Is TrainerRoad not working for me?

I’m an Xterra triathlete and been using TR for 7 years. One thing I’ve noticed, is that every season since using TR, right around the middle of the build phase, i absolutely hit a wall and performance goes backwards. Drops in FTP, runs, swims are slower for higher effort, and most concerningly a shakiness in my muscles even at rest.

The first time it happened, i figured i was just using the wrong plan but it keeps happening even as I’ve learned more about how to train and the improvements in TR (ML, plan builder, changes in FTP testing, etc).

I feel like theres just too much intensity for me. The build plans when i start to struggle, it seems like all my workouts are at 100% or higher for all the bike intervals on top of the swim and run stuff and it just destroys me. Has anyone else experienced this or have any ideas how to address it?


Yep, almost exactly the same thing.

Inseem to be doing better this year by basically just ignoring the plan, and marking workouts harder than I normally would. If a workout looks too hard, I just dont do it. I’ve frankly decided their computer brain is not particularly smart.


Same. Before Adaptive Training. Always blow up in build even when I scaled back the workouts.


Probably because it is too much intensity for you…. as it was for me. I’ve been with TR for 5+ years and on HV plans for the past 3. I also saw fitness declines through the second half of Build and all through Specialty.

The best changes for me were all Sundays long z2 and Saturdays as whatever I felt like doing. If on the trainer (winter) it’s likely sweet spot. During better weather it’s either trail riding, tempo on gravel, group rides or exploring. Also, if I don’t like the intervals on Tues/Thurs, I use Alternates for a more appealing workout. Sometimes it’s Productive, other times it’s Achievable or just a workout that looks more enjoyable at the moment.


A couple of generic possibilities to consider based on other similar comments. These may or may not apply to you:

  1. Build phase is supposed to be hard, really hard.
  2. Too many people do too much when they should be on a low volume plan.
    2a) Doing a low volume plan and adding additional hard rides/runs/swims can be a problem. If adding additional activities, keep them in an endurance zone.
  3. Answer the adaptive training questions accurately (see point 1)
  4. Shakiness in your muscles is very concerning, consider seeing a doctor.
  5. Dial in your nutrition, sleep and general life stress

The shakiness is more of an extreme fatigue. Probably should have phrased it better.

I guess it seems kind of silly to offer a tri plan that you have to automatically ignore certain workouts. Its not that i just did a bike plan then added my own swim/runs. I have been following what plan builder has said to do. Mid volume Olympic, which in the build phase essentially has 2 VO2 bike workouts, 1 threshold bike, 1 VO2 run, 1 vo2 swim plus a couple other swim/runs.

I agree, more z2 stuff is the answer but should i be following a plan that i have to ignore maybe half the workouts?

That’s why low volume is best for the majority of people. You are less likely to ignore workouts and can add Z2 workouts if you feel good. Not only does this have a physical benefit of increased rest relative to mid volume but also a mental benefit of not feeling like your missing workouts.


There’s often threads where people are reporting too much intensity I wonder if there’s a common age range?

A plan I could run through hungover after 5 hours sleep in my 20s is probably going to be hard going after a full working week in my 40s.

I’m not sure if plan builder and the ml TrainerRoad built takes into account our ages.


This has been happening since i was 29 to 36 currently.

How many weeks out from your A race are you starting your plan? I had this too but I was starting 24 weeks out from my A event. This was a bad idea especially since it was training for a higher intensity event like an olympic distance tri race. I tried starting the real training plan 16 weeks out this year and I didn’t hit the wall like I usually do. I took a different approach to winter training (northern hemisphere here) and stuck to endurance, strength, and technique based stuff. Another data point - mid 30’s age, full time job. If you’ve been doing 16 weeks and having issues, maybe consider trying a 12 week plan. I’m assuming you’re doing olympic distance mid volume plan for xterra.

I think if you start too far out you’ll burn out with or without an AI engine setting workouts for you.

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This sounds a bit like my last experience also.

I completed first half of build, set new FTP with ramp test (which wasn’t much of an improvement from test weeks before) and in the next session my legs exploded.

I had a rest week, in which even the rest sessions felt taxing, and tried ramp test again where FTP had dropped 10%.

I then completed LVSSB1 and lost another 10% in next ramp test. Demoralising.

(Should add all plans were LV)

Yeah mid volume olympic for xterra which has been what plan builder has been suggesting for the past 2 years ive been using it. This year was the latest i started at the end of january with a B race in June and A race in one month.

I normally have started any time between thanksgiving (end of November) and new years any given season so there might be something to starting training too early. I’ll admit the first few seasons could be user error as im sure I was way to aggressive especially in that first year of using it and i was racing once a month from may-september during that time (but i had been doing this before using TR without issue). The past 2 seasons Ive changed my approach to doing less routine races and really only focusing on one. It is really frustrating that this has always seemed to happen with TR.

