It’s that time of year when you have a chance to rest and recuperate from the season. However, importantly it’s also the perfect time to plan the structure of your next season.
Accumulation Phase # 1:
The accumulation phase focuses on building a base endurance. Therefore, a large percentage of training focuses on aerobic workouts (with oxygen). As a result, some of the adaptations that occur during this phase include.
The purpose is to make sure the body is fit enough to complete the event specific training (Transformation Phase # 2). This means improvements may increase at a lower rate but should mean the body is fresh for very high intensity work.
The TID during phase # 1 follows two methods, pyramidal and polarized training. Pyramidal training follows a split of 80% - 15% - 5% (low intensity – moderate intensity – high intensity). The emphasis on tempo workouts builds an endurance without fatigue spiking. However, as phase # 1 progress more high intensity training is including – polarized training – which follows a split of 80% - 5% - 15%.
In addition, often featured in BCA plans are block training (BT). BT is when training focuses on improving specific aspects to an athlete’s attributes within certain micro cycles. Science has shown completing blocks of high intensity training during the accumulation phase improves performance more than not including block training.
Don’t be tempted to increase the intensity of workouts/intervals. Have the wisdom to show patience through the plan. If you find long low intensity rides boring, ride with groups/friends. Practice holding the wheel and how to stay safe in a group.
Transformation Phase # 2
The Transformation Phase focuses on event specific workouts. Therefore, this often means training intensity increases to match or supersedes event demands. The phase is shorter as event specific training causes a lot more cumulative fatigue (chronic fatigue that builds up over time – both physiological and psychological). Moreover, adaptations made are considerately harder to maintain due to fatigue. Adaptations that occur during the phase include.
However, event specific training changes for different events. For example, if your event is a Gran Fondo that is expected to take 4-5 hours, consider completing a 5-6 endurance ride during phase # 2. Each training plan has broken down the demands the event to make sure training takes you to the next level.
Often the TID changes to focus on moderate to high intensity workouts. In some cases, training make even be split 50%-0%-50%. Generally, during phase # 2 all high intensity workouts a match with very low intensity training – the hard workouts are harder and easier workouts are easier.
Don’t try to lose weight during the Transformation Phase, since energy demands are very high. The quality of the workout must take priority, so fuelling with the right amount nutrients is critical.
Realisation Phase # 3
The Realisation Phase focuses on tapering for the main event. Tapering determines whether an individual is going to be under-trained, over-trained or just right. For optimum results total training volume should decrease between 41-60%. However, shorter taper periods < 1 week can be more. Adaptations include:
The purpose is to allow the athlete to realise their new fitness through recovery, while maintaining the important adaptions that have been made. Similarly, to the Transformation phase, different events have different tapering lengths. Generally speaking, the shorter an event the shorter the taper. For example, a marathon taper may be 2 weeks while a short time trial may be 4 days.
Training accommodates for both a Saturday and Sunday event. The Monday of event week has an attached screen shot providing you with the alternate week plan. The default plan sets the event to Sunday, but the alternate plan is for Saturday.
Even if you feel a little under-training due to illness etc. that does not mean you should skip the realisation phase. Instead, shortening by up to 50% (1 week instead of 2) would be far more appropriate.
To conclude training should be broken down into three main segments - Accumulation # 1, Transformation # 2 and Realisation # 3. With this structure you will not peak to early or burn yourself out before event specific training.