AT MV Build Intensity Questions

I’m struggling with the Adaptive Training Build MV and would like to know if I’ve done something wrong.
A little background: I’m 50, been with TR for 25 months, never done structured training before, have been doing MV plans since I started, successfully completed the old GBMV a few times (and have also been wrecked by the old SPBMV). My FTP has gone from 216 (ramp) / 239 (20-min) to 285 (ramp) over this time period.
I’m currently in MV Build, after doing nine weeks of AT SS training.

In addition to an easy endurance and typical SS workout, this AT Build MV is throwing two VO2 Maxs and a Threshold at me, which is new. I’m getting wrecked if I don’t swap out a vo2 for a SS workout.

  • Are two VO2s per week the norm in AT Build MV?
  • Do I need to be WAY more critical of my workout performances in the surveys?
  • Is AT actively attacking your PL weaknesses in Bulld?
  • If attacking weaknesses, even though it’s not SPB, shouldn’t I have some anaerobic workouts sprinkled in?

Thanks in advance for any insights.

Which “Build” have you got on the plan?

Thanks for asking. I should have included that…

It’s the XCM MV plan.


Just for the sake clarity, XC Marathon is a Specialty phase, not a Build phase. It matters since Specialty phase have a different focus, and will vary greatly from one discipline to another, with the final even preparation in mind. That is very different from the 3 Build phase options (Short Power, Sustained Power, General). It matters when answering your questions:

  • Per the Cross-Country Mid Volume, I only see mostly Threshold intensity workouts in that plan.

So I am guessing that you are talking about the actual Short Power Build or General Build (not sure which might be on your calendar.)

  • Short Power has two VO2 and one Thresh per week.
  • General has one each of VO2, Thresh and Anaerobic.
  • Yes, but I consider that a regular requirement to get the most from AT. Have you not been doing so?
  • AT is looking at the plan on the calendar, and your starting Progression levels, and your response to the workouts and surveys to adjust as needed. It aims to get you better at the workout types deemed important to whatever discipline you have driving your plan (be that an event or chosen focus).
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Hi Chad,

Here’s what I see in Career. I didn’t change anything when I moved over to the AT Beta…

Yeah, I thought 2 vo2s/week was strange. Weird. I have no crits, or anything like that, on my calendar. I’d like to have Plan Builder repair my calendar but I’m hesitant to mess with it because my events are now through the first week in November. I know enough to shift things around myself…

Of course. I know that in order for AT to be useful, I need to take the survey and answer honestly. I know there’s been. A lot of discussion about the true meanings of Moderate vs Hard, for example.

So, thanks for confirming 2 vo2s/week wasn’t right. I’ll just swap one out with an anaerobic workout. Fortunately, the progression level system seems more telling than TSS. I’ll figure out what happened to my build plan after I’ve had more time to poke around the new plans.

Thanks again.

OK, note that you have a master plan pointed at “Cross Country Marathon” Discipline (top half of your pic), but you are currently in the “Build” phase (bottom half of your pic). As such, any analysis of your plan will relate more to that Build phase at this time.

  • It’s not weird at all though.

  • As a test, I added a plan to my calendar with CCM as the Specialty Focus. What it added for the Build Phase was actually Sustained Power Build. I didn’t include that in my analysis above, because I didn’t think it would be related (bad assumption on my part), but it is part of that discipline.

  • Sustained Power Build has two VO2 and one Thresh per week. So that makes perfect sense, at least according to what TR has programmed with CCM as your focus / target event.

  • I am not sure there is anything to “fix” here, as it seems to be aligned with their basic plan progression and workout distribution. If in doubt, email to see if your plan is still moving correctly, according to their programming at least.
  • I never said that it wasn’t right. In fact, I think it is actually correct.
  • As it looks, it may well be perfectly in line with TR’s default plan setup.

To see for sure what your Build is set as, open your calendar, scroll in there to find the “Build” annotation at the beginning of that week in your phase, and open it.

Once you see that, you can compare your current plan phase to the default Sustained Power Build, Mid Vol.

  • Do note that according to AT and your current Progression Levels, the actual workouts may well be different. But they should follow the same ideology and general intensity distribution of the default plan.

Hi Chad,

Thank you for looking into XCM and the SPB plan that gets associated with XCM.

I’m still stuck on the “old” plans. I’m fairly certain the old SPB MV had two thresholds and only one vo2.

In any case, top-end fitness IS my weakness, Anaerobic/vo2 kills me. I guess that’s why it’s being addressed in Build. But with the recent bump to 285, I’m really feeling it.

I guess it’s time learn to love it, HTFU, and, hopefully, get faster.

Thank you!

  • The workouts in the Build are set based on the default plan approach (as linked). It has nothing to do with your weakness, and only to do with the workouts TR associated with the Sustained Power Build.

