Workout Prioritization

I am going to ask my questions at the top, and provide context below, this gets a little lengthy.

I am training for the Leadville 100, and have decided I want revise my plan to to include two structured indoor rides on TR, one fun unstructured ride with friends during the week, and one long zone 2 ride on the weekends. What kind of rides should I prioritize on the two TR workouts between V02 Max, Threshold, and Sweet Spot, and what duration?

I am doing my first two bike races ever this summer, the Silver Rush 50 and the Leadville 100. I have been riding MTB for just two full seasons, background prior to that was about 10 years of Crossfit. until this year my riding was completely unstructured other than a quick 2 month structured plan before doing the White Rim 100 last October.

Around Christmas, my wife decided she wanted a Peloton, I thought it would be a good fit for me too, and enjoyed training on it from about Jan 1 until mid April. I was doing the power zone classes and experienced big gains in FTP (doing 20 minute test) every 5 weeks or so. I heard about TR from a friend and started listening to the podcast. I thought that in order to maximize my fitness and prep for Leadville, I should buy a trainer, join TR, and start with Plan Builder.

Started TR mid April so have 7 weeks under my belt, my initial ramp test was an FTP of 280, which was down from 294 doing the 20 minute test on the Peloton (obviously apples to oranges). This was a bit of an ego hit. I started the SSBLV2 plan and really enjoyed it, then I switched to the new plans when they updated them, which had me do a new ramp test on May 10. I hit 283, so only a 3 watt increase. Then the plan moved me to sustained power build and I had my first recovery week last week, after a 3 week block. This was followed by an FTP test today, only a 1 watt increase of 284.

These slow gains are rather frustrating especially considering I have nailed all the workouts on the plan, have been 100% compliant, and am fairly new to structured training, I have also added in a long zone 2 ride almost every weekend. The one benefit is that I now realize I have about a zero chance of hitting sub 9 hours at Leadville (I’m 187 lbs and 3.3 power to weight ratio), which takes some pressure off and I can focus on getting fitter, but also prioritizing having a fun riding season.

All of this has led me to ditch the plan builder plan, and scale back to 2 indoor rides a week, and add one outdoor ride, so going from 3 indoor/ 1 outdoor to 2/2. While I realize I won’t be absolutely maximizing my fitness, I will be balancing fun and fitness in a way that I think will work for me. So to the questions above, how to I prioritize workouts? What combination of Sweet Spot, Threshold and V02 max will be best with just two structured indoor rides per week? I think I would prefer to build the plan instead of using Train Now, as I enjoy the planning aspect, but I am open to hearing all options.

I was considering using the workout levels and profiles as a way to build the plan, seeking out progressively raising one over/under workout and one V02 max workout each week. Or one Sweet Spot and one V02 max workout each week.

Really appreciate this community and any advice, as almost all of you are much more experienced and knowledgeable than I am!


How much time do you have on a given day?

If you’re limited to 2 hours or less, I’d do Sweet Spot for both of them. 4x20 and 3x30.

If you have more time to spend, consider throwing in a 3-4 hour tempo workout or two.

Not enough time between now and Leadville to get any meaningful gains from threshold and VO2max workouts, IMHO, but you do have time to gain some muscle endurance that’ll help you maintain your target pacing throughout the race.

I disagree. There’s plenty of time to make meaningful gains in all aspects. Basically 10 weeks. You shouldn’t limit yourself to sweet spot because of time limitations…if anything, you should be incorporating more intensity now. Having the highest vo2 max you can is kind of crucial to riding at a decent pace at 10k+ feet anyways.

I would do over/unders and vo2 max on your trainer days and then use the outside rides to do sweet spot and tempo/endurance rides…but make it a point to keep the outside rides from becoming too hard that it effects the inside rides.

Also…don’t get down on not seeing your ftp jump every time. You’ve probably seem gains in how long you can hold 70, 80, 90% of your ftp and how quickly you recover from hard efforts and a lot of other intangible stuff.


But studies have repeatedly shown that Vo2 and threshold increase your fitness faster than tempo and SS,

threshold is muscular endurance, and will get muscular endurance adaptions faster than sweetspot in less time.

A sound approach would be a VO2 workout and a threshhold/SS workout a week. I would focus on extending the duration of the intervals, not increasing intensity, but both could work.

For example your could do 3x20->3x25->3x30 at SS.
Or 4x12->3x15->3x20 at threshold
For Vo2 its very personal so your going to have to figure that progression yourself.

I’d agree if the situation were different.

But we’re talking about a 10 hour day at Leadville for someone sort of new to cycling and brand new to racing. For me it would be less about maximizing performance if everything goes right, and more about minimizing damage if things go wrong.

