Too much intensity?

Hi all,

This is not a rant (well that escalated quickly).

I am in the middle of advanced all purposed road plan with strenght training. Despite starting the plan fresh with okay (for me) fitness level (3.6 w/kg FTP with sustained weakness and VO2max strenght), as well as meeteing all requirements for the plan, I cant always hit all the power targets, due to autonomic stress load acumulation and symptoms of overreaching. There is hardly any other stress factors in my life now, except training (really lol).

I question the need of having 6 high intensity days per week. A high intensity session is only valuable if you can perform it at 100%, otherwise its just loading excees fatigue with minimal treining benefit, if any. I am aware I can take a day off/recovery day if I don’t feel like it, but if a plan makes you take a day off/rest day in the same manner every time you approach that spot in a plan its not my bad day but a flaw in plan design (unless I’m ment to fail it, than please explain).

For example, why do I have to do SUF Idol in between Strenght (plus drills), Attacker and Strenght (with drills) again withTool Shed (mash-up) and It seemed like thin air (mash-up) following? Why not easy spin instead of that SUF Idol? What, there isn’t enough intensity in that week already, lol?

Science says that 2 or on occasion 3 high intensity training sesions per week are sufficientt for inducing physiological adaptations and performance gains without inducing excessive stress over
the long term, which is where the balance of evidence seems to lean towards to. Edit: This research (was meta analyssis) seems to supportthat beyond doubt.

Don’t get me wrong, I find Suf highly engaining and in general I understand why turbotrainers workouts are a bit more complicated than regular road workouts (like ftp progressions), its all about keeping you focused (with an exemption of zwift workouts which are complete garbage). However, I don’t have any problems with keeping low intensity if a plan requires it. Bumping intensity to keep a user focused seems like a bad idea at best.

I am not interested in personal experience where you describe how suff plans are optimal for you. Instead I would like to hear the science behind all that intensity in advanced road plans. Is SUF method clearly superior to polarized training plans (80/20) and if yes is there a research I can read on it? I have not tested other plans like grand fondo or cecntury ride, which may lean more towards 80/20 or polarized plans. This question is specific to all purposed advanced road plan.

Cheers all :slight_smile:

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I think you’re wanting to read about block periodization. Do a pubmed search for that. I don’t know what’s better, block or traditional. I do know that the advanced plans are too much for me, personally. I just can’t recover quick enough. Btw, you linked to a review, not a meta analysis.

Here is an article on block periodization:

Block Periodization was designed for advanced athletes who need to squeeze out incremental improvements from an already extremely high level of fitness. The other issue for most athletes with block periodization is that their other skills can decline with a high focus on one particular area.

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It might be giving this article a read. It doesn’t answer you question with research, but I think once you realise that the plans are written with 70% compliance in mind, you might feel better some weeks dropping in a zone 2 day if you are starting to feel fatigued. It’s a while since I did the advanced all purpose road plan (I’m about to start intermediate all purpose indoor/outdoor) but the plans look a bit different to me than they used to with more of the Inspiration videos dropped in.

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Also just be aware some workouts have reduced intensities. Not as many now that we have the Inspiration vids, but just be aware that to get the coach prescribed intensity and coaches notes, you must open the workout from the calendar, not the workout list. I’ve been caught out a few times before.

Re the Advanced General Road Plan. It’s tough, really tough for some weeks. Volume and Intensity ramps up fast. As mentioned above, it’s ok to not be 100% compliant. But there are definitely a few hell weeks in that plan. Push through if you van and the results will show after the next rest week. If you can’t push through, it’s absolutely ok not to be compliant.

Also, if you’re used to other training platforms, I’m not sure any of them target all 4 power zones right like Suff does. E.g. Zwift sprint targets for me (based as a % of my FTP) are pathetic (like half what they should be) and TR sets completely the wrong MAP target for me as well, miles too easy. So when you come in to Suff from another platform…well it’ll feel frikkin tough.

A couple of questions:

  1. Are you newish to Sufferfest specifically? Appreciate you’ve obviously done a lot of training and have good fitness, but Suff is different and might take a wee bit of adaptation.
  2. Have you got a recent 4DP Full Frontal test result that has not been flagged? (looks like yes?)
  3. You say you have no other stresses like work. Are you still sleeping enough and fueling adequately? Protein post workout, within 30 minutes?
  4. Is adding in strength relatively new for you? If yes, be aware it takes a few months to adapt to it and bike performance can often drop (or feel harder) when starting strength work or a different kind of strength work. Suspect the same would be true if you started running or yoga. I even noticed a drop in cycling performance when I started swimming training again until I’d adapted.
  5. Are you doing extra stuff like Zwift racing, or long/fast/hard weekend group rides? If yes, you need to adjust your plan to offset that. There’s some specific guidance in the start of the Mountainous Gran Fondo plan on that, I can dig it out for you if you’d like to see what it says, but it’s around how to change the preceding and subsequent workout days if you have a fast group ride rather than the prescribed outdoor endurance paced ride. Different plan but may have some relevance.
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Yeah, I’m sort of a completionist, need all of it green on my calendar lol

Thanks, I’ll give it a read :slight_smile:

I always thought that block periodization is when instead spreading build up period over 3 weeks with one week of recovery you sort of reverse that and have a massive intensity punch in 1 week and then just basically recover/taper over the rest 3 weeks.

