Wanting an "ultra" HV plan option

I don’t recall this being discussed in the podcast, but anyone else out there want to see an “ultra” high volume version of the training plans? I don’t think it’s uncommon for those of us who have more time to train and just love riding our bikes to be acclimated to far more than the 7-9 hours and 300-550 TSS per week.

I find myself having to extend almost every ride to truly build my CTL and get the adaptations endemic to endurance riding for long events and the ancillary benefits to FTP. Weekends are the days I can leverage the time for long rides yet the high volume plan calls for rides of 2 hours or less. Sometimes under an hour!! I don’t see many notations for long ride replacements of late either.

I hit the deliverables on my workouts and recover adequately to take on the load but it’s simply not in the plan. I understand that long weekend rides historically have not been popular on the platform, but with the outside option, it would be nice to have a higher volume plan available that would be periodized accordingly. I know I am far from unique in training 12-18 hours a week during the in-season. I’m perfectly capable of continuing to add my own endurance extensions to each ride, but it would be great if plans could be built around maybe a 12 hour benchmark.

With the outdoor capability, hundreds of new workouts, and AT really elevating the TR experience to a more than viable full time training protocol, I feel like this would be a good time to cast a wider net in terms of volume. For those of you in the same boat, how are you modifying your plans?

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I used the MV plans, replaced the SS Workouts with LSD and doubled or tripled the Z2 ride on Wednesdays.

But I found that doesn’t suit the preparation for longer events either since it derails the plans and doesn’t lead to a overall good plan (I.e. SS is usefull for lowering the vlamax, but after theses changes there is only z2, vo2max and high threshold in the plan).

So I switched to a different training concept that has the alpine marathons from the beginning in mind.

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Do you want for more intensity as well, or just volume?

I want a higher volume plan with proportionate periodization. I’m adding ~5 hours to each week with primarily endurance with perhaps some efforts based on terrain or just the impetus to put in hard efforts. I would rather have the plan more tailored to that volume perhaps that would mean the intensity days would have an extra set or call out a 45 minute tempo extension. It’s harder to retrofit a protracted periodization to the plans than have it served up “out of the box.” I would think off the cuff, I would be looking at maybe a 20-30% lift of time at intensity (contingent on what build or specialty phase) and the remainder made up in endurance and strategically placed tempo.

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I just add in more work. Extending the warm up and adding in tempo or endurance after the work intervals.

Bluebell+1 was

but with a a longer warm up, 30 mins tempo afterwards and a few shorter efforts at the end turned into this

or Schoen

with a longer time at upper endurance afterwards and a few extra hill repeats at the end for kicks

It sounds good to have it prescribed but I like the ability to follow a high, or occasionally medium, volume plan adding what I feel I can do and change it depending on how I feel and the time available. Unless something unavoidable gets in the way I ride every day and have an easy spin on days that workouts aren’t scheduled. I’m lucky enough to be living somewhere I can ride outside most of the time but the pattern is the same indoors or out, adding tempo/endurance after the main work is done.

Recently I’ve been following the weekday workouts from one of the plans and replacing the weekend workouts with a fast group ride on a Saturday and a race on most Sundays. Using whichever plan suits you best with the progressions it gives and adjusting on the fly as you want or can has worked well for me.

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I’m impressed with your ability to absorb the training load and recover fully. I can’t conceivably add a heap more intensity, or if i did I wouldn’t be able to cope with the additional endurance training I add in.

This is just my opinion, but I think what would be more effective would be a recommended workout list for adding in volume. I think creating an ultra high volume plan would be very difficult in terms of how different riders would want their extra volume.

For example, I currently am doing SuPBMV and am averaging about 10 hours per week by adding an endurance ride after each of my main workouts on Mon, Wed and Friday. This is working well for me so far, and I’ve reduced the length of some of the rides and intensity of others (from say 2:30 to 1:30, and 0.75 to 0.65) to manage the additional fatigue of Build vs Base.

Doing similar could help you, and would be hard to build into a specific plan as those additional rides are all “bonus” if you like. I don’t really get to ride weekends so you already have the ability to get quite high on the volume, doesn’t the text suggest longer rides for the weekend days if you have the time/inclination?

Apologies if that’s not helpful, just trying to think through your problem and whether a solution is feasible/already exists in some way :man_shrugging:

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Take a look at the experimental Polarized Plans - especially the HV version.

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Yep it would be nice to see a plan designed specifically for ultras, stage races and multi-day bike packing races. In the past I’ve substituted the easier workouts with longer outdoor rides and tried to keep the quality sessions. But it is difficult to know what to do the week after a 12hr ride / back-to-back 12hr training days or the occasional 24hr sufferfest.

