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Low vs high volume responders

Old 07-05-23, 10:47 AM
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Low vs high volume responders

A lot of the research points towards high volume being the superior training method, but I also realize “high volume” is very subjective, as the actual volume one can sustain can vary a lot, so what is high for one person may be low for another. Like 12 hours for me may be high, but low for a top pro.

Anyway, for those that are able to choose high, medium, or low volume, what works best for you in terms of peak performance?
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Old 07-06-23, 07:06 AM
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I've always just trained as much as my schedule permitted, and can't say that I've experimented with that systematically. Like many athletes, I ride most in the pre-season (base), then taper down towards high intensity intervals and racing. For me, the base phase is in the 15 - 17/week average, and maybe 11 - 13 in-season. It takes some midweek PTO once or twice/block to hit those hours during base.

For the past few seasons, I've done a week or two in the 19-20 hour range, and I'm not sure I'm interested in riding any more than that haha. It starts to feel like a chore.

Demographically, I'm a salaried scientist that sees my working about 42-44 hours a week, married (no kids yet), and spend a good chunk of time volunteering with my local cycling club and pursuing my other hobby - music (piano). When kids are in the picture, I imagine that I will not be hitting the same hours, especially during base. Then, I'll have to focus on more "time-crunched" training plans that feature SST time in favor of endless miles, and maybe one long ride per week if I'm lucky. It will be interesting to see how I respond.
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Old 07-06-23, 07:08 AM
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Having said that, I feel like I benefit tremendously from having a high aerobic base. I always have good lactate clearance, or performance during "over-under" efforts (breakaway etc), so a) having that redline as high as possible and b) being able to hold that sort of effort for a long time greatly benefits me.
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Old 07-07-23, 09:23 AM
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Interesting topic. More later.
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Old 07-12-23, 08:49 AM
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It's always been the more hours I put in, the faster I get. For me, big weeks would be; 15–20 hours, and an average week 11-14. Hitting those big ones are tough though because I have a job. 2021 was my fastest year, and I have no doubt that's because I was hitting a lot of 15-18 hour weeks. I will say though that the ROI isn't very high, there's only a slight difference in performance, but it's there.

We have a couple of guys out here that do like 3 rides a week and are just crazy fast. Then we have some sprinters that barely put in work for obvious reasons. I just go under the assumption the first group would be even faster with real volume.
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Old 07-25-23, 04:45 PM
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I have matched the event requirements to the training (or at least my coaches have). I have not been coached to ride long hours to improve performance. I have done training camps and long rides in preparation for events but that is about it.

My question for those doing longer hours is how do you fuel the week?

Upon starting my recent nutrition program, I found that I have been training like a pro and eating like a spectator. It is not about healthy versus less healthy but sheer quantities and the right food that matches my genetics. I am finding optimizing nutrition fun and challenging and in some ways harder than intervals or long endurance rides. YMMV.
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Old 07-26-23, 07:33 AM
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I personally have not tried to optimize my diet for bigger volume, just eating more. When I worked with a coach early in the season, he told me to optimize my nutrition during my VO2 max block to maximize glycogen. He told keep my basic diet the same, but to make my afternoon snack a bowl of rice specifically.

During the work week - I have overnight oats with berries and hardboiled eggs for breakfast, and a veggie sandwich for lunch. Some sort of nut-butter based afternoon snack. Dinner can be more variable, and often less healthy, but most of the time I'm eating pretty "clean".
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Old 07-26-23, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by furiousferret
It's always been the more hours I put in, the faster I get. For me, big weeks would be; 15–20 hours, and an average week 11-14. Hitting those big ones are tough though because I have a job. 2021 was my fastest year, and I have no doubt that's because I was hitting a lot of 15-18 hour weeks. I will say though that the ROI isn't very high, there's only a slight difference in performance, but it's there.

We have a couple of guys out here that do like 3 rides a week and are just crazy fast. Then we have some sprinters that barely put in work for obvious reasons. I just go under the assumption the first group would be even faster with real volume.
Oh how I miss all the hours I could get in with WFH in 2020. Especially that spring/summer. My kids were young enough that I could get them through their stuff in the morning while cramming as much work in as I could, do lunch, and then put them down for a nap and get several good hours in every day.
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Old 08-01-23, 08:28 AM
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Volume question for you...

My best recent 1x20' is 320w, and recently did a 2x20 @ 300w and I had enough gas in the tank to likely get a third. Top of zone 2 HR is around 210-220w. I typically do my zone 2 rides near the top of zone 2, say 190-220w, and find I can't do a ton of volume without building fatigue throughout the week. I was looking at a buddies strava, one of the best crit racers in the state, and noticed he is doing a lot of riding with average power in the 140-160w range, with an FTP of around 300w. I figured I'd try it, and found that my HR is only like 50-60% of max, and my legs seemingly collect very little fatigue at all. Is this how people are collecting so much volume? Is doing a lot of riding at 50% of FTP really going to help? Seems so low, but I also don't think I'd be able to do over 10-12 hours without doing a lot of my riding in that range. Maybe I should still do one day a week at the top of zone 2 and do the rest at a very low intensity so I can get more volume in?
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Old 08-01-23, 09:42 AM
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I've heard from a local coach that riding at the top end of z2 (or even low z3) isn't really giving you appreciably more adaptation than at the low end. So, I think there are maybe diminishing returns to that. My riding time is going to drop appreciably fairly soon, so I will likely have to sub some longer zone 2 rides for SST type work. But even then, I can't see much point in riding mid to high z2.

