Plan Builder Flaw HV: Base -> Build -> Base -> Specialty👎

I was surprised to hear them say at one point recently they did sweet spot high volume because it was requested and not because it was supported by science.

As we discussed before, I failed the first hard workout of the first week of build coming off of it after never struggling at all during base.

Plan builder gets a lot of hype on the podcast, but it’s pretty meh IMO.

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The transition from SSBHV to build (I’ve only tried general and short power) is rough. But I’ve pressed through it and the legs eventually come around. It would be nice if there was a more gradual transition somehow. I agree with the OP that going into specialty isn’t any better.

My plan builder experience, based on start date, end date, training history, with high volume built out SSBHV1, SSBHV2, SPHV, Specialty (CCMHV), then back to. 4 week SSHV, and I just started SPHV again in the repeat of build, which then has Specialty again lined up for my A race. It sounds like you got a weird plan builder plan. I didn’t like how easy the Specialty phase was (the build phase was, umm, not easy), with its built in taper when no races were scheduled, so I reworked it into something much more build like by increasing the volume and intensity substantially.

Sounds a bit revisionist or backhanded apologist. I think the website:

is still the same as when I did SSB1-HV.

So you failed one workout and now are blaming the periodization. Dont just stick to plan no matter what, TR plans are made to be edited. Edit the plans to accommodate your intensity needs.

Also, what test did you use to set ftp?


I didn’t know this about the HV plan. The SSB2 for LV and MV both have work above threshold, and some VO2 intervals get introduced in the second half of those base plans. I get from a volume standpoint why they wouldn’t add them for HV, but really there should be some kind of introduction to get that system primed for build.

I’ll also note there are a couple posts from TR folks this past week indicating there are plan updates actively in the works, so it is possible your request is already in the hopper.

Nate actually responded to this comment in another thread around that time. Here’s what he said about that statement. (side note: the search function on this site is incredible.)

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I’ll say a couple things about SSB1-HV. Got a 5% bump in FTP from 236 to 247. Having come from 260 about 12 weeks earlier I was hoping for more. No matter I went out and crushed a 2.5 hour HC climb. Muscular endurance for days. But trying to slam sweet spot 5 days a week left me burned out and wanting to avoid my new trainer. So mentally it was both positive (best HC climb) and negative (training this way isn’t fun). Quickly abandoned the idea of doing SSB2-HV.

And now a couple years later I’m finding more aerobic endurance is a better approach to base, for me, on several levels. But it takes patience and willingness to do a lot of boring zone2.

The TR plans are well designed from a progression point of view. But what you need might be different. Or there are an unstated assumptions about your level of fitness. Or something. One not so random thought is I think TR should consider dropping the whole science angle (or recast around adaptive). Because Inigo San Millan based science as I understand it is not TR science. And Frank Overton’s sweet spot science on 8 hours a week looks nothing like TR SSB HV science. :man_shrugging:

Hi everyone,

It’s my first message on this forum but have been following discussions for a while and thought I could contribute to this topic.

I’ve been on TR for the past couple of years (essentially since I started cycling seriously) and have always been on HV. Like in the first post, I have also been surprised when plan builder set out for me base, build, base and then specialty of which I am now in the second week of the XC marathon plan.

From my experience following the HV plans, I am realising that for me at least HV includes too much vo2, perhaps not in terms of number of sessions per week but in terms of TiZ per session. As a matter of fact I hardly get any FTP increase following Build.

I think this was reported also in other topics and personally find amusing that the main complaints were directed at SSBHV and not towards Build for instance or Specialty for which HV automatically translates in having to complete the most difficult vo2 workouts.


@jz91 thanks for sharing your experience. I had to modify SSBHV and ShortPBHV to make it work, mainly swapping out Sundays for long z2 (by feel not a power number). Also ensuring Wednesdays and Fridays z2 rides feel closer to recovery than work which means sometimes lowering by ~5% or staying at/below 70% of FTP.

I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that I have to tweak XCO Specialty as well. It’s just frustrating now that I’m starting race season and I don’t have my training exactly figured out yet.

