How to do a Low-Medium Volume plan?

Hi everyone. How do you effectively and efficiently add volume when adding time isn’t an option?

Since getting a Whoop, I’ve found that I leave a lot of potential volume on the table by following the Low Volume training plans: I can ride nearly every day without blowing up. However, I don’t have the time to do rides longer than 60-75 minutes each day. (Working from home allows a lot more volume due to lunchtime availability, but my number-one training goal is not to let training get in the way of time with my family.)

I’ve worked around this by supplementing the Low Volume plan with workouts from the corresponding Medium Volume version of the plan and swapping +x versions for the originals where necessary. My Whoop Recovery says I’m good to go with this strategy, so burnout isn’t a concern. (Except recently, since I’ve been laid low by either a cold or COVID. We’ll see in a few days.) The meat of this post is several questions:

  1. If you are in the same position, how do you do this? The advice from “Ask a Cycling Coach” amounts of doing options that add more time more often than not. (Extend warm-ups/cooldowns, go to +x versions of the workout, etc.)
  2. Is there any possibility of a future plan tier that fits the same TiZ into 60-75 minutes every day?
  3. Is there any possibility of foregrounding the weekly prescribed TiZ for a plan to help users tailor their training?

There are a couple of Time Crunch plans that I think have five rides per week of intensity (30-45min sessions, that would be easy to pick the +version of each/add endurance volume at the end of each ride to bring up your 60-75min target.

I’ll be stuffed if I can work out how to add it to the planner though. I can’t find it for the life of me :man_facepalming:.

I did it when I first joined TR during the lockdown last March and it’s effective. Personally I think that’d be a good option as 75min high intensity sessions most days might be pretty difficult to recover from/back up day after day.

I’ve been trying to add it myself as I need a bump and the school holidays are difficult to fit it in. My theory being I can get out and add trail volume three times a week as I can fit it in.

By definition volume = time, so if you can’t add time then you can’t add volume. What you can add, though, is intensity, which is what the + versions of the workouts do. They usually do it by adding additional intervals and making the workout longer, though. Sometimes it is achieved within the same length by reducing the duration of the rests and adding another interval.

In your case where you are limited to 60-75 minutes, you have to add intensity, not volume. Therefore, find + versions or alternate workouts in the 60-75 minute range that work the same energy systems (i.e. VO2, threshold, sweet spot, etc) with less time in recovery and more time at power. If you can’t find a workout to suit your needs, build it yourself in Workout Creator by copying your planned workout, shortening recovery intervals, and adding a few work intervals.

For example, Bluebell is 3 x (6x1) @ 120% in 1 hour, so 18 minutes total of VO2 work. Bluebell +1 is 4 x (6x1) @ 120% in 1:15, so 24 minutes of VO2 work and fits in your time limit. If for some reason you wanted more VO2 than that, Bluebell +2 (5 x (5x1) for 25 minutes) does not work for you since it is 1:30, but you could modify Bluebell +1 to shorten the recoveries between sets by a minute or two and give yourself time for a few more intervals at the end.

You mentioned training at lunch. Have you considered / tried early morning or late at night when family / kids are asleep? Depending on your schedule you could also add a second workout (usually Z2 like Dans, Carter, Pettit) early / late in the day and save your ‘intense’ workouts for lunch, which would add volume.

Finally, one word of caution about Whoop. The concept, data collection, and analysis are great but it appears to be undercut by the accuracy of its heart rate monitor. Match what the app is telling you with how you actually feel. Hopefully for you the two align fairly well but if not, go with how you feel.

1 Like

Why not try doing a mid volume plan but substitute in shorter versions of the lengthier workouts?

If I understand your question correctly, you’re saying that turning a 60 minute workout into a 90 minute workout is a problem; but adding another 60 minute workout on the day between your prescribed Low Volume workout days is fine. Right?

On the podcast, the other option they suggest instead of going to longer duration workouts is adding in recovery / endurance rides on off days. For example, Taku, Carter, or Pettit (that’s half the extra workouts going from Low Volume to Medium Volume right there).

You have a few steps between Low Volume and Medium Volume you can experiment with: adding 1, 2, even 3 easy rides onto off days, and making those rides be 30, 45, or 60 minutes in duration. That might not seem like much but an extra 150 hours of pedaling a year, even “easy,” (but always pressing on the pedals, quite unlike a short easy ride outside) can add up. If you add all that volume for a few weeks and feel like you’re still leaving gains on the table, sure Medium Volume is probably the next step.

1 Like

For SSB LV I did the proscribed workouts on Tues-Thurs and added 2 x z1 active recovery on Mon/Fri and then longer Z2 / endurance rides on the weekends. For 10-12hrs / week. Sustained Power Build was a different beast and I wish I had adapted my schedule earlier to give myself the extra recovery I needed due to the higher intensity to hit the proscribed workouts full blast.

If you want to ride every day, I’d recommend making 1-2 are active recovery (lazy mountain, pettit -1). Initially I would add z2 / endurance rides like pettit, baldknob, baxter -2 (?). Then I would experiment with upping the intensity of one or both of the endurance rides to tempo and then to sweet spot if you can handle the load and are recovering well and executing the proscribed workouts well.

I would listen to your body over what any fitness tracker tells you. Many, including the whoop, have been shown to not have the most accurate HR monitors. If the HR monitor aren’t accurate, then its garbage in → garbage out. If you feel smoked or fatigued, time to tone down some workouts or swap in an easier ride for that day. I DGA* if my tracker says I’m fine but my legs feel smoked, I’m going with how I feel.

1 Like