General Training Advice

I feel I could use some help from the community both on understanding exactly how different types of training impact fitness, and also how to choose from the different build plans.

So, I’ll start with why I’m looking for advice. First off - This year, I’ve completed sweet spot base and short power build twice now. Now moving into the CX specialty 2 weeks before cross season.

I’m looking over my year of training, and making note of the times I’ve made gains during blocks, the times I’ve not made progress, and the times I’ve essentially stayed the same.

I slid backwards a bit earlier in the year when I the weather turned nice, and I replaced most of my trainer workouts with outdoor rides, mostly unstructured. A bit higher volume, but definitely less intensity overall.

Now, I just finished short power build, and went backwards 5 watts. Perhaps it was a bad day - I was low on sleep. But I felt great, and I doubt a great night sleep would have changed the result significantly.

So causes - I did every workout, on the trainer, except save 1 or 2, which I completed per the structure but outdoors based on RPE. However, my overall volume was lower. I remembered how brutually hard short power build was, and I think I ‘saved’ myself for these plan workouts by reducing outdoor endurance rides. Further…I have a very hard time with VO2 max workouts; this seems to be pretty common. I am wondering how much backpedaling, reducing intensity 3-5%, etc are impacting gains from the plan.

So to sum up, and sorry about the rambling post…

  1. What impact does overall volume have on fitness gains, assuming extra volume is going to be endurance paceish?

  2. If I am having a brutally hard time with VO2 max workout…to the point I wonder whether it is helping my training, might subbing another type of workout be more beneficial? sweet spot, threshold, maybe 30/30s or something like that?

  3. I train mostly for CX. VO2 workouts do not seem very close to the kind of work I put out…which seem closer to over-under type work with a few short sprint efforts throw in. Is VO2 work still beneficial? I think I am, counter-intuitively, the more I read and learn, understanding less and less what impact Vo2 work, endurance training , etc actually have on fitness.

Any insight would be appreciated, and sorry about the long post.

This is not a direct answer, but it contains some useful info about training zones (levels) and their impact on various systems (see Table 1 and Table 2 in particular).

For CX racing, VO2 max power is a very important power range. Any time you are putting out 120-130% of your FTP, you are utilizing this zone. For most CX racing, at least in my experience, you tend to be either VO2 max, or coasting on the downhills or into corners.

Unless you have a very flat CX course with minimal corners, you will not be able to hold a constant threshold effort because you are punching up to speed over and over again. This is what VO2 max work prepares you for.

If the VO2 max workouts are putting a hurt on you, I wouldn’t recommend swapping them out. If anything, you should focus more of your energy on them since you have found a weakness that will likely limit your race performance. What I would do, is try reducing the intensity of your workout. Maybe start at 90% intensity for VO2 workouts until you can consistently complete all of the intervals. Then, bump it up to 95% and so on.

You can also extend the rest if necessary as well. A couple of extra minutes between reps may help considerably, and will not impact the effectiveness of the workout.

Lastly, you can also add short recoveries mid-interval if need be. Something like a 10-second break in the middle could be enough to help you power through to the end.

I hope this helps!


I was hoping someone would NOT recommend that lol.

In all seriousness though…I had been planning on doing a VO2 block after base phase next year to address that. Would it be worthwhile to do a 2 week block of 2-3 VO2 workouts per week over the next two weeks before my cross series starts…or too little too late at this point and just start in on CX specialty?

Hi earena

I have similar questions, I know however the VO2 max workouts are helping my Crit racing however I am wondering if the Sweetspot base would be better training as this would strengthen the base , ever ongoing endeavour, doing VO2 training I have found I can go harder for longer or as Coach Chad deliver a race winning interval.
September is a big month for me and when i get to October i will swap over to building the base again (sweetspot base) but will keep doing VO2 training as i can see the reason for these painful hideous sessions!