Build Me Up (12-week training plan)

I just finished this plan today, so I thought I’d share my experience for anyone considering this. For the TL:DR set, skip to the end!

A bit of background:

IIRC, this is the third plan I’ve tried since they were rolled out (the others being the Gravel Grinder last fall and ‘Active Off-season’ earlier this year). I’ve also done the older workout plans like the 6-week (?) FTP builder and have been using Zwift fairly consistently (at least 3-4 nights/week) for 2+ years.

And, through all of that? My FTP was very firmly and frustratingly ‘stuck’. Every time I tested, I got essentially the same result: 222 W +/- 2W. That said, I’ve been shedding pounds all along the way - so I’d seen modest gains in W/kg even with stagnant power numbers.

After reading a bit about the ‘Build Me Up’ training plan, it seemed like it might be just what I needed to help me prepare for the Mount Washington hillclimb in August - so I enrolled sometime in April. Due to a scheduling blunder and some outdoor rides, I missed 2 workouts and the initial FTP test during Week 2. After that, I was determined to stick to the plan and not miss any more.

The first 6 (or maybe 7?) aren’t terribly hard. The individual workouts are definitely challenging (assuming your FTP is set right going into it), but it’s somewhere around 2/3 of the way through the plan where things get serious. Goes to 5 workouts/week, often with 2 long & tough ones back-to-back at the end of a week (first 2 x 90 min, then 2 x 2 hrs). It’s possible to schedule them with a shorter workout or a rest day in-between - it just depends on how you choose to ride them and on your own time constraints, if any. For me? It made for a couple big weekends.

I didn’t skip any - even if it meant foregoing perfect weather outside - because I wanted to get the full benefit (if any) of a long, structured plan.

Result:

FTP pre-plan: 222W
Weight pre-plan: 62.7 kg
3.5 W/kg

FTP post-plan: 233W
Weight post-plan: 60.7 kg
3.8 W/kg

I’m pleased with the outcome. Also really happy it’s over, lol! Looking forward to some outdoor riding again and some hill work in the real world.

Cheers.

Nice Joe. I did that plan last year when I first got Zwift/trainer. It was challenging trying not to miss some workouts even though it tolerated moving things around a day or two but I am a believer (perhaps naively) that the plan is put together in a structured way that each workout builds on the other, so did the same as you and made sure I completed all sessions.

I did find it challenging to fit in real life riding even though I was hitting my winter, but I enjoyed the discipline side to it.

I got a big boost to FTP but I am a mtb’er and focus more on downhill, not endurance (a downhill run over 15mins is endurance!). Zwift compliments my mtb’ing perfectly to the point that I bought a gravel bike and go for some big-for-me adventures as often as I can.

I know some people have a moan about Zwift not being 100% perfect for them, but reckon its added a whole bunch of years to my life, I’ve virtually met a big bunch of good people, and have never felt healthier.

See you out there!

Cheers

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12 weeks of hard graft to gain 11watts! I know gains vary massively from person to person but i thought it would be more than that, bit off putting as i was considering doing this :frowning:

It doesn’t seem like much when you view it that way, but it’s a gain of 5%.

Or, taken together with weight change over the course of the plan? 3.5 w/kg to 3.8 w/kg = an 8.6% increase. It’s not insignificant, even if it’s ‘only’ 11 Watts.

Like you say, everyone responds differently - so you may see more improvement (or not). Only one way to find out! :wink:

[edit: just saw your other post. If you’ve been “stuck” for a long time, definitely try the ‘Build Me Up’ plan. I was in the same boat. If you stick with it, I’m sure you’ll get ‘unstuck’. They’re good workouts!]

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Hi Everyone

I have just bought an indoor trainer a couple of weeks ago and had just finished the first week of this plan. Seems pretty structured and tame at the start but still able to give a small kick in the butt.

However, I was wondering and hoping to seek your opinions, as I am more of a mountain biker, are there any other plans asides from this that could potentially benefit me more?

I know this is an old thread, but I’m about halfway through this plan. You’re right, at the beginning it’s a little easy, but they soon start kicking your ass!

I’m excited to see the gains at the end. I’ve missed a couple due to weddings and being away from home, but on the whole I’ve kept pretty religiously to the schedule.

I was around 76kg when I started and I’m currently at 72kg. This, with a strong diet and morning weight training has me at my leanest for years! I would recommend it to anyone who’s looking for something to push their training through the winter months.

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Hey Adam,

That’s awesome!
I have always wondered, with this training plan, how do you incorporate recovery days together with this? Would like to learn more from you =)

At a glance, it looks like 4x per week of training. But if you consider adding weight training as well as weekend rides, there’s probably little to no time for recovery. Wouldnt that lead to over-training?

For myself, I used to be a gym goer more than a cyclist. Therefore I would be training at the gym for about 6x per week with 1 day for recovery. As my focus has changed, I would be riding over the weekends for about 3-5 hours each day. If you add in indoor training with this plan, you’ll have on most weeks 6 days on the bike. If you throw in weight training into the mix, would you be punishing the body too much? Curious to your opinion

I’m probably not qualified to answer that. My typical week looks like this:

Monday-Friday AM weight training (5x per week)
Tuesday and Thursday PM football (1h)

That leaves any evenings and weekends for training on the bike. I don’t cycle outside during the winter on account of it being cold, wet, and dark, so I typically cycle Monday-Wednesday-Weekends.

I’m probably overtraining, but I’ve been doing this for seven weeks now (starting my eighth week tonight) and I feel great. At the end of the 12 week plan I’ll be taking more time off. I figure going full on for 12 weeks and then taking a rest should be sufficient for me.

