Sick of intensity, started hitting the gym, looking at doing traditional base

Hi all,

I am currently finding myself in a bit of a rut. I want to train — I ride both inside and outside — but I don’t race apart from a couple of fondos and brevets a couple of times a year. The thing is I feel really burnt out from the intensity prescribed by TrainerRoad.

Where I am from (Serbia) we had lockdowns in 2020 — as did most of the world — and I used that time to hammer away on the trainer, and didn’t do much else to be honest. I think I did a mid-volume plan and felt really strong. However the intensity was almost unbearable, because if I had to do something else other than work and train, I would not be able to cope. It had me right on the edge.

When things opened up and the weather started to get nice I started riding outside more, soul rides most of the time and some fast group rides as well from time to time. Now that the summer is over (I consider summer my off-season, and use the winter to train hard indoors) I want to get back to it, however I don’t think that I’m ready for the intensity just yet.

My form at the moment is stagnant. I’m not losing fitness, but I’m not getting stronger either. Also I’ve gotten back to the gym with the idea to look a bit less like a praying mantis, and more like a healthy human, so I’ll probably gain a few kilos here and there which I don’t mind. Currently I’m at 76kg and 187cm tall. I’m at my lightest during the winter and that’s around 72–73kg which I consider my “race weight”. I’d be happy if I put on some muscle, and end up at 75kg with a bit less fat.

Managing bike workouts with the gym has been a challenge lately. I just can’t do strength training in the gym, high intensity on the bike (which is all that’s being given to me when I use Adaptive Training), and other work/life commitments.

My question is: is it a bad idea to let the bike take the back seat for a while, and do a mid-volume Traditional Base phase?

This is something I think I can handle volume-wise, and I do intend to swap at least one of the workouts per week with a 3-4h group ride.

Thanks for all the help!


You look like the perfect candidate for:

  • Rest, and time away from your bike.
  • Try a polarised approach (not necessarily TR). 8 easy sessions below 80% of your maxHR. You get the volume in, and are fresh for intensity.

When I see comments like yours, it reminds me of this video. I’ve been where you are, than once:


I also think you need to figure out what you are trying to accomplish. What is your “why?” If you aren’t training for a race, what gets you on to the trainer today. If your “why” has changed, there is no shame in changing what you do for some new “why.”

I myself used TR for 2 years with minimal focus on racing. I have been very consistent and in many ways the structure soothes my more obsessive tendencies. I’ve also wanted to move to the top of my social riding group and last was for some possibility that I would one day race. Recently I finally got out there and did some racing. 5 crits, a road race and an endurance mtb race in the last month. It’s given me a bit of a new “why.” I’m not encouraging you to start racing. That may never be your goal, but you might want to re-evaluate your goals and see if they still make sense.


Thanks for the input. I’ve thought about this and i don’t really want to step away completely. I have the desire to ride my bike, I just don’t have the desire to suffer through every single workout I do.

This is the main reason I’m looking for an alternative approach.

What I’ve been doing lately to maintain my form is something along the lines of:

  • one VO2 session,
  • one-two Z2 sessions,
  • one hard outside ride (15-45 min sweet spot or threshold, depending on the hill I choose)

per week.

Is the polarized approach something like this?

As far as motivation goes, I’m not a competitive person, and the main reason I train is to be able to ride with my friends who are generally stronger than me (ex and current racers).

That is a perfectly reasonable approach…feel free to toss some intensity in if you want, but if you are feeling burnt out, remove the pressure of intensity and just ride your bike as you wish for awhile. You may lose a step or two in fitness, but you’ll come back mentally fresh and ready to step back up. Most people then go on to post bigger gains.


Autumn is my favourite time of the year on the bike. No racing, no structured training, no worrying about being fit, just riding whatever and enjoying what’s leftover from summer in the legs for a few weeks.

Otherwise, what power13 said.


My personal approach is I do two hour long workouts a week, that’s it. Everything else is a ride I want to do. I am a very high volume rider.


