Front Load Periodization anyone ? :-)


So, I’ve been re-re-reading Stephen Cheung’s articles on his own experiment with the FLP protocol, and according to him, he did most of his 2-4 weeks of recovery/easy endurance rides with average wattage below 2.5W/kg.
I’m wondering if doing LSD and/or only LTP based workouts, would still match with the protocol, or if that would be too “intense” (for me, it would be somewhere around 3W/kg) ?
I need to work on those Seilers 4x8 workouts, because I just can’t finish them if it’s proportional to my current evaluated TP by Xert. So, I will do those 4 weeks with Seiler’s for the high intensity workouts, and I’m thinking about doing LSD if possible for recovery, as my latest months were focused on short high intensity intervals, and I’m now missing the endurance to do long “sweet spot” intervals…

As mentioned on another thread, have never done it but but am curious how you go and how much you improve if you’re happy to share. Maybe do a BT now and at the end to compare? :grinning:

My two cents from reading and watching various videos (Dylan Johnson has one on YouTube as well) is that whether 3w/kg is too much depends on your TP/kg. If you’re well above 4w/kg it’s probably ok. Also re LSD, depends what you mean… If it’s Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds workouts it’ll be too hard from my understanding as it’s around and above LTP… I’d be looking to really recover in between, so more like 70% TP or below. Starting with some proper recovery rides at below 50% at the end of week 1 / start of week 2? You want to be able to go hard once a week, even in weeks 2 to 4…

And for the 4x8m, the original prescription was to do the 4 sets at the same level, and for the last one to be very very hard… so you should find an intensity that allows you to complete 4 sets (I.e. easier than you’re doing). I wouldn’t base it solely on % TP, more on what you feel you can do on the day. Also wouldn’t want to get right up to max HR each time… And if you’re doing 5 hard days I expect you’ll use lower power later in the week due to fatigue… you may also want to add some variety eg micros, hard start etc else I imagine 20x8m in a week will be hell, especially if you already hate 4x8m!

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Yeah, I will give my opinion once that period will be finished. If I survive it.

I got a BT 4 days ago. A Gold one ! :slight_smile: But I really think that Xert is waaaay too generous, cause it told me that my TP was 295W, but I wouldn’t be able to do 4x8min at 312W :open_mouth: as prescribed. Yesterday, I was only able to do it with 40W lower: first interval at 283W, then 270W, then 265W, then 264W. Yeah, lame numbers, compared to what I should achieve in theory (last Summer I was able to do 295W intervals on the road, even though my TP was way lower !?).

About the LSD: the intensity is around 76% of my TP so, yes, I also think it would be too high. I may just do them anyways, but around 30W lower. So I would get some stimulation, without compromising the plan. Or I will simply go for long easy, easy rides (2-3h).
I’m today on day-2 of the 1st week, I will try to maintain the 275W at least for the first two intervals ! And do so for the remaining hard days. For each of the following weeks, I hope that I will be able to push a couple of extra watts on the one and only hard day. Or maybe, as you suggested, hold on the 275W for the 3 first intervals, and try to go full out on the last one…

The front loaded periodization definitely can work - I’ve had good success with it in early 2019, taking my TP from 285 up over 300 W (only time I’ve ever been 300+ W TP)!

If I can recall correctly, I modified the protocol a little bit to make sure I would be able to handle it. But it went something like this…
1st week: 3x Ronnestadt 30/15’s, 2x Seiler 4x8’s, 2x complete rest
2nd-4th Weeks: 1x Ronnestadt, 5x easier rides (think 2.5 :diamonds: or less)

Looking back at many of my active recovery days, looks like I often just noodled below LTP to hit my XSS targets. I had even created my own very simple workout with long intervals at 85% (ish) of LTP:

I suspect that many of the endurance workouts might still be a little difficult after thrashing your legs so badly (which is why I had created a super simple, super easy active recovery workout) - I remember my legs aching for the better part of 2 weeks after the front load. It wasn’t until the 4th week that I finally started feeling fresher again.

  1. That workout can be quite difficult. In the original 4x4, 4x8, 4x16 study, they were not prescribed at X% of TP, but the subjects were told to do the workout isoeffort - i.e. sustain the highest average power over the four intervals. When I do the 4x8’s, I usually check what my 10-12 MMP is on the PD curve and then do the workout in slope mode, aiming to keep my intensity for the 8 min intervals around 10-12 MMP-ish, and maybe pushing harder on a couple intervals if I feel better. I’ve found the workout a little bit easier to do when I’m controlling my own power output (and adjusting up/down on the fly) vs. trying to keep my legs spinning in ERG mode.

  2. Fatigue has the ability to negatively impact your performance/fitness signature. For example, I might go and smash myself today doing a hard Tabata workout with a Breakthrough. If I come back first thing tomorrow and do HIIT with the new signature, I would likely struggle to do well, since the fatigue generated from the previous day’s workout might still hinder my performance.

Hope this makes sense

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Thanks, I may do that, depending on how I will feel, then.
In 2019, Xert evaluated my TP to be at 299W in August and 298W one month later, I was hoping I would be able to finally reach my dream during Winter training (the 300W :wink: ), but once on the HT for the indoors training, it was just so impossible to follow XATA’s recommendations that I let the training fall back :-/ This year has been so bad, probably in part because of the C19 (I think I was affected, strange muscular problems with my calves), but I’m now training to reach the 300W for next Spring. And to be able to get some of my local KOM back :smiley:
Lately I’ve been doing a lot of short high intensity intervals, Ronnestad and “Xert fitness test under pressure” give me “good” numbers, in theory, but whenever I go for longer intervals, I just can’t do them; that’s why I’m now working on the Seiler 4x8, to really improve my endurance and with the goal to make the TP evaluation much closer to the reality.