Are you guys suggesting some plans are build with block periodization in mind?

@DameLisa
A couple of questions:

  1. Are you newish to Sufferfest specifically? Appreciate you’ve obviously done a lot of training and have good fitness, but Suff is different and might take a wee bit of adaptation. started Suff 6 months ago…
  2. Have you got a recent 4DP Full Frontal test result that has not been flagged? (looks like yes?)Yes, already done like 4 and been going from pursuiter to sprinter
  3. You say you have no other stresses like work. Are you still sleeping enough and fueling adequately? Protein post workout, within 30 minutes?Yes, yes and yes :slight_smile:
  4. Is adding in strength relatively new for you? If yes, be aware it takes a few months to adapt to it and bike performance can often drop (or feel harder) when starting strength work or a different kind of strength work. Suspect the same would be true if you started running or yoga. I even noticed a drop in cycling performance when I started swimming training again until I’d adapted. I was to the gym before and also my previous plan was with added strenght
  5. Are you doing extra stuff like Zwift racing, or long/fast/hard weekend group rides? If yes, you need to adjust your plan to offset that. There’s some specific guidance in the start of the Mountainous Gran Fondo plan on that, I can dig it out for you if you’d like to see what it says, but it’s around how to change the preceding and subsequent workout days if you have a fast group ride rather than the prescribed outdoor endurance paced ride. Different plan but may have some relevance.nope, just Suff for now!

Don’t get me wrong, I feel like plans are working, but I also like to know why I am I asked to push when given what I know I can’t feel fresh enough to do it 100%. Yes I know it boils down to a personal feeling and what is too much for me on a given day might be just right next time I’m in that exact spot. Still wd be awesome to be able to backtrack the training thought behind it all…

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You are correct about what block periodization is, but it is not clear that it is worth it for us. You focus on one particular aspect of training during the one intense work. The problem for us who are not highly trained is that we can loose a lot of fitness over a 2 or 3 week recovery.

Sounds like we all wish we were you! Good to have all the variabilities removed.

On the days it’s just way too hard, dial it back. Your workout will still show as green. And often, when I’m on those really tough blocks, I start the workout then surprise myself with actually nailing or almost nailing every target. Sometime I suspect the training strategy is to fatigue the legs hugely and then use that fatigue to build a strength in something else.

Just looked at the plan, kudos for trying it.
One source of information I find useful is from
Dylan Johnsen

He has great stuff on sweet spot vs 80/20 and how to plan your year.
I like to plan myself as life gets in the way of most Sufferfest plans.

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I like Dylan’s analysis as well and his recent video on too much intensity in TR plans was pretty interesting.

Some plans in Suf definitely look to have too much intensity based on DJ’s analysis.

I’m using the basic 2 and 3 week blocks to build my plan and those seem to have the right level of intensity per DJ’s comments.

I agree it would be awesome. So far we’ve got the knowledge that only 70% compliance is expected. Does that mean I should avoid doing 3 out of every 10 workouts to stay on plan? Which ones? :man_shrugging: It still doesn’t explain the rest of the science of so many high intensity sessions per week

fwiw I have given up on the plans and I’m going it alone in what I believe is a far more structured way. I’ve also ditched the workouts that seem to try to hit all the zones in the same session. I’ve no idea if my plan is any better than any of the SUF ones but I’ve not had to abandon any or dial them down as yet. I’m also at 100% compliance…

I was about to comment that I didn’t observe this when planning out my Adv All Road plan, but I just checked the “Indoor, with Strength” variant and see what you’re saying. There’s a lot of intensity there.

For reference, I paid careful attention to this when picking out plans and determined that Adv. All Road (Indoor/Outdoor) had a reasonably balanced profile: a typical week is:

  • indoors: 2 hard interval workouts
  • indoors: 2-3 recovery/endurance workouts
  • outdoors: 1 long endurance ride
  • outdoors: 1 mid-length tempo ride

While I want to include strength, I like this profile a lot more than I like the idea of routinely doing ISLAGIATT (or similar) every weekend. For me, I’ll be cautiously including a strength block on top of the cycling plan. But if you want to ride inside, reducing intensity on the long weekend workouts could get at the same thing.

It may not be what everyone wants, but personally a major goal of following prescribed structured plans is to see what works (and what doesn’t) so as to be more capable of shaping/designing my own training in the future.

