10-14 weeks to see threshold gains - what does that mean for planning?

Hi all - first time poster but have been really enjoying the podcasts and content on here, so wanted to chime in…

I’ve seen and heard several references to 10-14 weeks to see threshold gains, so it has got me thinking about planning going into next year.

Firstly, can anyone expand a little on what they really mean by this please? Is this gains only starting to really be seen after 10-14 weeks of focused threshold work or is it more like they start to plateau at that point and a change of stimulus might be needed?

Secondly, assuming this means that you need more like 10-14 weeks to see solid gains, it’s got me thinking about my plans… I have an ‘A event’ at the end of April 2022 - a 3 day GF totalling about 340 miles and 22,000ft across the 3 days in week 17 of the year. Its rolling and short steep climbs rather than mountains. I’ve done it a few times before and it’s a tough 3 days, and my training focus is on greater endurance and increasing fatigue resistance to be stronger for the final climbs each day that historically really beat me up, and of course threshold development is a key part of that.

I’m fully committed to the more ‘polarised’ approach of 2 days intervals a week and lots of LSD and am wondering when to really start that dedicated threshold work? I’ve been nervous in the past about starting intensity too early over winter and last year for example I really didnt do much work over 90% FTP until January and focused on sustained SST work rather than intensity - it got me great at doing loooong SST work but did nothing to increase my FTP :frowning: By the end of winter I was sick of indoors intervals and never quite got round to the higher intensity work and as a result this year my FTP has flatlined. So I’m thinking I should start the threshold work a LOT early and take advantage of indoors time over winter to try and increase my FTP, and then maintenance until April? This seems to really fly in the face of all the ‘sweetspot’ base plans targetted at winter off-season development.

For background - I’m 51, not time limited most weeks, FTP currently about 260w, 77kg, on target to ride about 550-600hrs this year (mostly outdoor longer endurance type rides since spring) up from 450 ish the last few years. 10+ years riding. More of a TT type of profile and short steep hills tend to kill me pretty quickly!

Maybe a lot to unpack there but I’d really value any input and ideas on how to approach this please. I feel like I did a lot of work the last couple of winters but didn’t really see much gain, so am definitely looking for guidance on how to be smarter about it this time :grin:


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Welcome to the forum @DamonL! Thanks for your question. Lots to unpack, but I’ll start off here with some thoughts.

In reference to the sweetspot base plans and winter training, I think one of the problems with those approaches is that they have this target to get you meaningful gains over a couple winter months and bring in a little too much high intensity in order to accomplish that. What you end up with is a good amount of training stress, maybe some improvement in FTP, and usually some PR’s. The problem is that these capabilities were developed in a relatively short time and (in my experience) the improvements are hard to sustain once the “proper” season gets into swing.

That 10-14 week time frame is a great long-term approach that helps to ensure you don’t get after the training too heavy too soon. It takes a lot of consistent work to develop threshold and one common mistake I see is an athlete doing a little too much work, overloading too quickly, and then tiring themselves out. When done properly, that threshold development shouldn’t feel like an insurmountable task. You should build fatigue across the weeks, but as Trevor has said many times before, at the end of an interval session you should still feel like you can do another one. If you’re finishing your sessions hanging over the bike every time, that may be too much fatigue to allow for those steady gains over the long term.

Check out Trevor’s 5x5 minute Interval Execution - he goes into the details of this threshold building workout and talks about the timeline (8-14 weeks, right in line with what we’re talking about here), how to execute the intervals, and why we would do them.

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Thanks @Ryan - appreciate the points made.

Your comment about too much too soon with the intensity resonates with me - I can’t help but get excited and jump in! Trouble is I either dive in head first like you mention or get distracted by another idea and chase that before I ever finish the original plan…

I’ll check out that article and get planning. Trouble is that my head is swimming a little right now with lots of different approaches from different sources and I need to settle into something and just focus!

Thanks again

You’re welcome @DamonL! Find something that you want to start with and stick with it. That will take you farther than swimming around or pinballing around with different approaches over the same time period. The hardest part is sticking to it, especially when others are bouncing around or pulling PR’s in February, but that’s training. You’ll be faster in the end for it.

Go get it!

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