Mid vs High Volume Training Design, a strategic question

Okay. If this was answered I can’t find it and might be a good podcast topic if it hasn’t been covered.

Why are the training concepts different for Mid vs High volume base plans given a only slight decrease in days or hours of training?

Mid Volume is a mix of SST, LT over unders, and Vo2 work.
High Volume is straight SST work the entire 12 weeks.

My experience is that when you’re talking about SST style training the concepts are the same for an athlete at 8 hours per week vs 12-15. When you start pushing up to 20 a week and over then I can see the change to a traditional base type approach and the strategy changes.

Second question: Performing LT over unders and Vo2 work is very mentally and neuromuscularly taxing.
Isn’t performing these weekly potentially setting yourself up for failure by burning out very early in the season?

Training exclusively SST is a very different mental and physical ask of the body vs over unders and Vo2. My experience has been performing LT and Vo2 intervals 28 weeks out from your A race is too early in the season to expend that amount of mental and neuromuscular energy. Basically when you’re about to move into the build phase, or begin to ride outside, you’re mentally just plain over drilling hard intervals by the end of the 12 weeks.

I can see for many athletes a mid volume range of hours per week with an SST style plan would be a more sustainable training strategy and allow a ramp of intensity as you move from the base to build phases.

For context I’ve been racing for 8 years and have paid professional coaches using both the Polarized and SST methods from the Boulder, CO area who coach very high level athletes. I only say this to give a little background that this isn’t my first rodeo with training plans and concepts.

Love to hear the answer to this.

Thanks TR gang.

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Thanks for that but it doesn’t address the question. That answer is specific to a TSS drop in HV Base to Build. What I’m asking about actually has nothing to do with TSS.

have the same doubt, when i started whit trainerRoad i choose SSBHV, but after that circle realizing that the Mid Volume was a vastly more variable plan and i chose that but addding some extra outdoor rides (or some time at tempo after the workout).
Doing just SS the entire 12 weeks feel monotonuos.

Yes, I realize that and was simply passing along some info. Another source regarding options and very high-level info on TR’s sweet spot design is here: Training Plan Guide: How to Coach Yourself to Peak Fitness

Although that likely won’t directly answer your questions.

Below is my opinion based on listening to the podcast. Keep in mind I’m not a coach nor have I been professionally coached. Only have 3 years experience with structured training.

The six-week SSB part 1 is mostly sweet spot work (with a little tempo and over/unders). In SSB part 2 it appears the concept is reducing volume from high to mid requires an increase in intensity.

Your second question is debatable.

@Bryce - can you provide any additional insight?


bumb for the 2nd question. Burning yourself on SSB with no goals till start of road/crit season but have the desire to get faster.

bump…? Maybe @Jonathan?

SSBMV is only 5.67-6.23 hrs per week.

Mixed into a 6 hour/week training load, would that really be more taxing than 15 hours of SST?

Also, the VO2max workouts in SSB are much less taxing than in Short Power and General Build. Overall, much less time at VO2max.

I don’t think performing over/under & VO2 work every week need necessarily be too much…although if it can certainly turn into that if there is too much volume or the mesocycle goes on too long.

BUT I will say that if over/under workouts are on your calendar you better be super confident that however you determined your FTP is accurate. FTP in the TR world is 75% of MAP. Reviewing an over/under workout like Reinstein, it’s 3x12 minutes with each 12 minute segment consisting of 3x 2min at 71.25% of MAP and 1min at 78.75% of MAP. If you’re FTP really is 75% of MAP, then great.

However, if your FTP is less than 70% of MAP (as it most certainly is for many TR users) then Reinstein becomes an over/at workout. Or worse, and over/over workout. 3x12 VO2max, anyone?

Well a couple of things. If you’re riding 15 hours per week that doesn’t mean your intervals are any longer necessarily. It generally means you’re doing a 2-3 hour ride Tuesday - Friday during the week and spending the time at Zone 2 Endurance pace, then doing your intervals and riding home. You’re riding more hours at Zone 2, not necessarily more minutes during your intervals.

My guess is they aren’t going to answer this question because they align with the “if you ride less hours you must ride harder to get the benefit” philosophy. There are many people out there with differing opinions, studies, and personal experiences that don’t agree with TR’s strategy.

That’s fine, I don’t blame them for not wanting to discuss how a competing philosophy also has merit and to get that type of training you need to go to another company.

