Looking for input / opinions as I start to build out my plan for next year

About me:

  • 54 (will be 55 in January)
  • I work in the Tech industry, and currently on 100% work from home, with the ability to block time on my calendar. I usually work 45 - 60+ hours, with too many Zoom calls
  • I started riding / racing in college, and raced for ~7 years before business school in Chicago killed that. After a hiatus for ~8 years, I’ve been back riding for about the last 11 years.
  • I currently live in San Francisco
  • During the week, all of my riding is on the trainer - currently a Stages SB20
  • I will get out at least one of the weekend days, weather permitting
  • For the last 5 - 6 years, I’ve had a frustrating pattern of having a good build for 6 - 8 months, getting strong (for me), and then crashing and burning - re-aggravating my knees (old injuries), fatigue crash, something - to reseting to where I was at the beginning of the season
  • Because of the recurring knee issues, I’m doing an 8 week focused knee strengthening program, and I will complete this before I start my 2022 Season
  • I ride a mix of road / gravel

Goals:

  • Raise my FTP - so that I can hang better on group rides and enjoy them more
  • Get a full season in without crash and burning, so I can string multiple seasons together to really raise my FTP
  • Have fun

Events as of now:

  • Weather permitting, I will do Rapha Festive 500
  • Levi’s Gran Fondo, currently May, 2022 - this is a postponement from Sept, 2020

Proposed plan options for 2022 Season - starts early October

  • planning on doing all blocks in sub-blocks of 3 active / 1 recovery week

Plan A - mapped out ~44 weeks

  • 12 weeks of something like traditional base + strength training
  • 4 weeks of VO2 max - starting with short (e.g., 30/30s), and work up to 1 or 1:30 intervals + maintenance strength / core / knee work
  • 16 weeks of sweet spot @ 90% FTP, and work on extending the length of the sweet spot intervals + maintenance strength / core / knee work
  • 4 weeks of VO2 max - starting with short (e.g., 30/30s), and work up to 1 or 1:30 intervals + maintenance strength / core / knee work
  • 8 weeks of vaguely polarized: 1 VO2 max short intervals, 1 longer (e.g., 8 minute) above threshold intervals, 1 group ride / ride with friends for fun, 2 - 3 Z2 @ 60ish% + maintenance strength / core / knee work
  • Rest of the season, TBD

Plan B - mapped out ~44 weeks

  • 12 weeks of sweet spot @ 90% FTP, and work on extending the length of the sweet spot intervals + strength training
  • 4 weeks of VO2 max - starting with short (e.g., 30/30s), and work up to 1 or 1:30 intervals + maintenance strength / core / knee work
  • 12 weeks of sweet spot @ 90% FTP, and work on extending the length of the sweet spot intervals + maintenance strength / core / knee work
  • 4 weeks of VO2 max - starting with short (e.g., 30/30s), and work up to 1 or 1:30 intervals + maintenance strength / core / knee work
  • 8 weeks of vaguely polarized: 1 VO2 max short intervals, 1 longer (e.g., 8 minute) above threshold intervals, 1 group ride / ride with friends for fun, 2 - 3 Z2 @ 60ish% + maintenance strength / core / knee work
  • Rest of the season, TBD

I’m leaning towards A for the following reasons:

  • I had a poor end of 2021 due to work + I tweaked my back / knees
  • I’m thinking starting back up with a more traditional base type work will be the better way to start rebuilding, plus it will be easier to do more traditional base workouts + getting back to doing strength work

16 weeks of Sweet Spot is too much IMO.

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Even if done in 4 - 4 week blocks, where each block is 3 on / 1 off?

What about A vs. B more generally?

I’m a broken record on this, try another plan from a reputable coaching company. With all respect to @anthonylane (about 20 years your junior), as its perhaps not a real debate and I know he has followed Coach Tim Cusick’s season planing template, I’ve got Cusick/Velocious Masters Full Season plan and it has 2 weeks of prep, 16 weeks of base (tempo to sweet spot to threshold), and 8 weeks of build. In 2020 I switched from TR to FasCat 16 weeks of Sweet Spot + 6 week SSB4 (polarized vo2 transition before full build/racing intervals), its vaguely similar to Masters Full Season mentioned above. The FasCat plan almost immediately delivered an increase in FTP ceiling I experienced under TR, and started to resolve knee issues I experience under TR and before TR. Then I did FasCat off-season resistance plan and built up even more durability. Which led me to hire a FasCat coach to help me navigate what happens as we age. For context I’ve got plus five years on you, 30+ years in tech industry and mostly as a meeting and desk jockey, with only 6 years endurance training on a bike.

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I was looking at the Fascat 30 Week Weights + Sweet Spot Base - New :boom: for 2022 plan, but really bummed that the strength part - even the home gym option - requires a squat rack which I don’t have space for. I wish I could see the strength portion to get a feel for how easy / possible it would be to replace the exercises that require a squat rack with other exercises I could do with a kettlebell that would have the same benefits.

Do you have any of the Fascat strength programs? If so, thoughts on how easy it would be to swap out the squat rack exercises for others?

Frank Overton doesn’t recommend it, but at the time they only had the resistance plan. I modified it. Wrote about it somewhere.

I log in Strong app and copy/paste to TrainingPeaks, here is an example copy/pasted from my TP notes:

Warmup Aerobic

  • 30 minutes at 80W outside on bike as warmup

FasCat Hypertrophy (Heavy) on Thursday, July 23, 2020 at 5:39 PM.
-Band Walk: 2 sets with band

  • Hip Abduction: 2 sets with band
  • Hip Hinge: 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Romanian Deadlift (Dumbbell): 6 sets with 10 reps/set
  • Goblet Squat (Kettlebell): 6 sets with 10 reps/set
  • Bent Over Row (Kettlebell): 6 sets with 10 reps/set

I removed the specific weights that were logged in Strong app (and copied to TP) as that will depend on your fitness level.

