What to expect of my 2nd full cycle?

Hi all,

from late January this year I went through the medium volume plan (SSBMV1, SSBMV2, Build, Specialty - century), then added the Specialty - climbing road which ended by late September. During this time, I would do an occasional group ride.

I continued to follow the plan and started again with SSBMV1 (for some reason only 4 weeks instead of 6 the first time), and I am now in SSBMV2 week 4 (also only 4 weeks instead of 6 the first time). Next week, I’m starting the 8w Sustained Power Build, prior to going into the Climbing Road race specialty.

Since mid-September, I started running as well. Only 3-4 short runs per week. I also added some strength and core stability training for a couple of weeks (the exercises Chad recommends). I still have 2 rest days per week, or may do a short recovery run, so I think I’m getting sufficient rest. RHR and HRV are all trending well.


  • there seems to be quite a TSS drop coming off Specialty back into base, which seems to be negatively impacting my overall fitness level as per the above curve, but also Garmin and other trackers are indicating a decline in my overall fitness level. I assume this is expected?
  • the sessions feel sort of ‘easy’, especially thinking back to the first time I did them. Occasionally, I have been increasing the intensity somewhat, and/or adding some extra time/TSS. I swapped out the planned 2h Juneau-1 last week by Pendleton, of which I did 2h. I’m hoping this is a sign that I’m getting ready for another FTP increase (which has been sort of stalling over the last few blocks). Am I messing up the plan by increasing intensity and/or adding extra TSS by feel?
  • also looking forward to the plan, I’m getting the feeling that the overall planned TSS seems somewhat ‘low’ or lower than during my last cycle. If so, any thoughts on how this will positively or negatively impact my performance?

Anyway, I’m still sort of new, so I’m trying to sort of have realistic expectations of the next training block results.

Does anyone have any fitness evolution charts to share covering multiple base/build/specialty training blocks so I have sort of an idea?


Fitness at the end of build/speciality is normally at peak so you should expect a drop. Nothing to worry about because as you cycle through again your baseline fitness will be higher.

The reason the workouts feel easier than the first time is psychological. You’ve done the brutal workouts in build and speciality. You know what you’re capable of. You learned how to be calm and relaxed with your breathing. SS does feel much easier following that even if you’re fitness is dipped.

I think I the lower TSS is necessary to recover fatigue and introduce base at your new higher FTP.

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I love data and am a math/engineering nerd. What I’ve learned over 5 years of methodically reviewing my own data… charting “fitness” in terms of Load/TSS/CTL/ATL/TSB like you are showing can be misleading and without proper interpretation its often not worth the effort.

The “TSS drop… seems to be negatively impacting … fitness” is not true when looking at FTP, which is the only real fitness metric you have on that chart. Don’t overthink it.


my FTP has barely gone up coming out of the specialty… hopefully I see another bump on Monday

The point of specialty is to “shape fitness” to the power demands of an event.

Given the roughly 40% gain in FTP this year, it is entirely possible you’ve maxed out fitness gains given your

  • time commitment
  • intensity distribution of base/build

Did you do sustained power build in May/June? If yes maybe give short power build a try this time around. If you are adventurous then a polarized build (not a TR plan, make your own) might give you another bump.

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I did the General Build - mid volume, which seems to have a slightly higher weekly TSS than the sustained power build which I’ve got scheduled.

I hope you are wrong about maxing out the fitness gains. I only started cycling one year ago and I hope there is more in the tank. I hope it is just a matter of consistent execution of a good plan and patience.

Your comment about the time commitment and intensity makes me wonder… do the TR plans consider prior training plans and loading to determine the volume of the next plans? Or is it purely based on doing the same volume/TSS over and over, just based off a new FTP? How long will this work? How should one determine that the TSS needs to go up as well?

This past week I looked back at 2015 which was primarily a) going to the gym twice a week to do HIIT on spin bike, and b) some outside riding. Averaged out to just under 4 hours a week, about 3 rides. I really tried to get 75 minutes in on the gym bike, which involved a 30 minute warmup before class.

Later that year our gym happened to get stationary bikes with actual power meters, and this past week I estimated Nov 2015 FTP at 249W. I’m a bit surprised that after signing on to TR in December 2017, my FTP in 2018 and 2019 basically maxed out around 250W each year. And I’ve done SSB1 HV and SSB MV, but not a full base/build/specialty.

However I’m in my fifties and interesting changes are happening that is summarized as “use it or lose it.” This year from January to end of May I averaged 7 hours/week riding but wasn’t completely consistent, and I hit 260W thru a combo of strength training, doing more zone2 rides, and doing less sweet spot as compared to MV/HV plans.

Unfortunately I don’t think there are any easy answers to your questions. You either use Plan Builder or build a plan on your own. There is no perfect way to experiment, either way you are putting faith into a process and then evaluating results. Looking at my own data drove me to hire a coach, because they conduct a lot more “experiments” and the good coaches see patterns and (hopefully) increase odds of improving results.

You very well could have a lot more gains in your future. The science points to volume as a primer driver, however you might just see another big round of gains by repeating base/build/specialty.

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