Success with lower intensity... When to crank it up?

This was my FTP progression from last year. I was disappointed in the way I stalled out and would like to reach a 300w ftp this year. It’s an arbitrary big round number, but it’s motivating just that same as sub 15 was a runner. Sub 3 marathon, whatever. My theory is that I didn’t spend enough time building a Big healthy base as plan builder tossed me into some weird short power build sessions early on because of my early and often crit focus.

Anywho… After 6 weeks off from covid I reset my FTP to 240. After 5.5 weeks of 2-3 endurance rides, the occasional sprints, and 1 sweet spot workout (working up to level 6.4), I’m now back at 266w ftp and feeling really healthy, not overworked, and happy. I was only doing 4-5 hours/week except for last week and this week which I will cover 8 hrs per week (386 TSS). I feel a lot of great benefits are coming from Endurance workouts rated in the 5+ range and of course big sweet spot days. I do believe I can maintain 7-8 hours per week.

My hypothesis is that it would be much easier to get to 300w with a bigger base, duh. But am curious when one might estimate the type of training I’m doing to start slowing its progression and require more intensity… I don’t enjoy training for more than 7-8 hours, or 2 hours in one trainer session, so that’s out of the question. I’m enjoying workouts like Brasstown and feel they are much tougher and more beneficial than they get credit for- particularly if REPLACED by a lower end V02/threshold workout with 100w rests.

So, how do I keep building this base without plateauing? Right now, my gut is telling me to add 1 threshold workout a week for 4-6 weeks before moving into a build phase. Would love ANYONE’s thoughts. I enjoy building my own plan weekly while having a good idea of the direction i’m going and principles I’m following.I hate seeing months of work ahead, so that’s why i haven’t used plan builder (also it’s typically too intense for me).

Criteriums start in mid march for me but the target race is not until July.

PC the Tyrant

Rather than increasing the intensity my thoughts would be to up the Volume if its possible (time constraints etc may make it impossible though). Add a couple of Z2 work outs like Brasstown and/ or take them outside. Myself I would use Plan Builder as a base an adapt around it (I drop its midweek suggestion to an Endurance one). The system will hopefully adapt and get you in the right shape for your July race.

LSD can and will raise FTP to a point. That point is about where ATL doesn’t lift CTL which is another way to say plateau. That’s when it’s advisable to change the stimulus which in your case not wanting to ride more volume is intensity.

IME a bigger base doesn’t necessarily mean a higher FTP. It can but, not necessarily. What it does do well is help durability and repeatability. So, for example during an event maybe you are able to sustain a high power (FTP) later in the race. Or, attack after multiple high power long duration efforts. Or, push TTE. Usually, all of the above.

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Thanks for the quick reply to both of you. As I have only just last week hit 8 hours, after doing 4-5 previously, that seems like much of my gains were made on the lower volume. I wonder if another 5 weeks of 8 hours will allow me to continue to progress well from here. I COULD be convinced to ride more, but not consistently… If i hit 10-12 hours one week, the next week i’ll hate the bike and ride 3. So, rather than add threshold, maybe maintain 8 hours/week similar to this:

I should also mention I like 2 days off as I do 1 day of running and 1 day off for keeping up with the household chores.

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Thats not too far off from my Plan Builder Plan at the moment but Monday as well as Friday are my rest days and I don’t do anything more than walk on them. Plan builder though is selecting productive rather than stretch workouts which will avoid you peaking or burning out too early before your race.

FWIW (and it may not suit you)

Mon - Day Off
Tues - HIIT (Plan Builder) - Currently VO2max
Wed - Z2 (Its a Plan Builder day but after the plan is built I add a ‘Time Off’ Annotation which removes the PB HIIT workout, I then use Train Now on the day)
Thu - HIIT Plan Builder - Currently SS
Fri - Day Off
Sat - Group Road Ride/ Train Now/ Or occasionally whatever I feel like, maybe an RGT climb
Sun - Group Gravel Ride/ Train Now/ Or occasionally whatever I feel like, maybe an RGT climb

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I would do a threshold workout instead of sweet spot; you’re probably past the point where those gains will materialize as much as if you really rode just a bit harder at FTP and supra threshold.

Or, said differently, those lower end vo2 workouts might be a good option once every 8-10 days since you’re still a bit out from the build phase that you mention.

If you’re open to over unders, with 30-45s overs at 120-125% ftp and unders in tempo range, 80-90% ftp, elongating those would be a really really really good option IMO.

Good luck!


I suppose this cranks up the intensity into a more productive zone without increasing the % of time i spend at higher intensity. Regarding over-under vs simple threshold intervals, similar benefit? Can I alternate based on interest/preference, or would a solid multi-week progression in one of those styles of workout be better? Seems like you might have a preference towards OU’s

I do, simply based on the theoretical idea that riding AT threshold more helps us tolerate lactate, whereas O.U work more specifically on clearing it (theoretically better value)

I am cognizant that many athletes do like steady state because they can track “success” in the numbers better, even if it’s not physiologically the best option. We do have to believe in our training, so for that reason, steady state could be better (we could go down a wormhole on the mental side of the sport right now for sure! Lol)

so I think either is a good way to start.