I am also in the 300 w FTP camp, usually a bit less, or a touch higher if I'm really good. My z2 rides are usually in the 150 to 160 w range in AP. My best ever 20 min was 325 w (at 65 kg).
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Old 08-01-23, 12:48 PM
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I'm friendly with Kolie Moore (empirical cycling podcast) and he definitely advocates for z2 being on the easier end of the spectrum, even as low as 55%. Personally, I feel like the best balance for me is around 200-210w for long endurance (305w ftp atm), my 5hr power is 230 so endurance isn't too much of an issue for me!
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Old 08-01-23, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by hubcyclist
I'm friendly with Kolie Moore (empirical cycling podcast) and he definitely advocates for z2 being on the easier end of the spectrum, even as low as 55%. Personally, I feel like the best balance for me is around 200-210w for long endurance (305w ftp atm), my 5hr power is 230 so endurance isn't too much of an issue for me!
200- 210 is high z2 with a 300w FTP. Do you have a specific reason for pedaling that hard during endurance rides? I'm pretty tired when I end long rides with hat kind of AP.

Another thing that's important to factor in is IF as well. My riding has a lot of coasting down hill and start/stop from stoplights etc. I don't have a ton of continuously open stretches where I can just stay steady on it.
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Old 08-01-23, 01:49 PM
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no real reason I just kind of naturally settle into that, and my HR stays sub 130 a lot at those wattages which is super easy for me. i've got some really good efficiency factor/RPE at z2
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Old 08-01-23, 02:40 PM
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hubcyclist have you ever gotten into gravel racing or endurance MTB? Could be good for you. Endless high z2 - sweet spot. I'm more of a hot/cold or over/under type physiology. Which is why riding long and bringing my basement up benefits me so well.
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Old 08-02-23, 07:01 AM
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i did gravel worlds in 2019 because my in-laws live in Nebraska, but being around Boston there's not really a ton of unpaved roads to ride regularly, and haven't done any of the new england based gravel events (my impression is that it's a bit more technical than midwestern gravel).

personally, non-competitively i'm aiming to average 21mph for a local century route I do once or twice a year, have done sub 5 a couple of times. I don't necessarily need more power to get my goal, just need to keep working on my position. but i should seek out to do more competitive events that favor my particular profile
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Old 09-10-23, 11:29 PM
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A big week for me is 10 hours. Very rare. 7 hours is average.
I missed a lot of riding with vacations, covid, and post crash.
But I was still able to meaningfully participate in the master's crit. Ftp according to xert was 290 by end of crit season. Certainly not my best fitness. The result of going into the season with little volume and prior fitness. I never wrote raced my way into the shape I wanted.

I did a 200 mile week this past week. I want to go into 2024 a little fitter.
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Old 09-11-23, 10:17 AM
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I'm definitely a high volume kind of racer, but probably not for the normal reasons. For me, the chill 3-5 hour Z2 rides are something I really enjoy, and I find that a lot of training plans for low volume cut those out. Training then just starts to get really mentally taxing and I don't want to do it anymore. I'm a grownup now, with a little kids and a full-time job, and really only have time for 5-7 hours a week on the bike. I made the decision a couple years ago to not bother with racing. I have zero desire to try to shoehorn my training into 5-7 hours, I would hate riding after 3 months.
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Old 09-11-23, 05:09 PM
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When I raced I was very old school but living in north central Florida I could train all year. In the off season I did a large volume of riding maxing out at Zone 2 for one or two rides of my shorter rides per week. Most weeks were well over 300 miles. Then when racing season approached I joked that my new coach was Les Miles. It was fewer miles but the intensity went way up. I started doing ZeCannon intervals (is he still around? 5 minutes over threshold, one minute off with a total of six reps, If you do them correctly you have exercised induced Tourette's syndrome toward the end of the last one) and a bit later in my training it was shorter intervals ending up with what I called "stomps": 10 seconds from almost a standstill in your highest gear as hard as you could repeated for ten reps.

Probably better protocols are out there now but that worked for me.
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Old 09-18-23, 10:53 AM
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All I can say is that, based on the performance of my teammates and other racers I know, the ones who put in a lot of volume perform better. I don't have that kind of time, so I've tried all sorts of "time crunched" shortcuts. None of those make up for the volume in training I've lost over the years. And that's not just for longer events, but also short stuff like crits or shorter circuit races. Obviously, you can only do what you can do, but if your life allows for longer, so-called base training, I'd think you'd be well served to do it.
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