Plan Suggestion - Unable to Complete Build

Good day,

Been lurking around here a while now, figured it was time to finally create an account and join the discussions.

Long story short, I’m looking for a plan recommendation after being unable to complete general build, medium volume.

Background - I started riding (semi) seriously in 2016, after buy a decent road bike. I wasn’t overly into biking on it’s own; I needed a form of cardio that was enjoyable enough that I would do it on a regular basis, and we’d just had a few really bad incidents (volunteer firefighter), so something that put me away from town with no way of being interrupted was ideal. Once the weather got bad, I bought a Kickr Snap and moved indoors. After a few months of that, work changed and I stopped biking. Total time was about 6 months, reached an FTP of 211.

Beginning of this year, I started riding on the trainer again, just random rides for the first month, and then in February started sweet spot base 1 (MV), with an FTP of 172. Midway through, I did another ramp test as things seemed too easy; jumped up to 200 and then to 220 at the start of sweet spot base 2 (MV). Finished both without any issues (other than time - replaced a few of the longer workouts with shorter, higher intensity versions due to work constraints).

Started general build MV, ramp test gave an FTP of 265. Made it 3 weeks, completed all workouts at 100% up to (and including) junction -1. Couldn’t make it past the second interval on the next workout, Tallac +2. Took a week off due to some stuff that happened (ugly fire call), did 2 of the rest week workouts, and then ramp tested. Came in at 272.

Bays was the next workout; it seemed harder than most of the active recovery workouts, but heart rate was similar to expected. Dade +4 the next day, made it through 6 of 9 intervals, couldn’t go any further. Lost motivation, took another week off.

Did a light outside ride yesterday (about 30 minutes), and then tried a time-crunch 45 workout today - Red Slate -4. First interval was hard, dropped to 96% for second interval, made it 7 minutes in and couldn’t turn the pedals anymore. Heart rate and breathing were maxed out. Ended the workout.

I think my FTP increased too quickly, and I don’t have the necessary base built up. I would have expected that going from an FTP of 172 to 275 that I would have seen improvement in my outside ride, but it was pretty much on part with what I was able to do 4 years ago, at an FTP of ~200. I’ve also noticed that at work, climbing stairs and ladders is no easier and I’m just as out of breath at the top as I was at the beginning of the year.

Was thinking to start over with sweet spot base (MV) 1 this week, and run through base 1 & 2 again, then attempt build. I really like the 5 days per week of MV, as it keeps me motivated and gives me a fairly constant daily routine. But due to work, I will have to adjust the Sunday workout to something shorter - ideally, under an hour. Last time, I replaced these workouts with the Sunday workout from Time Crunch 45.

Is this a good path forward? Is there a better option?

Sorry if the post is overly long; figured I should include as much information as possible. Thanks for reading :slight_smile:

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Jumping straight into MV from not much prior structured training can be hard, and even if you make it through SSB, the added intensity of Build can cause the wheels to start to come off, whether that’s excess fatigue and failed workouts or loss of motivation or both, at least that happened to me. I came to cycling with a pretty substantial amount of experience with structured training in running but very little in cycling, so I jumped into MV since I was in decent cycling shape and had interval training experience in another sport. SSB went fine, but I started to have issues during Build. I took some time off, and when I started back up again, I opted for LV and supplemented with extra endurance rides to hit the 5 days a week I wanted to be riding. That approach may be something to consider. It’ll give you the fairly constant routine but with a little less intensity which may be a more gradual and sustainable build up for you (it’s gone well for me - I’m back to where I was at my peak last year FTP-wise, but I’m not burnt out even with more life stress on my plate). You can schedule recurring endurance days so they appear on your calendar with your other workouts week in and week out if that helps you with accountability.

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Re-doing base seems like a good option to consolidate your recent gains. Builds get really hard even without huge jumps in FTP and having to adjust to that. As or volume, that a personal choice. I do LV but ride 7 days a week and add 2 recovery rides and 2 long endurance rides. If I’m indoors on the weekend I might free ride or do a TR workout from the MV plan and then free ride for a bit. If you like the structure of 5 days of planned rides, go for it. Or you could do LV and add a couple of free rides or pick rides from the MV plan to supplement if forced inside.

