Workouts too hard

Hey all,

I started with SSB I mid plan ( 3 weeks in ), and almost every workout felt really hard so far (opposite of what I’ve been reading about ssb1 here ).

Yesterday I somehow managed to complete Antelope and my HR during the last 2 intervals was 197-200bpm, my max HR is 212 and LTHR around 197.

I’m wondering if my FTP is set too high ( did proper ramp test and I got 194w ) and if during the workouts I’m hitting different zones than I should.

Should I not care about HR that much and just fight through the workouts, or lower my FTP a little bit to 190 maybe? What do you think would be more benficial in this early phase of base-build-specialty cycle?

Thanks!

First question. Is this your first experience of structured training? If so, it could well be that you’re exposing yourself to too much stress too quickly. I’d recommend dropping down to the Low Volume plan and add additional workouts as and when you feel good. Mid Volume plans are tough.

If you’ve done a proper TR FTP Test, it could well be that you over perform at and above VO2. Quite a few of us have experienced this. It makes longer Sweet Spot and Threshold efforts seem really daunting. With time and effort, you’ll overcome this though.

I’d leave your FTP, drop down and see how the next three weeks pan out.

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I have been cycling for around a year and I have also done some low volume SSB earlier this year. Now I have time to train so I wanted to go with mid volume - I actually plan to do 10 weeks of SSB I -> first 4 weeks without the easy endurance workout and second with the easy workout, therefore having a bit more tss. I feel like I would benefit from more base.

I would like to stick to mid volume and maybe took an extra day off from time to time when I start to feel fatigued?

Hitting your LTHR towards the end of Antelope can happen especially if you’re fatigued. I hope you have checked the usual like sleep, nutrition, work stress and cooling (a fan)

Having said that, there’s no problem in dropping the intensity by 2% next time and see how that goes.

You know your body best, but consider that MV can be a lot of stress even if you come for a decent cycling background but haven’t been training structured, indoors. It’s almost certainly safer to go with LV and add an extra ride if you feel up for it. doing LV consistently is a great start, and It’s easily possible to dig yourself into a hole with MV.

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Two things which really make me suffer:

  • Lack of fueling. I used to ride fasted all the time outdoors early in the morning. However, when I started structured training I found that I had a hard time holding the assigned power numbers if I was fasted or under-fueled. I now do my workouts in the afternoon after I’ve had time to fuel properly.
  • Lack of sleep. I can hit all my numbers in every workout, but if I miss a couple of hours of sleep one night in the middle of a block of training (where fatigue is relatively high) then I find it impossible to hit my numbers on high intensity workouts. I can hit my numbers on sweet-spot workouts but the suffering & RPE is much higher.

Take a look at your fueling and sleep to ensure you’re optimized. I am consistently surprised at how big a difference those two things make.

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I did SSBMV 1&2, with no previous structured training. All I did was ride outdoors for a few months prior to TR. The low volume plan was just to low for me. I rode way more hours per week outdoors. That being said, the workouts were extremely hard, though they were doable and I never failed to finish any of the workouts. I believe that building toughness, mentally and physically is part of the whole TR process. Hang in there and remember the drills that really make things somewhat easier… yeah right, easier said than done. If you are not failing the workouts and they are just hard you are fine. Hang tough, I have wanted to throw in the towel on several workouts, but have hung in there. You got this!

PS, none of the SSBMV workouts were or are easy. Perhaps only the recovery days.

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Yes they are too hard.

I’m going to move away from TR as their SSB plans are too hard and lead to burn out and too high of fatigue. After the number of years I’ve been training I’ve come to realize I think there is a significantly flawed training paradigm with a lot of people, i.e. the following sentiment: “If you can’t spend over 12 hours a week training then your best strategy is to follow a high intensity training plan, trading time on the bike for higher intensity intervals”.

Do we really think that drilling over under threshold and Vo2 efforts 6 months out from your A race is the best strategy to gain fitness? That the only way to improve if you can’t ride 20 hours a week is to ride harder than the person riding 20 hours per week?

In my experience 1-3 interval sessions per week surrounded by endurance rides, with the intervals able to be completed in a fresh state yields the most fitness gains long term. When I started TR I had been training with coaches for 7 years, upgraded from a Cat 4 to 3 in Colorado (where everyone is fast) and had a lot of training and racing in my legs. Literally the 1st interval workout I did in TR I wasn’t able to complete it at the wattage targets. You’re telling me a Cat 2 mtb, Cat 3 CX racer coming off of race season is failing the first workout in SSB MV?.. Right after a valid ramp test. That tells me the workouts are too hard and will lead to fatigue. Guess what happened…by the time I hit February I was gassed and beat down. Reality is I think their plans have far too much intensity in them, period.

