Sustained Power Build High Volume --- too hard?

I’m a 38yo competitive amateur rower. In the wake of COVID I started cycling, and put in a few thousand miles outside over the summer. Eventually I decided to give my riding some structure by using the TR high volume time trial plan, still mostly outside.

I started with SSB2HV. I found it quite manageable. I don’t recall failing any of the workouts. If I did it was only a couple. The first few workouts of the plan (2x20 etc) felt really hard, but I adjusted quickly and within a few weeks I was cranking out 3x30s reliably. Now on good days I feel like I can do sweet spot forever. I was really impressed with how much SSB2HV improved my power endurance, and how quickly the adaptations came.

So I finished SSB2HV and moved onto Sustained Power Build High Volume. I’ve been doing it for 3 or 4 weeks now. I feel like I’ve failed as many workouts as I’ve completed. The schedule each week is 1 vo2max workout, 1 threshold workout, 1 over/under workout (essentially threshold), 1 long sweet spot workout, and 2 zone2 workouts. That’s 3 high intensity workouts per week, or 4 if you count the sweet spot work as high intensity. In another context, the sweet spot work might not count as high intensity, but I think it definitely does here because there is so little chance to recover from day to day, so the workouts are harder within the context of the SPBHV plan than they would be in an easier plan, or in isolation.

Having 4 hard workouts per week means that no matter at what, you must do intense workouts on back-to-back days at least once per week. I don’t know of anybody, not even Olympians, who do 4 hard days a week, or who do hard days back-to-back consistently. There is so much intensity in SPBHV that it seems almost reckless on the part of TR. But maybe I’m just a wimp?

So my question is this: who here has actually completed the full Sustained Power Build High Volume, at an accurate FTP, without failing more than a couple of workouts and/or constantly dialing down the power during the workout?

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Yes

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go look at the mega thread on dylan johnson’s comments about TR plans. There are a lot of folks that feel the TR plans have too much intensity. In particular, the HV plans take it to an extreme, but TR clearly states that the high volume plans aren’t well suited for the vast majority of cyclists. You may have a extensive endurance background, but it sounds like you don’t have too many miles in your cycling legs yet. Many people modify the plans to better fit their needs and you should listen to your body and you shouldn’t be failing half the workouts. My approach is to use the high volume plan tues/thurs workouts as my core and fill in with Z2 and get a long ride in every saturday (mix of structured solo and hard-ish group ride). I typically exceed the TSS target for the high volume plan and try to nail the 2 hard workouts every week. That seems to work pretty well for me. I’m 52 and I have a few miles in my legs. I can absorb the TSS without getting run down, but I struggle to do more than a couple high quality intensity sessions each week.

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I saw the Dylan Johnson thread. I’m getting at something a little different.

I got through SSB2HV just fine. I’m not a super-experienced TR user but my gut tells me that TR works because sweet spot in particular works–sweet spot is a very narrow band of intensity (so narrow that without a power meter you couldn’t do it correctly) that happens to produce a lot of adaptations without leaving you with crushing fatigue. The name “sweet spot” is very apt.

But SPBHV isn’t sweet spot. It takes 4 hard SS workouts per week and turns 3 of them into threshold or vo2max sessions.

Overall my nutrition and rest habits are quite good. I don’t know whether my experience with SPBHV is specific to my physiology, or whether its just a poorly-devised plan. Given that no professional athletes I know of train the way SPBHV makes you train, I suspect it’s the latter, but I’m open minded about it which is why I’m curious to hear the experiences of other TR users who have tried the plan.

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I’m currently in week 2 (first time doing HV) but overall feeling good. I’ve modified the plan slightly, extended the Wednesday workout to 2 hours and dropped the Friday workout. Also changed out the Sunday S/S for a long (3-4hr) Z2 ride. I’ve been crushing the Thursday workout but then really struggling with the Saturday O/U, RPE is really high (normally find these quite steady).

As was stated, high volume is intended for a select few. Just because you could get through high volume base doesn’t mean you are able to get through high volume build. Build is a good bit harder and your base block probably took a toll on you. I’ve been doing this for years and just recently started mid-volume. I would suggested knocking it back to at least mid-volume.

