Repeating SSB until gains slow down?

I came straight off the couch to TR. No cardiovascular fitness to speak of. FTP started at 127, was 145 after SSBMVI, and was 164 after SSBMVII. So that’s a 14% improvement followed by an 11.5% improvement.

Now I’m four weeks into short power build (I’d like to do some crits eventually, but I don’t have specific plans to race in the next year). I’ve gained a whopping 1 watt on my FTP.

If my current goal is just to get my FTP up, without regard (yet) for repeatable high-intensity efforts, would it be better to bail on the short power build just repeat SSB2 until my gains start to stagnate?

Seems sort of silly to switch emphasis away from SSB when it’s still giving massive benefits. Why worry about repeating VO2Max efforts when I could just be turning my current VO2Max power into something closer to threshold?

I’ve searched the forums and found similar topics, but nothing that quite answers my question.

Thank you!

EDIT: I’m 61.4 kg, so my FTP is around 2.7 w/kg right now.


I say go for it if it is working for you and you enjoy it. I’ve done SSBLV almost four times in a row because it keeps working. I supplement with mountain biking so there is some change to the type of intensity. I’ll get around to build and specialty one of these days.

As far as stopping in the middle of build, do you feel fatigued? There’s a possibility that if you finish it up you will have a breakthrough at the end. I don’t think there is a wrong answer.

Are you doing anything else as far as exercise is concerned outside of trainer road? Has anything else changed in your life that could be adding stress your body?? My hunch is that the work load has caught up to you and you are carrying too much fatigue into the testing process. You do not build your FTP in the Base Phase. As the name implies you Build FTP in the Build Phase. Build Phase is where the work really begins. You saw some really nice gains in the base phase and my guess is that you are starting to react to the extra work load that is brought on in the Mid-volume build phase and the fatigue is catching up to you. What are you doing for recovery???

Fatigue hasn’t really been an issue despite a week or two of insomnia. Although I’m starting to wonder if maybe overtraining is causing the insomnia.

You’re not the first person to suggest I might have some considerable gains at the end of the build block, but if fatigue is the problem it’s hard for me to see how I’m going to recover if I have another three weeks of MV build ahead of me before the next recovery week.

Haha, yes and yes. A tiny bit of weight training (stupid, I know) and a bit of insomnia. Fatigue is definitely playing a role. If that’s the entirety of the issue, maybe I should I just switch to LV build for a while?

This is at odds with what I’ve seen coach Chad report in the forums. See this comment. As I understand it, if you do traditional base, the big bumps come during build, but if you’re doing SSB then most of the gains come then and the other phases are more about specificity.

Nothing fancy. I eat/drink 60-100g carbs on the bike, drink another 30-40 immediately after, foam roll calves, lacrosse ball my pesky TFL. I definitely don’t really know what I’m doing.

I’m feeling torn. Seems like my options are
a) trust the process and continue with MV build (if I do this, how do I get ahead of the fatigue?)
b) switch to LV build for this last month of the block (this is also an appealing option, since it might help me recover, and then I can add volume back gradually)
c) bail and switch to SSBMVII (I am vain and want to see my numbers go up quickly).

I hate having options! I hate nuance! Someone please persuade me that there’s a correct course of action!

Might want to rethink that comment if you are over 40 or have a desk job.


I’m not categorically anti strength training and plan to continue it when fatigue is not an issue. I just have an inkling that maybe now is not the time.

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Go with your gut, on both strength training and next training block or two. Pick a way forward and see where it takes you. Give it all you got.

Short power build would not be my recommendation if you’re looking at boosting FTP.

Sustained power build however might be what you are looking for.

If it was me, I’d look at doing SSB > Sustained power build > SSB > sustained power build to avoid doing the same 6 weeks over and over, and getting a little bit more variety in the legs.

That said, currently I went from a traditional base ( off the trainer ) of just low stress high volume, then went into sweet spot base mid volume, and after that I am going to jump into sweet spot base high volume.

Once that’s complete, I’m jumping into sustained power build.

Few ways to skin the cat!

A few other thoughts:

Insomnia can wreck your fitness for sure. Are you exercising in the evening? That can mess up my sleep. If you are feeling fatigued, maybe do an easy week and get the sleep back on track.

I agree with the comment above about short power build vs. the other build plans.

Are you finishing the workouts? If you are struggling to get through them, you might have your ftp set too high. You can survive like that for a little while but if you are like me, that can be just too much.

Don’t stress about it too much. You will be done with build in just a few weeks, and even if you don’t raise your ftp you should still raise your ceiling. You have years and years to get faster.

I’ve been mulling this over and repeating SSBII rather than going on to build, which was my own original plan. I’ve nothing scheduled for next year, and still in lockdown I’m enjoying some zwifting at the weekend, so a build/ speciality hard to justify.

I think I’ve worked out what’s best for me, albeit compromising the TR plan… I do the VO2 Max Monday, the long “Over/ unders” on Wednesday, and then swap the Threshold for my Friday evening race. Then I do “something” on the Saturday - the something has been TR workout, Zwift Race, Outside Ride.

I’m 100% motivated to train, but not really that motivated to target anything in particular, either events or weaknesses. Base is hard enough to be worthwhile, but not so taxing I can’t do a hard workout in the morning and not do a “cat d” zwift social ride in the evening if I fancy some virtual social interaction.

Respect that you are able to handle MV straight off the couch! Data clearly shows that SSB is very effective for building FTP. Your reported gains are in line with this model and would simply repeat SSB a couple of times.

Personal experience - repeat SSB. I always get great FTP improvements through sweet spot. There have been discussions about that on the podcast also which suggest it can work well for many.

Early on, you can kinda do whatever you want. If repeating SSB seems to make the most sense, no harm in doing that.

At some point you’ll plateau and can/will find a way to get past it. You may also find that FTP isn’t the metric that matters most to you. But you can cross that bridge when you get there.

I’m repeating SSB myself as I find that build indoors just beats me up too much plus even after over a full year of TR I get the best bumps in this phase.

Everyone is different though, it may just be that vo2 on the trainer causes muscle fatigue that you can’t get rid of, I’ve worked out this is the case for me.

Although you’re not planning to race in the immediate future, I think this is a key objective for your training.

In my experience, crits are really dynamic in their nature. One minute you’re bunched in a pack, next minute, someone throws an attack and the whole field strings out. You have to be adaptable. Your FTP will rarely be the deciding factor, come race day.

Having the mental and physical experience of completing Short Power Build will do more for you than a simple FTP increase. You’ll know that you’re able to repeat short, high power efforts and your body will have experience trying to recover whilst you’re still working at a high percentage of your FTP.

Yes, FTP is important but in my opinion and experience, it’s not the most important aspect. If you have a 300 FTP, can you fire out 50+ 15 second sprints at 120/130%? Until your bike handling is up to snuff and your able to flow the corners without dabbing your brakes, this might be what enables you to hold the wheel in front and stay in the race.

Me personally? I’m more concerned about turning up with as many tools in my box as possible. Being able to adapt as the race unfolds. Exposing yourself to a wide variety of training efforts will help make you a better racer, if that’s your ultimate goal.