About the way you do your 4x8: going for a 10-12 MMP is way out of my capacity ! The curve tells me that it should be between 315 and 322W ! I think I can’t even do it for 5 minutes. Even less for 4 repetitions !
But your suggestion with the ERG mode makes sense… I feel that the resistance variation of the HT has a big impact, it sometimes goes 20-30W lower, sometimes 20-30W, it hurts, and I can’t do anything about it, I have to undergo and accept it. It could be easier to have the responsibility on the effort I can manage: a few seconds here and there to recover/get my breath back by going a few watts lower, and go harder when I feel better… Tomorrow (day 3), I will do it in slope mode and will see how it turns out.

How deep I can go on the 4x8 is usually a function of my overall fitness (total training load). When I have fewer stars, I can only handle ~15 MMP. But when I’m well trained and fresh, I’ve been able to get very close to MPA on all 4 sets of the 4x8

Here is the FLP report :slight_smile:
Screen captures to summarize…

  • On the 22th of December, “Xert Fitness Test for Breakthroughs - Under Pressure”, Gold Breakthrough (TP: 295W)
  • Then one week with 5 days of Seiler 4x8min (271W, 272W, 273W, 273W, 273W on average each day)
  • 3 following weeks, 1 Seiler’s day and a couple of easy LSD rides (277W, then 284W, then 291W - but I could only do 2 intervals on the last workout day, I was not feeling good that day).
  • Today (Jan, 23th), “Xert Fitness Test for Breakthroughs - Under Pressure”, Gold Breakthrough (TP: 296W)

BUT: today I had a problem with the app I’ve been using with my rides (BigRingVR), so I let Xert mobile’s app record the data, it was using the power from my HT (Direto XR) instead of the power from my usual powermeter on my bike (Stages), so the numbers are not really comparable. As you may see from the screenshots, estimates my TP at 261W, but it is not suitable on those short intervals. I believe it is way underestimated. Xert on the other side, is again way too generous on that workout, once again giving me an estimation of 296W for my TP, something that I can’t even hold on the Seiler’s 4x8min. …
Still, I’m happy with the progression on the 4x8min, that’s almost a 18W gain. I will now do one month of “HIT” workouts (based on Guy Thibault’s study:, and then another 4 weeks of FLP to be ready for the Spring :stuck_out_tongue: Hopefully, I will again be able to gain at least 15W at that point.

Thanks for the update, and looks a good improvement judging by the intervals :slight_smile:

What happened to your training load overall in that time out of interest?

Going down, down, and down !

Good job if you can increase TP with falling TL :+1:
Imagine what you could do with TL ramp as well :grinning:

Interesting - I guess it may depend on what your starting TL is…

This was the last time I tried 2 months of front-loaded periodization - was able to push my TP from 285 W up to 306 W - my personal best TP of all time:

I had a huge increase in TL & Fitness Signature after the first month of front-load’s, but that broke me pretty badly - with being in grad school at the time I didn’t have enough time to recover well enough to sustain that TL. I’d like to try this again this spring as I just arrived at a :star::star::star: training load for the first time in a looong time, and have a better idea about how to properly recover from this sort of training periodization.

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I’m starting a new period of 4 weeks of FLP.

Once again, today I did a “Xert Fitness Test for Breakthroughs - Under Pressure”.
Same results as in January, with a gold medal BT (295W TP / Low HIE / Sh*tty PP).

I should do my first day on Wednesday with Seiler’s 4x8. I’ve been doing some high intensity “long” intervals lately, and I already know that Xert’s estimation of my TP is, again, way too high. I hope that I will be able to do the 8 minutes intervals at 280W. But it could be even lower…

FYI, I’ve also been using, and it evaluates my TP at around 266W. It seems a bit low, but I guess that it’s much closer to what I should really be able to hold for one full hour.

If the breakthrough is very short (spiky breakthough) and is combined with a large increase in TP, it would make sense to consider flagging it. Try and create breakthroughs with longer Maximal Effort Times if you’re seeing possible errors.

Good luck - referencing last time, do you plan to ramp TL as well this time?

No, 1- because I hate to do longer workouts indoor (max 1h30, exceptionally 2h), and 2- because with the FLP, except for the first week, the following weeks are also on the lower range of the TL.

I’ll ramp my TL once I’ll be riding outdoors ! :slight_smile:

I chose that “fitness test” because that’s the one I hate the less :smiley:
Yeah, I prefer those short intervals, I’ve been doing a lot of that for several months now, so I specialized that aspect of my training. I surely need to work on longer intervals (kinda SST, oops :stuck_out_tongue: ).

Do shorter intervals but just ignore the rest in between. :slight_smile:

Seems like there was some material change to your power data this winter too. Just a note that some power meters will exhibit greater errors with lots of on/off intervals.

You want me to die :rofl:

I changed my HT, but I still have my Stages PM on the bike that I use on the trainer, the same I use for most of my rides outdoor. And on Xert’s app (as well as on the EBC one), I select that PM. On the app I run on my PC, BigRingVR, there is a kind of power-matching feature, so my ride reports also get the data from the Stages PM.
Anyways, I already compared the results from the Stages vs the power from my HT (Direto XR), and they are very close, whatever the power I produce.

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Cool. Record the next BT workout using both Stages and Direto and compare results. Even though the power can be very similar on average, how it handles on/off intervals might make a difference. Would be interesting to see if you find a difference.