PUTB and P2PI intensity and timing?


I just bought both your programs, PUTB and PTPI. I’m doing the first week starting this January but with reading the information I’m a little unclear as to what effort I need to do the workout under Super D and Mixmaster. I do not have a power meter so I can not determine what the RPM is. Can you give me a little help in this?



Thanks for buying the programs, and for writing in.

Pump Up the Base is a 12-week off-season build. It focuses on aerobic fitness, sprint power and pedaling skills. For more info check out Build your base for a sweet 2014.

Prepare to Pin It is a 12-week in-season program that you can cycle for longer. It trains all energy systems to help you reach and maintain peak overall fitness.

I do PUTB religiously each winter. In spring I switch to P2PI. When coaching gets busy in summer, I focus on coaching, physical therapy, strength work and recovery, but I try to follow the spirit and rhythm of P2PI. This keeps me in decent shape all year. Heck, I’m hitting a peak right now in October.

PUTB has three intensities:

Easy. Use this to warm up and to recover between intervals. When I say easy, I mean easy: Level 2 in the above chart.

Sprint. Each interval begins with a few seconds as hard as you can. This teaches you to pedal faster and harder, and it improves your peak power. It’s fun too. Especially with a power meter.

Peak for this 2012 workout was 180 rpm and 1,445 watts. My best now is 220 rpm and 1,774 watts. If you keep this up over the years, you can see real improvements (even as you get older).

Sweet Spot. This intensity delivers maximum training benefit with minimum punishment, and it’s where most of the PUTB work happens. If you have a power meter, Sweet Spot is about 90-100 percent of your threshold power (as measured by a time trial).

Since you don’t have a power meter, Sweet Spot is as hard as you can work while speaking in short statements. If you can’t talk at all, you’re riding too hard. If you can say full sentences, that’s too easy. In my experience, Sweet Spot isn’t horribly hard, but you have to focus to stay there. AS soon as you break focus, you’ll drop tot low.

Cadence is simple. Just count your revolutions for 20 seconds then multiply by three. I do this all the time. It’s a great way to keep your mind busy.

Your timing seems perfect. After 12 weeks of PUTB you should have solid aerobic fitness, dialed pedaling skills and massive peak power. When you start P2PI you should see quick, huge improvements.

In my first five weeks of P2PI in 2013, I gained about 25% at all intensity levels.

Be sure not to overtrain! This is easy to do, especially if you’re also doing strength work (and you should). P2PI works extremely well, but those red intervals can burn you out. Be sure to take days(s) off each week and an easy week every month or so. Consider more than one easy week between PUTB and P2PI.

Here are the relative intensities for a week of P2PI. Two hard days, three medium days and two easy days!

Go hard on hard days. Take it easy on easy days. Keep us posted!


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9 replies
  1. Sven says:

    Hi Lee,

    Sven here – interesting article, especially as I’m currently thinking about my winter training regimen myself. As my legs are getting tired that late in the season and days are getting shorter here in Germany now I just do one after work (night)ride on weekdays and two rides on weekend (one of which is just flat base miles) and have switched back to focusing more on strength training again. I’ve started the Stronglifts 5×5 training program a few weeks ago ( http://www.stronglifts.com ) which consists of squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press and barbell rows in two different workouts (squatting every workout, the other exercises alternating every other workout) with increasing weights and added a few more exercises (chinups, face pulls and some abs work). Training is Monday, Wednesday, Friday before work – nice way to start the day at 5 o’clock in the morning with lifting heavy 😉
    I do so because I think squats and deadlift are a superb way to strengthen the core and improve max strength of the legs while the other exercises work upper body which is not much less important – especially for Shredding. The program itself is what I like it most when going to gym – simple. Not twenty different exercises, some on machines, some of them for working very special tiny muscles, which take endless time. Just basic lifts which work the whole body in less than an hour. I loosely followed this program before (not going to gym very regularly in on-season), that’s why I didn’t start with the empty bar and am currently at 200 lbs squat, 260 lbs dl, 140 lbs bp, 120 lbs row, 105 lbs ohp (having problems getting on with the upper body stuff – maybe my muscle growth/adaption is not the best).
    Now I will have surgery in two weeks to get a titan plate out of my collarbone (happened last year) which will give me two weeks to relax – perfect for getting my tired body that really needed rest after riding about 6000km this year. After that – reboot the system and start serious training again 😉 at first of course with PUTB (as I did the last two years), depending on weather and snow conditions I will also throw in running, XC skiing or rowing for getting some base work done and/or some fun mtb rides on the weekends.
    Given all that (please excuse the longish text), do you think continuing 5×5 three times a week + PUTB two times a week and some low intensity cardio work here and there might be too much especially given the increasing weights to be lifted? When training two times a day (5 o’clock am and 6 o’clock pm), which would be unavoidable given that planing (for having an off day between workout days), which would you put in the morning, strength work or PUTB? Or maybe cut down strenght training to two times a week?
    thanks in advance for sharing your opinion and valuable experience!

