Other Cycling Coaches, Training Plans and Resources

What other online training plans / coaches have you had good experience with? What other cycling podcast would you recommend? Both of these questions are somewhat based on my belief that it is good to get diversity of opinions rather than be completely captured by one eco-system.

I also recently stumbled upon the FasCat podcast, and I am little intrigued by their plans / philosophy. Mainly them having a slightly less pro-indoor training vibe, and more focus on Masters training.

I haven’t used another coaching service other than TR but I do listen to a fair number of podcasts and read some blogs. My top on the training focused front are:

  • Fast Talk
    ** Gets a little science-y but is heavy into the application and coaching. The host also seem to have some deeply held beliefs so they will sometimes scoff at certain ideologies. Sometimes this is good but other times they don’t seem to give differing ideas their due credit.
  • Fascat, like you mentioned
  • Empirical Cycling
    ** Science-y to the extreme. Lots of talk about biochemical pathways and how different training affects them to help determine response. Very interesting. They always bring it back around to some applicable training/testing regimes though.
  • Dialed Health
    ** He is a strength coach and has a background in DH MTB so that is definitely the lean of this podcast but it is still interesting and he has some good guidelines and consideration when combining strength training with a cycling training program.
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Lengthy thread with lots of podcast suggestions

Fast Talk - they seem to lean on the polarized approach.

MAF - there a long MAF topic here to read. I like the Endurance Planet podcast. They are MAF centric. I usually only listen to the ATC podcasts which is Q&A.

I followed FasCat’s sweet spot plans in the begining of the year. I personaly find them more sustainable and better structured for me compared to TR sweetspot plans. However, I’m quite fragile as an athlete so it’s just my experience.

Can’t talk about results as after a new baby I ended up training withouth structure. I will continue with the Fascat plans this year.

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I’ve done some Fastcat plans and like them. They have a great integrated strength training/riding plan for the beginning of the season, although it requires a gym so this winter may be tough. They also integrate off bike stuff like yoga and band and mobility work into all their plans. I like the fact that they have “group ride“ as a specific work out almost every weekend (with varying targeted goals within the ride) so you don’t feel like you’re bailing on your plan when you go and ride with your buddies.

One great thing about doing some other plans from different coaches is you realize that this isn’t exactly precision rocket science. There are more than one way to skin the cat but if you stay within certain pretty broad parameters, you don’t need the “magic coach” to have success(a good coach yes, but there are a lot of good coaches). As the Fastcat slogan “FTFP” says, and TR says too, the real key is “following the f’ing plan”, not searching endlessly for the one perfect plan.

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My first experience with structured was Hunter Allen’s Peaks Coaching group plans. I was training for my first Fondo / Century and purchased one specifically for this distance. It prepared me very well. I followed it up with a summer maintenance plan, which was also quite good. Then a fall / winter base plan.

Ultimately, though, I switched to TR for a couple of reasons. First, you have to purchase each plan. While I’ve probably spent more on TR than if I had just bought 1-2 years worth of PCG plans, the flexibility to switch TR plans at any point (plus now Plan Builder) and access to the entire TR library made it a better value proposition for me.

Secondly, you have to buy the plans “blind,” meaning you get a general overview of the plan but no real insight into specific workouts or the progression. With a TR subscription you can review every workout of every plan (including Plan Builder) to see if that’s what you’re looking for.

Now that I have several years of structured training experience, the + and - versions of the TR workouts allow me to easily adjust for life circumstances. The PCG plans did offer an alternative workout on some days, but it was usually something very different (i.e. indoor VO2 or outdoor endurance) and not an easier or harder version targeting the same energy system.

The fall / winter plan was not what I was looking for, which ultimately led me to try TR. It was a base plan, but too easy even at the prescribed volume (i.e. almost all endurance with little sweet spot) and included way more single legs drills than I wanted. I was a bit irritated by the idea that I paid full price for an 8 or 12 week plan (I can’t remember) that I wasn’t going to use.

