Everyone is a bit different in how they respond to different training intensities.
This year has reminded me that I tend to see the most adaptations from 1) high zone 2 volume to build as big of a base as possible 2) sweet spot – 60-120min sustained “chunks” of 90-94% and 3) 4-10 minute zone 5 intervals.
For whatever reason – and even though I’m a TT’er by type – 95-100% FTP intervals don’t seem to give me as much FTP benefit over a 6-8 week period as those long 90% chunk rides.
For me, a lot of SST and then a little Zone 5 seems to be the best formula.
What have you found works best for you?
One thing I’ve learned - 8-12 hours/week of volume to build a base. Lots of zone2 and tempo and sweet spot. Then later in base, do some threshold work. Outside riding naturally adds in some zone 5 & 6, however I like to include sprints in the interval work.
The biggest gains I have (despite after SSBI but it was my first tango with training) i have had after theshold progression. I upped the TSS to the MV level (I think that more volume was very important factor, as LV is too low in terms of TSS qbd the workouts are too short in my opinion), but with 4 workouts a week. So 3xThreshold (every time 60 min TiZ, till 80 min TiZ) + 1 longer Z2. The gains were quite rapid so I can assume that there was top end SS riding. These long, steady workouts give me the most - even in terms of 5 min power, there were gains - without touching VO2 max for 1.5 month) So very similar to you @RobertK.
Now I have finished VO2 max block and I return to threshold (as it is also the most pleasant type of workout for me).
I am a volume athlete…I need lots of miles to reach my best form. Shorter, intense workouts are, for me, only the icing on a cake. If I lat down the miles early in the season, I can hold my form much longer.
Do I see my best “gains” that way? Not really…but I am also an older athlete (54) who has been riding for 30+ years. My days of finding 30, 20 or even 10 watts gain are LONG gone.
In the past few years I’ve found my best gains from sweetspot or threshold intervals with short recoveries, so getting a lot of time in zone even in just an hour-long workout. My favourite thing about those types of session are the huge amount of calories I get to eat.
I’ve been fortunate enough to add about 100 points to my FTP over the last year+. For me the biggest boost comes from Tempo blocks without question.
Too much intensity and I don’t respond well and feel the need to cut back on hours. I can ride (almost) an unlimited amount of time at tempo and the gains just keep coming. The best thing is that a huge tempo block for me also improves other shorter power intervals, so the benefit isn’t just making me a better rider at tempo and nothing else.
I’m sure it will eventually end but for now I’m going to continue to spiral out, keep going, embrace whatever may come from my tempo journey
And I’ll generalize that a bit based on this spring, and say that a huge aerobic block improves my short power work.
I tt as well - yep - volume SS and VO2 max (short high power intervals - maybe anaerobic) and a shed load of racing…if only!
building aerobic power.
Long Z2 rides
lower % sweet spot (84-86% vs 93-94%) but LONG (20+min) intervals to maxmize TiZ
Was that a TOOL reference?
Hell of a good catch I’m pretty much obsessed with that song but that’s another thread lol
Not cycling specific but training generally I respond to whatever I haven’t been doing.
I went from 5x5s to years of more max power tailored regimes in powerlifting, stalled, then progressed when I went back to higher reps.
I responded great to Supra threshhold work till I didn’t, then responded great to loads of sweet spot. I don’t intend to challenge the premise of your question, but I tend to think what we’ll respond best to is what we will respond best to at just a moment in time. Whatever we are most lacking in.
I thought a bit about this and of course the answer is highly biased to whatever I tried first because that’s when I could still make the biggest gains and sweep the low hanging fruit.
I’m at 4.1W/kg now. I would say what has helped me most is getting 3 sessions every week, whatever.
The biggest bang in FTP was low volume (3.5h/wk !) SSB1+2. It was so hard that I felt it after every workout going up the stairs. But it was highly effective. Lots of time to soak in the work. I felt really fit!
Now I’m doing 8-10h on the bike, with VO2max, sweet spot, tempo and lots of easy riding (Full distance tri plan). my gains are very small in terms of FTP, particularly considering all the extra effort.
is the lesson now that I need to do more to further gains (at risk of doing too much) or that I need to do something different (other stimulus), or go back to lower volume and higher intensity (at risk of loosing adaptations)
Consistency. Closely followed by volume.
COVID19 has presented me with the opportunity to gradually increase my volume whilst maintaining consistency. I’ve been able to do regular Z2 rides for 3+ hours on both Saturday and Sunday and I’m starting to see the benefits.
With regards to the TR workouts, consistency is once again king. I don’t think I respond physically ‘better’ to any particular training zone but I do know that ensuring I’m on the bike and hitting my marks makes a huge difference mentally.
I’m very similar, almost the same W/kg and the best thing I can do is stay consistent. I’m on a LV build phase now. We’ll see.
I need to put more thought into what I respond best to, be it VO2 Max work, threshold, lots of Z2. I just found a 5 W FTP increase after a month of no structure, I simply rode consistently every week. So I know I respond well to just staying consistent but that’s pretty universal.
What I do know without digging through any data is that I need more recovery time than most. The LV plan is nice for me, I can nail 3 workouts a week and feel fresh enough for most of them, get in my 1-2 recovery days and still ride for fun. My average weeks are 5-8 hours and I see that when I stretch it to 10 my fatigue increased to a point of concern. I have TSS envy when I hear people putting in big 500+ weeks but I have to remember, 1. That’s not me, 2. It could be me if I ramped into it properly. All I know is that I ride better, feel better and seem to train better on a lower volume plan. Big volume weeks need to be treated with the upmost respect and care. This is probably my biggest limiter really. Most of my goal events are short enough in duration where this isn’t an issue but I feel it during those long rides and races.
It’s my strong belief that not having kids works best.
It’s a huge advantage for sure, however for me I’m faster now for sure now with a child. Because every ride is precious, you make it count. Also, we’re in the Trail a Bike zone now. All my fun rides are with my son en tow. Yeah there’s a set of pedals and cranks on those things but he likes to chat and spin backwards more than actually pedal forward. I’ll be dammed if this isn’t some kind of training benefit for me there! Lol
I did the Long Distance Tri Plans, too and had similar experience with FTP gains.
My assumption was, that these plans don’t have boosting FTP as a top priority, but make me capable of holding the power numbers for a very long time.
In my opinion on the Ironman distance FTP is not the most important thing, but having the ability to hold your watts for at least 5 hours and being able to run the whole marathon.
That is something completely different to these crit races they talk all the time on the podcast.
Being really good at crit racing (and road) we focus a lot on pushing the line to the right. Maybe not to the degree an ironman focused athlete tries to push the far right of the curve but, the concept is the same. The only way to push right is ride a sh!t ton imo.
dhaines83, I totally agree. I have no kids, and husband died 6 years ago, so no dependants. Since then I have focussed on training and racing/doing mtb sportives and some bikepacking. TR has really found my weaknesses. (riding at ftp or above for long periods) Also for 10 years I haven’t used Power, just HR which is useless in maintaining the power constantly for the whole session. Today I did elephants +4 which I found hard in the last 2 of the 6 6 min. efforts. I succumbed to the spiral of death a couple of times, and couldn
t maintain the watts but kept it going and only lost about 3 minutes. Legs are tired after many days in succession of training with some outdoor rides added in. But no other excuse. Im 110 lbs and 5ft 2, and struggle in circuit races not to get dropped after a lap or 2. But do well in cx and mtb racing which is my best discipline.