Improving performance in different zones

First post but long time listener of the podcast and been using TR for about 5mths.

Currently doing sustained power build mid volume. It’s tough! However there is a clear trend in which types of session I struggle more with. These tend to be the consistent suprathreshold sessions like Stromlo +4 or Budawang +3. Eg 8mins at 102%. I perform relatively better on VO2 max eg Shortoff +4 and sweet spot (eg Juneau-1) and even the over and under threshold sessions like Palisade.

This may be mental, may also be the time in the week they come (typically end of the week and after the VO2 max sessions but usually with a rest day).

I know everyone has relative weaknesses at certain parts of their power curve. Could this be the answer.

And secondly, would still like to work on this zone. Part of me thinks I will go down to a low volume plan and try to have higher completion rate! Any recommendations on what type of sessions or plan I should be working on. Ie should I be doing more sweet spot and build my base. Will doing more over and unders help over time. Will vo2 max help. Or a combination of those, which a more specific focus to one or the other.

Overall goal is of course to lift ftp. Would also like to get stronger of 1.5 to 2hr hard rides on the road.

Many thanks in advance.

A little more history would useful - how long have you been riding for, what’s this riding been comprised of etc…?

There’s a huge mental aspect of the higher intensity intervals and this is cultivated over time.

Have you completed SSB and now find yourself struggling with slightly suprathreshold workouts because there is zero suprathreshold work in SSB?

Good questions. I have been riding for about 10yrs. Prior to 2019 I was really only doing 3-4K pa outdoors and the odd spin class. 2019 did about 6k and last year 12k and would expect to do that kind of volume going forward. When I was doing spinning there was probably a lot vo2 max but of course nothing tracked. Outdoor riding I suspect I was doing more tempo than endurance generally though intensity has increased. Also used to combine running and swimming and do one triathlon a year up to HIM. Never absolutely pushing myself - but keen to get faster now. Will lay off the running until I feel I can incorporate it without compromising cycling. At the moment want to concentrate on cycling a bit. Mid 40’s. 3.7 w/kg ftp. Went straight into this plan. Never really followed one strictly before. Was more doing plan builder for a few weeks leading up to cycling trips. Not really effective. Hence open to going back to SSB or something similar.

Isn’t it possible that it is the workouts, not you?

IOW, why assume that they should all be equally hard?

Looks like you’re knew to structured training in cycling. Structured training is quite different than riding outdoors and spin classes. Structured training is measured in hours and “Time in Zone” (TiZ) rather than miles, as miles is not an effective measure of fitness improvement. The reason you’re struggling with sustained efforts is likely because you haven’t developed your Base and muscle endurance. Your 3.7 w/kg ftp, if you believe that to be accurate, is hollow as you haven’t built a foundation for your house. This foundation is developed during the Base phase. Drop sustained power build and start fresh with SSB for 12 weeks. After Base you can move onto a Build plan. You can use Plan Builder with an event/trip/etc. towards the end of the season.

This is of course one possible reason. I haven’t done an in depth analysis of the IF and the TSS and some are hard to compare especially if they put a big block of 65% at the e end. They all look like they should be similar level of difficulty however.

Good advice. Would you recommend low volume or mid. I can probably find the time for mid. But may also benefit from making sure I complete all workouts from a low volume plan with the option to add workouts or look at some of the +variants if needs be. Or maybe I should really follow it to the t?

That’s a hard effort especially if your FTP isn’t spot on. And FTP can fluctuate day to day depending on fatique. Honestly I wouldn’t worry about it. Training is just training. It’s not the race or the ultimate goal. You don’t lose anything by doing it at 100% or doing it for 7 minutes. Think of it as getting 90% of the benefit was enough.

For 8 minutes at 102%, personally I wouldn’t focus on the wattage that much but rather the feeling of surfing along at your FTP. You’ll find that at that effort level you can vacillate between “I can do this forever” and “I’m dying”. The later feeling is going a little too much above your max steady state effort.

Some would say that accumulating this time above 90% of HRmax is what is important here.

I’d say start with low volume SSB1. It will feel easy for the first few weeks, it’s supposed to. If you near the end or finish SSB1 and feel it was way too easy, then you can add some easy longer (z2) rides to your Sundays and possibly a short 30 min - 1 hour recovery spin on Wednesdays. Just realize that SSB2 will progressively get harder, so be careful that your extra z2 rides don’t detract from your core workouts.

Sounds like a plan SSB1 for 6 weeks then SSB2 for 6 weeks. Will go for mid volume.

Try it at 97-98%. There won’t be that much, if any, physiological difference (adaptation wise) but you might have more success.

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