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Some more context would help us…what volume plan are you doing? How many years have you been training overall, not just w/ TR, etc? As others have noted, a LV plan works really well for some people. I think the part that some people find confusing is that they then think that is all they are supposed to be doing…“Well, that is all my plan has on it for the week”. For some, yes that is enough. For others, it simply gives them the structure for their workouts, but isn’t necessarily the totality of their training schedule for the week / month / season.

Definition of “insanity”, right? :wink: I get that you can have a bad outcome and then try the plan again the next season (or maybe even another 2)…but if you have been doing this for 7 seasons and having the same results, you have to own your role in it. After “consistency”, the #1 rule in any training plan is to “listen to your body”.

As noted earlier, the Build phase is supposed to be tough…but if you are falling apart for 7 years running, you need to adjust your approach.

It may well be that your running is the culprit as well…when I was doing tri’s, I had my best success on a BarryP / 3-2-1 plan. Almost all my runs were z2 pace, although I did start to add in a few intervals on the “2” / mid-distance runs. I did this because 1) I was injury prone while running and 2) I had enough intensity on the bike (coming form a bike background).


Ok, next time as a peer TR used I’d suggest not starting a serious plan until 12-16 weeks out.

Another thing to mention is that in plan builder if you tell TR you have a ‘B’ race inside your week buildup you really gotta treat it like a B race, make it a tempo-ish day. If you don’t do this the subsequent training suggestions will bury you. If you have enough time between races make both ‘A’ race as plan builder should take you down before building you up, or you yourself should force time off when building the plan.

I’m not sure exactly what to suggest for a base season leading up, it so much depends on where you are and what other activities you enjoy. Definitely some strength training though. I’ve enjoyed a block of traditional base build in the past. I’d say be careful with sweet spot base 1&2, if you do this make sure you have some down weeks after to let the body reset and absorb the effort.

Happy training!

Hey @kevshoes, sorry to hear about this! Let’s see if we can figure out what’s going on here.

I’ve been digging into your training history over here, looking for any trends that might help me understand what might be causing these dips in performance, and I’d like to also gather some more information that might help to fill me in on the bigger picture of your training.

What does your home life look like in terms of nutrition, recovery, sleep, life stress, etc.? It sounds like this is an issue that reoccurs for you on a somewhat regular cycle. Is there any specific part of your life that coincides with this dip in performance around this time? It looks like the biggest setback you’ve encountered was last fall between September and November. Was there anything off the bike that may have influenced this?

I’ve also noticed that you historically have used low-volume plans and made the bump up to mid-volume this year. What made you decide to change things up? Are you feeling different than you were last year?


No changes in home life.

The drop in training from September to November this past year was an off season. Nothing happened. I was burned out so I took some time off.

I would not say i have historically done low volume. Usually have been following a mid volume plan, it just doesn’t show up because when i was on those plans was before plan builder marked that on the calendar.

The only seasons I did an LV plan to start was in 2019 during my final year of grad school and 2020 (COVID) and this occured during those seasons as well.

Every season since then, i have started with a mid volume plan before needing to drop the volume because the workouts were just way too hard. Not because the time itself was the issue.

Which workouts? Threshold? Sweetspot? All of them?

Why do you think they were too hard? Fatigued going in? FTP set too high?

Gotta narrow it down to diagnose the problem.

I’ll give you mine and then bow out, first off the workouts were too hard for what I now believe was an insufficient level of conditioning (“base” fitness), and the workouts had too many intervals. First thing I tried was reducing the number of intervals and % ftp for the stuff above threshold. That didn’t work. Then later (a half year?) I looked at my history before TR, and figured “not enough base fitness” so I tried traditional base 1 and 2 (repeated TB1 and added 2 weeks to TB2). That was better but still flamed out in build. Then I figured the answer was more volume (mostly from longer weekend rides), and more calendar time to develop aerobic fitness. Its at this point it seemed silly to essentially build my own plan, so I tried a non-TR base plan that was longer (18 weeks instead of 12 weeks), and it had more volume, more endurance riding, and fewer intervals. That seriously moved the needle. Don’t recall anyone on the forum pushing me in that direction, despite posting more than once that TR’s full distance triathlon cycling base plan looked better in my eyes (I still think it looked good and better than SSB1/2). Regardless, what ended up working did not look much like the TR base/build plans, and did not follow what I’ll loosely refer to as the heavy interval focus of TR plans/workouts. Instead I went back to doing fewer intervals, and if over threshold I would do them full gas instead of some fixed %. Also dumped erg mode because I wasn’t working the larger cadence range that I had been doing (outside) before TR. Hope that helps someone.


I struggle with recovery and have encountered issues similar to yours in the past with TR plans.

These are the rules I am currently applying:

  • during recovery weeks I dial the volume and TSS way down (currently only 3x30 mins, will not go higher than 3x60 mins irrespective of what the plan says)

  • I will not do more than 2 x intensity per week (and for me SS counts as intensity; if the plan has more intensity, I will replace them with endurance rides)


After 7 years you should have learned what is good for you and what’s not.
Simply following a training program is not the way to go.
i.e. you need to listen to your body and adjust your training accordingly.