Overs- Unders . I am struggling to complete

It’s coming to the end of my second full week os SSB1MV and for two Saturdays on the trot I have struggled to complete the prescribed workouts. Today was Mcadie and referencing back to my notes on previous rides from last year my narrative on Mcadie described my effort as challenging but do able. Today after the first set I dialled the intensity back by 3% and still had to back pedal on the last two sets

I’ve cut my calories to 1500 plus additional to cover the the days activity as my day to day workload is mostly home based on the phone and in front of a screen and the aim was to drop a few pounds before the serious proposition of build and speciality kicks when I won’t be running a calorie deficit.

Recovery is fine and while my mental resilience needs some work to get back to where it was as previously its rare for me not to have a good compliance with any prescribed workout.

For background i stopped structured training when Covid started to impact my key events and i cycled for pleasure throughout the summer but aimed to do some intense 1 hour sessions twice a week with a long ride at the weekend and some more relaxed rides when the opportunity arose. I benchmarked an increase in FTP from 199 Spring 20 to 206 a couple of weeks ago.

Any suggested next steps would be welcome!

Thanks in advance

Maybe stop the calorie deficit - you are stressing your body and not giving it the fuel it needs to repair itself. You don’t say what your normal calorie intake is.

Most people have one type/style of workout that they struggle with - seems like over-unders are that type for you.


Those workouts tend to be hard anyway so don’t beat yourself up too bad mentally. Personally, I pretty much eat whatever and whenever I want during winter months when I train exclusively indoors cause I know I’ll lean out when I get outside in the summer for longer pleasurable rides. That said I’ve “failed” those over unders more times than I care to remember, so you’re not alone here.

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If you’re consistently failing to complete over-unders, either your FTP is too high or your caloric deficit is too high (or both). To echo what has been said, you’re probably stressing your body and not giving it the fuel it needs. 1500 calories is typically the least amount that is considered “safe” for an average male, but I’m going to guess your estimating a .5-1kilo weight loss per week. The goal of weight loss shouldn’t be to lose a bunch of weight as fast as you can, especially while you’re training. Instead, try to reduce the calories as little as possible. I think too often people ask “what’s the most amount of weight I can lose?” and then go to the extreme. I don’t know where your maintenance level is, but I would recommend trying to start off a little easier… just 100cals per day less than maintenance. If you’re feeling good, go to 200cals less, 300, etc until you reach a 500 daily cal deficit OR you start to notice it taking a toll on your workouts. Then go back to where you were beforehand.

An example from me a few years back. I tracked what I ate “normally” for 2 weeks without gaining any weight. I was eating an average of 2100 net calories.

  • I started off with 2000 calories daily. I did this for 1-2 weeks, then still felt good, lost about 1lb (@ 17% BF).
  • I dropped to 1900 calories. Again, 1-2 weeks of this. I still felt good, and was losing about the same amount of weight.
  • So I dropped to 1800 calories. Workouts were still getting completed, I was still losing weight, and I was still able to recover well.
  • Next I dropped to 1700 calories. This took a toll on my training and I was hungry quite often. I thought, “this is only 400cal deficit, that’s not even 1lb per week!” but nonetheless, I went back to 1800cals because it was better for me in the long run.

At 1800 cals, I noticed that I would end up so hungry on rest/recovery days, so I started eating 1900 on those days, and 1800 net on the others.
Eating low calorie dense foods made this much easier, and the weight loss continued for several months, and I’ve been able to keep it off now years later. I guarantee that if I jumped right into “losing as much as I can”, there is no way I would have lasted more than a few weeks.

So instead of trying to lose as much as possible, try losing as little as possible and be more consistent about it (low calorie-dense foods help). You won’t yo-yo near as much this way, and you’ll likely feel better overall as well as during workouts. Fuel well during and after training, and stay focused on the end goal.

As I somewhat preluded to, if you’re overly hungry on rest days, this is also a good sign that your deficit is too much.

I promise, if the caloric deficit is at fault here (without knowing much else, it seems to), try eating a little more. It will be better in the long run not only for your health, body, and metabolism, but for your training too.


The obvious one everyone has stated – boost the calories. Don’t diet ON the bike.

More obscure perhaps – how much Z2 and Threshold training have you done?

Is it simply the power you cannot maintain or is lactate causing you problems?

I struggle with threshold intervals. My strength is 1-2 minute power. My mind wanders when hard intervals stretch out beyond 8 minutes.

It’s easy to forget what an “under” is supposed to feel like. It feels terrible, but is just barely sustainable. So I use HR to roughly gauge my perceived exertion.

I get up to around 190bpm on ramp tests and 175bpm on hard VO2max intervals. So if I’m 5 minutes into a threshold interval and ready to quit, but my HR is steady at around 170-175bpm, I know I can keep going.

