Build phase exploded my legs

I really was on a roll during my SSB1, SSB2 and first 4 week of Sustained Build phase: feeling great, noticing nice progressions along the way, felt really powerful in the legs.

Than, Trainerroad started throwing things like Monadnock+4 and Shortoff+4 at me. VO2 max is the way to go to further improve things, so I went along with it, but I immediately noticed that there’s a big step from 1.5 min vo2 max-intervals (perfectly doable) and 3 minute ones (literally crying after 6 intervals).

Especially Shortoff+4 proved to be particularly hard and did something to my legs that is hard to explain: it was like the shape/form/condition still allowed to go ahead, but the legs were saying no, a faint pain when trying to push the pedals. It felt like i was instantly missing some muscles to turn the pedals at that moment. I was fooling around with the percentages at TR, and barely made it at 90% at interval no. 9, but the damage was done apparently.

The next days were not very helpful with lengthy intervals at 102% and lenghty over unders on saturday. I like doign sweetspot intervals, so no problems there. During active recovery week, legs felt sore but I assumed that was ok after such a hard week.

Yesterday’s 20’ FTP-test was a disaster: I was only able to hold 14 minutes of my previous 20 min test power. I was trying a lower cadence than before (84 vs 92 average), but that certainly didn’t help. Leg soreness is there more than ever.

I tend to attribute the above-mentioned sequence to overtraining (feeling tired, irritated, a bit depressed), but figures say otherwise. TSS score also always has been in check.

I just have the feeling my legs exploded on the VO2 max stuff and never fully recovered from that.

Any suggestions?

“Any suggestions?”

  1. Take an easy day or two.

  2. Eat more carbs.

  3. Don’t be fooled again into thinking that anything less than a 3 minute interval is a VO2max interval (really short on/off efforts excepted). It’s not, so no wonder you found actually doing VO2max efforts a shock.

  4. Lower the target power a bit and try again. You may have overreached, but you aren’t overtrained.


That’s hitting VO2max. Just keep turning the pedals as hard as you can. Welcome to bikes.


Alright thanks, but what’s the dealio with taking an active recovery week and still not being recovered?

Alright guys, this is a cry for help.

I just took a few days off and restarted with McAdie today, but i immediately felt that my legs hadn’t recovered at all. I stopped halfway through because there just was no point going through with it.

I don’t get it. Since i had an active recovery week last week, it’s been almost two weeks since i did interval training, except for the ftp test last tuesday. But the legs feel sore, feel petrified every day all day long since two weeks.

I did everything what TR prescribed in their schemes, but somehow i did something wrong. SSB 1 + 2 went like a breeze, i always had the feeling i had something left in the tank, but Sustained Build was another story, with the VO2 max intervals which were very demanding and undermining the trainings during the rest of the week.

I’m not sure where to go from here. Is there something lingering? An illness? Or have i overreached?

I’m thinking about two options: i do some lower z2 endurance rides (90-120 min) the coming week and do an ftp-test in 10 days, or i just keep away from the bike the coming week and do an ftp-test in 10 days.

I’m happy to hear your suggestions, i just hope to get back on track as the goals are nearing.


Maybe mentally more than physically. You just got served a nice big slice of humble pie with some of the hardest VO2max workouts in the catalog.

RPE is a weird thing. Getting clobbered by your training plan can decimate the confidence you’ve built over a few months and increase RPE across the board.

I’d avoid anything that can further knock you down, especially FTP tests. Just leave your FTP where it is and do some sweet spot intervals for a week or two to let your mind recover.

Z2 workouts have their place, but I don’t think they’re confidence boosting. If anything, they’re always harder than you’d expect, because you go into them thinking they’re going to be downright easy, which they’re not.


FACTS! I’m always “this recovery ride doesn’t feel like recovery, why does it feel so hard?”


Experienced a really similar thing. Blew up during general power build. Having not done much structured training before, the regular VO2max intervals were too much for me to cope with; the fatigue kept building, I didn’t ease off soon enough and had to take a couple of very easy weeks. My FTP has decreased a little as a result but I sense it will come back very quickly now that i’ve restarted SSB2 feeling very fresh. The better thing to have done would be bail a little earlier hence needing less time off, and picking back up without such a big FTP drop.

