How far can you get with low volume

Just as a title say, is magic 4wkg achievable with low volume plans? I just finished ssb1 and ssb2 and being second year’s on TR i don’t expect magic gains. In fact after ssb1 i tested same ftp, last weeks of ssb2 were properly hard, so i don’t expect much/any gain next week when i start general buld. What is your experience with low volume training and what did you have to do to get the progress going?

I’m in my second year of TR and also use the Low Vol plans.

Last year I saw huge gains and placed well in all of my early season races. Stopped TR in April and the drop in form was noticeable.

Back for a second year, more Low Vol and after the initial six weeks I can tell that I’m improving. Ramp Test yesterday confirmed that.

I’d say that real, noticeable gains can be achieved. You have to commit 100% to each session and do as many of the drills as you can. Simple tweaks like altering your grip on the bars can also lead to overall improvement.

For me, it’s a definite yes.

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Maybe. What’s your starting point, and how long have you got?

It’s never a good idea to set an arbitrary goal like 4w/kg. You’ll find out what’s good, for you, by commiting to the process of training. Maybe good is 3w/kg.

Totally possible. I have no idea if I’m genetically ‘lucky’ but this has been my riding since April.

  1. Sweetspot LV 1 & 2
  2. General Build LV
  3. Climbing Road Race LV

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I’m interested in this. Thanks for sharing.

It looks like you started base in May but after base the tss numbers appear to not follow the build and specialized plan.

What ftp numbers did you start and finish with?

Yan, looks like you are pretty gifted :yum:
My numbers just for reference 83kg, trainer ftp is 301, if you ask 4iiii it’s about 20w higher :thinking:. Started with 260 last October got to 300 barely in April 2018. Summer was quite a bit of riding, mostly climbing, no ftp improvements, but sweet spot/tempo is way more “enjoyable” this winter though and i shaved 6 minutes on my favourite 1 hr climb. Last 2 ramp tests were 300 again though. Just concerned that im stuck here :unamused:

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For me, definitely yes. I hit 4.1w/kg last year for my A race, on track to improve on that this year, currently at 3.95w/kg with 5 months until my A race.

This year I am still doing the 3 indoor sessions per week but am bumping up to the +1 or +2 versions of workouts when possible to increase my TSS. This possibly doesn’t make it strictly “low volume” in terms of TSS but it maximises the 3 sessions that I can fit in around family/work/commuting/outside rides.

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Started back at 220W and was 280W last test. I stuck pretty closely to the plans through base, build and the first half of specially. Main difference is that 95% of my weekend rides are outside (I’m in Sydney so its summer now, and barely rains even in winter!) and I have to estimate TSS for outside rides.

I think my calendar is public, so feel free to have a look!

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My concern is the repetitive TSS and workout.
Your body will get used to it, even if the addition of stress from higher ftp.

You’ll probly get to 4w/kg very slowly, but not without alot of plateaus on the way… I would supplements every block or two with a mini camp like high vo2, or switch to high volume for a week just to keep your body from being in a comfort zone.

My 2 cents.

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I add a 30 or 45 minute vo2, anaerobic or sprint interval often to my low volume plan. I have never finished anything other than sweet spot vol 1 & 2. my FTP is the highest it’s been at this time of year & I’m striving for 300 watt FTP but my Anaerobic & sprint save me in races. I compete against people with 4/wkg regularly & do just fine in races & group rides. Getting to the end to compete is the goal =)

I’ve only ever done low volume plans and currently hover right at 4w/kg. I usually stop training in the summer and just ride outside - every year I tell myself I’ll keep up the training but never have so far.
I finished my specialty plan last April and didn’t do any structured workouts till Oct and my first ramp test but me 3w lower at 267w. I weigh between 65 and 67kg so on days I’m 66kg I’m 4w/kg. I’m 43 years old so not exactly a spring chicken so absolutely it’s achievable on low volume plans but it depends on a number of other factors as well such as diet, lifestyle etc.