@Brennus you’re right it will be almost impossible to complete that workout if FTP lower than 75% of MAP. Even if your FTP is set at a more accurate level I still think that going that hard in November and December is far too early for that type of intensity. Just look at the forums and there are threads and youtube videos littered with people “failing” TR workouts. Yes everyone has an off day once in a while but the TR strategy of going that hard that many times per week leads to burn out for a certain number of people. I’d be interested to see the numbers on that. If I was training someone they would be a much better cyclist if they rode consistently 5-6 days per week in Zone 2 with short hard intervals 1-2 days per week vs riding 3-4 days per week drilling it almost every time they got on the bike.

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For me I don’t think LT over/unders and VO2 workouts months before A & B races are right for me at my age and experience. That may work for others, and it does break up the monotony of only SST work. So perhaps it increases compliance of completing the workouts/plans.

I also assume they include these workouts to improve race performance for those that are racing during Sweet Spot Base. It seems the question of “Can I race during sweet spot base?” comes up often. The answer is obviously yes, and doing higher intensity work during base will probably give a short term race performance bump for early season races.

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I adapt the HV plan to 4 workouts and 6 to 8 hours. If you combine it with vo2max and over under you are working more the top end (like in LV and MV). And that is the reason why people have good FTP results after the low and mid volume base plans

I would disagree that there is only a “slight decrease in …hours of training” between Mid vs. High volume base plans. In part 1 the HV plan has about 3 hours more training per week which may not sound like much, but it is around 50% more than MV most of the weeks. The spread is even greater in part 2 with the HV plan having about 4.5 hours more training per week which is about 70% more than the MV plan. I am far from an expert but I think it would be hard to make a lot of progress if the MV plan was just Sweet spot, but there are a lot of riders who simply do not have the time to do more then 6-7 hours of training per week, indoors, in the winter. So, to make some gains they have added over-unders and VO2 work. We are not talking about an athlete at 8 hours per week vs. 12-15, we are talking about an athlete at 6-6.5 hours per week.
As to your second statement, I don’t think part 1 of MV base is that onerous, it only has 1 over-under session per week and no VO2 work. Part 2 of MV certainly appears quite taxing (I haven’t done it), but I am a rider who needs a lot of recovery from VO2 work (probably due to my age.)
Well, this was certainly a long winded reply. Remember, TR is not a personal coach who is going to personally interact with you to see how the plan is going. However, what TR does give you is 4 different base plans to choose from based on your goals, preferences, and time. I usually customize their plans to suit me.


This post has some information on my take on the difference between the Mid vs High plans.

Where I’m going with the questions is to see an explanation from a physiology perspective as to why training an entire training zone higher is required if you ride 30 minutes less each time you ride?

Well, if the MV plan is usually 30 minutes less per workout than the HV plan, then a SSB HV workout requiring 60 minutes of sweet spot work will be only 30 minutes of sweet spot in the SSB MV workout which is just not going to provide the same improvement. Likewise a SSB HV workout with 40 minutes of sweet spot work will be only 10 minutes of sweet spot in SSB MV.

But, that isn’t the physiological reason that you are looking for. I am sure that there is a physiological reason, and a study to back it up, to explain almost any training program out there. Well, maybe not any program, but my point is that I don’t believe there is any one single training program that is the absolute best one for everybody, some things work for some and not others.

With respect to TR, have you looked at the Traditional Base programs? They seem to be along the lines of what you espouse, using the same general principle for all 3 levels, namely doing low intensity work regardless of the duration. (Perhaps one of them could be a good lead in to a SSB MV plan). The beauty of TR is you have a lot of choice, 6 different levels of base plans covering a variety of intensities and durations.

Actually I believe their traditional base plans are straight up zone 2 rides every day for the entire base period.

I’m more referring to the following type of schedule as weather and outside riding permits during the base period.
T Progressive Tempo, Low SST work or Vo2 work depending on testing
W Base/Zone 2
T Progressive Tempo, Low SST work or Vo2 work depending on testing
F Base/Zone
S Progressive Tempo, Low SST work or Vo2 work depending on testing
S 2-4 hour zone 2 ride progressing the number of minutes each week as weather allows

Then test MAP and aerobic capabilities and determine your next 4-5 week block. If you see MAP slipping then work on your MAP for a 2 week cycle then back to Aerobic development through Zone 2 and Tempo/SST work. As you get closer to racing season add in a group ride on Saturday if you’re a roadie, if a MTB’er than rip some 10 minute segments of your local MTB loop to get some race specific intensity and bike handling; then use training races to sharpen your Anerobic contribution and race craft.

That’s only really true for the first 4 week block. Block II starts adding more Tempo and Block III adds SweetSpot.