New to TR - volume/intensity worries, not enough?

Hi all, I’ve just started with TrainerRoad having previously completed (with success) 2x Zwift training plans, I’m worried though that I might not have enough volume and/or intensity in my plan to see improvements.

A few stats: I’m 41, 75kg/165lbs, 6ft 3in/191cm. Current FTP based on the TR ramp test done on Saturday is 273w. I’m a mountain biker, enduro/trail riding.

My training history is 6 weeks of dirt destroyer, followed immediately by 12 weeks of build me up, both on Zwift - my FTP at the start of this was 210w, then 246w after the first 6 weeks, then 269w after the 12 week plan. Both the latter were tested with the 20 min test. I also did a ramp test a week ago on zwift which gave me 280w, so 273w current is about right, give or take a few %.

So that’s:
210w Dec 21
246w Feb 22
269w Apr 22
273w Jul 22

Here’s my TSS for the past 8 months, with the planned TSS for the TR stuff - the 18 weeks of training ended at the end of April, which is obvious on the chart!

I’ve started with SSBLV1, and alongside the TR training I’m doing 2-3 strength sessions a week, focusing on the big compound lifts (squats, deadlift, press ups, rows, OH press) to build some upper body strength. And I’ll probably add at least 1 outside ride/easy zwift ride each week too.

I completed mount field -1 (3x 12 min @ 80% ftp) as my first planned workout last night, zero issues - on the survey afterwards I was sort of between easy and moderate, went for moderate in the end. My max HR is high 180’s and on the workout I was just above 150 max. So a very comfortable workout for me.

I don’t have any time constraints, no kids/OH to worry about, and a pretty unstressful job, although I tend to do my workouts midweek in the early evening so would struggle to fit a TR workout and a strength workout in the same day.

My question is, based on my previous history and FTP gains (oh, I’m aiming to get to 4w/kg so 300w FTP at my current weight) is low volume going to be enough? You can see the planned TR TSS is waaay below even the start of my structured training back in January (that was the first structured training I’d ever done), so I’m a bit concerned I’m not going to be doing enough volume and/or intensity. AT can’t add volume if I’m correct so it can only add intensity. I’m tempted to move to the MV plans and do my strength work on the 2 days off plus one on a weekend with 6hrs+ between TR session and strength session.


Just add more z2 rides whenever you want if you want more volume. Lv is already full of intensity so if you need volume - just ride more.

TR hates volume and loves intensity. Many people there are modifiying plans and do 2 intensity days and rest is volume. MV is pretty different beast - you will be able to do this but LV with added z2 is basic recommenation. You can also try TR polarized plans.
Like I said - start with LV and fill the gaps with z2 whenever you want. This way you are most flexible and moderately balanced between intensity and time in the saddle.


don’t worry about a lack of intensity. You might even substitute the third intensity workout with a long endurance ride so you only have 2 intense rides a week. With the emphasis on strength training, you may find 2 workouts tough. I might consider dialing back the strength training until the offseason when you are doing almost zero intensity. You can still do it, just don’t be looking to set PRs in the weight room if you are trying to set PRs on the bike. If you aren’t time constrained, I’d fill as much bike time as you can with endurance stuff. The two 60-90 minute interval sessions will be enough.

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Cheers - to be clear, the on bike stuff is the priority, strength training comes second. I’m doing it at home with resistance bands so although I’m doing low ish reps (5-8) with 5 sets for each, I’m rarely going to failure or using really heavy weights so it should be manageable with the current low volume TR workouts.

Obviously if the bike training steps up a few notches I’ll dial back the strength training, but I don’t see it being an issue for a while.

  • TR is focused on time-crunched athletes which tends to require more intensity due to less training time availability.

  • There is no love/hate issue here. TR’s approach is the result of a targeted choice to meet their intended audience.


Just for clarity, no matter which platform and program you use, you’re not going to continue to see those massive jumps as you get more cycling under your belt. Those are fantastic improvements, but they come early. Later in your “career”, you celebrate when your FTP goes up a few percent. I’m only mentioning that so you don’t think it was TR that caused your increases to drop. Having said that, you do want to keep the TSS at least close to what you were doing in Zwift by adding volume to your TR plan. TSS isn’t everything, but your FTP isn’t going to improve going from 600 TSS to 350 week after week.


Oh yeah I realise the FTP gains will be much slower going forward, and harder work! Hence wanting to get things right on this new phase of training and not potentially waste 3 months just ticking over.

I’ve been mountain biking for just over 4 years now, but only started indoor training late last year so not new to cycling but ‘relatively’ new to structured training.

Going from average 4-500 TSS down to under 300 (not including strength training) is my big worry. Even adding a long 2hr z2 ride is only going to add maybe 100 TSS so still well under where I’m used to, based on the current plan.

