Do you have to fail to grow?

After having cracked in the 4th and 5th intervals of the last two Sweet Spot workouts (Ericsson, Carson — workouts that I’ve never struggled with before, albeit at lower FTPs), I’m wondering: is failing some workouts critical to building fitness? Does anyone make it through training blocks WITHOUT having to backpedal/rest/abandon a workout?

By no means is failure at a given workout required, but it also isn’t uncommon or even a bad thing (or at least as bad as we make it out to be).

I’ve failed at the following workouts during my Base->Build->Specialty

Shortoff +6
McAdie +1
Spanish Needle +2
South Twin +6
Diamond Valley Road Race +2
Striped +1

I’m not happy with it, but it means I’m challenging myself mentally and physically


Depends on the workout type and goals. Sweet spot work should be doable, not easy but not crushing like threshold or VO2max work. If you are failing pure sweet spot workouts chances are your FTP is too high.

I’m sure the coaches here can add more detail.

On a personal level. Yes. I think you need to fail to grow (not just training but in life). Specific to training failing a hard workout (not SS) shows you your current limit. You learn a lot from bringing yourself to that limit and seeing what happens. For example… The workout Mills was my nemesis this past fall. I attempted it twice and failed both times. I’m currently 4 weeks in SSBMV2 and when I added that plan to my calendar and saw Mills kicking off week 4 I was both intimidated and curious if the previous weeks would prepare me. Going into Mills this week my self talk was hard, I knew I had failed it before and didn’t know what would happen this time, it focused that self talk on process more (You’ve worked up to this, you have the time in your legs, you got this). I ended up crushing Mills, with some left in the tank for a few more intervals. I was super proud of myself but validated all the work to get there. I knew my “new” limit and set my sights on the next challenge…

I’m coming for you Spencer +2


No. but the only “FAIL” would be to not learn anything from it!

I have made it through training blocks without failing and even upping intensity but that’s more rare than common. …so many factors and variables.


All this. FTP and intensity are independent of each other. Sweet spot doesn’t get harder the higher your FTP gets – it’s 90% for you just as it is for a Tour de France winner or TT World Champion.

As for the headline…perhaps you might have to fail in order to learn and grow, but you definitely don’t have to fail in order to be successful. Guess it depends if your lens is micro or macro. From a race perspective, maybe you might have to come very, very close to (physical) failure to be successful. :man_shrugging:

THIS! I’m sure it’s been mentioned time and time again but even the best riders in the world spend more time losing than they do winning.

If you’ve had an FTP bump, you’re going to need to adjust. Don’t base your training on these sessions in isolation.

Try knocking the intensity of the intervals down by 5%. This can be done at the beginning or end of the session. If done at the beginning, try to increase gradually throughout the work.

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In an ideal world you would never ‘fail’ a workout and you would get exactly the right amount of stimulus that you could manage in order to develop.

However, I think there are at least a couple of reasons why it’s reasonable to expect to fail every now and again. First, there is a bit of uncertainty in the way we test and second, there’s variation in our ability to perform. One day you may be on top of the world and the next you may be struggling (physically, mentally etc) and have to pull out.

Imho it’s not necessary but also not unreasonable. If it becomes too regular in a plan/season though there is something else at play and you likely won’t progress.

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Exactly. I was “failing” too often after a 8% FTP increase. Ruduced my FTP by 4% and workouts feel much better. They’re still tough and challenging, but doable if I dig deep.

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Raises an interesting question. Does doing a ramp test after a week of rest really give a good indication of what intervals you’ll be able to hit in Week 3 of progressively increasing TSS and intensity?

The TR team will have a pretty good idea about this given the wealth of data they have on ramp tests and subsequent workouts.

As with everything here the ramp test is only an estimate and will work for some (hopefully a majority) and not quite for others. One of the really good things we hear over and over from the guys on the podcasts is their focus on being flexible and know when/how to make adjustments.