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It obviously depends on other factors but I think it is possible. I got my FTP from 262 to 313 following only the low volume plans, dropping my weight from 76kg to 75 kg, reaching 4.1 W/kg. Other than TR I would ride outside once a week and hit the gym 2x per week. My setup is CycleOps fluid (dumb) trainer and stages or vector power meters.

I’m a tri geek, so only do LV plans for the bike + 1 ez aerobic ride. So depends on whether or not you agree if there is an influence from the other activities I do, but I am currently having a really good fall/winter on 4-4.5 hours of cycling a week.

I stepped up to med volume 5 weeks ago because the LV plans felt like treading water. If I was really dedicated I’d pull ahead a little. If life got in the way I’d drop a little. Over all I was maintaining. After 5 weeks of medium I’m feeling some indications of greater performance.

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I don’t really want to sit on a trainer 5 times a week. Therefore I chose a low vol workout and try to ride outside on weekends. How effective would it be to just bump low vol workouts to lets say 105% or 110% intensity over time (except for the recovery rides) compared to a mid tier vol plan? I assume that if the weekly TSS on a ‘tuned’ low vol plan is comparable/equal to a mid tier plan, the gains would be the roughly the same or at least comparable - correct?

It should be possible if you are somewhat above average I think. I hit 3.7 w/kg with 3 hours a week this winter and I have been able to pull that into race season. PS this is my 2de year cycling.

I wouldn’t bump the intensity of the rides since then you either won’t be able to complete them (assuming your FTP is accurate) and/or the ride won’t have the desired effect e.g. you’ll turn a tempo ride into a Sweetspot one.

If your weekend rides are just unstructured, mostly endurance level rides then would just stick to the low volume plans as they are and treat the weekend rides as bonus training. On the other hand if you want to add some structure or intensity to your outdoor rides then a better approach would be to start with a medium or even high volume plan (whichever one is closest to the total TSS you think you can accommodate between your indoor and outdoor riding), and do some of the workouts outside. Which ones depends on what kind of riding you can do. E.g. riding in big hills/mountains is perfect for tempo, sweet spot or threshold intervals. If you’re going to have to ease up regularly for traffic lights, junctions, descents, etc, then better to do shorter intervals which you can fit in between interruptions (or an endurance ride). If it’s an unstructured group ride which is a bit of a mix then just have a look at time spent in different zones after the ride and figure out as best you can how to fit it into your plan.

Different question on sticking with JUST low volume or (as many do) low volume PLUS extra rides outside.

I pretty much stick to low volume with maybe one extra sweetspot ride with no outdoor rides but bit running. I’m at 3.9 w per kg

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I frequently ride one particular climb that’s fairly close to where I live. 3 ways up there. Last week I did the easiest bit with steep bits and plateaus in between. Average gradient is 5%, steepest bit 15%. I spent over 50% in or above threshold (20, 20, 10) for the climb alone. The whole tour was around 110km. So I’m either too heavy or too weak for this climb. TSS was 331 with an IF of .91. Don’t know how to build this into a workout and with the little experience I had with outdoor workouts, I’m not really sure how to do it. I’ll stick to low volume and complemend or replace the weekend rides with what ever is on the menue. These outdoor rides won’t be structured though…

If you got up it you’re not too heavy or too weak, you might need an extra gear or two to get up it at a lower intensity though! Think your FTP is set too low, a ride of 331 TSS and IF 0.91 doesn’t seem possible, it’s certainly significantly tougher than any TR workout. Closest I could find was Rockhouse which is “only” 0.87 IF and 229 TSS.

The problem with doing a monster of a ride like that with a low volume plan is that that kind of ride is going to take you several days to recover from. And the low volume plans are based on the assumption that you’re only training 3 times a week so are fully fresh and recovered for each ride and can work hard. So you may be going too hard on the indoor rides and not getting enough recovery in.