    Kind regards from Germany,

  2. leelikesbikes says:


    Everyone’s bodies are different, but 2 PUTB and 5 strength sessions each week sounds like too much. Especially if you’re giving each workout the intensity it deserves.

    Some options for a weekly routine:

    2 PUTB
    2 hard lifting
    2 easier workouts
    1 off

    2 doubles. PUTB and lifting on the same day.
    2 easy (the day after the doubles)
    2 singles. either bike ride or strength
    1 off

    There are lots of options, and it’s best to find what works for your body. Try the doubles — PUTB and lifting on the same day — then take the next day very easy. This is a way to fit more workouts into the week while getting rest.

  3. Sven says:

    Hi Lee,

    thanks a lot for your opinion. Strength training would be three times a week (Mon-Wed-Fri), not five times. Yes I know, there’s no answer to the question how to train that fits for everyone. I think I’ll try doing strength + PUTB at the same days, fit easier workouts inbetween and cut down strenght training to two workouts per week (or at least omit the leg work in the third strenght workout).
    Once again, thank you Lee!

  4. leelikesbikes says:


    Erin Carson at RallySport in Boulder turned me on to the idea of two hard workouts in a day, then an easier day. This is working better for me than trying to do 4+ hard workouts each week.

    For example:

    Yesterday I worked out hard in my garage gym then did hill intervals on my bike. Today I’ll do a mellow spin for base and recovery.

    Good luck and have fun!


  5. Lars says:

    Hi Lee,

    I have a question regarding your Power Testing in P2PI.

    According to the protocol in your book, you ride 15 minutes at sweet spot (with bursts mixed in) before you do the power tests.

    In week 5, your sweet spot power was higher than in week 1.

    My question is: How do you determine your “new sweet spot”?

    Last year I did one time trial in winter to determine my sweet spot. I used that value throughout the entire PUTB and P2PI-Program.

    Thank you in advance

  6. leelikesbikes says:


    When I did that test, I used a power meter, but I also went by feel: How much power can I maintain at this perceived intensity level?

    Yes! That wattage increased from week 1 to 5.

    If you do PUTB and P2PI well, your sweet spot power will increase.

    During PUTB, if you feel like you can make more power during an interval, go for it. Your numbers should creep upward throughout the 12-week program. Any time you want to do a time trail, go for it.

    Test your power between PUTB and P2PI. That’s a good workout during a rest week.

    ALSO: Your power will vary day to day. Fatigue, hydration, work … all life factors add to your stress load, and they can all affect you on-bike performance. That’s why it’s important to have numeric targets, but to honor how you feel.

    If you feel strong, go harder. If you feel weak, go easier.



  7. NeverTooOld says:

    Hey Sven – The Stronglifts 5×5 program is a tough program to do three days a week and do an off season program like Lee’s PUTB. You may find that you get better results with just two 5×5 sessions per week. You gain strength and improve your cycling power during recovery. Good training.

  8. Marty says:

    I recently decided I would build a small double roller for my son and me to play on – He can begin to feel pumps and I can play with manuals and doubles.

    I had some leftover plywood from some shelving I built in the basement and it amounted to two 8-ft long planks with about 1.5-ft width to use as the sides of the double roller/ramp… Read: Two cosines, each having 4 ft long period and 2 ft peak-to-peak amplitude… I scribed the double cosine onto the plywood and cut it out with my jigsaw. The plan then is to space them with 2x4s and screw down pliable sheet (plywood? Masonite? other?) to build the riding surface.

    The question became (after looking at the cosine cuts), what is the ideal height/period for a double… What I’ve created looks like it will be a pretty tight roll for the given amplitude. It’ll be fun regardless, but for future projects, I’m looking for a “roller rule of thumb” to build out nicely spaced rollers for pumps and manuals. I think you’ve blogged on this before, but I didn’t find what I was looking for when I searched… Thoughts???

    Posting here to share our comments with others!

    Thanks in advance, Marty


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