Build Me Up - week 4, FTP increasing making workouts easier?

Hi All,

I was wondering if I could ask for some advice :).

I have been cycling around 2k km per year for the last 6 years. This has jumped up to 5k km this year due to lockdown!

I have a reasonable base fitness but have never done any kind of structured training so was interested to try in out a Zwift training plan in the hope there could be nice low-hanging fruit to have a decent increase (and because it’s getting cold outside).

I did not do the formal FTP 20 minute effort before commencing but I did a 20 minute uphill effort on Zwift in a free ride with setting my FTP in mind. This is 215.

I have just completed the first 4 weeks of build me up, missing one session due to illness. I found some sessions reasonably difficult during the first couple of weeks, but have finished all without dropping stars and felt I could have done another interval at least when completing purple unicorn yesterday, which some people have flagged as a very challenging workout. The previous ‘unicorn’ effort in week I found quite tough towards the end.

My questions are,
i.) Does the plan take foregranted that your fitness and FTP will be increasing across the 12 weeks and account for that completely with more intense and progressively difficult workouts, even if some of the longer workouts feel a little easier than they should at times?

ii.) Should I do a formal FTP test this week and potentially start the training plan again if there is a considerable increase?

I have seen some topics where people recommend using the bias button to make workouts a little more difficult, but this seems a less tangible way of measuring and benchmarking where you should be at in a structured program.

Am I just being a little impatient and just chill and continue at current FTP as workouts and workload do look like they are getting more difficult? I just really don’t want to waste the next 8 weeks if I should be re-benchmarking and going back to start again.

Thanks for all advice :slight_smile:

I’m currently retesting myself every 6 weeks or so.

however, now that i started zwift academy, I want to finish the full 12 events, then retest… so basically up to you. but i do think if you take a true FTP test, you will try to max yourself out more than just an informal test. Do the short ramp test.

Hi Simon

I’m in week 12 so have now completed all the hard workouts (apart from the final FTP test). I too came at it with a good base fitness from pushing myself on the road, no prior training plan experience but did do an FTP test the week before commencing Build Me Up (after 10 days on a trainer and my first formal FTP test so unlikely to be spot on). On doing the Zone Benchmarking I upped my FTP by 5% which seems to have worked for me and put me closer to, yet still below, my Strava estimated outdoor road FTP (which I knew was too high).

Your experience of the first 4 weeks sounds identical to mine, suggesting that you’re probably fairly accurate with where you’ve based your FTP. Some challenging ones although achievable, and Purple Unicorn was not as hard as I thought it would be (probably Orange felt the hardest for me).

The second phase (weeks 5-8) is quite different and you’ll probably find some of them very challenging and others a walk in the park. There’s a mix of coaching in here and not blowing you up on every ride. Oh, and don’t be surprised if you feel some of the longer rides are a whole lot easier than the shorter ones …

By the time you hit Phase 3 (importantly no change in your FTP from week 1) the rides are more challenging but you are well prepared now physically and mentally and I did not find weeks 10 and 11 as hard as I expected (weeks 7 and 9 had some particularly challenging workouts for me - achievable but at times I felt only just!). You should feel fatigue increasing though. I could not imagine having completed some of these in the first phase, or now at an FTP much higher than what my workouts are based on. Shayne Gaffney didn’t put 4-6 weekly FTP tests in for a reason - just one at the end.

So from my experience, and reading the forums, it sounds like you’re probably not far off and already heading into week 5 you probably shouldn’t be adjusting your FTP. Either, as some have suggested in other threads, do a formal FTP test and start from week one, or continue, using the Bias button to increase the hard workouts if you’re feeling they’re not hard (the VO2 max workouts will let you know that quickly).

Hope that helps. Enjoy BMU - I certainly feel I’ve gained enormously from it.


hey Craig,

thank you so much for your extremely detailed response. it is great to hear from someone who is 8 weeks ahead and interesting that you had a similar experience of the unicorns!!

I think I will continue as is based on this advice, which is much appreciated. Do let me know how you get on with your final FTP test, I would be interested to see what gains you made overall.

