Build Me Up support thread

Hi, just thought I would start a general thread for anyone doing Build Me Up to chat, moan, and celebrate.

My story: 51, 79kg, reduced lung function due to untreated childhood asthma, been cycling since, well forever. FTP currently around 225W according to my Elite Suito, 240W according to my Assioma Duos :face_with_raised_eyebrow: Ride road, MTB, gravel, anything but as I get older my tolerance for outdoor riding in crappy conditions is dropping like a stone so thought I would really try and focus on some autumn/winter indoor training and only go outside when it wasn’t horizontal carwash (I live in England…)

I don’t really have any goal in mind other than boost FTP and VO2max. It would be nice to be able to go out with one of the faster groups in my club for example and my lad (he’s just turning 11) races CX and always asks if I am going to enter the vets race so that might be something to work towards (I would be resigned to coming dead last!)

I’m in week 4 and just about to face the dreaded Purple Unicorn. Everything so far has been doable, except for Amalgam. The VO2max pyramids killed me. I had to take an extra 2 mins recovery after each one, and then had to take multiple rests during the 10 minutes @ FTP block that followed. I just really struggle with recovery from VO2max - possibly due to my reduced lung function. This makes me worry for later workouts which have a lot of VO2max!

Also, been doing all the workouts on the Alpe (or Ventoux when it is available) to work towards the Tron bike and now only 1800m off!!!

Anyway, let me know your BMU stories and progress, your highs and lows, and what you are working towards.

I’ve been CX’ing well before Zwift helped with my fitness and I can assure you, regardless of where you place, it will be some of the most type 2 fun you can have. It will push you harder than any workout and yeah, you could come last but that doesnt matter, cos a) you will be lapped and the chaos that is a CX race means no-one except the race leaders ever really know where they are at and you seriously wont care at the the end of the race (yes, been there!), and b) sharing the experience with your kids is HUGE. But 225/79kg will not be last! Perhaps just dont enter Cat A/P1 equiv :slight_smile:

Back to the subject - BMU seems quite popular so good idea if you can turn this into a bit of a BMU FAQ style discussion rather multiple various posts around the place.

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I am doing this program as well, I am also on my 4th week (rest week) I am going to do sneaky tomorrow and doing Purple Unicorn on the weekend.


Well I did Purple Unicorn and it was…interesting. I wouldn’t say it was easy particularly, but at no point did I feel like I might not make it. In fact it felt distinctly easier than Yellow Unicorn in week 3 and HR bears this out:

Yellow Unicorn first, Purple Unicorn second - you can see that Yellow Unicorn was a hard threshold workout, whereas Purple Unicorn was basically a tempo ride at most.

I can think of three possible reasons:

  1. I’m actually getting fitter
  2. I was heavily fatigued in week 3 but week 4 is basically a de-load week and coincided with a week off work so not nearly as tired.
  3. I actually got round to washing my bike properly and re-lubing the drive train and got back a bunch of watts

I was half-thinking about upping my FTP a bit but then looked forward to weeks 6 and onwards and think that might not be a good idea.

Anyway, week 5 doesn’t really look that bad - looking at the overall TSS for the week it is no worse than week 2, kinda looking forward to it.

Interested to hear how you found Purple Unicorn Ron, particularly in comparison to Yellow in week 3.

Just starting BMU week 1 so following with interest.
This weekend is probably the last on the summer MTB (Ontario, Canada), and fatbiking is a couple of months away before there’s a good base on the trails, so I thought it would be a great time to work on fitness.

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Good man. Also, if you don’t have the Tron bike yet, and if you can bear the monotony, do every workout on the Alpe, or on Ventoux when it is available (no lead in), and you will soon have it in the bag.

I’m about to start week 2. I started cycling seriously last year with a mountain bike on the roads when the pandemic hit. Bought a trainer last winter and used it over the winter on Zwift and moved from C to B (the very bottom of B) on Zwift. Bought a road bike at the beginning of the year and rode it all summer and just transitioning back inside onto Zwift now.