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Thats awesome dude!!
I am just on my 2nd week. Cant wait to see what the FTP at the end holds for me haha!

My starting FTP is 228Watts coming from a BMX background being brand new to Indoor Cycling/Road Cycling.

I am on week 5 of this program and so far its pretty grueling, maybe my FTP is wrong I’m not sure I only did one FTP test before starting. With the way this plan is pushing me I do hope to gain at least 10-20w FTP if not more! Great plan though so far.

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Glad you’re liking it so far. Hang in… It starts to get really interesting @ week 7, then you get an easy week @ 8.

Weeks 9 - 11?? :hot_face::smiling_imp: :hot_face:

So good.

I’m going through the plan again now, trying to get back to where I was before an appendectomy and subsequent infection in September put me in the hospital twice and off the bike for nearly a month.

Recovery was really slow-going at first, but I’m getting there. Had to drop my FTP by ~ 15% starting out, but have bumped it up in 5% increments along the way. I’m heading into Week 8 now, and I’m going to try to complete 9-12 w/ my FTP back where I was before the surgery etc.

Thats awesome man!! Ride on!!

I have a question based on FTP.

I did the test on my MTB before doing the plan and my FTP is at 216 (I am weak…)
Is it normal to not being able to keep up with the cadence on the later part of the workout? Like right from week one, I could hang in there for the first 30mins and then I start to slow down? of course I will be fighting my way through to keep up.

And here is the thing, I just did wek 5’s #8 but I felt like… It was about 75%-80% effort although its supposed to be a VO2MAX training day. I could keep up all the way and even speed up my cadence more than the implied cadence.

Do I need to adjust my FTP?

Each workout is different. Some of them get a lot harder as they go on w/ really minimal (or no) rest, and it can be a struggle to hit the target cadence for the harder intervals toward the end (especially when the target is Zone 5 or 6 at 110 or 115 RPM and your legs are already fatigued).

Others are relatively easy.

The best way to know if you need to adjust your FTP is to take an FTP test.

Hi All, I took an FTP test a couple of weeks ago, 234W / 85kg (2.75w/kg) and did the Novanta session from the Build Me Up Pre-Plan last night. It absolutely kicked my butt, most of it is at 90% FTP. I was not able to keep the cadence / power during the second 20 min set which is 90% of FTP with varying cadence. Should I be able to finish this session or should I drop FTP setting to start out on this? Are all the sessions that hard? Wondering if I’m signed up for the right plan (I did the 6 week builder plan last winter and was looking for something a little longer term)

With your FTP properly set, the Build Me Up workouts are difficult by design but - generally - things you’ll get through w/ some determination.

If you’re struggling with the cadence changes toward the end, but still getting (mostly) through the blocks at the target W? Your FTP is probably where it should be, and the ‘hard’ sessions will get a little easier as you progress and build fitness (before they get harder/longer still in later weeks)!

On the other hand, if the workouts feel impossible to complete? Your FTP might be set a bit too high. Remember too, that you can always use the FTP bias button on the companion app to drop your FTP a few % on the fly if you’re just having a bad day.

Hang in there, and good luck!

Thanks Joe,
I’ve got HALVFEMS this weekend, will see how it goes and adjust accordingly. Good call on the bias, I’ve not used that before, will take a look.

It’s not supposed to be easy right but man I’m pretty sore today :slight_smile::sweat:

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I started this plan with an FTP of 269 W (3.24 W/kg @ 83 kg)

and ended with an FTP of 310 [+50 W] (3.82 W/kg @ 81 kg)

To note, I increase my FTP by about +5W in every week I felt like the work was getting too easy. I did an FTP test around the middle of the plan that put me bang on with my increases (That was at around an FTP of 303 W) so I know I was not increasing it for a reason.

That being said, the last 2 weeks were absolute ■■■■ with an “accurate” FTP and perhaps if I had not updated my FTP every week it would of been more doable. I actually did not manage to complete the last workout of the plan (the 2nd 2 hour ride).

Note I was a fairly new rider at the time and had only 4 months of cycling in my legs prior to starting the plan so most likely I was seeing newby gains, but I think with a bit more knowledge behind interval training the overall plan makes sense and has good progression.

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Last night I finished the Build Me Up training plan. I surely cannot be as weak as my calculated FTP says I am, but I have to take the results as they are given to me. I did the full 1h13m FTP test on Zwift using my Wahoo KICKR.

My results after 12 weeks

Starting weight: 76 kg with an FTP of 165 > 2.07 Watts per Kg
Finishing weight: 70 kg with an FTP of 186 > 2.53 Watts per Kg

I had hoped that I would be a lot better than these results suggest and I’m sitting here a little disappointed if I’m honest. I have friends who I ride with who I’m much stronger than on the bike but their FTP is much higher than mine.

I guess I’ll just keep going and do another one in the summer. It was a really good training plan, it kept me focussed, I lost a tonne of weight and got a little stronger on the bike in the process. I would recommend it to anyone looking to achieve the above.

some feedback from me,

I could not finish the unicorn the 2 hardest one, may my ftp was to hard but I started at 290w last test I did was in summer 270… but in august I got a new ftp in one race ( outside ) 305 so i used 290 as few true program, and I felt I got stronger each week. ended up whit 344 on test, 325 ftp after 12 weeks, and down 2 kg.
fun program, I’m going to test tune me up no,
will do int again next winter

Is your trainer calibrated correctly?