Definitely enjoying the structure of the plan and the accountability / consistency it forces.

Thanks also @chuck - I guess I have all winter before spring arrives so perhaps have time to finish this 8 weeks, retest, and start again :smiley: good luck with zwift academy!


Une petite question, quand on commence le plan on peut faire les séances quand on le veut ou pas?
En gros la semaine 1 il y a 4 séance, on doit les faire pdt la semaine ou on peut le faire sur 2 semaines par manque de temps?
Merci d’avance.


I’ll reply in English as my schoolboy French is not very good. Every week starts on a Monday and ends on a Sunday night - the rides for that week can only be done during that week and are not available the following week. (You can however find them on “what’s on Zwift” although this would negate the structure/ progression of the plan.)

Hope that helps

Ok merci pour la réponse.

Hi, I’m on week 7 and also felt the same as you both! Unicorns felt hard to finish but then vo2 where a whole different thing! I started on 180 ftp and feel very curious to know how much more I will improve!

Yes, those VO2 workouts …

I hope you keep enjoying it. I have my FTP test in 2 days and, while a good increase will be nice, regardless of the outcome I know that this 12 week plan has made me a better, fitter rider through both the hard stuff and the coaching.

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Good luck with the test Chuck :muscle:

OK Feeling chuffed! Ride 50 (FTP test) yesterday and patting myself on the back for staying committed and getting through the 12 weeks - there were some rides when I doubted I would.

Really enjoyed it - admittedly new to structured cycling training but having read a little, the way it’s structured makes sense as a training program, building you up physically and mentally, and looking after you along the way (the order of workouts, forced rest days etc). I feel the coaching - particularly as regards cadence and recovery - has well and truly helped me along the way to being a better cyclist.

My figures:
Pre-BMU FTP test (on Zwift a few days prior) - 223 @68kg (3.28w/kg)
Post-BMU FTP test - 246 @ 67kg (3.67w/kg)
So a w/kg increase just shy of 12%.
An important note here though - on Zone Benchmarking it all felt too easy so I upped my FTP by 5% to 234 and did the entire plan on that FTP, admittedly suffering a bit the first few weeks but by Purple Unicorn I figured I probably had it right.

May well do again next winter. For now, time to get out on the road again now that we’re in late spring.

Enjoy and Ride on!

Hi all, thank you for sharing. I’m struggling with exactly the same topic. Should I bump up my FTP or not? I’ve started the BMU 3 weeks ago after an FTP test, when I actually moved my riding indoors. Since then my FTP increased and I kept updating it until recently, where I’m worried if I’ll be able to finish if I do so. Trainings feel fair hard work, especially the unicorns.

Today I took a try in a race, that I didn’t finish, since I was cooked mid term. After I left, I got the “your FTP increase” screen, that I dismissed, as I wouldn’t be probably able to do the purple unicorn with the new value in a couple of days. Or would I?

So for the numbers:
Pre-BMU FTP test on Zwift - 159 @109.0 kg
2 weeks in after a ZA ride - 181 @108.5 kg
Today’s failed race - proposed 216 @107.9 kg
Strava currently estimated FTP - 201

The question I tried to answer is, should I stay on 181, or bump it? 216 sounds really high for me and I’m not sure I can sustain that number, but 201 may be a fair challenge.

Looking at Shanes Q&A’s here in the comments section:

I’ll probably bump it to 201, hope purple unicorn won’t take revenge on me for that. Anyways, it looks like BMU is already working :slight_smile:
Cheers everybody!

congrats Craig, great result!! Going into winter here so will be indoors for a while - enjoy the riding outside.

I bit the bullet and did a ramp test this morning, I am one session shy of 5 weeks into BMU (method tomorrow).

I was very happy with the result, up to 258 W from 215! (@ 84kg, 3.07 w/kg). With each passing session I was more convinced that I needed to reset the numbers.

Definitely had some low hanging fruit having never completed any form of structured training before.

