SSBHV - giving it a go

Hi all. This is my first post - I’ve used the forum to learn lots and I’m recently catching up on the podcasts. Love the evidence based approach with the advice and the continual improvement of the platform.

I’ve just started SSBHV (1 week in) and have today listened to podcast 389 where Nate says something about very few being able to complete it (SSBHV), and Chad saying something about often struggling, especially around week 3! This made me pause and think (worry) for a minute or two…

I have no specific goals (not interested in racing) but do want to do some audax/randonneur rides this year (200 to 400km). Therefore my main aim is to develop the aerobic fitness and mental resilience required for these distances. I’m sure this could be achieved through lower volume plans but I thought I’d give a HV plan a go. I find SS workouts relatively achievable but I’ve never done 7 hours of specific SS work each week.

I have a fairly flexible lifestyle - I mostly work from home so can move things/workouts around. I’m 51 years old and weigh 80 kg, eat a fairly well balanced diet but probably not enough protein or carbs. Moderate weekly alcohol intake - currently doing dry January which is having a positive impact on everything, not just workouts.

I plan on doing both SSBHV blocks with no additional rides (might do some of the scheduled Z2 workouts outside). Also planning on 1 or 2 x 30-40 minute strength sessions per week which might get dropped/reduced depending on how I get on.

Background -

BMX in mid 80s and some MTB in the late 80s early 90s, not racing, just fun. Rode everywhere on a bike as a kid/teenager (long time ago I know).

Never done any serious/structured training other than weights in my late teens/early 20s.

Been ‘fairly’ active most of my adult life - white water kayaking, hiking, some climbing, occasional cycling (commuting, MTB trails) but never consistent aerobic activity.

April 2021 - after getting fat(ter) during lockdowns, I bought a new bike and started riding (outdoors). Prior to this I don’t think I’ve ever ridden further than 15 miles in one ride.

Joined TR in Nov 2021 Started on LV plan - think I completed 1 or 2 blocks, then most of 2022 used Train Now with additional indoor and outdoor rides, which seemed to suit me well.

Looking over last year, most weeks appear to be between 4 and 8 hours riding with varied intensity and my FTP raised fairly consistently over the year. I attribute most of my improvements over the year to Trainerroad.

Based on my age and lack of exercise/training history, I’m sure many will think I’m mad but I reckon I can at least do the first 6 week block without dropping any SS rides or intensity. As they say on the podcast, I can always switch to a lower volume plan.

Anyway I’ll post an update or two as progress through the plan - hopefully making it past week 3…

Any comments/digs/laughs would be most welcome.


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I did SSB 1 HV in early 2017, this was pre-AT with 5 interval workouts a week. At 54 and coming off my best season ever. Finished with fairly high compliance. So little reward for so much work. I did have a great 2.5 hour climb at the end of week 5, but I can do that now with far less work. In retrospect, would never recommend that pre-AT plan.

To my eyes even the post-AT version is a bit too much of a good thing, and you have to be a pretty special athlete to have so much fitness, and ability to recover, to be able to reap the rewards from all that work.

thinking that @hubcyclist has done it a couple times, before and after AT.


For the latter there’s no substitute to getting outside in poor weather in the winter for a few hours. Don’t neglect the long Z2 rides which is where you’ll spend most of your time on a 400km audax anyway. It’ll also allow you to hone your eating, drinking and kit choices for such events.


that’s correct, I’ve been through SSB HV quite a few times pre and post AT. I can’t say I’ve ever really been burned out by it, but week 5 of SSB2 is demanding. over the past year I’ve stuck to a rule of thumb of two “workout” days (sweet spot and higher) and rounding out my schedule with z2 for 14-16hrs. In November I did a “SSB” block of 3 weeks where I progressed from 4x20 @ 90% to 1x90 @ 90% by the end (so basically over just 6 workouts). I think a lot of folks can accomplish a lot on 2 key workouts a week and plenty of endurance training, z2 isn’t that much that it’ll crush you and you’ve got plenty of in the tank to really tackle the key workouts


Yeah, I just went back and looked at my 2021 calendar and it was brutal…5 interval sessions / week, ranging from 1:30 to 2:00 each day, plus an endurance / recovery day on Friday.

