Struggling with over-unders in plan

I am finishing up SSB1 mid-volume. I have managed all the workouts ok except for the over-unders McAidie, Tunemah, Palisade & McAdie+1. I had either crashed and had to take breaks, or had scale the workout down to 95, 96, 97% etc only managing one or two intervals at the full 100%. I know these are supposed to be hard, but the seemed REALY hard.
So my question is would I be better to repeat SSB1 in an effort to get better at this obvious limiter, or just forget about it and move on? My season plan has me doing SSB2, short power build then XC olympic, for racing XC in the spring.I will then transition to working towards marathon MTB later in the year. Spring XC is kind of a B season, I am more interested in improving my marathon MTB performance.

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Would make sure you have covered the basics prior: plenty of rest, good nutrition, not too much outside stress coming into the workout.

If all those are ok then I would just try to repeat the exercise a few days later. I did this frequently the first time I worked though SSB-1. If I couldn’t finish it or had to turn down the intensity I’d get pissed (angry not drunk) and would repeat it. It usually went better the second time around.

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Over-unders are brutal. Don’t feel too bad about it.


Over-unders are brutal and it is quite normal to hate them. However, provided that you are well rested and fuelled up, you should be able to complete them without blowing up.

There could be either two of the following:

  1. You are too tired from previous efforts and need a good recovery;
  2. Your FTP is set higher than what your current fitness level is.

Second point brings me to a question, what was the last time you performed an FTP test ?



I do think I’d perform better with improved rest beforehand. At this point I am 6 weeks since my last recovery week. I would have benefited from a rest week. But that’s not in this plan. And this is a busy time at work so maybe I can consider that too.
Next week is recovery week finally!
My FTP test was mid-September. I didn’t test at the start of SSB1. I think it was probably close enough.
Glad to hear others find them brutal.

HALLELUJAH!!! High fives to my fellow jelly legs!

Ditto. And I’ve questioned my own biological attributes regarding my dismal O/U capabilities.

Question to you – what EXACTLY about O/U do you find “really hard”?
Is it the actual power output or some other aspect/factor?

For example, my weakness is lactate clearing – the first 30+ seconds of O–>U are torture and by the end of the workout the accumulation forces me to dig VERY deep just to finish.
Interestingly enough, my poor clearing ability isn’t necessarily from a lack of Threshold zone training, but could be from lack of Endurance zone training.

So next O/U workout pay very close attention to why you find it so hard, hopefully you’ll get an actionable answer (which could be anything from your breathing to your position).

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I’m pretty sure that Coach Chad says a 5% reduction and the ability to complete the session, will still ensure that you reap the intended benefits. You seem to be within this guideline.

Personally I’d just push on. Take the learning and apply to the next comparable session.


If you have made your way through the SSB1 plan with partially completing some of the key workouts, in this case the over unders. I would say you have missed quite an important part of the plan. You mentioned scaling back and maybe only being able to get through one or two intervals at your current FTP.
I have been in this position before, and the number one reason for me was that my FTP was incorrect based off my first ramp test, it was way beyond my capabilities. I was bailing after the first one or two intervals out of five.
I would suggest re assessing your FTP as you should be able to complete these workouts even though they are hard.
The Mid Volume plan is very tough and it will only get tougher in SSB2, make sure you have all your ducks in a row before you head in to the second phase of the plan as the Sunday workouts stretch to a gruelling 120mins and that is after 90mins of over unders on Saturday typically.

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over-unders are famously hard workouts! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

If McAdie+1 is too much schedule McAdie -1 instead.

Or, how about this? Move to a lower volume plan…so, SSB low vol II…which is basically Tues/Thurs/Sat. Move the Saturday workouts to Sunday to get in an extra day’s rest. Then throw in a fun low intensity outdoor ride or something like Petit/Taku/Carter/Bald Knob/Andrews/Fletcher every Wednesday. That way you could still have a weekly TSS ~300 but get a little more recovery before the weekend over/under workouts.


just screwing around with calendar & the workout plans…but one more trick to consider:

if you have Antelope -4–>rest day–>Palisade (over/under workout) coming up on your calendar…just, for example…and you though Palisade was going to be too much…you could re-jigger the workouts to Antelope -5–>rest day–>Palisade -1. That’s moving from 194TSS to 164TSS with just a few tweaks to your workout schedule.