I got a 3% bump on ramp test coming out of it - but no way did I get a 3% bump in FTP.

My endurance at 95% and below was outstanding - Tallac +4 was no problem and I could back it up day after day. But I crumbled quickly once workouts started taking me above 95% for sustained efforts.

I saw that response, which isn’t super clarifying. I still interpret the plan as a bit experimental, with positive results. That would somewhat explain the poor progression some discuss when transitioning to threshold and VO2 work.

Maybe with me it was an over confidence thing/ego that puts a sour taste in my mouth. I felt like superman while crushing the base and was immediately humbled when I started build.

I think I’ll still do it in late fall/winter. Just have better expectations on where I am coming out of it.

Curious, have you looked at what TrainNow suggests for Endurance? Not following TR plans (have a coach) and TrainNow’s recommendation for today is Endurance with 60-min at 0.59 IF and 120 min at 0.53 IF. I’ve only spot checked a few times over two weeks, but its consistently recommending low IF workouts and that surprised me given the endurance workouts I see in TR plans.

From a TR point-of-view for the last year+ I’ve been doing high volume by time, but with a strong focus on endurance rides (up to 80% of ~8 hours/week on average). Doing more endurance was a leap of faith because it looks easy on the calendar, however it has better prepared me for high intensity efforts and my entire power curve improved. Which in my mind goes back to the original post about high volume programming.

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Not really weird as that’s the pattern Plan Builder uses for anything and everything. If it needs more time, it sends you back to base 2 after build.

That’s been my trend as well. LV + everything else 70% or less. Try to hit 3 hard workouts a week.

The amount may be high, but at the same time, he progression from base->build->specialty makes sense. Base->build->base->specialty doesn’t.

The main complaint is the transition, and I agree that the focus on SSBHV is odd, as far as comments go.

After build he might have had a higher chance of doing almost tabata intervals (3 sets of them!) without “selling his soul.” Going back to base and then trying to hit that type is really rough. I’d say you’d need some VO2 work before attempting that, IME. Even after build, it would be extremely rough, but going in “cold” is near impossible without completely falling apart.

Personally, I would cut that down to 2 sets, or 3 shorter sets. Next week’s HIIT might be better after the HIIT from the first week.

No I haven’t, maybe I’ll start looking at it for my z2 days and see how it compares.

TrainNow only offers low IF rides, from what I’ve come across, for endurance. All below 0.7IF.

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Mine today has .76 for endurance:

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Apologies if I wasn’t clear.

When I first saw plan builder, I also thought that base before specialty was odd but trusted the program and went with it.
Considering that I have just entered specialty I still have to make up my mind around this.

My point there was that many complaints (incl. youtube videos) were raised around sweet spot whilst I find that, for as far as HV plans go, vo2 is another critical point during both build and specialty. Perhaps with adaptive training this can be fixed but thus far if you do HV plans you also get the toughest v02 workouts.

Also consider that in HV when you switch from base to build you get the same sort of shock, i.e. you move from workouts only below threshold to the toughest vo2 workouts. Maybe this is why I already knew what I was in for when going from base to specialty.

Finally, endurance rides (i.e. Pettit, Bays etc) on the trainer are not really helpful in terms of recovery I find, but again to each his own.

I get that, but that’s not what I’m referring to. Even though they are both VO2, the progression is not there. The “shock” in Build is significantly lower than in XCO specialty. Build is specifically meant to start lifting the intensity. Specialty is honing it.

You’ll have longer duration VO2 and lower power targets in Build. You’ll get some surges, and that’s all fine. XCO Specialty is all about the repeated attacks, attack and recover and attack again. I don’t know of any coach that will go from sweet spot straight into 3x20 HIIT. It’ll be a progression, just like build->specialty. The lull back to base just seems wrong for that progression. Build->Base->Specialty, I think will work fine for something like Century or any of the Road Race types. XCO MTB is all about Z5 and Z6 and Z1/2, repeated. Gendarme +9/10/11 is one of the hardest you can do, short of true Tabatas with 10s rest.