The short version: I have reached to conclusion that TrainerRoad Build plans (Mid Volume) are too much for me and thus cause me to plateau.
But please, read the longer version and comment, if my conclusion seems to be right and what I should change in my training.
The longer version:
This is my second year training and third time I have started from a Base and completed a Build block (at least 4 weeks). Road cycling background I have four to five years.
The first time in 2018 from winter to spring, I did the Sweet Spot Base Mid Vol all 12 weeks and my FTP went in the SSB1 from 257w to 270w and in SSB2 from 270w to 276w. I’m 64-65kg so we’re talking about 4.25w/kg. However, after moving to the General Build MV I got no gains in FTP. At that time, I switched from 2x8min test to the Ramp Test, and my results in the Ramp Test stayed the same from the test in the middle of the GBMV to the test in the beginning of Specialty. This is a bit odd since all the VO2Max intervals and the greater training load should give you the best gains in FTP. When I think about the stress the Build did put on my body, I was quite tired in the end and, e.g., couldn’t complete fully the last Thursday VO2Max training.
I get that you can improve only that much in one season and my number are already quite good. Thus, if this had been the only time with plateau in Build, I would not be writing this.
The second round was in 2018 from June to August. I did 4 week Traditional Base MV and 4 week GBMV (the last 4 weeks). My FTP was down from the peak 276w to 265w when I begun the TBMV. During the base I did a bit more LSD outside, and my FTP went from 265w to 275w. So, a proper jump with just 4 weeks of Traditional Base. Again, I continued with the General Build MV. This time there was also some road races to replace the Sunday intervals and my TSS was up around 10%. This time I didn’t only plateau but my Ramp Test result came down from 275w to 269w – and this was in only 4 weeks! When it comes to my feeling, I was truly tired in the end of the Build and the rest week started to feel good only in the Saturday or Sunday ride. If I remember correctly, I had also some very small flu symptoms in the end and during my Ramp Test (e.g., sore throat).
Then my third run was in 2019 during winter and early spring. I did the same SSB1 and SSB2 with added 15% in TSS to address the plateau. My FTP came flying up (again) in SSB1 from 251w to 264w and in SSB2 from 264w to 274w. Then it was Build time, this time Short Power Build MV with around 10% added TSS. The result was similar as last time: my Ramp Test result after 4 weeks went down from 274w to 272w. This time too I was properly tired in the end of the 3rd week and it took until Saturday for the recovery week rides to feel like Zone 2 should feel. Again, during the 3rd week and still after the recovery week I had small flu symptoms (e.g., a little sore throat and runny nose – nothing truly major).
To summarize: I have done three times first Base followed by Build and got proper gains in the Base and plateau or even drop in FTP during Build. In every Build I have been rather tired (to the point of small motivational problems) and had small flu symptoms that wont go away.
I know that I’m pushing proper numbers (4-4.25w/kg) with so little background in structured training, and that will affect my abilities to get gains in Build. However, I have a pretty good VO2Max tested in lab, 70ml/min/kg, and I’m sleeping and eating well, and avoiding drinking. I also understand that my gains can get smaller from test to test as the training season goes on. However, from 10w gains to plateau of losing watts seems too much of a difference to be just diminishing returns.
As stated in the beginning, my conclusion is that the Mid Volume Build (General and Short Power) are too much for me. Specifically, I would say that the VO2Max intervals run me down to the extent that I don’t get benefits but only begin to get sick. I can take quite a lot of Sweet Spot, Threshold and Over-Unders, and I can take even the once-a-week VO2Max training; but having three proper high intensity sessions in a week is too much.
What am I going to do? I was thinking about switching to longer Base followed directly with a Specialty Plan. My format would be something like: 6 weeks of Traditional Base MV with added SST, then SSB1MV, and finally SSB2MV (maybe with volume added). Specialty would follow directly.
I basically feel that I don’t have to do huge amounts of intensity but instead I have to get enough training weeks back-to-back-to-back and my FTP will surely come up. Of course I can’t do 18 weeks of same thing – but SSB1 and SSB2 are already quite different to each other.
I hope you got this far.