Differences between high and medium volume SSB plans

Hi folks, I started sweet spot base high vol plan this year to give it a try and noticed a few differences compared to SSB med plan.

Specifically, SS base medium plan includes weekly threshold and over-unders workouts vs. high volume has none of them and instead it’s focusing mostly on longer sweet spot workouts.
For the last few seasons I usually followed SS base medium plans and over-unders worked well for me (they are hard, but I saw my fitness improved afterwards:)

So I was wondering - would it be beneficial to add some of the over-unders workouts to high volume plan to replace some of the weekend sweet-spot workouts?
Or am I just worrying to soon and should just put my fate into adaptive training’s hands? Is doing threshold workouts vs. More sweet spot work are only different avenues to get same fitness gains at the end?

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Given that you are just starting a HV plan, I don’t think adding even more volume on top of something new is going to be sustainable.

If you have seen success with the mid volume plans and prefer the o/u and threshold work additions, could you maybe do mid volume, but add in a couple endurance or tempo rides during the week to up your volume, and go from there?

I’ve often wondered your exact same question about HV SSB, but I think the goal of this plan is really specific on building a great endurance engine by focusing on sweet spot work. The mid volume plans are attempting to do the same thing, of course, but are based on the assumption you have even less time per week to execute on high quality workouts. Thus, based on the TR team’s training approach, the most time efficient way to build your endurance is by putting in some other types of workouts.

For me, I think it comes down to the purpose of the plans. SSB is focused on that endurance foundation, and not necessarily meant to push your FTP capabilities super high. That is where the build plans really come in. This is, in my experience, especially true of the high volume plans.

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Gotcha, thanks!
Yeah, I was thinking inlines with you and was adding some occasional endurance rides to my SSB medium plans before, but it always left me wondering afterwards if it was a right workout to add or how much volume should I add and when, etc. So this year rather than guessing, I decided to try a dedicated high volume plan with adaptive training, assuming I’ll have required time for it and just to try something new. For some reason, I expected high volume plan to be just an extension of a mid volume.

To your point about purpose of these plans - now it makes me think that TR’s general approach is somehow related to prescribing slightly less intensity work for high volume plans on one side and suggesting more high intensity work for medium and low volume base plans.
So, Im trying to wrap my head around this concept now:) Does this mean that working on endurance foundations via big amount of sweet spot will eventually lead to the same results as including over-unders and threshold, but with less volume? Why the plans are different though and by structure SSB low volume is more or less similar to mid volume plans, but high volume is so different from them? For both low and medium plans, their Build phase have more threshold work later on as well… so does this mean that you can do either threshold work right in a base phase or you can achieve the same results with lots of sweet-spot and no threshold?

I guess part of my confusion comes from a couple of TRs older podcast episodes where they’ve discussed the importance of over-unders workouts and now I am surprised not to have them included in high volume plan at all.

There’s a discussion around this on AACC episode 177 (might be 175 or 176, but I think that’s right) where Chad discussed SSBHV and that it’s a lot of work. I suspect there’s diminishing returns of trying to add more. Likely you’d lose quality in the SS sessions.

You could conceivably reach the same point using MV, but I wouldn’t assume that MV is equal to HV because of the additional intensity. The potential with a HV plan is still higher if you can recover properly and absorb the stimulus.

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I am a high volume athlete….I respond better the more hours / miles I ride. SSBHV was too much for me….mentally as much as physically. It just drains you….

As noted above, you will likely be better off with the MV plan and adding endurance rides to get to “high volume”.

IMO, that is what doesn’t work with SSBHV……it is a high volume of only SweetSpot. It just grinds you down. “High Volume” does not need to equate to a large amount of the same work. You could still have a HV SS plan, but swap out some of the SS rides for longer endurance. The base of the plan is still SS, but the high volume comes from adding in longer endurance rides.

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I’m pretty much a newbie, but I’ll add my 2 cents here. I just finished the SSBHV1 yesterday after having done several months of fairly high volume weeks (avg. weekly TSS about 450-500 with mixed intensities), and I did pretty well with it. Felt strong at the end of the cycle and saw a small but significant bump in my FTP. I don’t have a ton of experience or knowledge to back it up, but I guess it depends on your body and your recent training load if the high volume plan is right for you. Personally, I find consecutive days of Sweet Spot to not be terribly taxing, so the SSBHV was a good fit for me, but I do get a lot more beat up with threshold training.

