Something mad and experimental. Would TR be up for testing new short, (say 4 week) plans on the community, in the way that they test software features and the ramp test?
I fear that the problem here is that the words “intense” and “effective” are not necessarily synonyms, particularly when it comes to cycling.
For example, there are many who would claim (important caveat: arguing about this is for another thread!) that a polarised training plan is the most effective way of raising FTP. However, to truly follow a polarised plan, you need a lot of time spare and a lot of going slowly, which is both not very intense and also goes against the TR ethos of serving the time-crunched cyclist.
And if you dropped the slow workouts, and replaced them with hard workouts for 4 weeks on the run, it would certainly be intense, but it would probably lead to burnout / illness and not be so effective.
Kevin Poulton designed one for Zwift interestingly. Basically 4 weeks of short sharp workouts. Wonder what the compliance rate and improvement rate for that is. TrainerRoad tends to think of how the whole season plays out, so their plans are designed that way from what I can see.
But what if they through that out the window, and said, what would be the absolute best way to improve this metric for an athlete in 4 weeks if they were prepared to suffer it. Athlete would be rest going into it and would have rest after of course. Those 4 weeks must surely look a bit different to what we see now?
From a study I saw somewhat recently:
Front loading most of your VO2max work into the first week, and then basically performing maintenance for the remainder of the block. Had better results than doing 2 high intensity rides a week, for the block. Total volume, and total number of each session was the same, just one group did 5 VO2max workouts in one week, and the other spread those out over the block.
I went so far as to put the plan on my calendar, and do the first ride, before having no interest whatsoever in doing a 2nd VO2max workout on day 2 when it came time to ride.
I guess technically the abstract says HIT workouts, not VO2max, so I don’t actually know what specific work was done. And I just have the abstract, not the whole study. Interesting findings either way.
Would threshold work count as as HIT?
Had another look for the 4week plan Poulton did:
It’s 7 workouts a week and only one is an endurance effort. Would the front loading principle work for a whole month, rather than 2 months for example…
I think we sorta fail ourselves when we think success of fitness based on just a single metric, ftp. There are many other metrics that can make you a much stronger rider, even without an increase in ftp (sustain power for time durations over 1hr, short duration power, capacity, repeatability, recovery, nutrition, etc). You miss out on a lot of successes chasing only the ftp metric.
Yes of course, but that’s the really the point of the exercise
Thanks for the link, it failed on my PC so I just assumed it was dead. But I can pull it up fine on my phone.
Looks like they alternated between 6x5 and 5x6 with half the duration in rest. At max sustainable pace.
My suspicion is that like Stephen Seiler’s experiments with 4x8min, the sessions the subjects performed weren’t quite as physically gruelling as some of the notorious Trainer Road vo2 workouts. Note that the 6x5 and 5x6 are self-paced “with the aim to produce the highest possible mean power output across intervals”.
I may be wrong, as I can’t find enough data on heart rate etc in the study to confirm this. But put it this way, if I was building the block, I wouldn’t just put Spencer +2 five days in a row.