Regarding TSS, it’s not necessarily a good measure when comparing VO2max to Sweet spot as the former is normally far more stressful. Personally 300TSS/week Vo2max is far harder to deal with than 400 TSS per week Sweet spot.

It’s easy to get into the mindset that missing a few workouts or adjusting plans mid-block is failure and you must keep powering on despite intense fatigue, but in the long run you’ll grow stronger by avoiding total burnout. Eventually you may be able to nail the whole build block but it sounds like you may have just reached your limit and need some recovery.

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note: when I blew up my legs were constantly sore, resting HR in the low 50s vs 44 normally, sweet spot would see my HR climb close to max, motivation was low and even doing z2 would give me a pretty drained feeling after 30 mins. I also lost weight (85kg to 79). A week off completely and a week of ‘Recess’ (60 mins at about 40% FTP) saw me right as rain.

If I hadn’t persevered and dug myself quite such a deep hole I could have certainly got away with less time off and less drop in FTP as a result. FTP down from 375 to 357 FYI. Good lesson learned.

Hey, interesting post…I was coming onto the forum to ask a very similar question.
I’ve been using TR for about 3 years, but always lose my mojo at some point.

I did low volume SSB1 and SSB2, and was loving training. (Although on low volume I was doing every second day…as I felt I could cope with that.

Then, as @TmDrssrt posted…I’ve hit General Build, after retesting FTP, and mentally hating VO2 Max stuff, I have managed to complete in past. I do find this demotivating.

I listened to podcast for first time (#288) last week. Helped change the mindset a bit: FTP test is telling body what you need, your body can only soak up so much TSS, if you aren’t coming off trainer itching for next session something is wrong (I was during Base…I’m not during build). Feel like I’m failing too many sessions lately (even if i crank the intensity down)

So I’m glad to have read this post and realise I’m not the only one! Having read all the responses to this post, I think I’ll:

  • chill out with a couple of outside rides and remind myself that cycling is fun.
  • retake the ramp test (and not worry about the numbers, accept it is the training level my body needs.
  • start back at SSB2…and make sure I take my 2 day break each week.

Hopefully next time I see General Build VO2 work…I’ll be ready for it!

Open to other suggestions!

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I’ve got two full years of TR under my belt, and every build phase has exposed areas for improvement (“failing” multiple workouts, hard, and not recognizing the accumulated fatigue until I get sick or have to back way off).

My last build was Sustained Power Mid Volume, and I was much more proactive in dialing down the intensity for long (3 minutes or more) VO2 intervals. To make them repeatable and workouts completable, I needed to take off around 4 or 5%.

I also noticed that a full 8 week build phase and 8 week specialty phase are really taxing, so this year I’m going to experiment with shortening each block by 2 weeks. Over the course of the season, I’ll spend more time in base phases than the plans suggest.

I might not end up as “sharp” as I want to be for cx season, but I’m at a level (bottom 25% of the field) where adding a little more diesel power probably shaves more time off each lap than being able to punch it a few more times.

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I would add to these:

  1. Forget about and listen to your body. It’s just a tool. It might be helpful to figure out WHY this is happening, but whatever it says about your load is irrelevant to your immediate training decision if your body is (clearly) telling you something different.

  2. Back to the why, as well as eating, focus on getting good sleep. Despite all the products people try to sell you, eating and sleeping is probably 99% of recovery.

  3. In addition to dropping intensity on workouts, consider dropping intensity on endurance and recovery rides. There’s no prize for going more watts on a recovery day, you’re not overloading anyway, but there IS downside. Don’t care if your FTP says you should go harder if your body is again telling you to go slower.

Take a couple days easy and jump back in.


Build is hard, and probably too hard for most if I’m being honest. If you’re doing HV going down to MV doesn’t really make it much easier since intervals change and intensity is up.

Few things that can help with this and not push you over the edge.

Wednesday’s Z2 ride that usually moves up and down from 65 to 70 to 75% etc, skip that and just ride how your body wants to ride that day. Might be 65% or 70% or even 50%. It’s okay to listen to what your body wants there.

Drop one of the weekend intervals to a long Z2 ride if you can and have the time.

Drop one of the intervals within the workout or lower the % a touch.

It can be overwhelming/scary to adjust a training plan that’s laid out for you and feel like a failure if you need to do it, but in reality if doesn’t work its causing more harm then good.


