Marginal gains to get a little more out of my low volume plan?

Hey guys, I’ve been doing the low volume plans. Did my SSB, LVB, and am now in Low Volume Crit Specialty. I’m racing ok but am wanting to get a little more out of it. I’m racing against guys (35+ cat 1-4) who are doing a lot more volume than me, and it shows. There’s no time for me to do training rides on additional days. I do go to the gym for 25min, 2 days a week on top of my tues/thurs TR workouts. My sleep is good. The food is good. On race weekends I do 90min easy + openers on the Saturday before the race. Not racing this weekend so am going to try doing volume on top of my TR ride.

Racing this past weekend didn’t go as well as I would have liked (blogged about it here:

How can I get a little more out of myself? Thoughts I’ve had:

  • do spin bike volume on gym days instead of lifting.
  • do crossfit style conditioning workouts on my lunch hour on TR days, AND spin bike volume on my lunch hour on the other days.
  • crash diet to improve watts/kg.


No on the crash diet. Unless by “crash” you mean tossing out junk food and booze, in which case go ahead.

The low volume plans have pretty much all the intensity of the mid-volume plans. So first thing I would suggest is to review how well you’re nailing each of those workouts. If you’re not absolutely knocking those out of the park, make that your top priority. If you are, then consider whether the focus of the workouts is targeting your racing limiters.

My impression is there’s a lot you could do without adding more time, necessarily. If and when TOB (time on bike) becomes the bottleneck to progress, a very time-efficient way to do this is to tack on 15-30 minutes of endurance riding to the end of a workout. (You said you can’t do additional days, but perhaps you might do a little longer on the days that you’re already on the bike?)

Good luck

Like the above said:

If you’re consistently completing your current workouts “to a T” then add a bit more volume at the end of the workout.

10-15 min at 70% if that’s all you can manage will help. 30 minutes is better.
Consider re-arranging your gym days or what you’re doing at the gym. Doing endurance work triggers stuff in your body for endurance adaptations. Doing strength work triggers stuff in your body for strength adaptations. If there’s not enough space between the work outs you end up cutting short the adaptations.

My solution was to do a 6am TR workout. Eat at noon. Go to the gym from 2-3pm and not push it hard.

Most of the time I nail the workouts. I get up at 4.40a and am on the bike by 5a. Work out from 5-6a and then it’s into the meat grinder of my morning routine with the wife and kids. There’s not wiggle room there. I have lunch from noon to 1p and usually am able to slip out to the gym. I have 25-30min of time there. There’s no after work time as, again, its right into the evening routine of cook, bathe kids, brush their teeth, stories, etc… I get 1 hour of time with my wife between 8-9p and then it’s off to bed. I had to negotiate with her re: getting up super early for work outs as it’s disruptive to her sleep so we settled on the tues/thurs TR workout days. Personally, I’d like very much to have another morning a week to ride endurance pace for an hour.

The food. Due to the effects of chemo on my liver, I don’t drink at all during the week. Fri and Sat I’ll have a drink or two, and usually nothing the night before a race.

I try to do the gym work to maintain some level of core strength and general balance and durability. (And so the wife still likes how I look naked! LOL!).

Ooph, the pace and schedule of modern life…

Thanks all!


Roger, that. A few ideas (not to be confused with suggestions):

  1. Can you extend your lunch break by getting to work earlier? I’m thinking shift the Tues/Thurs workouts from early morning to lunch. If so, then you stand a better shot at being fully fueled when you hit the bike. (You also stand a better shot of missing the workout, because life.)

  2. I’ve noticed a big impact from doing my workouts after giving food a bit of time to make it into the works. That’s really tough if you’re up at 4:40 and on the bike a 5am. There’s a thread here discussing people’s tinkering with a carb-centered snack/meal right before bed, which might be of some use.

Time to renegotiate with the wife! Unfortunately there is no substitute for volume and frequency.

BTW, I know people that put their kids in bed by 7am. :slight_smile:

Another option - if Sunday is a B or C race then put in the endurance miles on Saturday and then after the race on Sunday, go ride another hour or two at endurance pace.

The low hanging fruit for everybody is:

healthy diet, no fast food, remove added sugar, eat tons of vegetables
eat vegetables with nitric oxide (beets, arugula, etc)
no alcohol
sleep 8 hours
legal supplements that have been proven to work:
creatine (no loading, just 3 grams per day)
beta alanine

1 Like
  • Replace 60 minute weekday workouts with 90 minute versions
  • Replace 90 minute Saturday workouts with 120 minute versions
  • Add Dans/Taku to Tuesday and Thursday evenings

If only there were the time…

Add time on the weekend. Have your wife watch the kids during your ride, and then you watch them for an equal amount of time later in the day to give her a break.

I have had to reduce time on bike this year due to having a baby a month a go.
The things I identified to improve performance without more time on the bike were:

Healthy diet: Not just weight loss (85kg last year, down to 77kg now) but meal timings / increasing carb lowering fat more fruit veg so hopefuly performance improvement too

Stretching (Yoga) / Strength (mostly core). last year tucked up and aero on my road bike i lost ~5% power vs on the tops. If i can equal this out a bit that’s raw power gained without time on the bike.

I can do both of these things while with the family (My 4 year old climbs all over me while i’m stretching/doing core) And hopefuly improve my families diet at the same time! (I do all the cooking).

I looked at the things that were holding me back beyond more POWER, that i have never bothered with because i’d rather just spend more time on the bike and this year introduced them. So what’s holding you back other than more Power? How can you improve those limitations?

Looking at your season so far I’d say the best thing you can do is really nail your workouts. Looks like you’re not completing some of your TR rides, either ending early or not hitting power targets on the intervals. If you’re ending early due to life things, then it is what it is.

Use the seasons feature and split up this season from your last season and track PR’s. Definitely a better way to track your fitness and performance over the season than by race results.

Unfortunately, at 5am I often find it hard to really nail the workouts. But sometimes I’ll put together a good few weeks. If I end early it’s because I’m tired and cant hit the numbers. I do the best that I can given the time and energy i have and let the chips fall where they may.

Get up, eat a banana, have some coffee with sugar in it, eat a gel.

1 Like

Sounds about like my normal approach.

Lowest marginal cost = staying on the bike longer once you’re already on it.

I’m not trying to sound glib, but there was a time that I rode a couple days per week, but it was always for 3 hours or more at a time. It was the most efficient way to add fitness. Volume like that was like Jello, there was always room. Like Ace Ventura said, if I’m not back in an hour, just wait longer.

As others have said, there is not a replacement for the quality of fitness that one achieves with volume and frequency. I wholeheartedly agree with that.

1 Like

You have a normal life. I know your pain. I am in the same boat so I somehow found an extra hour during my 7 days and did a 2x20min tempo ride. Maybe it was Galena turned down to 80% FTP so middle of my tempo zone. That brought a good endurance booster for me. That’s what I could drum up and it helped. Everyone is different though. Good luck. Just find that hour somewhere.