How do you know whether to pick low, mid, or high volume?

As the title states. I’ve never really seen any information anywhere on the website, app, or podcast about how your supposed to know which plan to follow.

how much time do you have to train? How much experience do you have with structured training in the past?

This is a good article to review:


That’s a helpful one I’ve never seen before, thanks Chad!

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Recent podcasts have stressed picking low-volume plans, and adding workouts if you can complete those 100%. That is also one of the options in the article.


This will pick for you: 🎉🎉🎉 Introducing Plan Builder! 🎉🎉🎉 - #16 by ncomerford


for me, I have felt like the difference in volume plans is how much rest/recovery i can get each day. Higher volume is going to require more rest.

I have the time for high volume, but with kids I never get enough sleep/recovery time to be successful through the whole plan, so I stuck with mid volume.

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Always start with low & fill in with more workouts if it’s too easy.


O lordy. Nobody ever does this. We all pick the one that’s just a little bit more than we can do & then blow ourselves up. That’s what I did first time through.

How about this rule? Look at all the workouts in your chosen plan. Look at all your recent training history. Build a spreadsheet if you have to. Then decide low/mid/high based on careful analysis.

Then, for sure, select the volume that is one less than what you decided on. Ha!

But if you seriously, seriously think you can do high volume…take a week off to convince yourself you’re wrong and do mid instead.

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Everyone starts with high, then decides mid is better, before inevitably retreating to low in shame.


This is a big part for me, but honestly I think I can handle these parts. Physically I’m certain I can handle the volume, but I really don’t think I can mentally handle HV, so MV seems to be a better fit.

The issue with the HV plans for me, is the 1.5 + hour rides during the week. I just don’t feel that is mentally sustainable for me. What I normally do with the MV plans, is just add endurance rides on the rest days to get the extra TSS.

I think I’m permanently on the low volume camp. I have a couple of issues personally with the mid and high volume plans.

  • The mid volume plan requires five workouts per week. This creates an issue for me because if I want to get out on fun rides It does not leave any time. For me, part of not burning out involves doing rides I enjoy instead of just hitting intervals everyday. If I couldn’t get out and ride my mountain bike or go on gravel adventures I’d probably lose interest in cycling. I’d rather hit a 100% completion rate on the low volume plan and then still have a couple of days per week to ride my mountain bike in addition to doing the TrainerRoad plan.

  • strike 2 against the mid volume plan has to do with recovery for me. Last winter I tried bumping to the mid volume plan. However, I found that over time the fatigue I was accumulating was causing me to have increasingly less productive workouts. It got to the point where I had huge power gains on low volume, but once I switched to mid volume my power stayed the same with no gains. Once I switched back to low volume I started making gains again. I find that the extra hard workouts on Sunday with the mid volume plan were just too much stress for my body to handle and would negatively effect my weekday workouts.

So for me, the low volume plan is best because it allows me to still get out on my fun rides and it seems to offer the highest level of fitness gains for me.

I’m guessing the only way you can find out what works best for you is to run a cycle through the low volume plan then bump it up to mid volume and see if you can handle it. If you can, great bump to high volume and see if you can handle that. If you can’t bump the volume back down.


@Benjamin_Reynolds you make a lot of great points!

To this I would add, rather than the strikes against mid/high vol plans, a pitch for the low vol approach:

so many riders have so MUCH success using only TR low vol training.

You really can do a lot of improving with just that…especially as your first choice. Wish I had done it that way: just do lo vol until the gains stop and then fill in volume as needed.

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I’m not new to structured training but new to TR. I was looking at my dashboard on Training Peaks to see what kind of stress/volume I can handle and honestly, I’m all over the place all year long (which is why I’m here, I need to focus and train vs just ride all the time). I found a chart that says my average TSS for the year is 224 but IF is .54. If I am understanding correctly, I did a lot but at a low level? I know everyone says start with SSB1 and that’s what I will likely do but … it seems like I can handle a lot. Advice?


Where did you find that chart at? I would love to see my data like that.


@splash oh that is sad :frowning: I thought it was TR.

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If you just go by average, 224 tss is in the LV range. Plus tss from outdoor rides tends to be easier on the body than tss from TR workouts.

I’d also say your average IF is very low. I think an average IF from a TR LV plan is probably over .80. IF drops with plan volume, because a lot of the HV workouts add an endurance block at the end of some intervalls.

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I think what you need to consider is not how much time you have to train, or indeed how much riding you’ve done in the past. What you need to look at is how much structure you’ve done. 300TSS a week of structured training is wildly different from 300TSS accumulated just riding around.

Start low, see how you go, throw in extra if you can. See how you go… then reassess.

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Start low and add, nothing worse physically AND mentally than cracking 2-3 weeks into a higher volume plan because you felt like you had something to prove. Don’t look at the plans and think “yea I can commit 6 hours a week” because that doesn’t mean your body will keep up.

Last year was my first on TR, I dove into Mid volume because i had the time to commit, and 2 weeks in I was toast, stepped down to Low Volume and added Z2 rides Wednesday and Sunday and gained a ton of power.

This is my second year so I felt like I had a better base to dive right into Medium volume and so far so good!

Depends on your experience more than anything, but start with LV and add if needed


Good points for sure. I agree that the mid and high volume plans don’t leave a lot of room to actually have fun on the bike - it’s these rides that recharge my mental battery.
I’m doing mid volume right now, only because it makes sense in the ‘shoulder season’ where I live where the sun sets before I get home from work and there isn’t any snow for fatbiking yet. Once the fatbiking season starts, I’ll likely stick to the tues/thurs hard ride approach.

You touched on the fact that you’ve actually seen more gains on the low volume plan with only doing two hard sessions per week. I’m curious about this as Chad and TR team have said many times that the vast majority of people can only actually absorb two hard sessions per week. The mid volume plan really has 4 hard sessions. I guess this also depends on what is considered “hard”?

All this to say, I’m wondering if I’d also see better gains going to a more polarized model with two hard sessions and the rest recovery/easy - while maintaining similar volume.

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