Now my 4 cents:

  • Those FTP gains are huge! Like ridiculously huge. I generally find it takes me a little time (like several weeks) for my mind to adjust to how the power levels feel and realize I can hold them for the intervals. Think about the power for older sweet spot, threshold and VO2 intervals were in relation to your new FTP and your new SS/threshold/VO2 powers zones are in relation to your old FTP. Your SSBII 120% FTP is roughly your current FTP. Your current 120% FTP / VO2 intervals are over 140% of your old FTP. That is going to be a shock to the system.
  • Cycling is a long game. Progress is measured in months and years, so keep the long game in mind. But also enjoy the newbie gains while you have them. If I add 3 watts on my FTP in SSBII I will be ecstatic. If I get another 2-3 out of the following 8 week build, I will be equally ecstatic.
  • It is not always possible, but consistency is key to long term development and growth on the bike.
  • Re: stairs, I’ve noticed the same thing. I don’t know what is going on, but my guess is that the motion of going up stairs is similar to pushing a pedal. When I was in a taller building and riding 12+ hours a week I noticed my heart rate would kick up really quickly and I would start breathing hard when going up a couple flights of stairs.
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Thanks for the replies.

I was pretty happy with the big jump in FTP, but I’m learning I shouldn’t expect that to continue. I suppose if it was that easy, everyone would be a pro :stuck_out_tongue:

I struggle with the longer endurance rides indoors; even with something good to watch, they get very monotonous. I’d much rather do a more intense ride with lots of power changes, even if it’s roughly the same length. I’m learning to avoid the temptation to switch all of my endurance rides for something more exciting, though.

I’ve put sweet spot base 1 MV on the calendar, to start on Tuesday. I’ll see how that goes, and maybe re-asses 3 weeks in. I don’t do any races, and it’s looking unlikely I will get to bike outside much this year (live on the edge of a national park, which re-opened briefly last week, but has since closed as people cannot seem to follow COVID rules). After seeing what a truck does to a motorcyclist on the highway, I don’t think I’ll be biking on the highway anytime soon.

Thanks again!

Seriously, a 100W jump in 4 months is insane! People spend years trying to get that kind of gain. It’s so high it makes me wonder if there wasn’t a calibration issue or something that skewed one or more of the tests (could have been the first test under-reading for example). Assuming the gain is genuine then it’s no surprise at all you’re starting to struggle.

Going back to base is one option. Other is to do a 20 minute test which might be a better indicator of the FTP you can get through Build on, as it is more likely to reflect a lack of base/endurance than the Ramp test.

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I was exactly in the same boat :slight_smile:

Finished both SSB1 & 2 MV plans with quite substantial gains. Then went into General Build MV, oh man was it painful. Struggled with quite a few workouts and was definitely feeling an onset of over training if I would to continue this way. So after barely finishing the Build phase I am now back on SSB 1 MV. The reduced TSS is almost a joke in comparison to the peak of General Build when I look back at it now :stuck_out_tongue:

Going back to SSB was definitely a good choice for me both mentally and in fitness terms :slight_smile:

Edit: I actually also took an additional week off as opposed to the initial one week of recovery at the end of Build. Did some random easy rides, and a quick unsanctioned local race to clear my head. Was definitely a good idea. Now I’m back fresh into SSB and ready to rock yet again :stuck_out_tongue:

Are you sure your trainer was correctly calibrated throughout the past 4 months and it’s got no belt issues? Getting a 100W bump is insane, but I guess not impossible. What triggered me was that you haven’t noticed the improvement out on the road. And you most definitely should see a huge improvement there with that FTP gain.

Reason I ask is I had a similar issue last year where my FTP went up from 180-ish to 260W but also didn’t notice much of an improvement outside. Turns out I wasn’t calibrating my trainer often enough and the belt got a tear in it. When I started TR this year and relied on a pedal based PM which I calibrated before every ride I took a serious ego hit and the gains have been much slower. However this time I do notice an increase in my outdoor rides that correspond to my FTP increases.

Maybe you could try out a PM to confirm the trainer reading or something.

I’ve been looking into power meter pedals, but they are hard to come by here at the moment, and I’m not sure it’s the best use of money given the economic situation.

The bike has pretty much stayed on the trainer the entire time, only removed a couple of times to clean and once for the outdoor ride. I calibrate 10 minutes into each workout, and spin down times are pretty consistent (temperature adjusted, they are within 5%). Based on heart rate, it seems the workouts got significantly easier going through each block - that is, the heart rate during VO2 max repeats at the beginning of the block was were I expected it to be, but by the end of the block, was significantly lower. Other zones tracked as well.

I only have the 1 outdoor ride this year to compare to previous rides and it was shorter than I used to do (due to road closures). Perhaps in a few weeks if things open back up I’ll be able to do a better comparison ride.

Thanks for the feedback :slight_smile:

Maybe you could borrow a pedal based PM off someone you know, or maybe from your local bikeshop.

Keep up the hard work :muscle: