Training volume and reaching genetic potential

My take on training volume is basically summarized in this graph below.

  • We all have a genetic potential which decreases with age. To reach this requires training, diet, rest etc … everything … think olympic athlete level of detail.

  • If we start as untrained, but do 1hr a week, we’ll improve in fitness. The improvement is fast to start, and eventually levels off.

  • If we do 3hrs a week (and that’s not too much, so we’re not over training), we’d improve faster and eventually level off too, but at a higher level.

  • If we did the magic volume/intensity/diet/sleep etc, then we’d level off at our genetic (well, genetic + diet + sleep etc) potential.

So the question is, how do I know what volume/intensity to do? I’ve ridden for twenty years, and alternated between training and just riding. I’ve started TR now (last few years were just Zwift racing really), and am doing SweetSpotBase LowVolume. I’m not looking to hit my genetic potential, but want to pop up closer to it for my 2019 A-Race (likely Park City Point 2 Point).

I believe that more people are limited on volume by their schedule than by their physical limits. If you’re lucky enough to not have schedule constraints and are instead limited by what your body can handle then you have to make the tough decision.

The piece I would clarify from your explanation above is that additional long-term time spent training is what adapts your body to be able to handle higher volumes. If you are a novice cyclist with no fitness background it is unlikely your body can handle medium volume even with unlimited time.

So, assuming you aren’t time constrained - you should look at your training load over the past few months and years and see what kind of load you can sustain. Then compare that to the TSS levels in the various volume levels of the training plans and pick one that seems achievable to you.

With twenty years of cycling in your legs you should probably be able to do mid-volume - but if it’s been five years since you’ve had 3 months where you averaged consistently high TSS then maybe you should start with low volume - it all depends on your history


What volume is best for you depends on what you have been doing leading up to this point training wise. How many times a week have you found you are able to ride without excessive fatigue? How much time do you have to train each week? Are you going to be mixing in some outdoor rides each week or not? I would say start at low volume to see if you feel you can do more or not. If you can, you can move up to a mid volume plan. Low/mid volume are what most people find fits them best.

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In my theory, the TSS would be just another way of saying volume.

It appears that the best approach is to make my actual curves using FTP as my measure of fitness, and then up the TSS/Volume when it starts to plateau.

Another option could be resting heart rate when I wake to determine fatigue.

I know I don’t have the time to reach genetic potential, but am very interested in the relative plateau that can be reached at low/medium/high volume/TSS training, and how to easily track that.

Here are a couple articles that might interest you!

How to Measure Recovery Using Resting Heart Rate

The Science Behind Getting Faster and Breaking Through a Fitness Plateau

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