How do I find the type of training that my body responds best to?

I have been looking around the forum and wider Internet for an answer, of sorts, to this question.

Is there any guidelines as to what type of training suits various rider types? E.G Anaerobic biased riders should train for muscular endurance adaptations or climbers should add more intensity to help increase power?? Or would looking at your power profile,and then comparing to the Coggan scale, and simply work on your weaknesses suffice? I’ve also heard some stuff about INSCYD reports etc from completed various duration efforts, which I’m not entirely convinced is accurate.

I gather the only true way to get an accurate answer would be some form of lactate test in a lab.


The only true way is to try different methods, make meticulous notes, and discover what works best for you. What you’re asking is the silver bullet we all wish we knew before starting a training plan. After two years of structured training, I wish I knew the answer to this question as well. I think you have the basics covered, if you know your weaknesses, best to start there if your goals include performance in that area at least.


“Train your weaknesses, but race your strengths.”

That’s the common theory, anyway.

Me, I think you train to excel at the level you want to be, not the level you currently are.

One thing’s for sure, a one-off lab test isn’t going to tell you anything worthwhile.


The other thing to consider is the timeframe for “experimentation”

Typically most people see a response in days or a couple of weeks from anaerobic work. This makes it easy to identify cause and effect. The downside is they fade just as quickly.

Adaptations to aerobic base efforts take months, and are very gradual, so it makes it hard to pin improvements back to specific forms of training. They are also harder to measure (eg. aerobic decoupling) than a ramp test.

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As a basic guess, you probably respond best to the type of training you’re ‘naturally’ good at and that is most fun to you. So if you like long, all day rides, you probably respond well to endurance, and if you can’t help sprinting at every opportunity, you probably respond well to sprints.

Whether that is the type of training you would make the most progress with is a different question, and has more to do with your goals. What is it you want to achive with training?

My goal is just to get as high as Cat 2 and I would happily sit there as fodder. For me I would feel pretty happy about getting there and being able to join a race with some of the big hitters in the E/P cat. Whether I get there by way of RR’s or Crits, im not really fussy as I enjoy both formats of races. I see myself as a Punchy/All Round type of rider.

Option 1: pay $15-30 / month for a coach
Option 2: use internet for a few years to attempt to fill large gaps in your understanding and approach

You shouldn’t need lab testing at this stage. Plenty of field tests will tell you what you need to know. If you don’t know which ones or how to apply them, see above options.

If you have a realistic chance of getting to Cat 2, it ain’t gonna be from “coaching by Internet forums”.

If you’re not already riding tempo and endurance 5-6 days a week, start there. Regardless of the type of rider you are, you’re gonna need that. Everybody does and everybody responds to it. It’s when your response to that type of riding slows down that you really need help.

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I should have mentioned that im already using TR and have been for nearly a year now (super happy with the product as a whole), so my programming should be thereabouts. Its more for deciding which type of base/build would be optimal for me

The half-life of adaptations to training are the same regardless of the type of training.

The adaptations that most improve performance during a ramp test are the same as those that reduce HR drift, i.e., an increase in cardiovascular fitness.

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They literally just posted a podcast explaining this stuff

They were talking about body types, not really what type of training one would respond to.

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Ok now we have a bit more info. Cool. Your questions are very high level, and general, so I think that’s why you’re getting some of these responses.

If you’re doing TR then I would combine SSB plans with Traditional Base plans. Million other approaches but you could do worse. You’re going to start hearing things like “TSS isn’t everything” and “Not all TSS is created equal”. Those statements are true, but you have to build it up first before you get to the point where it matters much. Volume is king.

Most push back about TR plans come down to the level of intensity you are subjected to, even in the “base” plans. Hopefully without starting a whole debate about that (like this forum has been doing since its inception), go with SSB plans but don’t be afraid to substitute lower intensity workouts from Traditional Base when you are sore or tired. If you think you can achieve what you want on four days a week change that number to five or six, and build to that slowly with Zone 2 initially. I would avoid regularly subjecting yourself to the TR build plans altogether. There is plenty of intensity in SSB plans.