Overall, other than the fall / winter base plan, I was please with the PCG plans. Since it was my first time doing structured training I had great fitness gains and was very well prepared for my Fondo / Century and the rest of the summer. However, the interactive TR community and free content (i.e. podcasts) combined with how they provide the plans led me to switch.

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Definitely adding Dialed Health to my list. How to best incorporate strength training is one of the things I have been trying to figure out. Thanks for the recommendation.

I’d recommend trying the Fascat plans. Similar idea by using sweet spot a bunch with a little different approach. One should plan to commit more time on the weekends to train if using Fascat. My training power numbers are only a little better than last year with TR but the big difference has been improved repeatability and duration.

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Here has been my progression over the last 2-3 years of structured training (rode a few years unstructured prior to this)

(in chronological order)

  1. TR
  2. FasCat SS plans (not race plans)
  3. Custom plans based on remote consultations from coaches (INSCYD testing, just looking at WKO4/5 data, just looking at Training Peaks). Lots of “why do you need a coach?” in this stage. Meanwhile I’m thinking: “so you don’t want my money?” :man_shrugging:
  4. Tim Cusick training plan (no consultation, but consumed a bunch of WKO videos)
  5. Cody Waite training plan
  6. And finally, plans (really strategies, not specific plans) and advice from Steve Neal

Clearly I hunted for plans, but what I was really hunting for (beside the obvious: coaching) was philosophy and approach that fit. Some of that plan hunting was just to compare and contrast, as well as curiosity.

My take home lessons:

  1. Most intense - TR
  2. Best improved metrics that were not FTP - FasCat and Steve Neal (still found FasCat to be a bit too “sweet spotty”/intense, but I think that comes down to individuality)
  3. Best catered to individuality of athlete - Steve Neal (by a long shot…so much so that it might not be right for many)
  4. Least amount of thinking (just follow the plan idea) - Steve Neal (mostly because there really isn’t a plan. Once you understand the approach, you make up your own plan based on his input, which progresses, overload, etc. FasCat was a close second but I still had to make legit adjustments on the fly
  5. Best community - TR
  6. Most testing/assessments etc. - Steve Neal
  7. Least testing/assessments - TR (so just a Ramp Test?)
  8. Most academically sound - TR or Cusick. All the TSSes, TiZ, etc just make these beautiful graphs of progression and sawtooth shaped PMC charts that look so sexy until you actually go to do them. FasCat plans look like that too but Frank knows how to have you adjust.
  9. Most scientific - depends on what science you like. All of them are based on some level of scientific understanding. I’d rather have a good coach than a good physiologist.
  10. Cody Waite and Tim Cusick’s plans are very similar.
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Thats what drew me to FasCat. About a year ago I started my base with TR’s Traditional Base mod-volume and did as much as I could outside. Really really like TR’s traditional base plan when more rides are done outside, as there are too many long workouts for my butt to bear (even with Kickr + InsideRide for motion). After two years TR wanted to try something different and my first plans (2016-2017) were CTS/Strava and they are quite good, but the base plan is no longer available. So I bought full base plans from FasCat and Tim Cusick, both are quite similar in terms of training intensity distribution (more zone2 than sweet spot) and similar to that older CTS/Strava plan I did. Overall I liked the notes/tips in FasCat plan and did most of the 18 week sweet spot plan. Was very happy, the additional zone2 and outside riding focus led to better results versus last two years with more of an indoor focus. Part of that I attribute to more zone2 work (training intensity distribution) and part to motivation (overall satisfaction of riding outside). You can do the same with TR, but it requires more effort to remix plans. The other key thing about FasCat - they advocate off-season (‘on-season’ lol) resistance training and I recently finished (with home gym modifications) and very very happy with results. For reference I’m in late fifties, I respond well to sweet spot and threshold training, your mileage may vary, yada yada yada.

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Question about the FasCat plans, what’s the biggest difference in those plans vs TR plans? I have knee issues and seem to get over worked in the knee even in the LV plan.