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SSBHV2 is what? 3weeks work? You can tolerate a load of stuff for three weeks. It’s after that the wheels start coming off.

I have…but let me check what else I was doing…not much. I ate & slept & trained.

Failed 2 workouts — Fang Mt. and Wright Peak -2 (probably due to not eating). I was also doing double-days, Dans/Taku in the AM, main sesh in the PM. In Wk3 I bumped my FTP up by 5%.

Then again…”too much intensity”… :thinking::wink:

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It’s 5 weeks of work and those last 2 weeks are quite grueling. Finishing SSBHV2 is no joke.

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Fair enough.

I’ve said this in multiple different threads and I’ll repeat again here. What saved my high-volume Build was switching Sunday’s workouts to zone 2 and reducing Wednesdays and Fridays z2 as needed to make it feel like closer to recovery. Sometimes my z2 is at 100%, other times it’s 95% or even just small adjustments in parts of the z2 workout that feel harder than it should.

This seems like a minor change but it made all the difference both physically and mentally.

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Tried it 2 years back…managed 2 weeks - weight crashed and I got the flu - far to hard - well was when I was 50 at the time. SSBHV was ok by the way - it was just the build…the o/u were ok as were the VO2 max work - it was the 2 hour 108% workouts I couldn’t cope with! :face_vomiting:

SusPB-HV is no joke. I did it ok the first time about a year ago. This most recent time was very hard, and I struggled on most of the workouts. I went all the way back to SSB-HV I to get a break from all intensity, and the hours fit better with my schedule.

So the philosophy here is to do the minimum effective dose of training to get the beneficial physiological adaptations you’re after. It is absolutely not the case that the most work your can achieve will give you the most benefit.

Consequently I would suggest that although you got through your first six weeks in high volume okay, doesn’t mean it was the best option for you and the fact you started failing frequently in build supports that.

Normally when someone starts struggling I would suggest tweaking down the intensity but in your place I would switch down to mid volume SPB, maybe take a few days off or even a week depending on how deep the hole your in is, regroup and restart. :+1:

For everyone else I’d always suggest starting with LV, because you may find you respond well enough just from that training stimulus.

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I have done general build high volume. It looks like on the weekends I rode outside. Outside rides were 3-5 hours and about 80tss an hour. I did change the format

Monday - easy recovery
Tuesday - hard
Wednesday - easy recovery
Thursday - hard
Friday - easy
Saturday - hard or outside
Sunday - hard or outside

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Never done it but it looks brutal. The minimum effective dose comments are spot on. As a running coach I knew once said, ‘it’s not what you can do, it’s what you can recover from, and do again, and recover from again, week in week out’.

I can see that type of program working well for younger athletes (certainly under 30, and probably under 25) with good genetic recovery gifts, with dialled in diets, plenty of time and low life stress. If you don’t tick all those boxes, proceed with caution, IMO.

I have a pet theory that most (not all) top level endurance athletes start to tail off in their early 30s because their recovery abilities start to fade, and they can’t train like they used to day in, day out.

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My usual reply Is,

If the program is too hard, lower your ftp:)

I’d encourage you to reevaluate this position.

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I’d rather lower my ftp, and work a bit below the targets. I will get the same adaptations by working a few % below the numbers.

I will not get any adaptions by overtraining.

Rather be safe than sorry. Do as you please :slight_smile:

Thanks everyone for the responses. It’s interesting that so far only two users have said they completed the program as written. Everyone else says they converted at least one of the hard workouts to z2, which makes sense to me and makes me question why the program wasn’t written that way to begin with. Nate is always saying that when they go through the data, the thing that correlates highest with fitness gains is plan compliance. So why design a plan that almost no one can comply with?

I’m not trying to trash TR. I want SPBHV to work. Contrary to the responders saying I overestimated my capabilities based on finishing SSB2HV, I could have done that program indefinitely. I was excited to move on to SPBHV because I was ready for the next step. But the step was so large that for me it was impossible. The responses here suggest I’m not in the minority.

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