Polarised is 80% of your workouts in zone 1 (3 zone model). So if you do 5 workouts a week, then 1 hard workout per week, giving you two hard workouts every two weeks.

There is a podcast that you should listen to, that is from another forum, and well worth listening to. I sent the link by primate message.

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I also like to read the forum, can you share the URL to me?

Last winter I was also burnt out from all of the intensity I had done, especially back-to-back Build phases. I opted for Sweet Spot Base High Volume because it had ONLY sweet spot and endurance - nothing threshold or above. I lost a little fitness but the high end came back during the next Build phase.


In the latest podcast, while talking about overall health vs. trying to imitate the very top level riders, Coach Chad says something like “You are not a pro, be a healthy human who is also pretty good at riding bikes”. I think that’s an important message that many of us could learn from.

If anyone has the full quote, please share. I was on the trainer and didn’t write it down.


Reading your post prompted one obvious question: have you taken time off the bike?

No matter what training approach you use for Base and Build, sweet spot, traditional or polarized, all training is meant to be periodized. That means after 6–10 months you should take a break from training. If you don’t have much experience with periodized training, I would not use training blocks longer than 6 months.

What taking time off the bike means and for how long differs from person to person. For some people it means that do not touch a bike for a month. For others it means they do unstructured rides just for fun with no “nutritional” value. You must experiment here and see what your body needs.

Secondly, if this is your first foray into structured training, I would not start with mid-volume but low-volume. Again, this piece of advice is independent of what type of training you go for. So I’d reduce volume to low and add endurance rides if you feel up for it. Make them optional, but hit the other workouts.


I was in similar situation as you. 9 months of sweet spot and I was burned out. Over the 9 months I went from low to mid volume plans. I switched to high volume traditional base, all of it was riding outside. After the first block I felt a lot better and my FTP went up instead of being stagnant and seeing minimal gains. I did 3 blocks of it. After that I switched to polarised training which had worked well for me for the last 6 months and I feel well rested with no burnout issues while FTP keeps going up.


By itself this is not good advice: switching to polarized will not remove the need to take a break from structured training. Your body needs a break from training, and it needs a change in stimulus.

If you are new to it, training for 9 months straight while increasing volume is a recipe for you to burn out, no matter if you go for sweet spot, polarized or traditional.

Further, keep in mind that life stress can significantly impact your training capacity and you might need to reduce training volume as a result. That’s different from “too much intensity”, too. This season, for example, I had to reduce volume compared to last year, because I have more unavoidable life stress and worse sleep.

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Reading your post prompted one obvious question: have you taken time off the bike?

I try to take it easy during the summer with low intensity unstructured rides, and I also take some time completely off when I travel. This time is usually spent hiking or being relatively active off the bike. It usually takes me 7 days to want to ride again.

But to add to that, I definitely know the feeling of burning out from training. I got sick multiple times because I overreached, so I’m familiar with the feeling.

That’s not the same and 7 days is not enough. AFAIK the least amount of time that is recommended is two weeks, but likely more if you are not trained. Basically, you have to give your body enough time to detrain (that is important), so you should not get on the bike quickly, because you are afraid of losing your FTP number that you worked so hard for.

Also, if you replace cycling with a significant amount of different physical activity, if you overdo it, you are not allowing your body to recover from the training stress.

How much experience do you have with periodized training? Have you been doing structured training on the bike before? If so, for how many years?

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I believe I’ve been using TrainerRoad for four years or so. First two years only during the winter, and the last two years I am on the trainer throughout the year. The traffic situation where I live is getting worse, and I don’t feel safe being on the road so much.

Coincidentally, I was the strongest when I did my SS base on the trainer and just held on for dear life on group rides.

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This isn’t the case, but see the other polarized training threads for details

Its maybe not an option but have you thought about something off road (say gravel biking). I know sometimes just chilling out away from traffic helps.

If by “throughout the year” you mean you haven‘t taken a break, then I think you should include that in your planning in the future. Taking time off the bike is a must if you want to prevent a burnout.

Regarding traffic, how about mountain biking, do you have suitable roads and trails where you live?