High PL Threshold workouts: are these even possible?

I had my first workout fail in quite a while this week: Spickard+1. I managed the 1st block, but was then just totally gassed; ended up bailing and doing another 30 min of endurance.

I was kinda bummed about this, but turns out that first block was my all-time highest power output for a bunch of durations 10-13 minutes. Average power for that 13.5 minute block is 109% FTP. This made me wonder: for an athlete working with an approximately-correct FTP, is 3 repeats of this reasonable or feasible? Or am I just bad at threshold work (or has AI set my FTP too high)?

If Spickard looks bad, check out Haba:


I was under the impression that 45 minutes at FTP should be a VERY hard effort, so this workout doing 45 minutes of over-unders where the unders are right at FTP seems borderline impossible.

I know, “I failed a workout so it must be impossible, waa waa waa.” I guess I’m just curious of others see these efforts as feasible, or if the assumption is that once you get to this PL your FTP has actually improved enough relative to the last AI test that these are doable (and mine hasn’t, apparently.)

FWIW PL7-8 “long duration” VO2 efforts actually look a lot easier than this; see e.g. Elephants-2 or Musgrave.

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Workout info so others can see the wider details without searching:

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I’m sure someone will correct me…

But I feel like a 101 TSS 1 hour workout is the definition of having the wrong FTP :woman_shrugging:

But as for holding roughly a steady 45 minutes at FTP, that is basically what I am doing with a Kolie Moore style FTP test. I use a dumb trainer so I am at a constant over/under state. On my last test I rested for 10 minutes, then did another 20 minutes at my new tested FTP. So,

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Ha, I hadn’t noticed Spickard has a 101 TSS, that does make me feel a bit better!

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Not without considering context.

  • If a person completed it in a basic “all-out” type effort, that pretty much falls into the “about and hour”, “40-70 minutes” type effort at “FTP” from what I know at least.

  • If said effort was “easy” or all together impossible, then that could indicate an incorrect FTP.

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That and the IF & Duration are important to consider. PL’s are a nice feature, but they still don’t give us the whole picture. Just like I said in a similar discussion recently, you need to look at several values together to really understand any workout or effort in total.

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this is a case where i would wholehartedly agree that if you’re completing this workout, you’re ftp is set too low

and Haba is so similar to actual ftp, that you may find power meter margin to be in adequate to compare between ftp and that 1-2%.

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I think Haba looks tough but doable. Yes they’re over-unders, but the “overs” aren’t really that high so it’s essentially just a 45 minute block at threshhold which should be achievable with a correctly set FTP.

Spickard looks much more intimidating to me - I doubt I could do that one either. I find 2.5 minute efforts at 118% challenging even without having to sit near threshold in between. That being said, the ability to recover just below threshold is something that can be trained so I’m sure it’s possible for some, especially those with a stronger v02 max where 118% isn’t such a tall order.

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I’m with you OP. I’ve admired TR, but I usually end my subscription after a few weeks, usually because I mostly ride outdoors. I think AIFTP and now RLGL are amazing, but I had similar questions on the PLs for threshold workouts.

I’ve always viewed threshold as the power that I’d need to be really fresh, in favorable conditions (like, up a climb) to do for an hour, and I’d be wrecked. I think of it as my actual 60 minute MMP. I don’t think TR, and probably other systems/coaches, think of it in the same way, and I’d expect my TR threshold to be slightly lower, but in actuality, it hasn’t been, which then makes the high PLs look really tough.

All this text, and I could have just said I agree with @Gnome 's post.

Not sure this helps but for reference, here is what many consider a typical good Threshold workout that can be an indicator of FTP beyond the basic training value.

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Notably this is a much lower PL, TSS and IF compared to those above. It is entirely possible that the scaling of TR’s PL for Threshold could be off when viewing these.

Then we have this with higher PL but comparable in other values.
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Someone else was preaching it recently, so I tried it, and I agree that a really good workout for assessing if your FTP is close is Smith -2.

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The fact that Pioneer+3 and Spickard+1 are both Threshold and at the same PL seems inconsistent to me. Pioneer seems very doable, Spickard seems impossible (to me.)

Musgrave, a PL8.7 VO2 workout, actually looks a lot easier than Spickard+1!


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Feeling strong Karen energy here: I failed a workout so I need to speak to the manager about how that workout is INCORRECT! I’m going to have that workout fired!

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Good ol’ Lamarck was TR’s recommendation back in the day:

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Similar to Smith -2, but this is a single power target at FTP for all intervals.

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I can’t really speak to what’s right or wrong here, but people have clearly found examples where assigned PL’s are not “correct” when TR reviewed them, so TR fixed them. Could be that one or more of the above are problematic, and might be worth emailing them to review.

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Huh, Spickard+1 just looks wrong for that PL, and maybe that it’s threshold at all. The ‘overs’ are at 118%.

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I agree, that seems like the outlier to me and could be the “wrong” one WRT PL’s.

I’m with others; if you complete Spickiard+1, then the FTP you based it off isn’t your FTP.

I can see Haba being doable as a flat-out effort for someone with an accurately set FTP, but I’d guess it would be pretty much at the absolute limit.

If it’s generally agreed that some of these workouts are not possible without an incorrect FTP then I wonder what the point of having them is?

The variation is so small that practically speaking this is riding at FTP for 45 minutes. Not over-unders.

45 minutes is less time than a 40km time trial. A well trained Pro TTer could race it a little above FTP.

Yes this is feasible, even for the average person training 6-8 hours/week. You simply train to extend the time you can ride at FTP. Combination of muscular endurance, metabolic fitness, and mental fortitude. I’m not podium material but havev done a handful of 50+ minute efforts - within a week or two of testing at a new FTP. My ftp was not still going up. However it could be your ftp is going up. Be very careful when using PLs to understand changes in fitness. TR running out of workouts at high PL doesn’t automatically mean your threshold/FTP has increased.

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Depends on what youre training for. This looks like a perfect test for a punchy TT. Fwiw, when I used trainerroad I denied the FTP boosts for an entire season to work my levels in the 8-9PL range in threshold and Vo2 to see if it would increase my power over longer distances (I race big gravel races) and it certainly helped. Especially with those monster 40-80min climbs.