Mike

I’ll give you my 2 cents as someone that had (past tense) knee issues. Penny #1 there is more zone2 work in FasCat and similar plans (Cusick, CTS, etc.) versus TR unmodified road plans (assuming SSB). That helps build both aerobic endurance and durability. Penny #2 my knee issues turned out to be muscle imbalances due to 30 years working at a desk. Fixed the muscle imbalances this year, started with a goal of doing the FasCat 10-week resistance plan and built up to it. Completed that with modifications (home gym). There is ongoing maintenance work in FasCat sweet spot plans.

Because of my success with their approach, I decided to go the coached athlete route and now have a customized plan including ongoing resistance and plyo work. All integrated into a single plan and designed to improve my performance on the bike. My personal view of FasCat’s approach - stay strong, stay fresh, win in the kitchen, and ride fast after 50 :muscle:

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Yea I wish I could attribute mine To muscle imbalances. Mine are a result of 20 years of baseball and a physically demanding job for the last 15 years. No regrets but it is what it is. No more running so cycling it is to hopefully fend off knee replacement down the road. It’s cartilage wear basically. I am good for 2 days a week of intensity. Doesn’t matter what it is but only 2 days a week. This past 8 weeks I went down the road of LV SSB 2 and kicking the weekend workout out. Replacing it with 3 hours of Z2 outside and a 1 hour Z2 ride during the week outside also. This seemed to keep me more well in the knee. Did I see the same gains as I had seen in the past? I think so but I already had gotten to where I wanted to be before so I think that’s fairly easy to do once you’ve been there. With that said it will be interesting to see what gains I make from here on out in new FTP territory. 41 years young here💪

Mike

You are pretty much convincing me to try FasCat. How did you like the 10-week resistance plan? Why did you choose that versus the Offseason Resistance Plan + Sweet Spot.

Sucks, best of luck and it sounds like a good approach. I married into a baseball family and a lot of shoulder surgeries old and young (D-I and semi pro) in the family. One brother-in-law made it all the way to the big leagues for a week, he’s had 3 shoulder surgeries.

@mike091979, getting off topic a little but have you considered swimming (assuming pools are opening or will open soon)? If done correctly it should provide a serious cardio workout, challenge the upper body, and still be low impact (just don’t misjudge a flip turn).

Resistance plan was very good, unfortunately when cycling was ramping up the air filled with smoke. Bought 18 week first, to give it a try with minimum commitment, and then later bought the resistance plan. The plans are delivered to TrainingPeaks and TrainerRoad added integration this year so you can use TR app to do the cycling workouts inside :+1:

@rkoswald don’t judge my flip turn LOL, that something I really gotta work on.

For those who have done FasCat plans, what did you think of the “fatigue dependent” approach? It’s quite different than TR which is Hard / Easy / Hard or some variation of that depending on what plan you’re in.

The example above shows this. 5-min VO2 max workout followed by a 3x10 threshold workout the following day. This looks really tough. How did this approach work for you opposed to having an easy day between two hard days (TrainerRoad)

Yea i swim 3 times a week. My wife was a college swimmer so she hounds me about it all the time. I do about 20-30 minutes each time. Cycling in its form doesn’t bother me at all really. It’s just if I go crazy with intensity I can get a little sore the next day from it in the knee joint. It not painful though. So to prevent that I dropped the 3rd workout out of LV and upped the intensity of the other 2 and it has worked out really well. I’m overly curious though as to the new territory of FTP will it be enough work to continue to raise it. I don’t really care how fas I raise it I just want to continue to improve. This year my weekly Z2 ride I may start extending it out to add a little more volume to improve that. My 3 hour ride on Saturday is not going anywhere. That’s literally the time I have due to family constraints. I Also may start squeezing in a 3rd Z2 ride on Mondays also. It would have to be inside. I have adapted and can find ways to continue to improve so we will see what happens. It’s my own version of polarized I guess.