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Nate has mentioned that High Volume plans are 5-7% of TrainerRoad users. Those wanting/needing an Ultra High Volume Plan and/or “Ultra Plan” is likely 1% or less of TR users. I don’t see TR ever implementing a plan for this very niche market. When I was on HV Base and Build I just extended my weekend rides putting together a 14, 15 then 16 hour weeks. It was an effective strategy just making my long weekend ride longer.

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I’ve pulled out a few statements that I think might be worth looking at more in your question.

  1. You’re absolutely not limited to only training the planned workouts, you can ride as much as you can handle as well

  2. There could be too little intensity in your workouts if you feel the need to push harder, or it may be that you don’t actually need more work at all

  3. I don’t know which plan you mean by “the” plan, but all of the Full Distance Plans have 3, 4, 5 hour rides I think even 6 in one phase. Perhaps look around a little?

  4. I don’t think TR sees minimum hours as a good constraint on training, and they are moving away from TSS as a measure in my opinion. Moreover “Minimum Effective Dose” is a guiding principle for them, which it might be worth looking into yourself?

Honestly I think you just want to ride more, so I’d do as JulianM suggests.

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Is this a chicken and the egg scenario? Because when I look at my local cycling scene, I see a substantial percentage of people riding higher than 8 hour training weeks. People who toe the line to race, especially cat 3 and higher are not competitive on low volume training unless they happen to be genetically gifted. Your “average Joes” are putting in the miles to hang tight in the top quarter of the field. This isn’t unique to my area, this is found around the world in the racing scene and you have to wonder if the reason that only 5-7% of TRs subscriber base is HV is because they haven’t targeted the high performance market. A racer with a 3 digit CTL doing 3-5 hour rides on weekends and doing 45 minute VO2 sessions as a warmup aren’t going to use TR because there isn’t a plan for them. If they are subscribers, they are using coaches plan and using TR as a handler for the trainer because it is done well. Were there plans for them, that market would likely grow. If you build it, they will come so to speak.

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  1. You’re absolutely not limited to only training the planned workouts, you can ride as much as you can handle as well
    I completely understand this, and was sure to state this in my post. I am fine adding more volume to my plan and making common sense decisions about my training. I like the periodization in the TR plans and would like to see it scaled up more proportionately than randomly.

  2. There could be too little intensity in your workouts if you feel the need to push harder, or it may be that you don’t actually need more work at all
    I don’t know that I agree here. The interval intensity is appropriate based on my levels, but as repeatability increases over time and one has additional time to train, having protracted intervals e.g. an additional set (which I know can be selected in the variants section) called out in the plan to begin with might be appropriate as people advance in their training.

  3. I don’t know which plan you mean by “the” plan, but all of the Full Distance Plans have 3, 4, 5 hour rides I think even 6 in one phase. Perhaps look around a little?
    TR highly recommends plan builder, which I am using around cycling focused events this year. This will progress a rider through build and specialty blocks strategically to prepare the rider for A and B events. If you take a look at those HV plans, you’ll see the volume/hours as well as TSS is rather low for experienced riders. I could certainly put together my own Frankenstein plan, but I am rather intrigued by the AT model and that would not work as intended were I to do that. That said, I could probably use the framework of those plans to model my manual augmentations - namely for weekend rides.

  4. I don’t think TR sees minimum hours as a good constraint on training, and they are moving away from TSS as a measure in my opinion. Moreover “Minimum Effective Dose” is a guiding principle for them, which it might be worth looking into yourself?
    They were pretty clear on this in the launch podcast and I don’t miss the point here. TSS is certainly not the end all, be all, but I think almost abandoning it entirely is really short-sighted. Minimum effective dose for someone in there first 3 years of training is different than someone who has been training longer. You can be successful at a lower volume rider for sure, but you will NEVER reach your genetic potential at 8 hours per week. The adaptations made with training density cannot be replaced with high intensity or sweet spot. Most reasonably handy male riders seem to plateau between 3.8 and 4.2 W/KG and women somewhere between 3.5 and 3.8. Why? Because that is the meaty part of the bell curve for those who train with reasonable structure, make decent nutrition choices, and recover with moderate intentionality. If 8 -10 hours is someone’s limit, this is where they will likely live. And that’s perfectly respectable, it’s enough to keep up in most group rides and not be thrown off the back in cat 3/4 races. But there are some common denominaotors for those riders, who are not genetically gifted, that transcend that benchmark. 1. Body weight - riders that make the commitment to good nutrition and leaning out without being ridiculous see a lift in their speed and efficiency. They cut out things like junk food and alcohol that can make a huge difference on race day. 2. They are stricter to training plans and use things like group rides strategically rather than getting sucked in to the regular hammer fests with their local club. 3. And this one is paramount: They add more volume. When riders that were cat 3 pack fill last season are winning races this year, it isn’t because they reduced their total TSS and focused on quality intervals, they added volume. This is where the Polarized vs Sweet spot debate leans toward polarized. If you have the luxury of time to train, the mitochondrial density and enhancement of the LT1 “floor” gained in those long endurance rides is a game-changer. With Strava at our fingertips, it is easy to look at the local hitters and see what kind of hours they are putting in, and unless we are looking at 1 hour crit specialists, those people you see winning races and eating up KOMs/QOMs are putting in no less than 12 hours per week. I would like to see the plan “do the math” for us and add those endurance miles in more strategically.
    Honestly I think you just want to ride more, so I’d do as JulianM suggests.
    If I just wanted to ride more, I would simply ride more. I want the “more” to carry a performance value as well. I would like to see a 12-15 hour plan that was periodized to those hours. Does it mean an extra high intensity session per week? Does it mean the existing sessions are extended to their next intensity or duration variants? Those are the key elements that one would want a structured plan to give them. It’s about progression. And perhaps this is where I bite the bullet and just get a coach so that I don’t have to worry about focusing on the planning as well as the execution with a full time job and typical life responsibilities. I prioritize my discretionary time for training and while the subject matter interests me, sometimes I just want to get on the bike and execute. With AT, I would really like to see some ability to jump out of the “time crunched” model.
    I am certainly not here whinging about TR. I have been a customer since 2014 and have a great deal of respect for the team and the value they create. I wonder if they aren’t leaving some customers on the table who look at the plans on offer and want something more. People who might not be able to afford a coach but are looking to push their performance to a new level. They could find a plan on TrainingPeaks that fits their volume model, sure, but TR is a better product overall. They’re poised to serve up plans to a demographic of higher category road racers and full IM age groupers who are ready to go all-in on training. Just my two cents.

