on in the spring or summer, when you are doing harder training sessions, your body will be able to cope and you won’t become too tired. Just like in a pyramid, the bigger and stronger the foundation, the higher the peak of form can be, and the bigger your base, the harder you will be able to train further down the line to make those adaptations.

You will mainly want to ride longer and easier than normal, you should be able to hold a conversation the whole time you are out and don’t put in any real hard efforts.  If you go by heart rate you should keep it between 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. It is better to get out a little and often over one long ride.  Three to five rides equalling 100 miles is better than doing one of 100 miles.

For riders short on time it is fine to ride at the upper end of the base intensity (65-70 per cent of maximum heart rate / 65-75 per cent of functional threshold power) as this will maximise the training benefit for the time on the bike.  However, it’s important that you remain disciplined and don’t stray over the line and fall in the trap of riding too hard.  Remember, if you’re breathing starts to become laboured then you are riding too hard.

lewis higgs

If you have more time on your hands you may find it useful to ride at the lower end of the base range.  This will mean that you aren’t too tired after each ride and can maintain consistency over a prolonged period.  Two back-to-back three hour base rides over a weekend is far better than riding too hard on Saturday and only being capable of an easy ride on Sunday.

If you are riding along at 96rpm instead of 64rpm then you are doing one-and-a-half times the pedalling.  All that pedalling will create a much more ingrained muscle memory – this means that when you are getting tired towards the end of a hard race or sportive your pedalling technique will remain efficient.

Power = torque x cadence.  In simple terms, how hard you are pushing the pedals x how quickly.  If you keep the cadence up, it keeps the torque lower.  This shifts the focus away from muscular power and onto the aerobic system.  Doing this means your aerobic system (heart and lungs) are getting a bigger work out than your muscles and, as a result, you become more efficient on the bike.  Muscular adaptations may take place quicker than aerobic ones but you also lose them much quicker.  Working on your base now and muscular strength later on means that both will be in top shape come the first events of the season.

Base training can seem a little monotonous at times or even boring. One element that you can add in that won’t affect the quality of the base training is short six to ten-second sprints.  Sprints of this length use a different energy system than long endurance workouts and therefore the two can be combined into a session without one affecting the other.  Sprints of this length have also been shown to increase your body’s production of natural growth hormone.  Therefore, not only does it make things more interesting, but by including five x six-second sprints with eight to ten minutes recovery in the last hour of a ride it can actually help you recover better for the next day.

While the ‘easy’ intensity at which base training is undertaking can feel frustrating, it’s important to remember that the base phase represents the beginning of a longer process towards great form – and everybody loves having great form.

Base training, as with any sort of training, is about gradually pushing the limits of what your body is capable of.  Aim to increase the weekly duration by ten to 15 per cent for two to three weeks and then take an easy week.  Return to training at the duration of the last week before your easy week.

Making It All Worth While

If you are short on time and increasing the weekly hours on the bike isn’t an option, then start at the bottom end of the base intensity and gradually increase the intensity towards the upper end of the spectrum.

Remember the reasons that you are training your base and stick with it.  Don’t get sucked into training too hard and miss out this important step. For most riders, I would recommend a base period of 12-16 weeks throughout the winter. This period should be long enough to see the sort of gains that come with having a solid base and if you’re training correctly you should see a steady increase in the average speed/power at which you ride, but for the same intensity. You should also notice that you feel more and more comfortable on the bike and are getting home less and less tired.

Towards the end of the base training phase you should be aiming to complete rides of a similar duration to the events you are targeting later on in the season. Once you can achieve this comfortably it is time to move on with your training and start to include some event-specific efforts to begin building your top-end form.

And remember Base Training should be enjoyable.  It’s the most social type of training as it gives you the ability to go out with friends, chat and enjoy the view. There will be plenty of sessions later on the season spent staring at the wall and sweating on the turbo so embrace your time spent base training.


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