Block training

Block training is a training method that focuses on the development of a single skill of the athlete per training session. For this purpose, an attempt is made to differentiate the units from each other in terms of content and methodology.

The training in block form is often used for example in the basic area of endurance athletes. For cyclists, cross-country skiers and in numerous other disciplines, the training of basic endurance is an important step in the preparation for the season and helps to develop the anaerobic threshold and maximum oxygen uptake. These factors limit the athlete’s short, medium, and long-term performance and are therefore often at the core of training.

In the classic block form, the length of individual training sections can vary. The length of a training block is in the case between 2 and 5 days. A three-day training block might look like this.

Control parametersDay 1Day 2Day 3Day 4
Volume4 hours4 hours5 hours5 hours
Training areaGA1GA1GA1GA1
Training Stress Score169 TSS169 TSS192 TSS192 TSS
Intensity Factor0,650,650,620,62
The duration of the individual units ensures an ascending load in this block form

Professional teams and national cycling federations have relied on the three- and four-day block format in pre-season preparation for years. A single training block had a slightly increasing load, as from day to day, the volume was increased. An active rest day or a complete rest day takes place for recovery after each block. For example, Team Telekom rode a 200km, 200km, 250km block form in training on Mallorca. The active rest day in the case included a KB unit with 50-100km.

New research also supports the use of reverse load control in block training. This means for basic training, the longest day comes first and is followed by two or three days at a slightly lower volume. For a well-trained amateur, it might look like this.

Control parametersDay 1Day 2Day 3
Volume5 hours3 hours3 hours
Training areaGA1GA1GA1
Training Stress Score200 TSS110 TSS110 TSS
Intensity Factor0,630,600,60
The kilometers in each session are of course dependent on average speed, fitness and the profile of the course. In a training group with 3-4 riders you usually go faster directly.

The main difference in ascending and descending volume control is pre-fatigue (fatigue) in training. The amateur starts the long training session (5 hours GA1) best well rested. The subsequent sessions complement the training stimulus without overworking the athlete after the first day.

The professional, on the other hand, already builds up a targeted pre-fatigue over the first few days in order to then achieve an even higher training stimulus in the long training sessions.

Especially when training in block form outside the basic endurance range, e.g. with intensive training forms such as K3 training or HIT intervals, you should make sure to plan the load in descending order. Specifically, this means that the intensive training (K3 / HIT) takes place on the first day, in a rested state. This allows the body to achieve optimum performance here. The desired training effect is achieved.

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