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I have been thinking about that lately, I liked the plan builder model as it seemed to shift periodization strategically around my events, but it seems like I am doing more modification to those blocks than I would with the POL plan where maybe I would replace the intensity workout with something focused to my event i.e. replacing an anaerobic workout with one with longer VO2 intervals, or a sprint session where appropriate. I can’t imagine that there won’t be some feedback from those experimental plans that might drive a blended model in the future that is better supported by plan builder and AT.

Sure they are…I do it. I just plug and play / adjust the plans as needed.

  • Tuesday: TR intensity workout (or group ride w/ similar TSS); added lunch ride for more volume
  • Weds: TR workout (sometimes Thurs WO pulled forward). Added lunch ride
  • Thursday: group ride with high TSS; added lunch ride depending on legs
  • Friday: recovery ride ( either TR or in road)
  • Saturday: 4-6 hour fast group ride
  • Sunday: 2-3 hour group ride, sometimes adding on solo miles for more volume.

I typically ride ~300 miles / week. TR gives me the structure I need for my intensity workouts and I freeform the added volume / weekend rides to fit my training needs / goals.

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I see your point, and I think it has merit. My take would be that there is nothing a coach or AT can add when simply more volume is wanted because you can’t keep adding quality sessions. AT won’t tell you if it’s being effective.

Without belabouring the point, more is not better - and minimum effective dose is a principle used at professional levels - so you need to find out whether those 15hrs are benefiting you and whether 16 or 14 would see you (or anyone) get faster.

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So I switched to a different training concept that has the alpine marathons from the beginning in mind.

What is your current training approach?

I think you’re missing the context of my comment. It’s not a pejorative statement, it’s just an objective analysis of the plan offerings at a metrics in terms of the “market share” within TR is under 7% HV plan users, it begs the question why. You have to modify the plan as I do to do those things, which is perfectly fine if not ideal. Someone who is browsing for a training plan or platform could be reasonably likely to pass on trainer road because at face value, the plans may not be adequate to their desired training load.
If I had just come off a 15 hour training plan and heard all sorts of good things about TR and went poking around to find their HV build blocks were 8 hours and 450 TSS per week, I could be inclined to think that the platform is not for the “serious cyclists.” I know better due to my time on the platform and exposure to their podcast, I’m speaking strictly from a marketing perspective.

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Again, I’m that guy. Have been a high volume athlete for at least the last 10 years. 15+ hour weeks in season, Ironman races, etc.

I knew I needed more intensity, heard great things about TR, looked at the plans and said “yup, that is what I need”.

If someone is doing high volume and can’t understand how TR is for “serious cyclists”, I’m not certain they understand training principles.

Other athletes need to have every workout detailed out for them…that is understandable for a number of reasons. In that case, I would recommend they use a coach.

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For me the HV plan lacks the intensity that I want, so I usually go for MV plan + additional long outdoor rides when training for ultras.

Would be worth TR doing a subscriber poll on appetite for an ultra plan (and other new plan options), rather than inferring this from HV user stats.

Interesting, maybe AT will push volume higher once it has all the planned features?

For example, POL base plan has longest endurance ride at 4h with progression level 7.0 (Vogelsang). Within same time constraint, it can push it up to 8.3 (Vogelsang +2). After that, it has no choice but to extend duration to keep level progressing :thinking: