Can following the wrong volume decrease your gains?

Suppose I choose low volume and stick to the plan, but in reality I have time to do mid volume. Or same with choosing mid volume but you could do high volume. Would I be limiting my gains?

Another way of asking this maybe more simply is just to say if potential gains are always correlated with volume.

Quality first, quantity second.


Let’s assume that all the volume plans are the same quality, and that I’m not adding rides outside the TR workouts.

Endurance performance scales with volume.


In an extremely and largely unhelpfully general sense, more stimulus=more adaptations. But in the context of athletes with a finite capacity to train productively and with a highly variable set of goals, life stressors, training history and a subjective definition of “gains”, that’s very unlikely to be the defining factor.
Not to mention that also ignores the purpose of a long-term training plan where you’re prioritizing different energy systems at different times- volume does not necessarily equal total stimulus, and distribution of intensity doesn’t usually remain constant at higher volumes.

TL;DR: all else being equal more volume is better, but all else really isn’t equal.


I agree with @toribath97

I think the gains from any additional load would depend on your ability to recover. If the increase in stress/stimulus can be matched by adequate recovery over the long term then I suppose more is better. However, once you tip those scales too far it could do more harm than good.

How well you can recover from workouts is very individual and depends on many factors like fitness, sleep, nutrition, hydration, age, etc. etc.

So can following the wrong volume decrease your gains? Yep! But it goes both ways and there’s no one-size-fits-all.


So many variables.

I generally follow a low volume plan and add more “extra” riding, it makes more sense to me to follow a plan and add more volume, than commit to a higher volume then stress that you either have something that has cropped up and i have to delay. Or not being able to ride for fun and its not in the plan and might impact the next few workouts. If i unexpectedly have 45mins or 1hr45mins il scale up/down, or head straight out on the gravel bike after a workout to create a longer workout.

Volume, speed, and speed at volume appear to be the agreed predeterminates of going faster. But, it depends what you can comfortably schedule. There is not point in saying you need a minimum of 10hrs per week to go fast when you can only do 5. Do 5, then add extra as and when it allows.

I have found with myself a correlation of a long ride and improvements in everything. Obvious i know, but the perceived gain is tangible


This. In correlation what @bbarrera said: from an endurance perspective more = better.
My (very personal, works for ME, not necessarily you) solution when I have suddenly more time: ride as much as possible but bring intensity back so that I still don‘t exceed my personal stress limit. I don’t care if I had a vo2max block scheduled. For me (again, personal, my ftp is low-ish compared to my vo2max) a big big volume low stress block bears always the most gains
Key is obviously knowing what your stress limit is :stuck_out_tongue: (and if/when/why you would want to stretch it)

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Too low a volume may not be enough to stimulate you but visa versa too high a volume can wear you out so the gains aren’t realised. You need to find the good balance in between to see the best gains. Low volume plans may be too little and mid volume plans too high for some. It all depends on the individual; low volume may be spot on in the OPs context.


Part of the reason I asked this, is because in the summer when my riding really picks up, I start adding a LOT of extra TSS. I’m doing group century rides on the weekends, and mid week rides way longer than my one hour workouts. The TSS from the low volume workouts is a small fraction of riding time and doesn’t seem to be contributing much my fatigue. In the winter indoors is great but then in the summer I’m always questioning if I should stick to a higher volume plan or just go with what I’m doing.

I guess I just want to ride more lol. But I don’t want to commit to a plan that derails my ride wherever whenever style, but I want to be effective… Have cake and eat it to problems?

Yeah, that’s a pretty common conundrum. IMO if you’re adding a lot of extra riding, most people are better off following a LV plan and adding extra endurance/fun riding on top- that way it’s a lot easier to stay on top of fatigue, keep your structured sessions as high quality as possible, and get in some good endurance volume which tends to be neglected in indoor plans simply due to the nature of indoor riding.

Ultimately though, If you’re improving you’re probably already in a pretty good place, and I think it’s a lot more productive to find a strategy that’s appropriate for your circumstance than to always be wondering if you should do more.

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My tact, whether its right or wrong, is to follow a mid volume plan but on the weekends if I am group riding I replace them for the w/o’s.

I always flip flop between low and mid volume. I can do 5 rides a week but can’t always shake a 1.5 hour ride 3x a week.
So I’m going to try a full season of low volume adding extra endurance during the 2 weekly workouts (around 15-20 minutes). Also add a easy ride on Wednesday and a long slow ride Sunday 3-4 hours.
So it’s similar to mid volume tss, just not following the exact structure but I will get around the same amount of TSS. I figure the worst case scenario I maintain fitness and stay fresher which could be better or I keep improving which would be awesome. I just keep The consistency part in my head is mentally it’s easier for me to hit the rides all the time with
low volume +.

I’m going to change my prog from low to mid volume but swap the days according to how I actually ride during the week. Then see if I can just swap individual workouts on days that have group events or whatever. 9 weeks till Leadville!

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For over a year I did what I call LV++. LV plan but 10-12hrs/week of total riding. LV ends up being a small amount of the weekly TSS, but its all focused on intervals and power zones that I wasn’t targeting during the extra riding, so I felt they were complementary. The extra riding was 2 active recovery days and 2 3-4hr aerobic endurance rides / free rides on the weekends. Sometimes I would pick a + version of the LV workout or extend them additional z2 time if desired.

My main reasons were: 1 - i love riding and want to ride a lot, 2 - I don’t want to feel like i’m skipping workouts when I do long endurance rides on the weekends, 3 - I wanted flexibility to incorporate group rides / endurance rides / zwift fondos / zwift events and other things that I love about cycling into every week without impacting the plan or feel like I was going off plan.