Are you sure your body can handle the 5+ hours in option 1 and get enough rest, recovery, and consequently adaptation? Your projected TSS is already quite high as is and when seen as a block higher than the blocks you did the last two years plus it ramps up quite steep compared to the last months. More is not always better.
I’m suggesting nothing, you know your body better than I do .
But if I just look at your posted picture you are already at 650-720ish TSS with the current plan and if you add 5h endurance ride (maybe 150-200 TSS) then this is way above what you did in the past. And by just looking at the data it seems like after big ‘hero weeks’ you dropped off quite a bit.
You might assume that VO2 max intervals would be the best way to improve VO2 max. These intervals challenge you to work right at the limit of your aerobic capacity, but they mostly improve the power you can sustain at this level. To actually improve VO2 max itself, lower intensity work may actually have the biggest benefit.
An excellent way to directly target VO2 max improvements is through sweet spot training. As your capacity rises, big improvements become more fleeting, and harder work is required to continue seeing gains. This gradual increase in intensity is factored into all TrainerRoad training plans, especially if you follow a progression through base, build, and specialty phases.
If you are already following a training plan, you’re on the right track. A simple way to stimulate even more VO2 max improvement is to [add extra endurance training](How to Safely Add Volume to a Training Plan) on top of your existing plan. This can be very easy to do- even an extended cooldown of 15 minutes on each ride can add an hour or more each week. Most of us waste 20 minutes looking at our phone after each ride, but take advantage of this time instead and continue spinning your legs at low intensity.
Emphasis mine. If you have 5 extra hours, add more endurance, not intensity. Especially if you are already on a high volume plan. If this is too much total load, maybe consider backing off on the intensity a bit as a tradeoff to keep the volume and consistency up.
This isn’t a solution per se but just a consideration - have you ever tested doing a 20 minute test rather than a ramp test?
I don’t know what kind of cyclist you are but in my own n=1 experiences, I’ve done 2-3 ramp tests and usually end up hitting 4.14-4.28 W/kg as an FTP. However, I’m 100% not an anaerobic athlete. When I do a 20 minute test (which is preferred because I’m way more aerobic based) I’ve done 4.5 W/kg and 4.78 W/kg FTPs respectively. And as a point of not overtesting, I can do intervals at these FTPs fine so I’m not suddenly way overtesting.
While this doesn’t solve your “problem”, it does present another option for gauging fitness. Sticking with the original question though, I would echo adding pure endurance volume as eventually, you’ll hit a limit of intensity before diminishing your overall quality. Assuming you’re coming close to that based on doing SSB HV2, it’s probably better to not risk overdoing it and add endurance rather than trying to put on more intensity volume.
I did 20 min tests a few years ago, but now mostly just RAMP test. I do a test with 20 minutes protocol before using TR, but I never test 20 minutes protocol within TR. But I feel I am a more “anaerobic” than “aerobic” type of cyclist. I will definitely try to see the difference to confirm my speculation.
Thanks for your suggestions. This is what I will do most likely but will have an extreme caution to watch my body reaction. Considering I have zero-experience with polarized training, I would do TR’s suggestion the adding endurance training a little bit.
The goal is kinda weird and conflicts with the goals or TR’s training plans. For example, the goal of the specialty phase is not to raise your FTP, but make you good at the efforts you want to be good at. Build builds on top of base training, and the purpose is to raise your power output in a given power-over-time range. Short power build emphasizes shorter efforts.
What you are asking is to get good at one test, which is maximum aerobic power. If that’s your goal, cool, but beware that this will mean a lot of repetitive training. You’d be doing SSB over-and-over (or you POL equivalent), and you might mentally burn out.
Before changing things up I would work on training consistently. Once I nailed that, I would work on adding volume. Pretty slowly over months.
Whether you then end up doing SS or POL doesn’t matter much. Both principles have proven to work. Guess it will come down to what you can recover from. By bets are it won’t be sweetspot with all that added volume.
I think following a sensible training plan is much more important than what training methodology you follow.
Just understand what your goals are. Making an arbitrary number in a test is usually not such a great goal. I suggest you focus mostly on process goals. You don’t know whether your FTP will reach 300 W. But you can set process goals like “follow my training plan for 1 season” or “nail the three important workouts each week” or “sleep at least 7 hours per night”.
In my opinion, my goal is very clear. Try to raise the number during the last minute of the RAMP test.
I set this goal because I do not have any chance to race. Maybe one in a year or once in two years. This is not to say that I do not like race. I like to race but I do not have this privilege too often. Instead, I am seeking a tangible goal.
This is the reason why I avoid specialty phase because I found that I do not have too much FTP progress after finishing this.
This is the reason why I prefer short power because I think the RAMP test is more correlated to short maximum power.
Exactly. I am not sure by setting a clear and defined goal would help to achieve this goal better or not.
This is why I cannot consistently train at a relatively higher training session in the past. I am trying to add more endurance training with the hope to reduce the physical stress during the hard sessions. As I said, I will look at it very closely and adjust my training accordingly.
Maybe just try riding lots outside, it sounds like you have a ton of time. Consistency and motivation come in many ways. The strongest I’ve ever been was during a funemployed summer with no specific training whatsover, just tons and tons of random rides. Some hard, some easy, lots of fun.
Exactly, consistency is the key. I had some burnout time by just following SSB over and over again. At some time, consistently train at a specific training load is just too mentally demanding and I bailed a lot of those training sessions. And this is my motivation to do some careful changes this year. By adding more endurance training, I hope I can build a more solid foundation to prepare for the real hard training session.
I prefer SSB not POL right now, because I do not have any experience with POL, but I will keep an eye on POL for sure. I concur with you on finding a “sweet spot” where you can recover without too much burnout, and this is what I should be extremely careful with.
Are you trying to say that there’s no need to do the extra 5 hours apart from SSB High plan?
@redlude97 suggested a very good resource on how to do more correctly:
I do not have any experience by all means but I want to try it my self with caution this year to see what’s happening.
I like your idea about process goals instead of “target” goals. Yes, 300 watts itself does not mean anything. It is no different from 299, 301, or even 290 (if an error bar considered). But I do think setting such a goal has value.
“If a man knows not which port he sails, no wind is favorable.” – Seneca
Thanks for your suggestion on these actionable goals:
“follow my training plan for 1 season”
“nail the three important workouts each week”
“sleep at least 7 hours per night”
I will add them as my sub-goal during this journey.
Also, the suggestion on sleep is critical. I have a very bad sleeping state during the “demotivated” time period and this is something I should look for improvement.