If I had a 10 hour race in front of me, my biggest concerns would be fueling, pacing, and cramping. The worst thing I could imagine is cramping at hour nine. It could easily turn that last hour into three hours. I just don’t think threshold and VO2 intervals would be as useful as long SST intervals at this point. He mentioned he’s already done SSB2 and half of build, and his first race is in a month.

Another vote for vo2max and threshold work on your structured days. Absolutely not too late to get benefit, especially some fitness bump from vo2 stuff. I always get my biggest bump from my first block of vo2max during build. Try to push those long weekend rides as long as possible.

I’ll be at Leadville also. shooting for under 9, but I think everything will need to go perfect to hit that goal. I’m right at 4 w/kg at sea level right now and still hope to shed a couple more lbs and add a few watts before the race. I figure every watt and every pound is worth at least a minute on that course.

All of these will give you different benefits, and consistently neglecting one of these probably isn’t the best approach.

Rather than looking at it on the basis of a single week, re-arrange your plan so that you get 2 of each type of workout over a 3 week period.
Week 1: VO2Max, Sweet Spot,
Week 2 Threshold, Sweet Spot
Week 3, VO2Max, Threshold
Week 4 Recovery

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So he’s done plenty of SS, and needs to “sharpen the blade”. Seems like Vo2 and threshold would do the trick. I would agree with you if he had not done a lot of tempo/SS already.

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The energy systems aren’t in a vacuum. Improve threshold/vo2 max and his current sweet spot/tempo will become easier and more sustainable.

I’d also argue he needs high intensity work to even complete the race. It’s not a flat TT course where you can set a wattage at X amount of ftp and keep it there. If he’s not used to going over threshold all the time and then having to recover and do it again and again, he’s much more likely to cramp and blow up early and have a miserable race. 280 watt ftp at 5k feet is like a 230-240 watt ftp at 10-12k feet. Which means sweet spot is suddenly 200 watts and tempo is 170ish. Worse if he lives lower. I’m a little under 190lbs…I know for a fact doing 200 watts uphill gets you absolutely nowhere. Even in a 28/50 it’s difficult to keep the watts that low on any sort of gradient…and it actually becomes functionally easier to walk.

You need to be able to do 300, 350, 400 watts for short periods to make it up little kickers and then get your hr back down when it let’s up a little and repeat.

This is all very helpful thank you @team_bunty @timon @Dschlag @mcalista and @grwoolf.

I am leaning towards including V02 max, in large part because I haven’t got a lot of exposure to it in cycling and want to see how my body responds. Crossfit is very heavy V02 max work which I responded very well to, but not sure that will translate into cycling.

@mcalista your idea is interesting to me of cycling the 3 types of workouts every week. I am wondering if it would make sense to do that, or to break my 10 weeks between now and Leadville into two blocks of 5 weeks, with one focusing on SS/V02 and the next focusing more on Threshold/V02, I may be splitting hairs here.

I feel pretty comfortable selecting and programming the SS and Threshold workouts from all the exposure I got to that over the couple of months. When it comes to V02, I am less confident in how to program, the short intervals with short rest come much easier to me than the 2-4 minute intervals around 107% of FTP. It seems like there is such a variance in how the V02 workouts are structured, how would you go about selecting them?

@team_bunty this is not to discount your opinion that I should be prioritizing prepping for the worst case scenario and focusing on sweet spot. The only issue with that is that is not very motivating for me, I would rather use the two structured workouts to prepare for the best, even though that may be foolish. Plus I am just curious to see how I respond to more consistent V02 work.

@timon yes I will certainly have to go above threshold in spots, and you are correct in your assumption that I live at 5k feet, I am in the Denver area. I am glad you feel my pain of being heavier and how slow my endurance pace will be, FWIW my gearing set up will be a 32T with 10-50, a fairly lightweight full suspension xc/light trail bike.

You could use the “Train Now” feature and it will recommend a VO2 workout (I think) or just open the Sustained Power Build and XC Marathon plans and copy the VO2 workouts into your calendar as they will have the progression of the workouts laid out. Finally, just look up VO2 workouts based on the amount of workout time you have and use the “levels” to find the right workout for you. Start w/ something in the level 1-2 range, see how it goes and then progress the future workouts from there.

I think you need some long endurance rides thrown in here weekly. Start at the longest you think you can handle, say 3 hours, and build up to 5. And when I mean endurance I’m talking 60-65% of FTP if you want a number. Or keep your heart rate around 68-75% of max. I don’t see you mention doing anything like this.

I’m not saying you don’t have base fitness because I don’t know, but neglecting long endurance rides with ample saddle time could to lead to problems. If this was a road century or a 75mi gravel race that was 4-5 hours I would say hit the sweet spot hard, but Leadville is 100 mi at elevation and is no joke. It wrecks people.

IMO there’s really no reason to worry about VO2max workouts at this point, I would focus on long endurance rides and as much tempo and sweet spot as you can handle.