If you don’t like the specific plan in play, you can alter it to any build you’d like or think works better for you. Open that same window I showed above, and click the drop down.

  • You can pick any Build that you would like better). This also works for any phase in the plan, and can be used for Volume changes as well.

Essentially, TR set a direction based on your target event. If that works for you, then great. But you can also adjust the plan to suit your own preferences or needs if you don’t like the plan as it generated on your calendar. There’s a fair amount of adjustability if you know you want something different.

AT is working to help you follow that plan above, by adjusting workouts to keep them productive (not too easy, not too hard). That is all it is doing really, with the plan as the general guide.

Just another point-of-view for your consideration, maybe the plan is the problem. Majority of TR plans appear to be based on the approach that you can tradeoff higher intensity for lower volume. I’m still of the opinion that TR plans are designed for people half your age and/or with different physiology from mine. While I saw gains on TR SSB, after multiple attempts I realized that TR base was not properly preparing me for TR build plans, and that I wasn’t returning to previous before-TR personal bests. So in some sense the plans ‘worked’ but not as well as hoped, for reference I’ve got about +9 years on you, and I ended up trying another (non-TR) approach and it worked better. From the comments above it appears SPBMV is wrecking you again. Don’t ignore what your body is telling you… Counterintuitively getting better at VO2 efforts may require spending a lot more time doing zone2 / aerobic endurance efforts. Sorry there are no easy answers. Good luck!

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Thank you. I appreciate it.

You’re right. Having lived through a few general builds and specialties, I know there’s only so much a 50yo can take. I really want to trust in Coach Chad but have to admit that Dylan Johnson, whether he was being disingenuous or not, had a point about TR having a lot of intensity. Halfway through build and, again, have the sore knee and runny nose…

Traditional plans + a little extra high-end stuff may be the way to go.

Thanks again.

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Out of curiosity: how honest have you been with your responses after workouts? Sweet Spot level 8.4 is very high and the workouts quite brutal. If they are too hard, you must indicate that during the questionnaire and AT will react. I‘ve had a harder than expected ride on my rest day last week and failed a workout as a result. It was very interesting to see how the training plan changed as a result. It only scheduled achievable workouts for the time being and wanted to significantly drop the difficulty of my Saturday threshold workouts.

Regarding the Dylan Johnson debate, I think it is a bit out of date with the release of TR‘s updated plans and Adaptive Training. On MV plans the Z2 ride on Wednesdays has been replaced by a recovery ride and the Sunday workouts are now very easy sweet spot workouts (at roughly half your progression level).

I don‘t think you need to drop to traditional plans (TR only has traditional base, and polarized plans by definition only cover base and build) at all. Another option is that you switch to a low-volume plan and add other workouts as needed. You could e. g. add Z2 workouts or whatever you like and can handle on the extra days.

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I think I was very honest with myself for the sweet spot base blocks. Then again, that type of z3 riding at a 95-100 cadence seems to be in my wheelhouse. The problem comes with higher wattages from sustained threshold/vo2 intervals. My aerobic fitness will me a long way. But when I can’t spin at higher cadences and need to put down some torque, my knee starts to come apart. Lots of contact sports, many miles, and three surgeries later… So, it’s difficult to answer the survey when the aerobic system is fine the knee telling me to stop.

Yes, the plan changes were surprising. I also saw a lot of easy 90 minute sweet spot workouts in specialty well below my PL. I still don’t understand that change point.

I was being vague about my “limiter” until now. But there was a part of me that hoped the new plans + AT would magically avoid aggravating my knee. Unfortunately, it’s actually a little worse. Of course, the FTP bump—Thanks TR :tada:—is also contributing to the knee pain.

And, yes. You’re right about the LV plan + rides. That’s what I was getting at, though not clearly enough. :wink:

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Your post really clarifies a lot of things for me.

In the end, I find the dogmatism around the topic a bit weird: one of the biggest bits of the evolution in me as an athlete was learning how to properly interpret my body‘s signals. Even under ideal circumstances with a private coach, the coach would need accurate feedback from me to set the proper goals and judge progress.

You should definitely be listening to your knee and adapt your workout schedule accordingly. In my mind you‘d still end up optimizing the your training plan for yourself, because you maximize your performance under the constraints that you have. IMHO going for a low-volume plan with extra credit would probably give you the most creative freedom to adjust your volume and workout type as you see fit. I‘d also try different things.

That has worked out very well for me in the past. Two seasons ago, I experimented with adding just one more 45-60 minute Z2 workout to my mid-volume plan. My body did not like that at all, it really needed two days off rather than just one. The next season I tried adding 30-minute Z2 rides after many of my workouts and/or extending 1-hour and 1:15-hour workouts to 1:30 hours, and that really yielded large gains, the length of my life bar increased significantly. And I still felt rested even though I did significantly more work (another 2–3 hours per week).

