Failing at McAdie+1, best approach for improving muscular endurance?

I got back on the bike in mid-December after a few years of steady decline in fitness and over a year of barely riding. I haven’t raced since about 2012, when I was at about 275W FTP and 68kg.

As I’m so unfit I didn’t want to plunge right into a plan, so I’ve been steadily ramping my TSS from nothing using a mostly SS with over/unders once a week, doing a ramp test every fortnight to adjust for my rapidly improving fitness and using to keep myself in the “green zone”.

I’m now at CTL 31, ATL 56, FTP 224W (from last ramp test).

On Saturday I failed at McAdie+1, at the end of the 2nd set. I was insufficiently rested so I tried it again this morning and got half way into the 3rd set before failure. By failure I mean what happens at the end of a ramp test.

I don’t want to start messing with my FTP values in TR, I’d rather just rely on those numbers and fix my muscular endurance problem. So, I think my options are:

  1. More SS and a slightly easier once-a-week threshold session like Palisade.
  2. More SS with McAdie+1 once a week when rested until I beat the damn thing.
    …something else?

My concern with 60-90 minute SS sessions is that they’re boosting my estimated FTP at ramp test (I’m up 40W in 6 weeks) but this just keeps pushing McAdie+1 further out of reach. All the other workouts I do are manageable, including those like Williamson which look quite intense but I completed easily the day after my McAdie+1 failure. So it’s not that I can’t push the watts, I just don’t have the endurance.

Use Plan Builder and/or start with SSB 1. The base phase is best to increase muscle endurance.


Long Z2 works. Nothing worked better for me in terms of endurance and lactate clearing. I have been doing threshold workouts for bigger part of the year and since implementing more Z2 a lot of things changed.

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Looking at that plan, it seems what I’ve been missing from my ad-hoc training is Z2/Endurance, which is consistent with what jarsson is advising too.

Ugh, I was hoping I could skip those until proper outside cycling is possible again (currently six weeks into a 5km COVID lockdown).

Update 30 days later…

A few days after my original post I did another ramp test then (with rest) a 20 min FTP test and got 238W and 212W respectively. This really highlighted my muscular endurance problem.

So I backed off the FTP setting to about 225W and focused on threshold and Z2 workouts for a couple of weeks. Our club then ran a series of increasing length time trials, and on the 10 miler I noticed that calculated 254W eFTP which have me some confidence.

For the week of the hour time trial I did a series of long-interval threshold sessions, and then managed to do 250W for the hour. I followed this with another ramp test this morning and got 250W on that too.

So in summary…I solved my muscular endurance problem by backing off a bit, then doing a month of long, hard intervals and time trials mixed with Z2.

As a number of other threads have highlighted, it’s not unusual for untrained cyclists to have problems sustaining their threshold power for long durations, which means that the ramp test FTP estimate may be both accurate for LT2 (and therefore fine for calibrating workout intensity) and inaccurate for true FTP, which will tend to cause failure in workouts which stress muscular endurance (like McAdie+1). Which is presumably why those workouts get put near the end of the plan!

Relatedly, I do feel that the 90 min Z2 workouts are helping. After a few weeks of at least one of these a week I feel less fragile.

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I feel like adding z2 is very beneficial if you have the time. I did a block of TB late last year and I think it’s helped me with the longer muscular endurance stuff. I also recently got my best-ever ramp test score at 256W FTP.

I am now running a modified version of SSB II, which I call MV+. I have increased the duration of the Tuesday VO2 to 1h30, I do 90m SS on Thursday, and I have ditched the over-unders and replaced them with more (2h) SS on Saturday.

Then I added some z2; 1h45 (Virginia) every Wednesday, 1h (Pettit) on Friday, and 3h (Ptarmigan) on Saturday. Religiously avoiding the threshold zone until I reach build, though higher SS intervals will be pushing that envelope. I feel like it’s working but let’s see what the ramp test brings; I have one more work week after this week, then a recovery week, then I test.


I have ditched the over-unders and replaced them with more (2h) SS on Saturday

That’s interesting. I do feel that threshold sessions are great for cementing gains but not so much for breaking through to the next level, but maybe I’ll just alternate O/U and long S/S for my Saturday ride to hedge my bets.

Hello HundredthIdiot. I have been struggling through the same issues with over-under workouts even after near perfect compliance to the Traditional MV base and the SSMV (long Z2 Sunday option) base plans. The first thing I would suggest is to see if you can find another assessment for your FTP. I work with a local coach for blood lactate tests and training advice every few months. My blood lactate tests were originally about 30-40W below my ramp FTP estimate. I have closed that gap to around 10-15W, but I still adjust my FTP in TR based on that calibration. After that my coach’s advice was that the over-under sessions are correctly targeted for me and to find ways to push through. I hit gels and take extra rest as needed. I sometimes choose a lesser variant based on previous successes and failures, and sometimes don’t make it through the last set, but I’m making substantial gains in my endurance with the workouts. My last blood-lactate test showed a huge jump in both LT1 and LT2. Using two fans has also helped and took me a while to figure out when I first started.

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