How Intelligent is Plan Builder

I’m winding down my offseason training where I am finishing up Low Volume Traditional Base 1,2, and 3. I’m about 33 weeks from my A event and just went in and played around with Plan Builder. No matter which experience level I select it starts me off with 13 weeks of General Base. Does Plan Builder look back and see that I just finished 12 weeks of Base? I am wondering if I should do 3 weeks of a Build Phase, take a recovery week and then start Plan Builder, or should I just get into Plan Builder now and do what it says? Any advice would be much appreciated.

PS I’m a bit disappointed my FTP fell about 8% from taking 2 weeks off (broken ribs) during the Traditional base where last year it only fell about 3% taking 4 weeks off and then another 8 weeks of no structured training.

No, it doesn’t care what rides you did previously.

What you can do is backdate the start of your season to when you started build and it’ll manage. I don’t believe it’ll ‘consume and adjust’ based on your previous plans, but it’ll put you more in the ballpark for where you’d want to be.


do you think it would be best to manipulate the start date so I move into a Build Phase? Or will just moving on with more base be best?

My understanding: because full plan is 28weeks long, it will fit there before your event. Plan Builder will cut some phase short if event is closer than that and only then your experience level is considered to choose which phase. Because there is now 5 weeks surplus, I guess PB will consider experience level to choose which phase to repeat as well.

How intelligent is Plan Builder? It’s not really - just some simple rules-based logic determining what it spits out when you crank the handle.

Suggest playing around with it a little, adjusting a few parameters such as the start date, end date (ie. plan duration) and experience, in order to suss it out, and then use that knowledge to manipulate plan builder to give you a plan you’d like, which takes into account the circumstances such as your example of having already completed a base program.

NB while it can be motivating to see a 33 week plan laid out from now until A date, my own preference wouldn’t be to do that, and look out only a few months ahead instead (caveat: I go off piste a lot in the way in which I use TR). As @svens wrote, if you give plan builder less time to fill by using a target date that’s not far off from today, your experience setting can then be taken account of to to ditch base blocks or build blocks. Or, you can back-date the start date, per @pcort, to cause it to skip/shorten earlier phases. Different ways to skin the cat depending on what you’re trying to achieve.

As with other aspects of TR, unless you’re a real beginner, then best in my opinion to always be willing to apply some knowledge of your own circumstances to tweak things, whether that be slightly or significantly, to achieve a better “fit” for you personally.

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I’d say this question is as much a psychological/motivational one as much a physiological one. If you’re fed up with base training and need some variety then I’d manipulate it. Or at least switch to a different type of base training - if you’ve been doing traditional then you could try General Base or Polarised Base instead.

If you enjoy traditional base training and are happy to keep on being served similar workouts then just go with it.

8% FTP drop after only 2 weeks off seems a lot. But if it means workouts are easy and makes as such then AT should bump you up pretty quickly and you have plenty of time for it to come back to where it should be. Or if workouts seem super easy I guess you could manually bump it a bit.

Depends. I’d recommend going with the version of the plan that focuses on what you think needs to be focused on.

My experience: I race 30-60 minute tt’s and holding high % of FTP hasn’t been a limiting factor, so my focus is growing FTP. I usually see a 4-5% increase in base and 1-2% in build / specialty, so my training this year has been more base period, with an abbreviated build period to ‘lock in’ those gains and make sure I touch on those systems at a higher FTP.

That’s my experience with 5 years now of TR, and you’ll find other people who don’t get as much out of base as they do build, or people who do a vo2 max block before base, debate on which type of plan is the best, etc…

So, if you’ve got some history with structured training, think / look back and see what worked and what didn’t, and don’t be afraid to try something new. Otherwise, the ‘safe’ answer that won’t steer you wrong is to do 1 build block, and then start up plan builder.

Do you have any B races? Or can you add one or two more A races before your main event?

From what I gather, you have the following choices…

  • accept the plan as-is, starting with more base blocks
  • back-date the start of the plan so you fall into a build phase soon
  • add events to your calendar - A and B events will cause Plan Builder to add Build and Speciality phases before those events (if there is time). I think it will still try to start with base, but should(?) move to Build faster. You’ll have to play around to see how well that works.

Or some combo of the above? Back date the start, and add some events.

I’d say as a very short term drop, caused by a fall in blood plasma volume, it sounds about right to me. It’s not a loss in ‘fitness’ as such, and I suspect it will reverse itself in 7-10 days.

Hey @UWDawgs,

If you’re coming off of Traditional Base and your event isn’t for another 30+ weeks, I’d recommend following Plan Builder and starting up with General Base now.

As you might know, General Base is quite a bit different than Traditional Base, and Plan Builder will give you a good mix of Base and Build phases before your final Specialty phase and taper. :checkered_flag:

Thank you everyone for you helpful advice. My A Event will be a 13-14 hour day on the bike. Not racing, just want to finish as quickly as my fitness allows. I want my FTP to be as high as possible so that when I target an IF of .65-.70 it will be more watts. I am 50 years old and this will be my 3rd year using TrainerRoad so I tried to look back on my calendar to see which training phases led to the biggest FTP increases. Unfortunately, going back on the calendar I can see the FTP increases, but there isn’t any annotation saying what phase of type of block I was coming out of. Is there a way I can look back at which training blocks I did when? I think I will just go into Plan Builder with my A Event, a couple B events, and a few C events and follow what it suggests.

I don’t think there’s a way for you to see which phases you were in historically on your calendar, but I just sent over a screenshot of your FTP and Plan history. Since you’ve done some individual phases in the past year rather than full plans, it’s pretty easy to see what you were doing at the time of your FTP changes.

Let me know if this helps!

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