TR is fun like that.

Always intresting to look at how many others have struggled with it

Looks like at least 25% where people bailed after 2 sets or reduced the workload.

I’d never seen that “All rides” tab before. That is interesting. I see my bail out on that list! Not super surprising I struggled big time yesterday. Legs were tired after MTB ride on Saturday, it was nice outside and wasn’t 150% motivated to crush myself inside on the trainer…
But I am still wondering whether to repeat the SSB1 or not…

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As you’ve already completed the sessions (regardless of the % you completed them at), do you think you’d be focused and committed if you repeated the whole programme? If you’re against the clock (maybe you’re not?), could the time be used more productively?

Lot’s of good feedback above, but I’m also a fan of finding an ‘easier’ version of workouts that you might be able to complete until you build towards the exact, prescribed workout.

For instance, if you’re struggling with VO2 workouts (especially after a new FTP) - I suggest doing Huffaker until you can complete it, and then move on to harder VO2 workouts (trust me, Huffaker is plenty hard)

For over/under work, try swapping out your prescribed workout for Avalanche Spire - you only need to hold the over/under interval for 6 minutes and it builds and releases vs. being block changes in power. Most over/unders ( in general) are about 9 minute intervals. Give Avalanche Spire a try – trust me, it’s not easy – and once you have success, build to the others. It will give you confidence to have some success, and you’ll obviously be hitting the target adaptation.

Good luck!


I’m not sure I like the bash against one workout until you ‘pass it’ model. Seems like a good way to get yourself into a mental rut and just psyche yourself out of ever completing it. Push the exercises as hard as your can, 10s backpedal as necessary to keep in the intervals, and keep on keeping on.

No one finds them easy, you just need to get the first win under your belt and then your realize that they are doable and crank them out no problem.


I think this is a good suggestion, too. I do this myself. But there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

They hurt. They suck. Over unders, VO2 Max and all things painful makes me hate Chad. I do love him when I am on the road riding with others.

That said, I have failed them too. McAdie+1 this weekend, I only did 3 out of 4. I don’t feel bad about it either. 2 hours on the trainer or 90 good enough minutes and hanging with the kids. My kids and nether region thanks me!

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Lots of great advice.

Agree that slightly turning down the workout intensity makes sense and likely will still reap training benefit.

If Over/Unders are consistently the most challenging for you, putting them on a day of the week where you typically feel strongest might be worth trying. I know personally I’m much stronger on a Saturday morning after a good night’s sleep as compared to a Tuesday evening after a long day at work on my feet.

Finally, I’d continue to plow forward in your training plans. Your next Ramp Test will be a good indicator of where you are at.


Why don’t we take this in a different direction and discuss the physiology differences that might make this more difficult for one person vs another?

I submit that steady state athletes will find this workout more manageable to complete vs athletes that are better at Vo2 and higher efforts. This goes a bit toward the 4DP model of Sufferfest that FTP doesn’t really cover the entirety of someone’s capabilities.

I really struggled with the 95/105 3x12m over unders on Saturday and had to turn down the ftp by 5%. This was my first workout on Trainerroad after taking the ramp test on Tuesday. My best w/kg on Coggan’s chart is in the 5m range but as we get to the 20 and 60minute I fall back and don’t keep that same rating, i.e Cat 3, Cat 2, etc.

I know I need work in the longer consistent efforts but I was surprised to “fail” and have to turn a workout down in the 1st week of the plan.

Oh, and BTW I’ve been training and racing since 2011 with different coaches along the way and am now a Cat 3 CX racer in Colorado.

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O/U’s are the reason I’m going to follow a custom SS high volume plan instead of mid. The high volume only uses sweet spot. The mid volume has too much threshold work for my liking. I can do 3 back to back days of SS in the week (only up to 90mins) and 2 days of 2 hour SS sessions on the weekend which, if the weather is good, will be swapped for longer rides outside with a bit of SS. I’ve dropped the Friday ride for plan 1 and added it back in with plan 2 so weekly TSS goes up. Plan 2 has longer rides mid week so I’ve swapped these out for shorter versions just because I know 2 hours after work will be too much for me to handle. All that fiddling around with the plans just to get away from Threshold work esp U/O’s! That’s how much I hate them :rofl: