Feedback on pyramidal training

I’m trying to find the right balance of training intensity for a self-designed, pyramidal build phase that will be executed 100% on an indoor trainer.

I’ve pasted a 9 hour sample week below and used TR workouts for all of them – I will be using custom workouts that I’ve built but these are valid approximations (i.e. instead of Leavitt +6 I will use a 1x120 @ 80% FTP that I made)

My “hard” days are Tuesdays (Vo2) and Saturdays (extended duration at tempo, or perhaps SS)

Would welcome thoughts & feedback on this design for someone who has 9-11 hours per week to train & 46 years old.

My instinct is that it doesn’t feel like enough intensity over threshold for a build program, although the changes I’d make might well turn it less pyramidal. Saturday feels like the latter stages of a base program to me.

First thing I’d do is to do your tempo/SS part of the pyramid on Wednesday. So you use the vo2 on Tuesday to make tempo/SS a challenge the next day. Then make Saturday more polarised, so your 2.5 hours are made up of a shorter period of higher intensity and the rest Z2. Maybe some over-unders then another 1.5 hours at Z2. Or - I do this on Zwift but there might be a TR workout - 3x20 @ 100%, except with long intervals at Z2 in between each threshold interval.


My Mid-Volume training plan both Base2 and Build were pyramidal by modifying to add 15-20 minutes of z1 cooldown to each weekday workout and add an additional 1 hour z1 spin on fridays. Then I add 30 minutes of z1 to each of my longer weekend rides. Point being, I don’t really change the workouts, but I add a bunch of z1 to them to get the TIZ I need for them to be pyramidal.

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Interesting feedback – and this is what I’m worried about (i.e. getting in great shape but not raising FTP).

One thing to note is that I execute the 30/30 intervals for Taylor completely by feel in a peak-and-fade manner … so my Taylor -3 Vo2 workout ends up being much higher than the prescribed TSS. It’s in the ~80+ TSS range with much more intensity than dictated by the workout – thus, it takes a bit more to recover from.

Not sure if that changes your opinion, but I thought I’d throw it into the mix.

Here is an example from a Gendarme workout I did …

I’d say that even if Tuesday is done manually and is really hard like in your screenshot, something like a 3x20 @ 85% (Round Bald possibly? There’s definitely a TR one) should be doable the day after. It might just feel a bit harder than you’re used to 3x20 tempo feeling…

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My ShortPBHV becomes Pyramidal by swapping Sundays SST to z2 and adjusting down a bit, when necessary, Wednesdays and Friday’s z2.

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Vaguely looks like a week from a base plan? Questions like these are why I hired a coach, and I’m sure why you hired one in the past.

For 30-30 speed work I have a couple bookmarks: The Perfect Intervals to Boost Late-Summer Speed - CTS and Race Specific Cycling Intervals and generally should be done full-gas and how many repeats you do depends on fitness, history, and target event.

I’m 47 years old, riding 10hrs (off-season), 12hrs (in-season) / week. More hours in-season because outside rides just give me more hours, but also more coasting/near coasting, so I consider the total “time pushing the pedals” similar.

After an early base phase of doing loooonnng tempo, this is almost exactly how I introduced intensity. 30s/30s on Tuesday, endurance, endurance, then .85-.90 IF sections on the Saturday mixed tempo ride. Same days off. Only difference is that after the 30s/30s I’ll stay on and do another hour or so of Zone 2. Also, my Wed & Thurs endurance rides are closer to 2 hours.

But I progress it. So I agree that I wonder if it is not enough above threshold for a build phase. Question is how would you progress it? If this is the end result of a few weeks, maybe not enough.

Agree with @bbarrera about coach.

edit: you don’t actually have to tell me/us how you would progress it. :slight_smile: Just making the point about my feeling that it’s a good way to introduce.


I adusted a bit based on feedback – I still like the idea of giving some time between intense days, so I took out the 1x120 of Tempo on Saturday and replaced it with a long over/under workout.

Still open to thoughts, see below:

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I’m 100% in the same boat in terms of volume …

Question (and not facetious): what are you trying to improve/what’s your objective?


Are there any specific things / energy systems you are trying to improve during the build phase?

Dang @RecoveryRide, you beat me to it!


Sorry bud :rofl:

I’m interested in this thread, as I’m 40, with a similar amount of time on my hands…


I think @RecoveryRide and @Craig_G are asking the right question. What I see in the first screenshot are:

  • Tuesday speed work (anaerobic repeatability)
  • Saturday strength/muscular endurance
  • aerobic endurance / maintenance

So the question is what do you want from the Tue/Sat key workouts?


first screenshot is in the first post

That has

  • Taylor -3 which is 30-30s and primary goal is not vo2max IMHO
  • Leavitt +6 which is 2x60 tempo and primary goal is muscular endurance IMHO

Taylor -3 isn’t a workout that’s going to make marked improvements on VO2max.

Overall, I don’t see enough intensity in the two harder workouts, but I know nothing about this individual to judge that. As others have said, what’s the goal here?

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I haven’t been cycling long, but everyone local that recommended 30-30s to me (before TR) basically described whats written in this article:

and I’m more interested in the goals listed in that article, which also talks about progression.

I’ve done Taylor (some variant) twice, both times in erg mode, and my heart rate at end of each set was in threshold zone. It was fairly easy and by pushing power up you get a different workout.


Its almost like you’re trying to get me into going down the vo2max interval length debate rabbithole… lol. There’s a whole debate about which interval length is ‘better’ for VO2max work, long (3-5min) or short (30/30s or 30/15s or 20/10s.). I think what works ‘best’ comes down to the individual. With 30/30s my HR doesn’t even get up to threshold zone, though I do breath heavy and my legs feel trashed. I have a classic TT’er power curve and need long intervals to get my HR up and really be breathing heavy and feel like I’m doing VO2max intervals ‘right’.


No I’m not, batwood isn’t going to do Taylor as designed. He is going to:

which, depending on the amount of peak, is more inline with the articles I posted.

When 30-30s are done full gas, its really about anaerobic repeatability (or stamina). Perhaps the best description I can quickly find is the “Anaerobic Stamina Workout” description here: How To Train Your Anaerobic Capacity As A Cyclist — High North Performance and the most recent I’ve done were 2 sets of 6x30-90s at full gas (not peak and fade).

Hope that helps.


I’m planning on a similar pyramidal build.

The workouts / rides I’ll do will be a mix of the following:

  1. Endurance: 60-90 mins at 65%
  2. High Tempo/Sweetspot: 60 mins at 85-90%
  3. Over-unders: Same as #2, adding overs of various length/intensity
  4. VO2max intervals, 4-6 intervals, 6-3 mins in length
  5. Outside rides: length and intensity will vary

And will adjust the mix as needed to get a pyramidal distribution.

As I go though build, I’ll increase the IF of workouts #2-#4.

As I look at my plan vs. yours, one difference I see is the VO2max work. Mine are longer intervals, yours shorter.

There’s a lot of studies on VO2max intervals. A recent meta study shows longer intervals as better at increasing time trial performance.

I guess it depends what you’re looking to get from your high intensity work - higher FTP or anaerobic repeatability.

“There were no significant difference between the HIIT and SIT group when looking at time trial performance.

However, if one would only look at those in the HIIT group that performed longer intervals (> 4min), then a significant increase in time trial performance of about 2 % could be seen compared to the SIT group.”

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