I think this is a compromise between a boring Z2 ride and a more engaging sweet spot ride: two, three (plan) generations ago, the Sunday ride was a Z2 ride, but completion rates were abysmal. So TR changed it to a sweet spot ride with higher adherence. The super mellow sweet spot rides try to split the difference as far as I can tell.

This is something that was covered in TR‘s presentation of AT and reaction to Johnson‘s video (and older threads about polarized training): there are practical considerations beyond what is theoretically best in a world where everyone adheres to the training plan. E. g. I don‘t think I‘d fare well on traditional base or a polarized plan, because of the time commitment of traditional base and the boredom of Z2 workouts. However, I will try a low-volume polarized plan in the off season just for fun and experimentation.

Thank you for that big of advice. I will try LV plus some z2.

I think my original question, while rooted in my knee problems, is really based on the original belief that AT was supposed to somehow address the intensity issue. However, being a total type-A competitor, you put a challenge in front of me and I’ll do it.

But also being new to this training bit, I don’t how much suffering is hard vs really hard. ??? So when I “pass” a productive workout, BAM! Here’s a harder one!

In effect, instead of intensity being based on FTP x Plan, which only changes after you test or manually adjust FTP, AT can bury you before know it. (Yes, there’s the survey. But if vo2 is always tough, how hard is hard? And if you used to complete Baird/Bashful +6 in the old GBMV @ 6.8 PL, a 5 should be easy, right? :thinking:)

I wish when setting AT, TR asked: 1) what is your age 2) what are your goals (race-podium, fast group rides, race-mid pack, recreational… 3) do you have physical limiters 4) if a TSS/PL bump is called for, is higher intensity or longer duration more appropriate?

If these things were considered, and maybe there was greater clarity with the survey, and maybe you were asked if you’re feeling a sharp or dull ache from the previous workout or feel fresh, maybe PLs wouldn’t ramp too quickly. I’m sure they’re already considering…

Anyway I will definitely take all of your advice and do a LV plan while adding a lot of z2. The youngest of off to college—we’ll see with covid—-so I should have more time.

Thanks again!

SSB 1 HV plan used to be available via a special URL. Believe that same link now takes you to the new SSB 1 HV plan, effectively erasing it from the Internet. So if that is true, it is special, in a revisionist ‘erase the past’ kind of special :man_shrugging: The new SSB 1 HV looks better to me, and I did the previous one.

If you are referring to my posts, then I’m just being honest after starting out on my Kickr 2017 with TR’s SSB1 HV and completing with a few mods. Then tried MV plans. Dogma in this context, I believe, would be buying into the idea that universal truths are embedded into a plan and, adaptive or not, anyone just needs to follow to achieve righteous success.

My consistent advice to anyone is - don’t be afraid to experiment if things aren’t going as expected. And don’t be afraid to openly question if your expected is reasonable or not.

I wasn‘t thinking of you or anyone specifically, when I wrote this post. Rather the whole debate(s) about the subject, where broad claims were made and in my estimation a lot of people got stuck because they either opted for too high a volume or saw TR‘s plans and method to determine the wattage level (I don‘t even want to say FTP at this point :wink: ) as immutable objects that they would have to use as-is. This is I think the third iteration of SSB + Build + Specialty I am on and life circumstances had a vastly larger impact on my training than whether there was a Z2 workout Wednesdays or a recovery workout. Because of life stressors I reduced my volume from MV+/HV- to MV with a little extra credit.

PS You might have noticed that I will try a polarized plan in the off-season for fun/experimentation. I‘m not dogmatic, I think, and I’m sure my preferences (or what I deem best) will change over time. This season I opted for the crit plan, not because I would likely do a lot of crit racing (Rona is still roaming the world), but because I wanted a different style of plan to mix it up. Next season I‘ll do the opposite and shift emphasis towards my aerobic base. Am I unhappy with the crit plan? Nope, I surpassed my FTP goal for the season and may even reach the stretch goal. Last Friday, I shaved off 34 seconds on a PR (7:24 —> 6:50) on a short, punchy climb that is quite contested in my area, which unexpectedly put me in Strava‘s top 10. And I felt as if I had something left in the tank. Not that this is super important, but riding well while making it feel easy is what we all want, isn‘t it? :slight_smile:


That is definitely dogma!

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It’s not dogma if it is True! :wink:

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Thanks. Yes, a friend of mine went from 295 to 310 this year using the polarized plan. There seems to be a fair amount of z2 work, but the hard days are definitely hard.

To get me through the season, I’ll try piling on z2/3 in order to keep the knee torque/strain down. Maybe limiting z4/5 work won’t impact my performance too much…

I’ll definitely switch to LV + a few hours of z2 in preparation for next year.

Once again, I appreciate all of the advice.

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