I stand by what I said about a coach. You’ll shave a year or two at least of dorking around with training plans that are (and really cannot be) individualized.

As for what you will respond to, @old_but_not_dead_yet is right: all of it. But I get it, that’s not a very helpful answer.

If you are in your first few years lots of types of training will boost your FTP. Here’s what will hurt it: lack of consistency. What threatens consistency?

  1. laziness, excuses, lack of motivation
  2. soreness or fatigue (usually from too much intensity)
  3. injury, illness
  4. life outside of cycling

Keep working the plans and come back with specific questions, even if the question is “what other ways are there to do this?”

From what I heard they basically said your body type doesn’t play that big of a role Unless you’re a grand tour rider . You can train towards any goal based on your own strength and weaknesses. You get good at what you train, your body will mold into an “ proper Body type”

Even GT pros don’t always adhere to their “body type”.
Froome was a climber who could TT, Big Mig was a TTer who could climb. etc.

Another way to find out what your body best responds to is to pick a goal of specificity (e.g. a TT) and then train for that goal and see how you do. The training (and result, somewhat) will be specific enough to let you know if you are a high responder to that specific type of training.

Beyond that, a few professional sports type people have claimed that most people undervalue volume and overvalue intensity. So if you want a basic overall better response to any training, try adding more volume first.

A good example would be Pinot and his transition from Jr ranks to pro. His intensity distribution didn’t change all that much, but his volume went waaay up and his power curve exploded.


Thanks for the detailed answer. I think I’m going to go with SSB1+2 HV x2. I managed a modified MV base, build and speciality all with added z2 to bump up TSS so I feel that the next logical step would be a HV plan. As you don’t recommend subjecting myself to a build phase, are you saying to keep repeating SSB?

In fairness, I am open to the idea of a coach. Do you have any advice on gauging if a coach genuinely wants to make my goals happen as much as I do?

Repeat with variation. Common variations are:

  1. don’t just limit yourself to the SweetSpot intensity. Tempo (Baxter) is good too. Those HV plans can get very monotonous. Be careful.
  2. don’t get hung up on the specific interval session that is happening on Tues (or even that it’s happening on Tues). Interval sessions are not about TSS so don’t try to substitute based on matching TSS. Substitute based on “system”, TiZ, and what you recover from fastest. (for example, I bounce back very quickly from threshold intervals compared to classic VO2max work…you can only know this with trial and error). Tack on some Zone 2 at the end of an interval session when you can.
  3. if you do a higher intensity interval session (not in HV plans, but you can substitute), then replace a SweetSpot day with Zone 2.

Remember, SweetSpot work is very close to threshold (by design), so I wouldn’t think you would need any true threshold intervals (like Lamarck). There is a school of thought that SweetSpot itself is a form of intensity (I actually prescribe to this myself). Whether it is or isn’t is up for debate, but one thing is certain: it can make you tired. Properly executed Zone 2 and low tempo are your friend (and train fax oxidation just as well, if not better).

Don’t get caught in the “intensity as a substitute for duration/volume” trap. As @Captain_Doughnutman alluded to, most of the time the answer to how to get better isn’t “harder”, it is “longer/more”.

You seem like you might be at a point where you can stop thinking in terms of 6-week training blocks. Six weeks is a common timeframe to introduce something new (usually with intensity or sessions targeting a race/event), but for day-to-day training start thinking bigger/longer, moving beyond daisy-chaining six week blocks together.

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Different original question but similar (and decent) advice:


A few years ago I watched a BBC show that discussed a few aerobic training studies and focused on “non-responders”. I found it very interesting as I’ve been training in one way or another for 20+ years and my wife does some run coaching. My takeaway was that people pretty much fell on a bell curve in terms of response to whatever protocol was being tested. Even though some people didn’t respond to that particular protocol (volume, intensity, frequency, etc), it was likely they would respond to a different protocol.

Couldn’t find that show and I could be wrong, but think the show was based on this study.

PM me if you want the source. :wink:

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