Can't cope with low volume build plans?

TLDR I’m finding the low volume general build plan nearly impossible and I can’t understand why I’m struggling so much. Any advice?

The full story: I started back to structured training this summer after about a year off and completed low volume ssb 1 and 2 in what I would consider a relatively comfortable manner. No turning down the intensity or back pedals and feeling strong towards each ramp test. Over this time I saw a small bump in ftp after each plan of a few percent.

Moving on to general build low volume I immediately ran into problems. Vo2 max intervals were a huge struggle and I was frequently having to back pedal and turn things down as much as 10 percent just to complete the intervals. 4 weeks in I saw my ftp fall after the ramp test to less than it was at the start of ssb lv2 and I’m still struggling at vo2 max intervals but also at threshold intervals that I was nailing during ssb. My legs just light up and give in before my aerobic system is anywhere near its limit. Anyone got any suggestions where I should look to try and fix this and get back on track? I’m almost tempted to go back and repeat base for a psychological reset more than anything!

You didn’t indicate what kind of setup you have so I’m going to throw out a light bulb moment I had once. At the time I was using a wheel on dumb trainer. I had a wheel with a trainer tire on it I would throw on the bike when riding the trainer. I was experiencing a high in my training and feeling good about myself. One morning I went to do an interval session on the trainer and didn’t last 15 minutes. The warmup sucked! I was demoralized and ready to give it all up. A day or two later I was messing with my bike and discovered that in the process of replacing the rear wheel I had moved the rear brake and it was rubbing on the wheel. I felt like such an idiot. So my recommendation, check your setup. It might not be you. If everything checks out there, don’t give up. You might be pushing through a plateau. Or you might just need a day or two off.

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How’s your nutrition/rest/everything else in life?

…you are not good at vo2 max efforts? You may have simply found a limiter for you and now have an area to focus on. If they crushed you and you did not recover everything after that would fall apart.

Or, if you made an equipment change in that period ftp could be off.

Or you could simply be experiencing fatigue that crept in due to life, or the demands of build are just different enough to fatigue you much faster than base.

Have you lost weight?

Both good points. I’ll check my setup. I did switch to a power meter using powermatch towards the start of build but did a ramp test on the new setup and came out with the same ftp as the one at the start of that block so I don’t think that’s the issue.

In terms of nutrition etc. I am trying to loose weight so running about a 500 calorie daily deficit but I do try to fuel my workouts (I usually train after dinner) and then get something in for recovery afterwards. Maybe the build plan is that much harder that I can’t cope with the deficit whereas it wasn’t an issue in base?

If you’re running a constant deficit of that size, I wouldn’t be surprised you struggle with v02max intervals. They’re HARD.

I believe it’s been mentioned on the podcast before, but, other than “easy” workouts, you’re going to have to choose between weight loss and performance. You’re not going to lose weight while improving performance.

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The change in setup with powermatch would be one thing I would do a bit of testing on. I personally have had issues with TR and different combinations of gear that made a mess of things.

Then again yours may be just fine.

That dinner you’re having before most of your workouts, roughly how many carbs are you having there?

While V02’s being hard is certainly nothing uncommon and could just be a limiter & something you need to work on, it’s going to be hard to run a 500 calorie deficit during build.

I know Nate has mentioned before that he focuses on the quality of what he’s eating to ensure he’s fueling his workouts and by nailing your intervals weight oftentimes drops off as a result.

If you’re still wanting to run those calorie deficits, perhaps try to only run those on days you’re not training? On the one hand you want to make sure you’re not hampering recovery, but I’d guess you have more flexibility those days.

Hi @pirnie,
not to be indiscreet here but how old are you? I was told by a coach VO2max ability falls with age and I had a lot of problems with the build plan myself after completing base fairly easy. Not sure how to solve this, I’ll give it another go once SSB2 is finished.

I’m 28 so hoping it’s not falling off too much yet! But good point thanks.

It’s a big meal with a decent portion of carbs. I’d have to dig into my tracking to be sure. I’m thinking the calorie deficit might be my big issue here. Given weight loss is my main goal right now and I’m not training for an event right now I’m thinking going back to base (which I know I can cope with while losing weight) might not be the worst idea for me given my goals.

Thanks all!

If I’ve got a VO2 max workout, I ignore any calorie deficit that day. I even pre-fuel for any serious threshold work (Lamark for example) in order to be prepped for the work. I’ve still managed to lose something like 12 pounds with that strategy.

That sounds like something I should think about adopting then. Thanks

Now I’ve had chance to analyse my ride data from the threshold workout I struggled through last night (Mount Goode +1) I’m not as upset that I found it extremely tough. In spite of the reduced FTP setting I still got 95 season records! Even at my new lower FTP setting.

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Read through this thread and there are a bunch of good points, but I wanted to focus on this.

If you are trying to lose weight and not gain fitness then the most efficient way to do so is to stay in sweet spot base. These workouts are highly efficient at calorie burning and allow quick recovery to go hit the same type of workouts again and again.

The main reason I, or anyone I think, would recommend you leave base would simply be the mental break that comes with the change of pace from going into build. If you have the ability to do the same thing over and over again then staying in sweet spot base will be your most time effective way to burn calories.

If you do decide to switch into a build phase you will have to increase your caloric consumption. If you’re exceedingly careful you can still run a deficit in build, but 500 is well beyond the limits of what most people could sustain.

As a follow-up - how much weight are you trying to lose? A 500/day deficit is pretty severe. Most people are better served running a 200-300/day deficit over a longer period of time than a ‘crash’ speed of 500/day as that amount of negative is more likely to lead to cheat days and binge eating after a certain period of time. Slow but steady definitely wins the weight loss race

Regarding VO2max efforts or anything above FTP…

In Training Peaks software they have something called FRC/FTP or Functional Reserve Capacity FTP. This is expressed in Kj and is the amount of continuous work you can do above FTP before fatiguing. Mine is very small IMO. Like 14Kj small. Not a lot of work there before fatiguing. MY FRC matches up pretty well with my power profile which shows (to the second) where a rider might be above average (W/Kg) average and below average. In my case I’m below average from like 13 seconds to 1 minute 54 seconds.

Long way of saying I suck at VO2. It’s a limiter. I know it and while I dread the workouts I look forward to them as well and am finding (in mid general build week 5) that my fatigue resistance is getting much better!

When anyone gets to FTP the tipping point is a very fine line that sways back and forth depending on cumulative stress how you rest, nutrition etc…some days we can tolerate more time over some days less. For better or worse I’ve learned that if a workout prescribes 120% FTP I start out targeting 115%. This seems to work well for me. If I feel ok I can sustain 115% for most intervals. If good I try for 120%, and if bad I just try and keep it in VO2 range. Not recommending it but, I’ve had a good response. Besides that I’ve found (for me) a little longer warm up helps. And a second fan from the side hitting my torso and legs keeps me much cooler which may be the game changer.

Under eating is the most likely culprit, but two other things to consider;

How much other training are you doing, and other physical activity, that could be stressing your body?

Could your FTP be too high? Try one of the different FTP protocols.

Failing VO2max intervals is for me a warning that I’m knackered. Of course they’re hard, horribly hard sometimes, but they should be manageable. You might just need a break :slight_smile:

When I´m on a diet I estimate an intake about 2000 nt. kalories and choose SSB low vol 2. I will normaly have carbs enough for 60 minuts but when it comes to 90 minus, I really have problems with fuel. The new in my plans is, that i replace the 90 minuts workout with the shorter workout of 60 minuts. It works and I can hold on to my FTP or even gain a little FTP. Buildplans doesn´t give mening without fuel enough