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Hi @przemonides Yes, this plan is hard for sure and some weeks really load you up. I can not find 6 high intensity workouts in any week. There are, however, multiple “structured” workouts in a week. This is an “All-Purpose” road plan and therefore includes a lot of diversity of stimulus. Some of these workouts target various dimensions of your 4DP profile in the same week. For example week 5 (Attacker, Cadence Drills, Insp, SUF Idol, cad holds, TGTTOS and Local Hero) Attacker and TGTTOS target FTP, cadence builds and holds focus on NP, Suf Idol AC and Local Hero with a good mix.
And yes, again, this would be a hard week but you come into it after a rest week.
This plan does have a lot of intensity but overall not a lot of volume (the biggest week is 7.5hrs) If you were to add volume to this I’d say you would be asking for trouble. If you are going to add volume to this situation you will certainly have to back off your intensity.
With this said, everyone responds slightly differently, depending on a variety of factors. Stress, sleep, fuel, and training history to name a few. The truth is that you really have to take a close look at how you feel when you are on the edge. If you can do the work, go for it, if you are having a “bad” day be ok with letting it go.
Sometimes we look at things on paper and make a call before actually trying. I am not saying that you should always push through but be willing to have a go. And if you come to the decision that you are not up for the session, let it go and move on. Never go back to pick it up.

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Also i don’ think you will find any study that ever answers this question as definitively as you would like. There will always be some level of (probably substantial) interpretation that you’ll need to apply.

  1. There’s still the question of optimal for whom and for doing what. Every study needs to make a choice about who they choose (trained vs. untrained) and how they try to measure a performance improvement (e.g., Vo2max, 20 minute time trial performance, etc.) so there’s always limitations in applicability. For example, if one training intervention improves 20 min time trial performance vs. another, what happens if you’re interested in TTE? You might get a different result.
  2. Often the choices researchers make in order to maximize statistical power will actually reduce applicability. For example, trained subjects are often hard to get to particpate because they have to give up control of their training during the duration of the study. Studies are often limited to a few weeks because otherwise it’s hard to get people to participate. They do things like make training interventions that are not “natural” vis-a-vis how people actually train because they need to control variables and need interventions that are very different from the control group. And so on and so on.
  3. Even observational studies have these same limitations. E.g., the way that a pro trains who has 30+ hours available iwll be very different from someone who has max of six. Similarly some elite athletes train polarized and some do more threshold and tempo stuff, but they build this based on what they are trying to achieve and their goals for that cycle may be different. So you still run into, each of these is what they viewed as being “optimal,” but it’s all in context of what they are trying to do.
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Hey @Coach.Jeff.H, I appreciate your answer, in particular about moving on when its just not your day. Seems I need to have that printed out somewhere as a reminder that we are not always at our best :wink:

I always considered strenght with drills as a hard day (please correct me if I’m wrong).

I did notice that my NM power suffers a lot when I do them without proper rest, after FTP and MAP sessions earlier in the week. I am currently classified as sprinter and those NM targets in tool shed (mash up) and Idol are really high and I need to be on top to match them.

There was It seemed like thin air (mash up) at the end of that hard builidng block and even though legs were trashed I managed to complete it, However, I was on the edge of being dropped at the very end. I admit I came to it with little motivation, ready to bail any minute, but my confidence rose with every mountain I was able to do, so it did feel good at the end :slight_smile:

First recovery day was terrible, very sore, HRV dipped by a lot, elevated HR. Second day much better already. I guess I will stick with the plan and try to approach it with that day to day mentality.

@devolikewhoa Hi, thanks for your insight, I do realize that Suff Team (now joined with wahoo) have great pool of data to be able to decide what looks like to be the best approach. I guess it all goes down to finding out what works best for an individual. I have some power data from previous seasons where I trained with more polarized approach. I’m curious how will it compare to this season. It would be awesome if Suff helped me to achieve a breakthrough!

@vancelopez Yeah I’ve went through his vids and he’s making some interesting points. One bing that you should have enough rest before your next HIIT sessions. I guess if it becames a pattern for me that shorter high intensity sessions impare my recovery rate and I’m not fresh for something like tool shed (mash up) than I will be adding more recovery before it.

@genolan I think they only ment that you will still see gains even if you do only 70% of the plan, not that in general they only expect you to do 70%. Probably should try both philosophies - high intensity and polarized and see what works best for you. Difference being in how we react, personally I feel that HIIT just loads so much additional stress that for someone who has to also manage life/work/relationships it might not be sustainable in long run.

I’m pretty sure, those are necessary as it replicates race scenario and at some point in our plans whe need to start puting those different pieces of our fitness together :slight_smile:

Again, I’m commited to have it finished to see what the gains are!

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I recently completed the advanced all-purpose road plan with strength and saw good gains across the board, especially in AC and NM.

I found the intensity pretty high on some weeks, but not excessive with the relatively low volume. I did fail a couple of the most intensive workouts, but not by a long way. Most workouts I nailed, even if I was destroyed at the end!

I would say as an endurance rider that I do prefer higher volume plans with less intensity, but I got great results from the all-purpose road plan and it is definitely very time efficient.

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