Mid-volume training plans are best for athletes who can handle a higher training load but still want flexibility in their training schedules. You can determine if mid-volume is right for you by looking at your current training volume, goals, fitness, and schedule. 

Key Takeaways

  • Mid-volume training plans are physically and logistically demanding but still offer some room for adjustments.
  • You should have some established fitness and experience with structured training before starting a mid-volume plan.
  • Don’t choose a mid-volume plan unless you know you have the available time to complete five structured workouts per week consistently.
  • Mid-volume plans require that you can productively complete challenging workouts back-to-back.
  • This volume leaves some opportunity for adding unstructured workouts to your training week, but not a lot.
  • If you’ve stopped improving with a low volume plan or are struggling to maintain a high volume plan, mid-volume is likely the best volume for you.

Choosing a Training Plan Volume

Volume plays a fundamental role in the efficacy of your training plan and the progression of your abilities. Too little volume, and your progress may dwindle. Too much volume, and you’re putting yourself at risk of non-functional overreaching. For many athletes, the perfect volume lies somewhere in the middle— like a mid-volume plan.

Mid-volume training plans include a more rigorous training load than low-volume plans but more flexibility and recovery than high-volume plans. This middle ground makes them compatible with a variety of schedules and abilities. Because they are physically and logistically demanding they’re not suitable for everyone. You can ensure that mid-volume is right for you by considering your experience with structured training, your available training time, your schedule, and your progress with your current training load.

1. Do you Have Experience With Structured Training?

It’s not easy to jump straight into a mid-volume plan. In fact, the mid-volume plans are best suited for athletes who have built fitness and experience through a structured training plan. If you have experience with structure, you’ve likely built the fitness and skills necessary to handle a higher volume successfully. If you haven’t done any structure, you may find that mid-volume plans mount on training stress too quickly.

With that said, you don’t have to have several years of experience for mid-volume to be a good choice. In general, mid-volume plans accommodate a wide variety of experience levels and abilities. For example, an athlete who only has completed one season of structured training could be ready for mid-volume if they rarely failed workouts, dialed their nutrition, and completed the entire low-volume plan. Ultimately, everyone progresses at a unique rate. What’s most important is that the volume you choose is complementary to that progress.

2. Do you Have the Available Time? 

When you’re following a progressive training plan, it’s crucial that you can consistently complete the workouts in your plan. If you frequently miss workouts, your abilities may not progress at the same rate as your plan, and you’re at risk of struggling with future workouts. Before you add a mid-volume training plan to your schedule, consider your personal time commitments. If you’re an especially busy athlete, a mid-volume plan might not be the best fit.

In general, mid-volume training plans are a decent time commitment. With five structured workouts per week, most mid-volume plans include six to eight hours of structured training every week. The workouts themselves can be on the longer side, typically demanding a minimum of sixty minutes and up to one hundred and twenty minutes. Looking at your recent training history and your personal schedule, ask yourself if five structured workouts per week are realistic. If it’s not, you might be able to get a lot more out of a low-volume plan.

With that said, mid-volume plans are a bit more flexible than their high-volume counterpart. If you’re an athlete who can maintain a higher training load but still need versatility in your training schedule, mid-volume is a good choice. With two integrated rest days, you have the flexibility to move the occasional workout and plan your five scheduled workouts on the days that work best with your schedule. 

3. How Much Rest do you Need?

TrainerRoad’s mid-volume plans have five structured workouts per week and two designated rest days. Four of the five structured workouts are interval workouts, while the fifth is an easy endurance ride. While you can separate workouts to accommodate your schedule, this structure will likely require that you complete back-to-back days of intensity. To be successful at this volume, you’ll need to be able to recover from your training relatively quickly.

Start by comparing the mid-volume schedule to your current training load. Is this structure a big jump from your current rest rate? Are two days off enough to recover from training stress, in addition to personal stress? Remember that structured training is also typically more strenuous than unstructured training. Six hours of unstructured riding may not be comparable to six hours of unstructured riding. Keep in mind that it’s okay to feel fatigued during training, and there may even be times when you have to cut your workouts short. However, just like you should maintain consistency with your schedule, you should also stay consistent given this amount of rest.

4. Are Unstructured Rides a Regular Part of Your Week?

For many athletes, unstructured rides are an important part of their week. If you’re an athlete who wants to regularly add unstructured rides into your training week, mid-volume works—with some limitations. High-volume training plans offer very little room, if any at all, for additional training rides and unstructured workouts. On the other hand, Mid-volume provides a bit of opportunity for experienced athletes to add one unstructured workout to their week at their discretion. This might be a group ride, an unstructured trail ride, or a skills ride.

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Mid-volume still isn’t ideal for adding a lot of unstructured activities. If you plan on doing more than one unstructured workout per week or are unsure whether you can take on an important unstructured activity in addition to the five structured workouts per week, a low-volume plan is probably a better fit. Low volume training plans maintain the structure and progression of a training plan while allowing plenty of room for additional activities.

5. Are you Improving at Your Current Volume?

A training plan provides a sustainable long-term physical progression. Over time your body grows incrementally stronger and more capable of handling stress and recovery. As seasons of consistent training go by, there may come the point where you need to take on more volume to continue progressing. 

Athletes who follow low-volume training plans may reach a point in their progression where they need to increase the volume of their training to continue eliciting positive physical adaptations. When this happens, assuming that mid-volume works with their schedule and goals, they can continue to challenge their fitness with mid-volume sustainably.

The same goes for high-volume training. If you’re currently on a high-volume plan but are finding that you aren’t getting enough recovery or are missing workouts, then mid-volume is likely a much better approach. With more recovery and less volume, you’ll have a more significant opportunity to recover, get stronger, and continue progressing.

Low Volume, Mid Volume, or High Volume?

Asking yourself these questions is a good starting point for finding the best plan volume. If you’re still not sure if you should be following a mid-volume plan, low-volume training or high-volume training may better suit you. You can check out the unique advantages and disadvantages of low and high-volume training with the articles below.