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Spinervals Review: Aero Base Builder Vol.17.0

75 minutes in duration

IMPORTANT: Before beginning any exercise make sure you have taken the necessary health precautions regarding your current physical conditioning. Make sure you have plenty of some type of liquid with which to hydrate, whether it be water or your favorite nutritional drink. I highly recommend a nutritional drink. Most of your popular brands on the market are great. Find one that suits your taste. I also suggest drinking about every 5 minutes during your rides.

NOTE: After reading this review, if you are unfamiliar with any of the terminology or the design of the Spinervals workouts, please read our introductory article on the Spinervals training system: Getting to Know Your Spinervals DVD.

This is the second DVD of Aero Base Builder series and an excellent one! As in all of the Aero Base Builder DVD’s, Volume 17.0 was designed to fit into your pre or post-season training with the emphasis placed on maintaining a lower, aerobic heart rate while pedaling at a higher cadence. However, there is no reason you could not include any of the base building DVD’s as part of your regular season training as well.

This is an interesting workout and may initially fool you into riding a bit harder, especially during the first set. If you are not careful it will catch up with you! I will explain later in the article. But first, a description of the workout.  

The Workout:

The Warm-up:

Volume 17.0 starts off like most of the Spinervals workouts with a warm-up set consisting of 3 x 30 second pick-ups with 30 seconds rest between each. This set is designed to warm-up the legs and get the heart rate goin’ just a bit! But not too much! Remember this an aerobic base-building workout. After the warm-up, you will then take about a 90 second break (while still spinning in an easy gear) as Troy explains the main and upcoming set.

Set #1:

20 x 1 minute of riding with 15 seconds easy spin/rest between each.

Very simply you are riding in your aerobic range for one minute, then spinning in an easy gear for 15 seconds (small ring in front, 15 on the back) then riding again for a minute and so on. And you will do this 20 times! This is an excellent set because you are basically riding a straight, twenty minute ride. Yes, you are getting 15 seconds rest each minute. And yes, the rest portion does allow enough time to perhaps catch your breath and take in a quick sip of your nutritional drink, but it is short enough to keep you heart rate from recovering too much. Thus remaining closer to your aerobic range. So when you begin each new one-minute ride, you should be within your aerobic heart rate zone within a matter of seconds.  At the conclusion of the first set, you will spin easy for about 90 seconds before beginning set number two.

Set # 2

10 x 2 minutes riding with 15 seconds rest between each.

Much like the first set, you are pretty much riding a straight 20-minute set. This time you are riding for 2 minutes, then resting for 15 seconds, then riding for 2 minutes, resting 15 seconds and so on. And you will do this 10 times. In this set you will spend a little longer in your aerobic range while riding, but still only get 15 seconds rest between each two-minute ride. Even more so than the first set, your heart rate will probably not recover as much and will probably remain close to if not still in your aerobic range. And that’s ok!  That is the point to this set. To build your aerobic endurance by trying to maintain a smooth aerobic heart rate. Again, at the end of this set, you spin easy for 90 seconds before beginning the third and final set.

Set #3

5 x 4 minutes riding with 15 seconds rest between each.

Once again, you are increasing your ride time while still maintaining a short rest/recovery period. In this set you will ride for 4 minutes, then easy spin/recover for 15 seconds, then ride 4 minutes, easy spin for 15 seconds and so on. And you will do this set 5 times. And unlike the first two sets, your heart rate will probably not drop below your heart rate range at all during the 15 second recovery, but again, that’s ok! Take a drink if you have to and take advantage of the break (albeit a short one!). But make sure you maintain your aerobic heart rate during your ride.

At this point in the workout, you may find your aerobic range creaping up a bit.  Mostly due to cardiac drift (the natural rising of your heart rate during prolonged activity – however, as your aerobic training improves and your endurance becomes greater, you will actually slow the onset of cardiac drift!) which is why it is important you remain in your aerobic zone. If you have to shift to an easier gear to maintain a high cadence within your aerobic zone, then do so! Remember, the key is to remain AEROBIC or in your AEROBIC ZONE!

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not start out too hard in the beginning of the first set ( consisting of 20 x 1 minute ride/15 seconds spin). As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, the tendency for some of you will be to ride a little harder during the first set.


Well, let’s think about it. The first set has you only riding for one minute at a time with a 15 second recovery spin which initially may seem like a nice rest period. During the first two or three one-minute rides, many of you may push yourself a little harder realizing that your heart rate will not rise as fast within that one minute. Most likely, some of you will achieve a higher than normal cadence while still maintaining a lower than normal heart rate. And you may think to yourself, ”WOW, I am riding at over 100 rpms and my heart rate is 10-15 beats below my range! Awesome!”

However, you will quickly realize that the 15 second recovery/rest period really is not that long! And you will discover that upon beginning the next 1 minute ride, you may not be able to maintain that high cadence at the same low heart rate. And without a doubt, your heart rate will rise much quicker than anticipated. Consequently, you will be forced to slow your cadence in order to maintain your aerobic range. This creates an erratic type of pace and is counter productive to building a nice, steady aerobic pace.

So begin the first set relaxed and even a bit slower than normal. Use the first 5 or so 1-minute rides as your warm-up. Focus more you your cadence and let your heart adjust to the 15 second recovery period. Find that balance. You should not be winded during the recovery period. If you are, you are still trying to ride too hard. Bring your heart rate up gradually. By number six or so (the sixth 1-minute segment of the ride) your heart rate should be in your zone for most of the ride.

Obviously, this will be easier to control during the 2-minute rides and more so during the 4 minute rides. But if you start out to hard during the first set, you will not gain the maximum benefits in sets #2 and #3.

Again, I have become a huge fan of not only the Spinervals training system in general, but especially the Aero Base Building DVD’s.  As we progress through the Aero Base Building reviews you will see a pattern develop in how these DVD’s were created. It is clear that a great deal of effort, knowledge and expertise went to creating this series. They are created in such a way that you can use them individually as part of your training program or for those who are completely forced indoors during the off-season you can use the entire series and the benefits will speak for themselves.

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