I got through it physically, but it was a grind mentally.

Interesting because I don’t think it is near as bad as the pre-AT version. The Wednesday interval session is gone and the mid-week 2 hour sessions are down to 1:30 (at least for now).

Note - I am not doing the weekend workout and changing those out for long group rides…but those are also significantly higher TSS than if I just followed the program.

ETA - I have Sloan +2 on the schedule tomorrow…almost 80 min of straight SS / high tempo work (only a few 30" breaks). I reserve the right to revise my comments after tomorrow’s ride. :crazy_face:


Agreed, it dropped from 5 interval days to 4. However I’m with @hubcyclist on this point:

With all the endurance training I’m able to jump straight to 1x60+ at 85-90% FTP, once a week, and progress as prep for climbing rides. YMMV and all that.


Here’s my story that relates to your question.

Winter 2020-2021, Mid volume only and it went great
Winter 2021-2022, Mid volume plus adding up to 30 min z2 at the end of the hard workouts and it went great
Winter 2022-2023, Did Nov and Dec on Mid volume ssb plus 30 min z2 all good. At the christmas break I decide I’ll try high volume, its gotta be better right? I completed high vol ssb for 2 weeks. I did feel very wrecked after finishing a full week of high volume. After that I failed the Tues/Thursday hard workouts and felt terrible trying to do them. So I took the rest of the third week completely off and changed back to mid volume ssb. I’ve now completed a week of that without an issue.

I did a comparison of high volume vs mid volume plus the 30 min z2 and they come out the same per the Training Peaks performance management factors of Fatigue/Form/Fitness, which is another way of saying they are very similar tss. So it seems the increased time at sweetspot was too much for me and kills consistency. Better for me to add on more z2 and be super consistent. Plus its nice to factor in that build phase is harder than base typically and you hopefully are increasing FTP after base phase, even if you feel like you can do a bit more in base its good to be consistent over a full year rather than do too much and burnout.

Also for some reason I can do high volume outside just fine, the trainer has always been harder for me even when using a reduced ftp indoors to account for different equipment. I’m using a lower FTP for indoor training than AI FTP and the ramp test give. It’s possible high volume will go better for you since you’re relatively new to structure training and hopefully your FTP will be going up somewhat quickly.

Hope it goes well for you.


It doesn’t sound like you’re quite ready for it but there’s no harm in giving it a go. Don’t feel discouraged though if you need to drop some workouts or time. I hated how SSBHV repeated the same or very similar workouts week after week and disliked that Saturday and Sunday were back to back sweet spot. I would do only Saturday and endurance on Sunday if I did it again I think. I just finished it but had to stop a week early due to knee issues. I do think SSBHV is a recipe for injury. I was fine with the workouts but also had the holidays in there so I had a few extra breaks when I couldn’t ride due to travel.

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If your goal is 200 and 400 audax rides, I’d strongly suggest giving the Traditional Base and Experimental Polarized plans a look. Both of these offer low, medium and high volume options.

Althogh I’ve got to say, if you have been riding 4-8 hour weeks over the past year, going to HV seems like too much of a jump.


I’ve done a few outdoor rides over winter (I live in North Wales) and will swap the Sunday workout for long Z2 rides where I can. I definitely need to work on your final points too.

Yeah I’ve pretty much been doing 2 to 3 worksouts a week over the last year (SS and above) and adding Z2 rides. I don’t have 14+ hours a week for loads of Z2 though.

I’ve split the 2 x 2 hour workouts with a day off (Saturday) as I tend to do mostly family stuff then. I also start my workout week on a Monday so still getting 2 back to back days (3 1/2 hours instead of 4). I could also drop the 2nd Z2 workout of the week to give some extra recovery time if/when needed.

