Weakness during Build Phase?

I’ve been using TR for about a year and half now and this is my third time in the Build phase, LV plan. For the third time I’m finding myself stuggling in build. TR is the first time I’ve done structured training.

I’ve been consistent throughout and have only failed a 2 or 3 workouts over 12 weeks, all of which have been preceded by big weekend group rides, so probably just fatigue. I successfully completed Mary Austin, Lamark, Leconte and Spencer +2.

Regardless of whether I go into Build with or without an FTP bump I struggle and end up failing about 1/3 of the workouts.

The latest casualties are Williamson +2 (bailed during at the end of the second set)

Followed by Bashful +2:

My legs were pretty sore after both of those, which is a feeling I don’t get often.

I’m trying to work what exactly what my weakness is and, more importantly, what the best what to address it is.

It hasn’t escaped my notice that these are both VO2 max workouts, but I would have thought the progression through SSB would have prepared me for them.

I also have no real desire to take on every increasingly tough VO2 max workouts during Build if I’m failing the easy stuff.

Options I have considered:

  • Chucking in build, creating an ad-hoc program for 3/4 weeks that consists of 3 rides/week then loop back to SSB. The three rides would be 1hr VO2 max, 1.5hr tempo and 2hr endurance. This may help build overall endurance and let me work on VO2 max withouth any other hard rides so there is more than ample recovery time.
  • Continue with build but sub the VO2 max workouts for easier ones
  • Try and gut it out and accept I’ll probably fail 1/3 of the workouts

Input welcome :slight_smile:

I think your first option looks good, with endurance rides and a vo2 session every week for a few weeks. This will most likely help physically, but also be tremendously good mentally! A bit of a reset from the “I’ll fail many of them” which you are in now.

If you have the time you can add more Z2, it will only be beneficial for you. Maybe skip a 3h ride before the vo2 day.

What trainer setup are you using?

Are you fueling completely the WO?

I have a smart trainer in ERG mode. I eat before and drink a carb drink throughout the workouts

There is a danger that you are being psyched out by these VO2 Max sessions, and when you have to do them you go in with doubt in your mind that you can complete them.
You need to think about whether you need to work on these type of efforts for your goals or whether you can do without.
There is no doubt that these types of efforts can be tough, and you have to learn how to push through them. For a 4 minute interval I break it into 30 second steps and then for the last minute where I am just hanging on, just take it 10 seconds at a time.
Things to look at include your cadence and how your hear rate increases during the intervals and then drops down again in between.
Maybe just do a few weeks of 4 minute intervals to build up your confidence and experience. You could start with 4X3 with 2 minute rest intervals, and gradually build up to 6X4.

Been there, done that. I have had always problem with workouts above FTP - o/u were easy but vo2 max were horrible, due the muscle fatigue. Done a lot more Z2 during this base, sprinkled with SST and SST O/U and the change was huge. I was always “sceptical” about Z2 base but it worked wonders (I assume that SST O/U were also contributing factor). SST and threshold improved my overall endurance but not muscle fatigue during these hard intervals.

And this is somewhat recurring issue with TR plans, as no-one does longer Z2 rides (understandable - mostly time constraints) but they simply work on so much levels, even doing 2h rides and one longer 3h-4h per week.

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Those are both quite difficult workouts and I would wager there is a mental and physical components at play.

If you are struggling with the LV build plans, and specifically the VO2max days, I would suggest picking a plan with VO2max workouts which will help you learn how to complete this type of workouts. Doing that will help develop confidence so when you come back to longer and harder VO2max workouts you’ll have confidence to complete them.

As others have noted, it is fine to turn down the intensity. If you are failing at the normally prescribed 120% level, just bump it down to 110% or 115% and find the intensity level where you can complete the workout. Over time and training experience you’ll learn the right level. Might be 115, might be 120, might be even higher as you train and gain.

A Build plan to consider for someone looking to perform VO2max type workouts and learn how to do them, is a modification of the Olympic Tri Low Volume. It is a six week plan with mostly 2 and 3 minute “VO2” intervals. If you are completing SSB2 plans then these workouts should be doable.

