Oly Tri HV Build Kicking My Butt

Title says it all. Did the HV Base 2x, both times were tough but I completed each workout of each 6-week cycle.

I wish I could say the same about the Build phase. The weekday Threshold and VO2max workouts (like today’s Red Lake +4) seem wayyyy harder than their counterparts in the Base phase.

Anyone else notice this? FWIW, I’m 50 yo, male, FTP of 285, 4.0w/kg. Been racing Oly tris and getting some local (Florida US) podiums for five years or so. Lots of randonneuring experience, too.


Hello, have you done the high volume work before? High volume in the TR plans is super hard, and really is reserved for those who can handle it (most can’t and that isn’t a jab). It took me some time to just get used to MV plans and as someone who is close to you in age I need more recovery as the fatigue creeps in and kills some of my workouts. I’ve got to throw in a few more recovery workouts every few weeks. So if you are hitting the work outs in HV, I am guessing your body is trying to recover, I would suspect that you feel terrible as you get into build as it introduces even more intensity. I wouldn’t be frustrated, HV here is no joke!!!

As a suggestion - I would drop it down to MV and add a bit extra if you are feeling it - allowing for more recovery - YMMV


have you looked at Oly Tri Build MV and HV? The Tuesday VO2max and Thursday Threshold sessions are virtually the same between MV and HV. In fact I’d argue that MV is “harder” than HV, because in MV half the Saturday workouts are threshold intervals instead of all aerobic endurance.

Thanks, I did think of that, but I thought that after successfully doing the HV Base two times back-to-back, I’d be ready for the HV Build. These are my first stabs at a structured plan, but again, shouldn’t one be able to go from Base to Build with the same volume…much less two HV Bases?

First structured plan, but I’ve been using TR for about 6 yrs, avg about 3-4 workouts/week. I forgot to mention this previously.

I can only use my personal experience - I feel Tri training is really about managing fatigue. Coach Chad has always said there are two way to getting faster - lots of volume or intensity. TR focuses on intensity. I really like the TR Tri plans but success for me is all about managing the fatigue from one work out to the next. During the build phase (for me MV Half plan) I have to be right on top of balancing how I feel (fatigue, diet, recovery) or I will spiral (ha like ERG) and each workout during the week will begin getting worse to the point where I blow up or hurt myself. The Wednesday Tempo runs for me are key indicator. I have to be realistic with myself, the better I keep it balanced the better I handle the volume.

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This has been talked about numerous times here and I believe also in a few podcasts.

It is very normal for people to do the HV SS base plan and then have to switch down to MV build.

I have not done a tri plan. But I have gotten better gains from doing MV work than HV work and I’m in my 30’s.

Really this is all about how much training stimulus you need. If you are going to get gains from a medium volume plan, or for the sake of argument a low volume plan. Those are what you should do rather than moving right to HV.

I’d recommend you do the MV build. If you want more to do, than read the weekly notes on the calendar. They recommend other workouts to sub in, such as a long outdoor ride on Sunday. You’ll have easier weekday workouts. And you will get more volume on the weekend.

This is basically what I did to get ready for some 200 mile gravel races last year. I thought it worked pretty well. I was able to get a good training stimulus, stay consistent and balance my life.

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Yes, Red Lake +4 is 5x6-min intervals at 108%. That is really hard IMHO.

Comparing MV to HV for Olympic Triathlon Build for the week that includes Red Lake +4…

Mid Volume:

High Volume:

Personally I’d rather do the HV plan, versus doing MV’s 3rd interval session. Actually I’m thinking that looks really good as a build for cycling only, simply by adding one more long ride.