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Awesome, thanks! I’ll check it out

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Yeah, spot on! That is my observation as well - HV plan doesn have a lot of variety of work and has primarily loads of sweet spot. MV seems to have more variety and different types of workouts…

And thanks for sharing your experience!
I also having some concerns regarding HV to be too taxing mentally and physically. Hopefully freshly baked Adaptive training can help and suggest relevant intensity, although who knows what it is capable of as of now, haha :joy:

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Cool, your 2cents much appreciated! Same relative newbie here😆 I guess I am just starting wondering how things work and if there is a science and rationale behind HV being so different from the MV plan. I’m sure that all plans are designed with different purpose and considerations. I never tried HV yet, so don’t know yet if it works good for me. I guess this will be one of my goals with it - to try and see how I feel at the end comparing to MV plans before

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I’ve done MV plans for 2 years and now I’m on my second year of HV plans. If you have the time and ability to recover, IMHO the HV plans will produce an incredible Base. I’ve never been fitter and had greater muscle endurance coming out of HV Base. I wouldn’t worry about O/Us, SSBHV will produce and adding O/U would likely be too much.

With AT and SSBHV though, I’d just ensure that your SS workout are progressing. I had to swap out some workouts because AT was prescribing “Achievable” when I thought the SS workouts should have been “Productive”. So it’s not completely hands off and don’t be afraid to use alternates if workouts look too easy/hard.

For SSBHV1 most workouts felt “Moderate” with a few being rated “Hard”. I’ll likely never go back to MV plans, SSBHV for the W.

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Do you swap the Sunday for a productive as well? I started SSBHVI and did a lot of early stretch workout swapping after the ramp test but after have pretty much let AT do it’s thing after. It still leaves my Sunday ride as achievable, but thought the intention was to be easier.

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I leave z2 and Sundays as is, which is Achievable.

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Current understanding of adaptive training, at the moment, is that it is giving you appropriate workouts within the framework of a plan. So if the plan has all sweet spot workouts (SSB HV), you will get appropriate sweet spot workouts based on what you did and the post-workout feedback you provide.

Here is what I’ve learned by listening to podcasts that have some of the best coaches and exercise physiologists in the world. Let’s call them endurance training best practices. Endurance performance generally scales with higher volume, and outside the TR world 8-12 hours/week is considered mid volume. Also you need time to recover, and 2-3 interval sessions a week are generally recognized as optimal. Knowing all that, I think TR makes a good point of picking a low volume plan and adding endurance rides. That isn’t an off the shelf plan to follow, however you can use TrainNow on the endurance days.

My first TR plan was SSB HV, but that was years ago when it had 5 interval sessions a week. Got thru it fine in my mid fifties, but have seen better results by following/making plans that align to endurance training best practices. Based on consultation with several different coaches, I believe there are a couple of reasons for that (not enough recovery built into plan, and my FTP was already at a high % of power at VO2max). So even though SSB HV produced some results, it wasn’t the best 6 or 12 week plan/approach for me. Keep in mind that is one of the big ‘whats missing’ features of adaptive training. If you know something works well for you, like over-unders, maybe a better approach is low or mid volume SSB and add endurance rides to increase overall volume from year to year.

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Question for you, or any of the other SSBHV users, do you do the SS workouts with the sprints/hard starts etc?

I’m curious to try it, but I had a look at it and with a PL of 10, a heap of the workouts have the power spikes which seem unideal when doing that amount of muscular endurance work.

I don’t have any sprint/hard start workouts in SSBHV 1 & 2.

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Same thing here. For my SSBHV 1 & 2, there aren’t any sprint or hard start workouts. It’s literally all Sweet Spot, Zone 2, or active recovery rides.

Curious, another user posted that with a high SS PL of 9 or 10, he was given “SS workouts” at threshold (closer to 98% FTP IIRC) instead of TR classic sweet spot workouts at 88-94%. Due to riding outside with no PL credit, I was given an initial plan with “SS workouts” at 80% FTP. Believe both of those were for the MV plan, which caps mid-week workouts at 75 or 90 minutes. That ‘flexing’ of SS is perhaps not as extreme for HV plan as the mid-week workouts are longer.

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I’ve not noticed that. I’ve definitely seen ~94% SS workouts pop up. I usually dial up a “More Sweet Spot” or Alternate that has longer 90% intervals.

I’m about to do a Threshold 7.9 with the intervals at 96% (may have to bump up, we’ll soon see) so I’d be surprised if that equivalent was deemed SS as well (though of course there’s overlap).

Also agree that the key here is the time limit side of things. Definitely limits the progression options if you are not able to extend workout duration beyond a point.

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Slightly off top, but I heard on one of the recent podcasts they’ve suggested to raise up your ftp once you get to 8-10 progression levels. I assume this might result of AT prescribing you a slightly less intense workout

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From my experience getting to a level 10 sweet spot doesn’t mean much besides being able to do a lot of sweet spot, I kept my ftp at 290 all of 2021 and the workouts felt right but I never felt even doing level 10 sweet spot that my ftp had actually increased