The dilemma is now, will parachuting this new FTP into the middle of the plan have me toast. I am going to try the next couple (Method doesn’t look too tricky, but 15.9 from week 6 will be interesting to say the least!!) and see how I get on, might reduce FTP to 240 if I cannot complete these sessions, to account for the natural build up of intensity / duration / tss during the plan.

Similar problem for you @Tomasz - good its going in the right direction, I guess you can always reduce via bias button on companion app if you are in trouble mid session. Let us know how you get on.

Hi Tomasz

Upping from 181 to 201 is a huge jump and while Purple Unicorn may well take revenge, if it doesn’t the Supra-FTP efforts starting in week 5 will! I didn’t find Purple Unicorn as hard as anticipated but the Supra-FTP workouts woke me up. Also be aware of Strava’s estimate of FTP (if you’re talking outside rides) - my estimate on Strava was 25w more than my 20 minute tested FTP.

I’d be inclined to up it by 2.5 to 5% at a time and would want to do a good couple of workouts at that new FTB base before changing it again. Just my thoughts.


Craig, Simon, thank you for your thoughts. I’ll definitely consider this, as the point is not to have a high number in the stats, but to find a good balance where you know you work hard, but can achieve the training goals.

I’ll try to bump to 190 on the next one, to have a feel.
Have a good weekend everybody!:slight_smile:

Hi everyone, i’m on week 11, today did thew and i’m really tired! Prior weeks felt not as hard (unicorns and VO2) as last one and this week! But I hace to finsh (have 3 hard Onés left and then rest week pre ftp test.
My quesito n, what next??? I’m alterado feeling lost on what to do after BMU is done…

Advice anyone?

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@Rodrigo_Valverde My off-seaon (canada’s long winter) looks like this:
Build Me Up (12 weeks) -> Active off season (8 weeks) -> CRIT crusher (8 weeks)




Do the Ramp test on the easier weeks 4 and 8, continue were you are, don’t start from the beginning!

I just finished the Build me up plan. My background is a bit different from yours. I’ve been running several times a week for years. I trained on a road bike for a while in my teens nad bought a decent bike again in 2018, training through an injury that kept me from running, and also did a few rides this summer, but nothing structured. I bought a smart trainer 3 months ago, did the 20 min FTP test and jumped on he plan right away.

Initial FTP 202 W (Full 20 min test) BW 73 kg ~2,77 W/kg
4 weeks in 226 W (Ramp test)
8 weeks in 236 W (Ramp test)
12 weeks 246 W (Full 20 min test) BW 72 kg ~3,42 W/kg

Thats a 21,7% increase which I’m very happy with. Considering my training background the challenge for me has been to increase the power output and lactate resistance in my legs since my respiratory system was far better than my legs. I also did 1-3 upper body strength sessions in the gym/ week depending on how many workouts the plan required every week.

  1. Don’t know. My impression is that weeks 1-4 are relatively easy. But my strenght on the bike is prolonged hard aerobic efforts like SST training and my biggest weakness is anaerobic work. And weeks 5-12 has plenty of anaerboic work =). I think the earlier weeks are mostly for doing work outside of your normal cadence for some reason. I know it annoyed me most seriously with the constant changes. But it probably worked.

  2. I did FTP tests on the lighter recovery weeks. They generally have the Pedaling drills, an easy interval and a really tough and long one saved for Saturday. I started that when i noticed that the workouts felt way too easy. I would use pedaling drills as a warmup and then do the Ramp FTP test. Then you have less than an hour in total for theese.

Why would you restart the programme? Just continue were you are with your new FTP. Zwift recalculates all future workouts to your current FTP automatically.

Had I not done two additional FTP tests throughout the programme I doubt that the outcome would’ve been as good. My threshold zone at the start of the program is now my upper zone 2! I surely would’ve wasted 10 weeks. This is probably less of a problem if you have a couple of years behind the bars and are more welltrained than I since you would see much smaller improvements from an allready high level. I could even feel that Aspire and Teancity weren’t as taxing as they ought to be at my 236 W level even though my correct FTP was 246 W the weekend after. So you definitely feel if your FTP is so much as 4-5% wrong. I guess it’s the same if it’s set too high but far less pleasent.