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You can’t say their plans lead to burnout and are significantly flawed based on just your experience. I personally don’t find the SSBMV very difficult so far - in fact I’ve added 200-250 tss per week on top of the plan to get the level of fatigue I think is appropriate for me this time of the year. I also don’t think my personal experience describes their plans either.

The SS intervals are all quite short with rest between, so in terms of difficulty, they are far from the intensity factors you would experience in your build and race prep phases.

If the workouts are too difficult, there is a good chance you have overestimated your FTP.

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I’m not going to try to convince you of anything with respect to your feeling that SSB is too hard, you do you, not everything’s for everyone.

But with respect to paragraph 2, that’s literally the entire point. If you want to improve as much as the people riding many more hours than you are, then you have to ride harder for those hours you are riding. SSB is designed around the idea that it is a really tough workout that you can recover from pretty quickly.

I’ve personally found that I built a lot of fitness on 3.5 hours a week that are often pretty hard. I built a lot less when I was doing a lot of endurance rides and a few intervals here and there. Your body might work differently. Or maybe you have a 400 watt threshold or something – sitting at 360 watts for extended periods would be a lot different than for a more modest threshold.

as someone who does SSB HV (which only has sweet spot) I wonder how medium volume people would do if they subbed the over-unders with something exclusively sweet spot, albeit remaining mid volume. SSB HV is tough but for me has always been super doable and hasn’t left me too fatigued.

Some days I do feel fatigue in my legs but I find the plans do enough with the Friday endurance and Monday off to keep the fatigue in check. I think the nice thing about SSB HV is that I know, with a properly set FTP, all the workouts will be tough but doable, so I’m never in any fear of failing workouts. I don’t know if I’d feel the same way with some of the MV workouts

So that’s my digression, as for the original post, a workout like Antelope should definitely be one of those tough but doable workouts and if it’s too much of a struggle then maybe FTP is set too high, because with future workouts extending to 12-15-and 20 min intervals it’ll really become a slog if your target it set too high

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rather than speculate on what happened to you, here is my experience:

  • desk job for 30+ years
  • bought a bike December 2015
  • first century in Feb 2016
  • finished the DeathRide July 2016 when some of my college friends were starting to retire
  • did a double century May 2017, had ramped ftp up to 280W and solid base on under 10 hours/week
  • throughout most of 2017 had a lot of C races on Wed night worlds, was able to (mostly) hang with younger Cat 2/3 road/CX racers on the 60 and 75 minute routes
  • joined TR in Dec 2017 and completed SSB-1 High Volume with modifications to accommodate outside riding
  • during SSB-1 HV week 5 (mid Jan 2018) had my best HC climb on a 18 mile / 4500’ / 5% Strava segment
  • bought a WKO license this year, and WKO ftp estimates align with my 2017 ftp field tests. Even did a 60 minute ftp test in spring of 2017.

For what its worth, that was my first experience with TrainerRoad and it was very positive. Since then I’ve had less time to train, and without as strong a base I’ve done MV SSB a couple times now. Had a long time off this year and starting with Trad Base 1 and 2, followed by SSB, for about 20 weeks of base building.

Last year I struggled to follow short power build mid-volume… agree that build plan at MV has too much intensity (at least for me, as a diesel). After listening to all the podcasts, I believe TR plans should be personalized. This season I’m going to use short power build low-volume plan as a skeleton, drop the Saturday race-winner workouts, and put the 2 remaining short power workouts on Tuesday and Saturday (after Mon/Fri rest days). Will also add some aerobic endurance and long weekend rides, to maintain aerobic engine. While I don’t have your experience, I agree with your “1-3 hard workouts/week + endurance” statement although as a diesel TR’s traditional base and sweet spot base (MV and HV) seem fine as-is.

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This is sort of the conclusion I came around to.

I’m 40. Maybe its an age thing…but threshold and VO2 workouts are just brutally hard for me. I mean i KNOW theyre supposed to be hard…but they left me reducing the volume I could do so I could be fresh for the workouts just to get through them, and then I’d be wrecked for a day after. So I really could not do much more than the 3 workouts a week on the low volume plan.