Do the VO2 days on Tuesday or Wednesday and then just do Frissell 1 or 2 on Saturday. I would substitute Frissell for Pioneer and Pheonix unless you are comfortable with those long SST days.

That is two days of hard riding: A VO2 day and an SST day. Assuming you want 3, 4 or 5 days of riding, just add a longer fun ride on Sunday (2-3 hours would be good, stick in Z2 mostly) and use Pettit or Baxter or even Recess at zone 1 for additional weekday volume.

The goal of this modified Oly Tri LV block would be to learn how to complete VO2-type workouts consistently, gain confidence and to dial in your VO2max day intensity (110, 115, 120 percent of FTP).

A further modification, if feeling tired after two weeks, just add a rest week (2:1). If feeling tired after three weeks, add a rest week (3:1). We aren’t worried about TSS, CTL, etc. We want you to complete a solid block of hard VO2 + SST work so we can move forward over time.

If you give this a shot and get through it, the next question will be what to do next?

That depends on your goals and how that block went. I would likely suggest going back to the Base programs and running SSB Mid-Volume 1 and 2. Perhaps at a 3:1. Assuming those go well, then General or Sustained Build Low Volume, but with a 2:1 work:rest pattern and perhaps adding Z1/Z2 if you want and can handle additional volume.

That progression takes you out about six months from here but if it goes well will have completed a good set of different training blocks and hopefully solved the VO2max workout problem.

Very best of luck and the text above is worth exactly what you paid for it :slight_smile:


Did this a year ago and same result. Longer base, more z2.


Maybe adjust your intensity preemptively.

Set it at 90% for the first set and 95% for the second set. You can decide on the 3rd set whether to leave it at 95% or bump it up to 100%.

Also, it’s okay to backpedal a recovery valley.

So instead of 3 rides/week consisting of 1 vo2 max and 2 endurance, maybe 1 SST and 2 endurance?

I thing the most important part would be the length of the endurance ride.

how many hard days are you doing per week?

what are the other days like (i.e the non-hard ones)?

what’s your sleep, rest, nutrition, overall life stress like?

LV plan, so 3 days a week. My sleep, nutrition and stress seem fine as well - getting 8 hours and good food.

I don’t normal cycle on the off days, just a bit of stretching. I’m not sure what plan builder recommends for days, but I do Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as my training days

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Okay, here some thoughts. Not a coach so take from this what you will, but it all has a basis.

  1. As folks have hinted at, your power for Vo2max intervals might be lower than 120% of FTP. 120% is just a starting point pegged based on averages, but it varies.

  2. Here’s where it gets complicated, your power target for Vo2max intervals might be correct, but the duration you can handle might be lower than what’s planned. Again there’s no “one right amount” of Vo2max that everyone can sustain, it varies. TR plan again takes its best guess for the progression but yours might be different.

  3. Overall aggregate training load might be too high.

I would suggest to tease this out based on how and when you’re failing. If you can complete multiple intervals (like let’s say, 12+ minutes worth) and fail towards the end, it’s probably not #1, but might be #2. If you fail towards the end of workouts in the first week, i think that points to 2. If you fail them after a few weeks of load, it could be 2 (if the progressive increase in duration gets too long) or it could be 3, or both.

If you think it’s 1, you lower the target. If 2, don’t lower until you need to and gut it out as best you can. It should be hard, that means it’s working. Once you hit the point where you have to lower it a lot, pull the plug, you’re done, but it’s not a failure: you just did exactly what you need to do to get better here. You might find it gets even harder as you move through each “load” block but that’s not unusual.

If it’s 3 and you are committed to the concept and goals of “build”, I would suggest to keep the Vo2max workouts and replace the other one with endurance and see how it goes. I would not replace the workout with sweet spot because you’re mixing goals and taking energy away from what (in build) is the primary one. Vo2max adaptations come on quick and plateau quick, so you might as well focus as much as you can when you have the chance.

If you think sweet spot is the right choice and you’re still getting gains from it, might as well keep doing base, imho


Thanks! I’ll experiment with time and power over the next few sessions and see how it goes :+1:

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