Pump Up the Base on my commute?


I am fortunate to be able to bike commute to work (25min each way) and ride at lunch (45min) for a total of 20 miles/day. I have been doing as many Pump Up the Vase segments in these time intervals as I can with about a 5 min warm-up. However, I am never doing the full workout duration and I want to know if this is ok or if my fitness will just be contained to short bursts? While doing the workouts on my commute I am getting PRs on Strava for sections that I literally rode 243 times last year. I know the weather will get crappy again and I will go back to the trainer but 70 in Denver is like crack to a bike addict like me:)

Also I have been training in my sweet spot (141- 160) based on my highest heart rate (188) on real rides. During the base workouts in week 1 and 2 I am struggling to come down from my sweet spot range without doing limited resistance. Also, when I am in the sweet spot I am riding high in the range. I can stay in the sweet spot without giving it much thought. I am in decent shape with a 49 resting BPM. However, I cant clean mount falcon without stopping and routinely get smoked up it. BTW that is my fitness goal: up mount falcon without stopping.

Also I have been weaving in the F6 and I love both programs!

Kung Fu Ninja in training!!



Thanks for buying the Pump Up the Base and F6 training programs, and for writing.

I commuted by bike for many years. During my most successful DH and Super D seasons, almost all of my miles happened on a recumbent. That was the best way to pin intervals while giving my shoulders and prostate a rest.

Congratulations on those PRs. That’s a clear sign of improvement.

Using heart rate as a measure

Most of your time in PUTB should be spent at sweet spot, which is the zone just below hard. When you’re at sweet spot, you’re getting the most physiological benefit with the least punishment.

When I’m doing structured training, I like to use a power meter. It’s way more accurate than heart rate, and you can track your sprint power as well. Check out the Stages Power meters. They don’t cost a ton, and they fit most bikes. Yes, I’ve rocked a power meter on my DJ bike.

If you’re using heart rate, sweet spot is around 75-85% of your max. If your max is 168 beats per minute, sweet spot would be about 126-143 bpm. It looks like you can back off, but heart rate is famously inaccurate.

Try this test: After you warm up, pin it as hard as you can maintain for 20 minutes. Capture your average heart rate. That’s probably a good target.

Recovery between intervals

If you’re rocking the intervals at the proper intensity, you need to back way off between them. If I’m on the trainer, I back off from 250+ watts to about 50 watts. I often get off the bike, stretch, get a drink of water, etc.

If you’re commuting, you’ll be slowing WAY down between efforts.

It looks like you might be riding too hard. If you back off a bit, you’ll get most of the training effect with way less punishment — which will help you function in daily life and actually keep up with your training. There’s no sense peaking (then burning out) in January.

Technical climbing

When you need to haul your carcass up a big, tricky hill you need two things:

1) Fitness. That’s happening.

2) Technique. Since you live here in CO, take a skills class. I’ll show you how to climb crazy stuff with very little effort.

Check out this video. Even Conrad Stoltz — 7X XTERRA world champion — has benefited from our skills work.

And watch my client Keith, a fast Cat 1 XC racer. He said “I can’t ride up the ledge” then, 15 minutes later …

Smooth! And easy!

About duration

If you follow PUTB strictly, you’ll build from 18 minutes at sweet spot to 60 minutes at sweet spot. That’s part of the point: To increase your endurance at that intensity.

However, you don’t have to ride that long.

Maybe you don’t have time.

Maybe you just don’t feel like it.

All good. If you don’t have time for long workouts, focus on doing shorter workouts — way better. That means:

Sprint harder at the beginning of each interval.

Maintain higher intensity (top of sweet spot but no higher).

Work your pedaling drills.

Reduce the amount of rest time (perfect if you’re in a hurry).

If you follow PUTB (with any modifications you need), you’ll get into great shape. When you start the Prepare to Pin It in-season program, the intensity will get crazy — and you’ll see huge gains. For now medium-hard is hard enough.

I hope this helps. Have fun out there,


Know more. Have more fun!

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