Perhaps the most accessible form of road racing endured by roadies & multisport athletes alike is the time trial, specifically the 40-kilometer time trial. An event that ultimately pits you against the clock while allowing you to indirectly race other athletes. However, riders of all levels and inclinations can benefit from the FTP-enhancing conditioning at the heart of our new 40k TT specialty blocks.


Overview

Time trial performance on a reasonably flat course is primarily a balance between power & aerodynamics while climbing time trials are more a matter of power and weight. But if you ask any experienced TT’er the single most undervalued yet indispensable characteristic possessed by all who excel at racing the clock, the resounding reply will be “toughness”.

Toughness is a matter of mental conditioning, one that follows close on the heels (or leads, depending who you ask) the physiological adaptations brought about by consistent, properly progressed, power-based training. This is why each of the 3 volume-versions of these new specialty blocks targets your ability to suffer as much as your ability to dole out the high, sustainable watts.

On top of suffering this unrelenting power demand is the added challenge of holding your highest sustainable power while in a sufficiently aerodynamic position, at least on the flatter courses anyway. So these blocks also incorporate a gradual buildup of time in position while offering recommendations on when to be aero and when to simply focus on driving the pedals.

40-Kilometer Time Trial Demands & Training

Considering these necessities – muscular endurance, mental fortitude & power while aerodynamic – all eight weeks of these specialty blocks have riders working well above, slightly above, and then slightly below FTP in a concerted effort to elevate that very Functional Threshold Power.

As can be expected, when the intensity goes up, the duration of each interval will come down, but every prescribed workout you’ll find has a very specific aim related to building you into a rider who can actually hold hour-power for an hour (give or take a few minutes depending on your goals, experience & fitness) and do so with more power than your current capabilities will allow.

The highest intensity workouts will use short, 2 to 3-minute efforts to target improvements in your maximum aerobic power well above your FTP while the lower-intensity workouts will throw unforgivingly long durations at you, just below your breaking point, over & over again.

Then, depending on how many hours you can devote to training each week, the rest of each plan will grow mostly in the amount of aerobic Endurance work, well below your FTP for substantially longer, sustained durations, but also in the interval volume of many of your higher-intensity workouts.

Specialty Block Structure

As is common with our block progressions, these specialty blocks will use their first 6 weeks to elevate your training load (with a recovery week during that 4th week) before tapering your training during the final 2 weeks.

The severity of each of these taper weeks, as well week 4’s recovery format, will change based on the amount of training stress you’re accommodating each week, i.e. low-volume trainers will see a more subtle training load reduction than higher-volume trainers will.

As can be expected, each subsequent week will subject you to workouts that become increasingly specific & demanding but maintain manageable training stress ramp rates that can always be reduced or elevated with Alternate Version workouts should you find the need.

Block Progression

Our recommendation is that riders precede the 40k TT blocks with a Sustained Power Build block, but as is almost always the case, the General Build block can work quite well if you prefer a bit more variety in your Build conditioning.

Ideally, your Build training would be preceded by 6-12 weeks of Sweet Spot Base training or alternatively 12-16 weeks of Traditional Base conditioning. This, of course, is dependent upon the extent of your planning, your event timing, and your level of experience and training history.

Optimally, riders will reach these 40k TT specialty blocks with sufficient Base mileage and properly timed & progressed Build conditioning and here are a few of the more common training periodization structures we anticipate:

  • 28 Weeks Out: 12 weeks of Sweet Spot base conditioning + 8 weeks of Sustained Power Build conditioning + 8 weeks of 40k TT specialization
  • 22 Weeks Out: 6 weeks of Sweet Spot Base II + 8 weeks of the Sustained Power Build + 8 weeks of 40k TT specialization 
  • 14-16 Weeks Out: 6 weeks of Sweet Spot Base II or 8 weeks of Sustained Power Build + 8 weeks of the 40k TT specialty block
  • Crash-Course 8-Week Plan: Jump right into the low- or mid-volume 40k TT specialty block (high-volume is not recommended unless you already have a reasonable base of fitness)

Carry-Over to Other Cycling Disciplines

We get a lot of questions regarding the best way to build sustainable power for a host of different types of events ranging from gravel grinders & Mega Fondos to long days with tons of elevation gain. And while each of these very specific specialty blocks are on the docket, the training you’ll find in the 40k TT blocks is exactly what’s necessary to build the power on which all types of steady-state rides rely.

So whether you’re a dedicated 40k TT competitor, a road or mountain bike stage racer, a multisport athlete or any of a host of similar riders, the 40k TT specialty blocks are a solid choice as you work your way toward higher & higher FTP’s and faster miles.



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Chad Timmerman

Chad Timmerman is the Head Coach and Co-Founder of TrainerRoad — cycling’s most effective training system. He has nearly 10 years of coaching experience as a Level I USA certified Cycling and Triathlon coach. When he’s not developing structured training plans for TrainerRoad, you can catch him sharing his coaching advice on the Ask a Cycling Coach podcast. To get Chad’s best cycling knowledge delivered to your inbox, sign up for his free 6-part email course Train Smart, Get Fast.

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