As you’ve mentioned, the MV and HV Oly Build plans have very little difference between them in terms of the bike workouts (especially the Tuesday/Thursday workouts you’re struggling with) which is different than the pure cycling plans with respect to MV vs. HV. I know I’ve struggled with the intensity with the TR tri plans when I’ve attempted various ones in the past (mostly build and specialty), but others seem to do well with them. You will likely have to try and find a better balance than the stock plan to suit you either with reduced versions of the existing workouts, different workouts entirely or shifting the days of the workouts around based on your other training (probably just running at this point unless you’re lucky enough to have pool access!). You could also look at the HIM plans to make some swaps since training for the two distances are pretty complimentary.

I can relate. I’m 52 and been doing the MV half plan the last few years. Base goes well but build kills me. And on top of that I don’t usually see much if any FTP gain during the build. I think my issue is that its really just too much intensity for me to soak up. I tend to respond better with more volume. So I’m mixing it up and not strictly following the plans now. I’ll keep one of the VO2 session but have the second session as a longish Sweet Spot ride and on the weekend have a long endurance ride. Then I throw in some shorter recovery/endurance rides where I have time.


Thanks everyone for the input. I’m waffling between three options:

  1. Stick it out w the OTHV Build
  2. Switch to OTMV
  3. Make my own plan

I’m tempted to do (3) because that’s what I’ve done for several years both w/ Oly and IM Tri’s (and 1200K brevets) and have had some good successes doing that. SBR TSS and hrs/wk weren’t much different when I was doing my own Oly training than the OTHV plans.

I want to do (1) because I’d really like to try a plan all the way from Base to Specialty.

Moving to MV (option 2) wont change the midweek bike workouts too much, so I don’t know if that will produce the desired result. It’s not like I’m cratering all of my midweek rides, but it happens a bit more than I’m used to.

Knowing me, I’ll probably stick w HV for now and see how it goes. Al least for a few weeks.

Thanks again, everyone!

Few good points made. You definitely need rest, when you consistently have to reduce workouts below 95% that’s a red flag.

If you don’t have a race on the horizon now why don’t you experiment with a 2 week load / 1 week (or 0.5wk) recovery cycle instead. This is often recommended for “more experienced” athletes with extra need for recovery. If you check out Matt Dixon’s books it’s actually what he does to his athletes.

I believe you didn’t say if you also do the runs? How is that going?

From a triathletes point of view I disagree with the note that the MV is harder than the HV. The load is quite a bit less during base. The extra sessions and hours of HV are quite impactful when you already do so much. On top there is also a run program that is increased. I think MV is a really good alternative, but if I hear you I’d tinker with the recovery first.

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I’m not a triathlete but have struggled with efforts like Red Lake +4 (5x6-min at 108%) and vo2max work. On harder near-vo2max (e.g. Red Lake) and vo2max (above 108%) efforts my experience is that having a bigger cycling “base” has done more to improve results than “rest.” But I’m in my late fifties and slow-twitch. YMMV.

My comment was from a pure cycling point-of-view, and my own physiology. I defer to triathletes and their own experiences.

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I think you both make good points. I’m going to stick my neck out and say that it’s physiological, and basically comes down to how fast you recover.

Personally, I think they are both doable, but I would need to split the build. I would gather up too much fatigue, and would need a “recovery” week of tempo/sweet spot with and then back to VO2, basically 2 build, 1 recovery/lower stress. It’s not a pure recovery week, but it is for the high stress engine.

Which is exactly what Schmidt said. I’m 50yo. It kinda sucks to have to lessen things, but you have to listen to the body, or it’s going to tell you, in a very different way, in a month or two.

I’m kind of doing something like that now.

M – 2hrs @ 60%, T, 2hr @ 60% with 3x8 @ 108-110%. W, 1.5hr with 20min @ 83%, Th 2hr with 2x30 @ 96%, Fr 2hr with 40min @ 95%, Sat 90min with 2x30@94%, Sun 2.5hr with 4x17@93%. ~13hr week, ~700TSS, with a decent amount of work. Next week is similar, and then a reduction to tempo/sst. @ ~630TSS.

I don’t need a full recovery cycle, but I need to drop the TSS, and switch to tempo for a bit.