Structuring a plan after determining you breaking point

Hi Fellas,
Looking for a little help/insight from those of you that have successfully tailored TR plans that allow you to improve but not implode.

Background: 40 yrs old, +/- 2.5 years using T.R. Current FTP as of 4/29/19 349(Ramp Test) after SSB2HV. FTP at end of SSB1 Blend mid/hi volume 359 (Ramp test) Saw a 10watt 2.8% decrease after SSB2HV

In the last couple weeks of SSBHV2(FTP @ 363) I was able to complete threshold workouts at 102%-105% intensity and was looking forward to the next ramp test to see improvement. Then right at the end of SSBHV2 I performed a 3.5 hr endurance ride that near as I can tell cracked me. For the last two weeks I’ve been struggling to come back and was pretty bummed about the recent ramp test but wasn’t surprised based on how I feel.
Looking back on my TSS chart it appears that 450-500 TSS of T.R. structured Sweet Spot type training and 2-3 hours of strength training provided about 2%-3% improvement in FTP without breaking me in the base phase.

Here’s the question…. How do I take this information and tailor a Build plan that won’t break me knowing all TSS isn’t created equal? In the past the build phase has left me shattered and wanting to sell the bike. I seem to respond well to the lower intensity longer duration rides but I know that isn’t always the aim of the build phase.

(Please note: I see that mid volume build plans are right in this range but I’m really questioning the repeated days of high intensity sessions. Wondering if subbing in a longer endurance ride in place of a high intensity would be counterproductive or helpful as we frequently hear more than 2 days a week of high intensity can be detrimental) That and all this talk of polarized training has me rethinking things… :slight_smile:

Any help is greatly appreciated!


What are your goals?

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This will be my first full season racing MTB. 1.5 hr range for most events. Not sure if that is what you were referring to? Ultimately looking to increase FTP/performance on the bike.

Confused, as there are no Threshold/102-105% workouts in the SSBHV plans… :man_shrugging:

I read through your whole post thinking “mid vol”, so despite your disclaimer I’m still going to say “mid vol”.

You could be right about the high intensity sessions, but the kind of fatigue I think we’re talking about is accumulated over weeks and months. High Vol is designed for elites and pros that have trained to suffer more than I can handle. Similar to you I came apart during a HV build phase - all my issues showed up at VO2max intervals, but the cause was the overall training load and/or my inability to recover quickly enough.

Always worth checking you sleep, rest and nutrition is matching the demand on your body too.

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It was Mary Austin -1. It’s listed as a Threshold ride so i just assumed that’s what it was…

Thank you for the response @JoeX.

Were you able to find a solution? Was it as simple for you as going to a mid-volume plan to keep from cracking?

I think the racer in f us seems to push it to the limit and only knows when to stop once something breaks… It’s a hard habit to break.

I’m doing full distance tri plan, about 13hrs per week at the moment, so not directly comparable to your situation…but my approach this time has been mid volume and about half the bike TSS is outdoor in Speciality phase.

Base and Build at mid vol has seen modest FTP improvements, significant run improvements without the intensity, no change in swim but I’m sleeping better and no burn out.

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Thank you for the feedback. Glad to hear the mid-volume plan is still providing improvements for you and not running you down.

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It’s not uncommon to get little to no increase in FTP after the Base cycle. During the SSBHV Base cycles, try adding a recovery week in between week 3 and week 4 to break it up.

The Build cycles are where the magic happens. The Build cycles can also be relentless both mentally and physically, especially the high volume. Managing life stress and getting adequate sleep/recovery are really important. Sometimes, I did the weekend workouts and then went outside for some additional easy riding. Often I only did the longer milder outside rides due to not mentally wanting to do intervals. On occasion, I have moved the recovery week forward. For example, Sustained Power Build has recovery during weeks 4 and 8, 3weeks on 1 week off. If you really need it, move the recovery week forward. For example, 2on / 1 off or 3on/1off followed by 2on/1off etc… No

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Great tip. Thank you @KickrLin.

Ah, I see the confusion…MA-1 is in SSB Lo/Mid Vol…it’s not in the High Vol plan that you said you were doing.

As well, to better understand the workouts you do, examine the workout itself instead of relying on the power zone label – there are many of them which are misleading. For instance, MA-1 is 60% Threshold and 40% Sweet Spot (however, all the other MA variations are 100% Threshold). :+1:

My 2c as a mid-masters level rider (44 years old) –

Don’t be a slave to the plan. Start tinkering and find out what works best for you.

For instance – on weeks when I have a lot of time to train (I travel alot for business), I convert any threshold or over-under work to sweet-spot work. So basically, I am doing only Vo2 or Sweet Spot, and will mix in a variation of Baxter to up the TSS.

On weeks when I can only train 3 days, I either make sure 2 of them are Vo2 and one is sweet spot, or I will do 1 Vo2 and 2 threshold/over-under work.

At 40, your recovery needs are changing. I’m sure you know this – but I find that if I use that plans as guide rather than a doctrine, I can learn and adjust based on my goals and recovery needs.

The important thing – and I have a strong opinion on this – is that you don’t start cutting out vo2 work just because it takes longer to recover. Too many aging athletes do this, and over time you lose all sorts of speed and benefits of intensity. There are essentially books written on the idea that slowing down as you get older is mainly due to self-fulfilling prophecies.

If you up intensity and balance volume, you’ll get faster and stay faster. Also – plug in a recovery week when you over-extend yourself figure out how to ease your body out of an over-trained state while maintaining fitness. I’m actually doing this right now – I got a little too amped up with crit racing and didn’t pull the intensity out of my TR work and wound up in a hole. But I’ve done it before, and I have a pretty decent protocol for both recognizing it and easing myself back.

All of this is N=1 – but 40 is an age where you need to learn to adjust, as I learned. You’re capable of just as much improvement and performance, but it needs to be managed differently. Good news is, wisdom comes with experience, and you’ve likely got some of that too if you listen to your body and learn.

Good luck! :metal:


Hi @batwood14. Thank you very much for the well thought out response. I’m going to take your suggestions to heart.

Take care and good luck to you as well!


My bad. Thank you for clearing that up.