Thanks for sharing your experience. I’ve read a few posts where people have preferred HV to MV plans. This partly influenced my decision and comparing the workouts of each, I feel I’ve got more chance of completing the HV ones.

I also find it easier doing higher volume and intensity outside, and riding in general, but I also enjoy the indoor training. I really don’t enjoy doing outside workouts as I feel I can’t consistently achieve the required power over each interval (depends on the workout), mainly due to to the environment.

The Sunday swap seems like a good option and a chance to ride outside. Are you going on to a HV build plan next?

Yeah I’ve looked at the polarized plans quite a bit and think I will move to one if this plan goes pear shaped. I can commit up to 10 hours per week (plus a little more if doing outside Sunday rides) so trying to maximise that time really.

Outside of audax events I ride my longest ride tends to settle around 5 hours. A staple of my riding is the Saturday long ride, and a mid week medium ride.

If there any possibility of cycle commuting to your work? That can easily generate 10 hours of Z2 a week without really trying.

That’s good to hear, thanks - a weekly 5 hour ride is doable. I don’t go in to the office very often now and would never have considered commuting in my current job prior to 2021 (90 mile round trip). However, I could aim to cycle to work when do go in - maybe once a month would work well. It would be a pretty long day though with work interrupting my ride :wink:

Are you based in the UK and how often do you do audax rides?

It varies year to year. If I’m doing RRTY then I’ll do an audax ride every month for 12 consecutive months. But I find RRTY can feel like a treadmill, thus I’ll will do one have a year off from that, then maybe do it again the following year.

Outside of RRTY years I’ll generally ride audaxes between February and September. I do an SR series 200,300,400,600 plus a 1000km + event most years. This year is PBP year.

October I like to do a 4-5 day credit card tour. November I take a break from structure and then get back in base training in December / January. Even in base I include intensity once a week, in maintenance mode.

My weekend long ride is currently rotating weekly as 2.5 hours, 3 hours, 4 hours, 5 hours. Those timings are approx as I’d rather do a ride say of 4 hours 10 mins on nice roads then drop 10 mins by bashing down a busy road to cut the distance. This Sat I’m targeting about 3 hours 20 mins based on distance planned and typical Z2 average speeds. Temps are climbing to a dizzy peak of 7C, so no risk of ice to be concerned about when it comes to route choice.

Last weekend it was too cold and icy to get the long ride in I wanted on the Sat. I ended up doing 2.5 hours on the Sat and 2 hours on the Sunday. This enabled me to keep the ride to when temps were above zero. Still encountered ice in places. That was on ungritted roads. But mostly it was gritted roads and fine.

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I’ve been on HV plans the last 3 years. I agree, AT SSBHV is better, but I still believe Sundays should be long z2. I’ve swapped out Sundays for z2 for nearly all my HV Base, Build and Specialty plans.

The only negative to HV AT plans is that Sunday’s SS used to much easier. On my plans it’s only .1 to .5 easier workout compared to my SS progression level, which basically feels the same. I could handle it in SSBHV1, but in SSB2 it gets old quick. I can do it, but it takes too much mental load and much prefer long z2. Especially since I’m a master’s athlete and strength training on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


I am still struggling with knee issues brought on by ssbhv1. I am sort of following ssbhv2. I may switch to a more polarized plan because that’s how I trained for years and too much sweet spot is not good for my knees apparently. I love the intensity of it and how good I feel after sweet spot workouts but I don’t think it is great for longevity. Or I might give the build a go after ssbhv2. Who knows.

Unfortunately I think the TR hv polarized plans are not actually high volume. It’s silly to me that the high volume polarized plans have three rest days (I think? forget exactly) while ssbhv has one rest day. A big part of the point of doing easy rides is that you can do them day after day. Ssbhv should have more rest days than a hv polarized plan.

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