Vo2 intervals on The trainer work over my legs. I can do the same WO outside on a hill and hit the same numbers and the next day i feel much better than if i did them inside. Not exactly sure why. Been training with power since 2003, so I know my body well and can pace really well with power outside. I just had to take yesterday day off in general build since i did all my WOs inside this week, and the quads still hadnt recovered enough to do the prescribed workout. Part of it is me getting old (48) part of its got to be inside flywheel momentum not mimicking real life.
My tips are to do the most intense intervals outside, if you can, spin as much as possible for vo2 intervals inside, use the big ring for intervals to get the flywheel spinning as fast as possible, and take a day off as needed rather than put yourself in a hole thats going to take many days to recover. Im doing HV, and remove some to the filler workouts to allow me to recover better. Like it was said above, dropping to medium volume just ups the intensity, which appear to be the opposite of what you need.


I have the same problem described --build into specialty phase blows up my legs every season. I begin w/SSB1 mid vol in Jan and by October, my legs are constantly sore and feeling weak and burn throughout the ride (not just first 10 min or so like at other times of the year and they loosen up on the ride).
My thought is that the plans have too many hard days. I don’t understand why there are two HIIT days and a weekend threshold and/or SS workouts. All conventional coaches caution against more than two days. AND, IDK about adaptive now, which I’m on, but I wish there was a way to change the number of hard days without having to manually change workouts every week. AND AND it would make a lot of sense for us 50+ athletes to not get the same prescriptions as all the young bucks.

So how long to take off the bike is a question I have besides suggestions/comments on my above thoughts would be appreciated. I’ve been mostly off the bike other than a cpl of mtn bike days (not easy as they should’ve been probably) for the past two weeks after my last race. I struggled through it but had a good result, which is nice but now I wonder about how long to wait on the legs as I also want to add strength training for the first time in 20 years…’

Thanks for any advice or feedback

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IME it has to do with insufficient base training for the amount of work you’re trying to do above threshold.

Adaptive Training addresses this issue by toning down the difficulty of the Build workouts if you start failing them.

But if you want to crush all of them, I think the best way is to lay down a huge volume of base training first.

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This guy

won 2 US national champion jerseys this year. I’m saying bye bye to my fifties and will never come close to winning anything at that level. But most of the “what worked” on that list is working for me, with mods given our age diff. Especially the part about fewer intervals and more endurance. Best of luck figuring out what works for you!

Me top.
Planbuilder: 6 weeks base, now 4 or 5 weeks build.
Couldnt Finish two Workouts last week because of my hurting legs

Thanks guys! I did the SS B1 mid vol and 2 then had a spring break in NC mtns with 10 + hour camp. Did SBT GRVL under 10 hours (decent for me) so I thought I had a decent base. I had a tough Sept with a lot of time off BUT these symptoms are the same as most seasons without the death to deal with.

I rarely fail VO2 or thresholds in specialty. I think short power is in my physiology which might help with those. I mistakenly overshot some of them in the build/Spec cycles bc I felt great. Probably also leads to the demise.

I chose XCO for the build this year and was thinking that focussed too much on VO2 and I feel like the following might be better for just what you described to build endurance
SSB1, 2
Sustained Power
XC marathon (for Wilmington WF 100K in June–A race)
then the base and build process for a 30 mile mtb in Nov – A)
for that I chose Rolling Road race as it’s like a gravel race with a half dozen short climbs.

One question–Have any of you tried polarized? Would that save the legs? If so for the base periods or for the specialty? I feel it might be bad for the specialty if it’ll be heavy on the VO2s in the specialty (during the fall peak phase) which seems to be what blows me up.

One final thought-- I usually feel like I could crush the world in Sept and the leg soreness and decline always happens in October when harder races come together… Peaking a month too soon it usually seems.

Thanks for reading this long post and your experiences. I feel like I resonate with your comments–except I wish I could contend for a Nat title!!! Congrats on those!

I race XCO, XCM and MTB 100s and followed a similar progression last year:
SSBHV 1 & 2
ShortPB HV
XCO Specialty

I felt best coming out of SSBHV2 the second time. I thought XCO Specialty degraded my fitness and focused too much on V02 and not enough on endurance. I’m trying a new approach for 2022:
SSBHV 1 &2
XCM Specialty

My sustained power seemed to be my weakness/limiter in 2021 so I’m expecting the above plan to rectify that.