I suppose what I’m asking is if the training plan I’m seeing in my calendar currently could change dramatically with AT? I’m seeing max TSS weeks of 219 and 265 in the first 2x SSB 6wk phases. I was doing that in a single workout in the latter weeks in my previous plan…

If AT is clever enough to see that I actually need 3-400 TSS a week on the TR workouts and increases the difficulty/length accordingly, then I’d be very happy with that. I can then add extra easy rides to bump up the overall volume.

I suppose the feature that’s coming of being able to use non TR workouts in AT will somewhat utilise that, hopefully for us new to TR people it’ll be able to look at our history and base the plan more accurately on the previous training we’ve done even though it’s not in TR.

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Yep. We’re on the same page. To answer your question, no, TR will not up the length, but it will up the difficulty. If you want to add length, you’ll need to use the “Alternates” functionality.


If you have plenty of time, most people will say do low volume and add Z2. If possible, make one of those Z2 rides a long ride … think about aiming for 65%-70% of FTP for at least 2 hours, progressing that by stretching it out over your training block towards 4 hours. Not “intense”, but not easy either.

It’ll be a very different experience to Build Me Up. A lot of folks come to TR and find the intensity a bit much. Coming from BMU, you’re going to find the opposite. :smile:

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Sorry if this sounded “aggressive” I completely understand who is the target group and why TR plans are what they are. I had a lot of improvement on TR plans. I have meant that TR plans, due to focusing on time-crunched athletes, do not address the benefits that come from volume. Hence my recommendation for LV with added volume. And since MV and HV plans are too intensive for many people, and still not enough volume for more experienced riders, LV is the best solution.


And you will be able to hit 500 TSS on the low volume plan if you want. I do two workouts during the week, two zone 2 rides, a long tempo group ride on saturday and more z2 on sunday. 500-600 TSS weekly. If you aren’t time constrained, you can hit 500 TSS, you just don’t want most of that being intensity.


Cools, thanks all - I’ll give it a week or 3 and see what AT training gives me, do my planned strength work and get a long z2 ride in once a week at least.

I’ll probably even use the odd alternative to up the workout time an extra 15 or 30 mins if I’m feeling good, presumably AT will see this and adjust my levels/progression as needed.

Ha, yep - BMU was fun… In a masochistic way :rofl: most definitely tough, some of the workouts were relentlessly hard, but overall it was good and I obviously saw a 10% FTP increase thanks to it. However one complaint of it was that it allowed no time for anything other than recovery - forget about doing an outside ride, or an easy 2hr z2 ride, especially in the last few weeks.

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You can also use the “extend cooldown” to add to workouts, without upping the “work” element. I find this works better for me than adding extra work which can happen with alternatives.

There’s a lot of dismissal of MV plans, but it’s 3 key workouts a week, plus 1 endurance and 1 sweet spot with an asterisk. The swapping out the moderate “Sunday” sweet spot workout for longer lower intensity endurance workouts which was always in the “weekly tips” has been swamped with AT. iirc that was only ever sweet spot in the plans as no one was doing the endurance workout!

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I considered doing it, but a) at 53 and new to cycling it might have killed me; and b) I had no idea what I’d follow it with, or how it would integrate into anything else.

B) was one of my issues too, I contemplated doing the 4w FTP booster plan, 7 workouts a week, 450-500 TSS each week with the 4th week a bit easier. Other than that nothing really grabbed my attention on Zwift. Then someone mentioned TrainerRoad, and well, here I am! :grin:

BMU I would not recommend for someone new to training, let alone cycling. I did it as a group and there were a lot of drop outs in the first 6 weeks, it’s a committing plan, both physically and mentally. I would do it again though, I found it a good plan overall.

Ahh yes, forgot about that, thanks. Although am I right in saying AT won’t take any extensions into account (same as a non TR z2 ride I guess)?

I always relate extending a cool down to when I’m still recovering after a hard workout and need a bit extra, rather than using it to add easy minutes. Not sure how it manages the power as an extra 15 mins at 100w wouldn’t be that noticeable IMO.

extending warmups and cooldowns is a very convenient way to add volume. You can set the power to whatever you want using the the intensity up/down buttons. I usually do both, because i think the TR warmups are too short, but for the cooldowns, I’ll set them right at 200 watts or so, which is in the middle of my z2 range and ride until I want to stop.

And no, AT won’t consider them, but what would it be considering it for? You are likely extending a workout for some other zone anyways.


It doesn’t take it into account for AT (yet). Personally, I’m not too bothered by that (the endurance progression), but that might be different for you. Given AT doesn’t capture unstructured outdoor rides, which for me are mainly z2, I don’t really hold much store in that particular progression tbh. And I say that as someone who does “trust” the TR system and AT.

Once you’ve added the extra 30 (don’t be a wuss! :wink::smile:) minutes you can then increase the intensity to suit. :+1:

210-220% is ball park where I up intensity too. Really depends how I am after the workout!