Did a ramp test before I signed up for the build me up plan (245W) which is where i was at the end of last winter. I have no power or cadence info on my outdoor bike so no clue what sort of power I was putting down outside.

I’d love to up my ftp a bit so I’m quicker next summer and also it’d be nice to be able to compete (read that as not getting dropped and finishing adrift and last) in the B cat races.

I’m planning on doing the ramp test every 4 to 6 weeks to keep track of my ftp and to hopefully adjust it upwards as the plan progresses!

Hey David The plan has been worked out to scale based on your initial FTP so and increasing FTP as you work through it is “built in”. Re-testing and upping your FTP could mean that you then find the harder workouts (week 6 onwards) impossible and will have to adjust down again. Sure, if you suddenly start finding the VO2max workouts super-easy it’s time to bump them up, but for example I just finished week 4 and found the long over-under workout (Purple Unicorn) very easy. I was very tempted to bump up my FTP but now that I am in week 5 and looking at week 6 I am very glad I didn’t! There is a big change in emphasis after week 4 from tempo/threshold to VO2max and it can come as quite a shock to the system.

I didn’t know that, but I feel doing a 3 month plan and only testing at the end to see if it’s done anything could result in wasted time. If it’s not doing anything half way through then I’d like to know and potentially switch to something else.

Did anyone else have anything odd with starting this weeks workout? I ride tue, wed, thu, sat, sun (and if the weather is ok I’ll head outside for one of the weekend rides). I started week 1 last week on Tuesday around 8am (I may have joined the plan the night before, can’t remember exactly). I finished the last of week 1s rides on Saturday (starting around 8am again).

Over the weekend I saw in the companion app that week 2s workouts would be available Tuesday morning which I thought was odd since I thought they would be available Monday, but I didn’t care since I wasn’t going to ride to Tuesday anyway. Come Tuesday morning (8am) the app said they would be available at 11am. That’s a bummer since I ride early in the morning so I did another ride since there wasn’t much else I could do.

I checked later in the afternoon and indeed they were all now available and said to do by Tuesday morning and the following week said available Tuesday morning. This was a bit annoying, but I figured it would be the same time so I could do one of this weeks workouts next Tuesday morning.

Now in the companion app next weeks are now saying available Monday evening which means if I manage to ride outside this weekend then I’ll miss one of this weeks workouts.

No idea why they decided my week 2 should start at 11am and now it seems to have moved forward by 12 hours for next week.

Hey David - absolutely no problem with testing during the plan to measure progress, I would suggest doing this in weeks 4 and 8 as these are de-load weeks. I would just caution against accepting the new, higher FTP in Zwift, as it will likely make the subsequent workouts too hard. For example if you find you’ve got a 5% boost in FTP on a week 4 test, and accept that in Zwift, I think it’s unlikely that you would be able to complete some of the week 5 workouts.

Regarding the start time - I really don’t understand this, Zwift’s behaviour can be very strange. I think the safest thing to do is enroll in a plan the week before and do the first workout as it becomes available at the weekend. There is timezone weirdness at play too.

Week 5 Update and Comments

So after the de-load of week 4 we start with a change of focus. Whereas the earlier workouts were more base oriented, week 5 introduces VO2max efforts. First up is #8 with 6 shortish VO2max effort and a Z2 blob in the middle. It’s unpleasant (as VO2max always is) but fine.

Next is Tine which is basically three long-ish over-unders. Nothing hugely taxing.

Following that is Escalation, which is where it gets a bit more interesting. There’s a bunch of random stuff which at least keeps it interesting earlier on but the sting is in the tail: 2 sets of 30/30s at 150% FTP. Basically tabata intervals on a bike. These take some mental fortitude to get through.

Lastly, there is Method, which is basically a Z2/Z3 noodle with some pedalling drills thrown in.

Overall, it’s a relatively easy week, except for the shock to the system of the VO2max and (worse) anaerobic intervals. This is the first time they are really present in bulk in a workout (except for the pyramids in Amalgam in week 3) and it’s important to stay focused and push through them. Especially for the 30/30s, the first 2 or 3 feel easy and then you hit a wall and it’s important to realise that the main barrier to completion is psychological, not physiological.