Also during this period I did a lot of step-ups on a bench, hold dumbbell/kettlebell in each hand. Those were awesome. After 3 months of that I went back to gym and started using barbell and on non-barbell days did plyo work (ball slams, box jumps, etc).

I’ve got both the FasCat resistance plan and ScientificTriathlon 19 week Strength Training plan.

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Thanks for the input. I might try the 30 week plan and substitute Bulgarian split squats or step-ups (I have both a bench and aerobic step) for the squats.

After reading the opening of your post, IMO, this is your answer. You are flaming out because you are doing too much early in the season. Dial back the intensity and invest in volume.

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By the way, dropping a plan into TP and having it sync to TR works great if you really like TR’s trainer control. And I think TR trainer control is the best, and sets the standard, if you are into Erg.

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That was my thinking, and why I’m leaning towards my “A” option. Ease back in, work on the strength. Plus with this option, I wouldn’t start the sweet spot intervals till early in 2022, and after doing Festive 500 which is always a huge volume

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I was looking at that - TP to TR sync, as I use TR exclusively for erg mode trainer control.

TP-to-TR sync works great. If you modify TP workout, there is a window of time where TR can be out of sync. But on the TR website you can request a sync. If you are also into PLs, I’ve seen a couple of interesting PLs auto-assigned to incoming workouts, but overall the PL auto-assignment works well. And once synced it is like any other TR workout.

Given your current back/knee situation, and especially if you haven’t done a lot of resistance training, I’d recommend hiring a strength and conditioning coach for at least a month or two. The (one-time) cost of a resistance training plan designed for a cyclist or triathlete is pretty cheap, certainly less than what I typically spend on going out to dinner with my wife on a Friday night. And once purchased it can be used over and over again.

I just can’t imagine pounding out 4 months of straight Sweet Spot.

I love how Sweet Spot builds amazing TTE and muscular endurance but I don’t think one needs to do 16 weeks of it. I personally would rather invest some of that time into to a block focused on raising FTP. Which could come before the VO2 work or after.

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This I like. Take that 16 weeks and divvy it up.

Outline of Cusick/Velocious Masters Full Season plan:

I blanked out the primary and secondary focus (e.g. tempo and sweet spot), and left out some other details. This is the iLevels plan so after first the power test, they are unstructured and done by WKO’s short/med/long targets.

FasCat 30-week plan fancy graphic:

Mapping to that graphic I’m in the Fall Foundation phase, over the last 2 months finally got serious and dropped significant weight (long overdue). It won’t be long before weight is down to 2017 levels when I achieved personal best cycling fitness. Last week I started doing some adaptation work in prep for heavy resistance training.

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I’ve had this fail. It was never resolved. Sometimes I have to create a new workout to get it to sync properly. Some weird oddity that happens.

Where’d you get this chart? I don’t recall seeing it on their site.

Not really for bbarrera, just following up on this. The image is not as detailed, but FWIW, the FasCat plans progress in intensity. Sweet Spot is a range, and it works from low to high as the progression moves along. That’s implicated in the Training Load, as time, IIRC, doesn’t change a whole lot, so intensity starts to go up in each phase. FasCat SS 3 also hits FRC and maybe some VO2, IIRC.

Also to note the FasCat SS range is a bit larger than TR’s range.

On TrainingPeaks I bought the Velocious Full Season Masters iLevels plan, it included 3 PDFs the first is plan overview with that graphic and other info, the second is on sports nutrition, and the third is (looks pretty good to me) Functional Strength (FS) plan for weeks 1-11 of that chart.

Which version (basic, intermediate, advanced) of the 30 week plan do you have?

After listening to Frank’s masters podcast, I bought the 8-12 hours/week which is Intermediate. That was before the bundle so I ended up buying the 10 week resistance, the 16 week SSB, and later the fall foundation.

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Fwiw….

55 years, a good amount of training experience, also too many zoom meetings in my life.

TR base-build-speciality has too much intensity for my taste. I like ssb1 and 2 and some build blocks and use them in my larger cycles. But overall find the blocks don’t link well over long periods. Sorry TR guys, love ya, but you’ve heard this before from many others.

I have the FasCat 30 week plan along with the climbing interval plan. They are decent, SST based plans as we are aware. The intermediate plan is still pretty stout programming. I do like the back to back days. I’m usually good for two in a row but need an easier third. At age 45, the classic tues-wed-thurs was fine, but not now. Now it’s more two on, rest, two on, rest approach.

My solution to the canned plans was to change them by incorporating more of a TTE approach using more time at LT1 instead of less time, but more intense time, at SST or Threshold. It’s boring on a trainer but works well to build long term durable fitness.

If interested in seeing other plans besides TR, FasCat almost always runs a 50% off sale in late fall early winter.

Knees…. It sounds like overuse. I have that issue with running. Am good for a certain volume and pace but if I exceed for very long the knee pain returns. Solution was cross training and to stay under the volume trigger point. You might need a similar approach by mixing up the stressors.

Overall…. It’s very hard to do a whole year of focused structured training without some burnout. Rather than long 44-52 week blocks, consider the basics and maybe do cycles of 3-4 months with breaks built in. Something like 14 weeks on then 2 off then repeat. Unless you are trying to peak for a big A event, many repeated cycles over years could well serve you better than base-build-burnout and repeat cycles.

Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Rowing + strength work for example is a nice complement to cycling. Go for a long walk on an easy day instead of a spin. That sort of thing.

$0.02

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