I really noticed this in the CX specialty. I’m already in cross season. I’ve taken to doing a 2-3 sweet spot workouts a week, with sunday races my higher intensity for the week, and I still have the legs to get in some extra endurance or recovery ride time.

I’m not sure if this will make me faster quicker…but I am on the bike nearly twice as much, AND it is much more enjoyable. I’m going to stick with what is sustainable for now.

I’m 39 (CX age 40 lol) and actually I’ve been doing workouts from SSB1 HV kind of in order and letting the CX race be my “hard” workout for the week. Not a big sample size, but on Sunday I had my best result ever (16/54) and power (240w NP/0.85 IF) for a race, and I did Pettit after I got home from the race. I might throw in a CX type workout on Thursday but at this point I’m not going to do a lot of CX specialty stuff in the middle of the season

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See I don’t agree, which is fine of course. I don’t believe that is how it works and there are many that feel the same like Steven Seiler, Grant Holicky, Steve Neal, Trevor Connor, and others. My opinion is not based on an N1 situation. I’m aware of a number of examples on this forum of people burning out on these plans. There literally is an entire thread of people failing over unders and we mostly chalk it up to FTP being set too high. It takes a ton out of you physically and mentally to push to failure. If you’re doing that 1-2 times per week you are training too hard. Even with FTPs set “right” many people are barely able to complete those efforts. If they seem to work for others great but I do not believe it is a sustainable long term strategy and that opinion has nothing to do with FTP “being set too high”.

Just one edit as I thought of another quote which I think is applicable. I’m sure many of us have heard or seen of the masters racer or club cyclist that can’t ride easy or base. They ride for about an hour and ride tempo to SST almost every ride. They are constantly in a level of fatigue and can’t handle doing hard efforts because of it. The HV plan is literally that example of riding SST every time you get on the bike.

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Well. I’ve been informed by my wife that my post sounds mean. I definitely don’t mean it that way as I really like Nate, Chad, and Jonathan. I just really believe that a polarized training method is more effective long term. Sorry if it came off too judgey.

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I’m not sure when this was, time being relevant since the plans have changed over time, but if you cannot do 3x12min @85% (Mount Field, first interval post ramp test in current SSB MV), then you have overestimated your FTP and/or are physically compromised (sleep, nutrition, illness).

If the workouts are too hard due to intensity, then lower the intensity and/or lower your FTP. Perhaps the ramp test is not suitable for you. Try the 20min test or another method. If you can do the workouts but can’t recover quick enough, then perhaps LV is what you need or you should reevaluate your sleep and nutrition.

This a real issue for so many people. Too high due to the type of test, no test, rounding up, etc… If you cannot complete the workouts, it is likely too high or you are not getting enough recovery and/or nutrition.

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I meant the over under workout. I don’t know the name. Maybe the plan changed a bit.

Over-Unders are meant to be tough. You need to mentally present as well. If you’re not on your game mentally and/or physically, it can get ugly.

Again, perhaps try LV and supplement the plan w/additional low intensity and/or longer ride variants when you feel good or have the time. I have friends who have done that, felt better, and seen improvements.

The plans and workouts are descriptive, not prescriptive. Nothing wrong w/making an adjustment here and there.

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Well, we might be zoning in on something I don’t think is a real point of contention.

On the podcast and other places they’ve said repeatedly that the high volume plans are for a very small segment of the population, and not necessarily the fittest/most capable. It’s just that very few people are capable of recovering from that much intensity. So if you’re saying many people would run into a permanent fatigue state doing that, I think everyone would agree with you.

The vast majority of people would be better off doing low volume then experimenting with how much more they can handle. I’ve made my most dramatic gains on low volume, which isn’t 3 incredibly hard workouts a week. It’s one very hard workout, and two tough but manageable workouts.

My high FTP point wasn’t that yours is set too high, I don’t know anything about that. What I was saying is I think (maybe just am speculating) that the higher your threshold is, the more damaging long amounts of time spent at high percentages of it is. I.e., if person A can hold 300 for an hour, and person B can hold 400, I’m not sure that 90% of either is physiologically equivalent in terms of long term stress, even if it’s the same tss. At some point sweet spot becomes just a tremendous amount of work performed for any human body.

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Mean? No. Frustrated? Yes and understandable.

TrainerRoad goes out of their way to educate on the podcast. Plans are meant to be tailored either by a paid coach or yourself. Some are able to follow the plan to the letter. I’m not one of them, and I think that is normal.

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