I had more timing weirdness this week. This morning it said my last ride of week 2 (mishmash) had expired which I had expected, but week 3 was available so I did one from week 3 (amalgam). After the ride the ride summary said I was still in week 2 and the companion app had that my week 2 workout was available and due in 45 minutes and that all week 3 would be available at 5pm. I’ve contacted Zwift support about it and I’ll see what they say.

Other than the timing issues I’ve enjoyed the actual workouts so far. Unlike other workouts I’ve done (I did the grand fondo plan last year) it seems all the ones in build me up give target cadences as well. And for the most part the sections are quite short which always give you something in the short term to aim for. Having said that I didn’t like the last interval of amalgam which was just 10 minutes at your FTP.

Amalgam is the only workout I have had to take breaks on so far. The VO2max efforts were really tough and I had to take 3 30 second breaks during that 10 minutes @ FTP that came directly after them.

Amalgam was hard, but I managed it ok, although that could just be because I had a rest day the day before. I found the ham sandwich the day after amalgam tougher. Not really looking forward to yellow unicorn, but planning to have a rest/recovery day the day before it!

Yikes, I’m finding week 2 tough!
I’ve cleared every interval in all the workouts so far but it’s certainly no gimme.
I think I aced my 20 min FTP test before the program though (runner used to structured training - know how to suffer) so I believe the relative workout difficulty is right up there for my fitness level.
I’m a little intimidated reading how the program gets harder.

Stick with it! If you’ve cleared every interval then it sounds about right. If you start regularly failing intervals, or having to extend rests, then maybe think about using the bias buttons or even knocking your FTP in Zwift down by a few percent. Week 3 is tougher still, then you get to de-load on week 4, and then do it all over again :slight_smile:

A rest before yellow is a good idea. I was quite nervous about purple unicorn but actually found it easier than yellow, probably because I was better rested as it comes in the de-load week. I’m currently on week 6 which is the first week with 5 workouts in and although none of them are terrible on paper the fatigue really builds up, especially when you chuck in a couple of outdoor rides.

5 workouts a week, aghhhhh. I should have paid more attention to what I was signing up for (or maybe it’s good I didn’t). I play soccer once a week (friday nights) and my worst workout so far was Saturday morning so going forward I was planing on taking saturdays off (or a light easy ride), but not sure if I’ll manage that if I need to do 5 in a week.

Week 6 Update and Comments

Volume increasing this week (5 workouts totalling 6.5 hours) but the intensity is manageable. There’s a predictable pattern developing with a VO2max effort, some threshold stuff, some cadence changes, and then a longer workout putting it together.

The week started with 15.9 which is the VO2max intervals followed by a longer tempo interval. Fine, we know the drill here. Next up C.A, which is basically cadence/position drills at fairly low effort levels so not too taxing. Uphill Battle starts to become more taxing with 3 sweet spot intervals followed by the dreaded 30/30 anaerobic efforts. This is the first workout of the week which is going to make you wake up and take notice. Attack is more long tempo intervals. I was feeling pretty good on this one so biased up the whole workout by 5% after the warmup. HWBTWTDWH is just long but at least there is quite a bit of variety. The only taxing bit are the 5 minute intervals at 100rpm which I always find quite tiring.

I did very little other work in addition to the scheduled workouts - a single 25km/360m coffee ride at very social/chatty pace, and my daily morning ride to school with my kid, which is a bit tougher than it sounds as I come back the ‘hard’ way, which involves a nice 100m road climb, which is always a good pick-me-up before breakfast.

So overall, not a massively heavy week BUT I did notice the volume. I did HWBTWTDWH on Sunday morning and then was coaching in the afternoon and then I was DONE - there may have been a bit of falling asleep in a chair while watching the UCI Track Champions League! Taking a rest day today (apart from the school run), and then hitting week 7 tomorrow - and it looks like a tough one.