Confused with Plan Builder Experience Level

How does Plan Builder Add Extra Training?

Plan Builder adds extra training depending on your experience level. We break it down between Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Expert.


Beginner and intermediate athletes benefit most from adding extra Base — then Build — if they have extra time.


Advanced athletes benefit most by adding extra Build — then Base — if they have extra time.


Expert athletes benefit most by adding extra Base — then Build — if they have extra time.

Honestly, after reading their criteria I have no idea which one to select, but I’m leaning towards either intermediate or advanced.

I started structured training in November 2017, since then I’ve consistently done the low volume plan supplemented with extra rides without much structure. In total I’ve average about 7.5 hours per week of riding since I started. I briefly tried the mid-volume plans but decided they cut into my mountain bike time too much to be enjoyable, so I’m sticking with low-volume.

Anyways, given that I’ve been doing the low-volume plan consistently for 2.5 years what category would I fall into? Is there a way to quantify these categories?

The biggest difference seems to be if I select advanced it drops ssb1. Now, I love doing ssb1, it’s my favorite. However, I’ve noticed that my FTP always goes backwards over SSB1, recovers during SSB2, and increases during build. So is SSB1 even worthwhile? Is the fact that my power numbers don’t go up over SSB1 evidence that I should select advanced and skip it?

Also, I just finished going through SSB1, SSB2, and Build. I was supposed to start speciality this week, but due to the C19 my A event got push backed from the beginning of June to the end of July so I’m trying to adjust for the additional two months of training I’ll have.

What are you trying to get from Plan Builder that you don’t already have? Sounds like you already have a pretty good handle on what works well for you and getting a balance between structured training and enjoying your MTB. In which case any reason not to just continue to manually schedule the plans?

I think plan builder is awesome if you want to let somebody else do the thinking. Personally I quite enjoy the thinking part, and experimenting a bit to figure out what works best for me (mentally as much as physiologically). So I prefer to use the plans as a starting point and then tweak them.

Re SSB1, what have you typically done just before starting it? E.g. if you’re coming off a block of racing at the end of the season, then jump into SSB1, then maybe your FTP is just sliding back a bit due to lower volume and/or intensity? Could be SSB1 is laying the foundations that enable the FTP rise during Build. I think once you’ve been training consistently for a few years then improvements tend to come in little leaps after a plateau (sometimes when you’re not expecting them!) rather than the continuous improvement you see when you first start.

And to answer your actual question, how about the hybrid option of 4 weeks of SSB2 (weeks 3, 4, 5, 6) and 4 weeks of Build (weeks 5, 6, 7, 8)? My own N=1 would be that you should never go straight from Base to Specialty, you need Build to get the top end fitness that Specialty then fine tunes. Equally, repeating Build would mean doing a solid 4 months of Build which seems like a recipe for overtraining or at least getting stale.


With respect to FTP going backwards, the TR ramp test assumes that your best 1 minute is equal to 125% of FTP. As such, it is sensitive to how much VO2Max work you have been doing recently. SSB1 doesn’t include VO2Max work, so this aspect of your fitness may drop off a bit, and that will show up in the ramp test. I suspect that if you measured FTP via the traditional 20 minute test (105% of FTP), you would see a smaller decline in FTP, as “threshold” energy systems decline slower without training than VO2Max energy systems.


This isn’t correct. TR uses 75% of your highest one minute power. If you work the math the other way it’s not 125% of FTP

1 minute power = 100w
TR FTP = 100w x 0.75 = 75w
75w x 1.25 = 93.75

The impact of Vo2 work on the ramp test results has been discussed thoroughly in other threads.


It’s 133%.

Mathematically correct. Doesn’t alter the underlying point in my reply.

Dusting this one of because I have the same question as topic starter and the feeling the answer has not been given yet.

I’m currently choosing a plan and confused with the vague explanation of the difference between intermediate and advanced experience with intervals: Beginner and intermediate athletes benefit most from adding extra Base — then Build — if they have extra time. Advanced athletes benefit most by adding extra Build — then Base — if they have extra time.

I created two plans, one based on intermediate experience, the other on advanced experience, and it came up with exactly the same training schedule. So what’s the deal with the difference exactly?

The duration of the plan (time until/between your events) has a big impact on which blocks get added where. Can you describe/screenshot the events and plan you set up?

The experience you select affects the priority of base or build blocks, not the amount of time you train per week.

The amount of time per week you select affects if you get a low, mid, or high volume plan.

When plan builder talks about ‘extra time’, they mean more weeks before your A event than a normal TR plan would take (12 weeks for base, 8 for build and speciality).


I simulated a scheme until the Marmotte next year (44 weeks) and it came up with the exact same build up.

Probably because there is enough time to fit the whole plans in. Try setting a date in about 10 weeks, and see what happens.

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@splash highlighted a good thing to clarify: When you say “the same training schedule”, do you mean the weekly schedule, or the overall block cycles? If you do e.g. a mid-volume plan, you’ll always get five workouts per week (barring recovery/taper weeks), no matter which block you’re doing or how long it is until your event.

The block cycles and all of the 214 workouts are all the same. No problem for me, just wondering what the difference is.

As stated by @splash, there probably is a difference when selecting parts of the cycles, because the last time I did the same with a schedule of 4 weeks, and the if I recall correctly, the workouts were different.

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