Fueling definitely helps, especially with perceived exertion. I’ll never hit a threshold interval without plenty of sports drink.

Thanks for all the informed replies :+1:

@velocoach I’m running a 500 calorie deficit per day which on the evidence is too extreme which means I’ll be increasing my calories and incrementally reducing them over a period of time. ( I even found the recovery ride on Wednesday more difficult than it should have been but Thursday sweet spot was fine).

As for quality calories, I’ve only restarted a better balanced diet and abstaining from alcohol since i restarted TrainerRoad. The one aspect that was confusing me was i had no hunger pangs for the last few weeks but I appreciate now that was only an outlier!

Hindsight is a wonderful thing as i should have addressed the issue of consumption/expenditure during the summer when I was riding around the traffic light roads during the first lockdown.

@Captain_Doughnutman I had last winters structured training behind me, a summer with a small degree of focus and I am currently 2 weeks into SSBMV1. As for lactic burn, i didn’t get any at all during todays ride. Both my cardio and muscles were not strong enough to hit the required watts with good compliance and even when i dialled the intensity down by 3% I had to back pedal on the last two sets. Which is at odds whenever I have done Mcadie or similar previously ( I had disco inferno on my playlist in anticipation) i always got a good burn going. Overall i have much more cycling in my legs than this time last year when i started Trainerroad.

Sounds like incorrect FTP and/or lack of muscular endurance.

The FTP from the ramp was never previously a consideration as I assumed you can’t over test which pointed me towards my mental resilience which I assumed needed some focus and having a word with myself!

It might be those specific workouts. I could do things like Warlow or Three Sisters where the interval was 9 minutes and where the ‘over’ was one minute. But if I tried the 12-minute variety, I’d get smoked. The solution? Substitute the 9-minute variety for the workouts you are having trouble with. Then move to the 12-minute variety once the legs and heart are up to it.

Remember: the end of any given over/under set is going to hurt. We only come back for another because of the generous rest interval…

I’m working my way up to Carson these days and am looking forward to revisiting these over/unders in a month or so.

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I think you need to look at what part of the over/under interval is causing the most difficulty. Is it maintaining the power of the over or the first 30 seconds of the under? If its the power level of the over then I would look at the calorie deficit or ftp. If it is riding off the burn of the under it might be a mental resilence thing. Over/unders are tough, your mind has to be in the right place.

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So a week later and bumping my daily calorie intake by 350 to 1850 calories made the week much easier.

Today’s workout was the big test and whilst I struggled my energy levels were up although my technique and mental resilience require some added focus

I’m up about 30% on power output from the same point last year through SSBMV1.

Looks like I have to give myself a bit of a talking to and an early night tonight as my legs are toast. And if you hear some squealing later this evening , don’t be alarmed, it will be me on the foam roller getting ready for tomorrow’s workout

Wow 1800 calories sounds insufficient for a man, who is training hard+ the other energy you expend during the day! You wouldn’t want to be doing that for too long ,or you could end up with low immune system and other probs

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1800 is my net, I’m definitely eating and carefully tracking expenditure as well as refueling properly. Since my BMR is around 2100 that’s only a 300 cal deficit (daily consumption is around 2700 but net is 1800). Definitely not risky, in my non-medical-professional opinion. My doctor knows this as well.
Daily mood tracking and keeping strong working logs keeps me in this safe weight loss range while still improving performance.
I’m not a giant by any means and over many years have found this just works best for me

@slowmart I looked at your ride feed and you are still doing a LOT of good work. Ok, not every single second is at 100% or maybe there are a few back pedals on the last intervals of some sessions. But you’re still getting a lot of good work in.

Palisade looked a lot better than Carson so you’re heading in the correct direction. It is true, though, that if you were eating at maintenance calories you’d be crushing these workouts. Keep in mind that depending on your individual efficiency on the bike, your actual calories consumed during a workout can be a lot different than what TrainerRoad tells you. Not the fault of TR…just that there is a lot of individual variability in cycling efficiency. So what you may think is a 500kcal deficit might actually be 600 or 650…or it might be 400.

I’m gonna say you’re OK to keep doing what your doing just keep an eye on your state of mind. Mental burnout would be my biggest concern. Keep doing as much of your over/under workouts as you can. If you gotta back pedal for 20 seconds during the last interval, don’t sweat it…that gives you a target to improve on next week. Always try to make some incremental improvement week to week.

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@Brennus Thank you for taking the time to look at my workouts and share your informed insights. :+1:

I’m considering bumping up my calories to 2100 and see how the next weeks workouts go as it’s my last week of SSBMV1 before a week of recovery rides and I want to capture last years compliance as my power poppet is all over the place.

Due to under fuelling for the first two weeks I’m not expecting a jump in ftp but it’s a learning curve and I’ll be closer to nailing my calorie intake through SSBMV2 whilst looking to maintain my weight through build and speciality.