How much can you tinker with a training plan before it loses its value?

Hi Folks, I just started last week wit TR and am trying to dial things in. I’m 46, primarily a mountain biker, might try a few races, but really I just want to improve fitness and enjoy my rides even more. I’m a confessed Strava addict, and would like to see my name higher up on the leaderboards!

Being new to structured training, I decided to start with a low volume plan, and did my third ride tonight, Baxter. This low volume plan consists of three workouts a week, usually two 60 minutes, and one 90 minute. I’d like to do four or five workouts a week, but have them be 45-60 minutes. Tonight, it dawned on me that these workouts all seem to have longer and shorter variants, and I could bump up to a mid volume plan, but shrink the 60 minute workouts to 45, and the 90 minute ones down to 75 or 60 minutes. Sounds great to me, but what impact do you all see that this might have on the outcome of my training plan?

Also, my ramp test results were very disappointing to say the least, and that has made the two workouts I’ve done since the ramp test seem very low effort. Tonight I bumped up the intensity of Baxter to 125%, but even after that, it still seemed soooo easy. I’m going to retest tomorrow night and see how it comes out. I’m interested to hear what you all have to say about any of this. Thanks all!

:smile: Welcome to the frustrating world of wanting a custom training plan amidst an overly structured environment. I mess with and tinker with things all the time to meet my needs. For instance, I just started the Sweet Spot Mid Vol I plan, but I refuse to do a 90 minute structured sweet spot workout on the weekends. I will not to be a slave to structured workouts 5-6 days a week. So in that plan rather than doing the sweet spot 90 min workouts on Sat and Sun, I replace those with Free Sweet Spot, and use some other app that is more engaging and fun, like Rouvy’s video or augmented reality rides, ZWIFT, etc, just get close to the target TSS…but anything but another effing set of blue interval columns in front of my face, day after day. Training and cycling doesn’t have to be that boring. Have fun with it.

So I’d say mix and match. Figure out what sort of TSS you can handle in a week, progressing each week, and then with a rest week, and then just plug in workouts of lengths that suit your needs.

There is more to comment on here than I have time for right now, but here’s a start.

  1. Retest and make darn sure that you bury yourself in that Ramp. You better be panting and collapsing on the bars when you are done. Don’t leave anything in the tank.

  2. Being new to training, you MUST learn than not every workout is meant to crush you. They all have purpose on specific energy systems. In general, you should never be bumping a workout intensity more than 10% up or down. If you do, you have the wrong FTP, are getting sick or misunderstanding the goal of the workout.

Report back when you do your test and I’m happy to help from there. Good luck. :smiley:

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you could try the 8 or 20 minute test instead of the ramp test. I have trouble with longer workouts, especially if they are lower intensity. On higher intensity workouts that are too long for the amount of time I want to spend on them, I often use one of the rest periods as my warm down and just quit early.

Thanks both of you for your responses. I’m going to do the ramp test again this afternoon, and see how I fare. Regardless of the results, I still am feeling like I’d like to follow the mid-volume SSB plan, with shortened versions of the prescribed workouts. Would love to hear anyone’s thoughts on the pros and cons of this.

You’ll find that each week’s offering will have a “queen stage”or 2 depending on the volume. I try to hit those WO fresh and give them my all. I’m more flexible with the other workouts in terms of modifications or substitutions. But always try to stay with the general theme.

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Welcome to the joys and frustration of indoor training. In regards to the ramp test I would suggest warming up first, it has helped me. I like doing Davis prior to the test. Also as mentioned by others you have to bury yourself. Don’t look at anything but maybe your cadence if you have a smart trainer. As far as the plans go, if you want to ride 4-5 days then go with the mid volume and adapt it to your needs. Either way you will get stronger and faster if you stick with it. Good luck!

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Yeah, going with the shorter ones is a fine way to run the plan. Just be cautious to look past the time. Some of the shorter ones are as difficult or more since they may shorten the recovery intervals.

Check the time, IF (Intensity Factor) and TSS to see the whole view and scope of a workout difficulty.


Well…I retested this evening, and though I’m disappointed with the reality of my sad fitness, I did about ten percent better than last time. I took myself off of the SSB LV 1, and onto SSB MV 1, and with my new FTP accounted for, I like the look of the workouts I’ll be doing better than previously. Thanks for your input everyone.


Nice job on the improvement. Do you think you were able to dig deeper or just know how the test is done better?

Either way, take the number into the first week and see how you feel.

I rarely do the 90 min rides either as i don’t have the time during the week when i ride before work, or on the weekends I would generally rather do something more fun like an outdoor ride or Zwift race.

I have been replacing the weekend 90min rides with the 60min variations and it has worked out fine for me. Quite often the IF is higher but the TSS is a little bit lower.

Think of it this way, if the plan is putting you off and you end up stopping workouts early or skipping them entirely you aren’t getting the full benefit. It is worth being pragmatic and adapting the plan to suit you.

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This approach has worked well for me in the past, but like other Chad said, double check the intensity is similar.

Not all workouts have 45 minute versions either, especially V02 max in my experience. In those cases I generally filter all workouts for the appropriate zones and time available (this is actually handier on desktop, as then you can “control F” to find the same interval lengths as well). I’d recommend checking before heading to the turbo during the day, and line one up, rather than having to search in your training window!

Also, watch if you’re ever going for + versions. Some of them (I’m thinking micro burst ones), aren’t just extra intervals, they can have extended intervals too.

Baxter is supposed to be easy - it’d be my go to workout for an extra one, or as a swap if I was feeling sickness coming on but still wanted to ride. I definitely think I used to make the mistake at training in the wrong zone intended for the work out, particularly when I wouldn’t trust the ramp test result.

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