Get over challenges on “Build Me Up”

Hello everyone, I am now a level-15 rider on Zwift and taking the 2nd week of the “Build Me Up” training program at meantime. However, I find almost every section 1h or longer of the program is a little bit too hard for me that I can reluctantly finish it with last breath.

The heart rate is basically under control, while the instructions given during each training asking me to shift cadences from 60, 65, 90, 100, 110 are the true killers. It takes more time for me to find my rhythms back when I use quite high or low cadences.

A few hours ago, I finished the Orange Unicorn training, barely, with the last 4 sub-stages of the 4th interval jumped over. And here is my chart ( I knew I could finish it at the request watts if I fought harder (ignoring other requests), but I wanted to save a bit for the 3rd stage of L’ETAPE DU TOUR :

My current FTP is 257watt, tested 2 weeks ago with the RAMP TEST. Before that I had fulfilled a “6wk FTP builder” with FTP set as 193watt, and then a “4wk fondo” with FTP set as 233watt. Before before that I had dropped off cycling for like 5 years and I am trying to get back a little bit on Zwift.

My questions are:

  1. Is the RAMP Test result reliable, and am I setting a FTP too high?
  2. Is that OK to finish some of the trainings with a few regrets, not getting all stars?
  3. Shall I stick to the “Build me up”, or shall I lower the intensity, or shall I choose a different program?

Thanks for any helps I could get. :grinning:

these are purely my opinions:

  • RAMP test gives me a higher FTP than a 20-min test would
  • when i was learning how to juggle, i used to say “if you aren’t dropping the balls, you aren’t learning anything”. i think it’s the same for workouts; if you are getting all the stars, maybe it’s too easy?
  • i actually think i get more “improvement” out of racing or trying to do a group ride at a faster pace than i might choose in a free-ride. the workouts certainly help, but i see much more tangible benefits from pushing my limits.

cadence changes ARE super hard. your body has a “normal, efficient” cadence that it wants to use. changing the cadence will get you out of the that “normal, efficient”, and so it WILL be harder. really good cyclists can ride hard and well at many cadences – i think the key is to train at multiple cadences so that you learn to recover at multiple cadences.


If you are going to be testing FTP then you should probably stick with the same test going forward while training. Don’t worry about missing a star here and there but if you are on the limit for every workout you may want to manually lower your FTP a couple of notches, or just listen to your body on a given day and lower or raise the workout difficulty (temp. decrease/increase in FTP) in the upper left corner when you start your workout. Stick with you training plan and you will feel a nice sense of accomplishment.

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I’ve heard, from a cycling coach, that the ramp test is more like a VO2 max test.

Also, some good advice, most people don’t go hard enough on hard days and don’t go easy enough on easy days. It’s ok to push to the point of failure.

Don’t forget you can decrease the resistance, assuming you are using ERG mode, by up to 10% below or above the current interval if things are falling apart on you, just lower it down.


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I have been doing Build Me Up for about 6 weeks, level 15 too, FTP 255.

I have all but abandoned it as the weather has allowed me to ride outside.

My thoughts on the programme:

  • it isn’t specific, so hard to align it to your goals, a point regularly made on generic work out plans though.

  • all the advice on training indicates 2 to 3 high intensity workouts per week added to 75% zone 2. Build Me Up is nothing like this.

  • some of those Unicorns are monster, the 2 hours on the purple unicorn around FTP will take 2 days to recover for a normal human.

  • in the spirit of making your hard sessions really hard and your easy sessions really easy I suggest you abandon the plan and revert to something more sensible.

In a normal week something like 2 intense sessions, 2 or 3 easy sessions and a long really easy session. Group rides are much more fun/interactive.

The D group rides at 2wkg are good for easy, do the odd C race or C group rides for the hard stuff. You can always pick a single FTP based workout if you feel the need to vary it up a bit too.


I personally think you’ve set your FTP a notch too high i.e. the ramp test gives you a higher resultat. It’s the opposite for me, my treshold HR cycling is about 10-12% lower then when running (i’m a runner to begin with). This make my legs the limiting factor, not the respiratory system. I therefore perform better under long, steady efforts like the 20 min test than a shorter more muscular test like the ramp test.

I just finished week 6, and I concur with your views on the cadence shifts, they are a real pain. I’ve only botched a few segments in the workouts so far.
One time, I think in Purple unicorn, I was asked to do 115% FTP sitting @ 60 rpm. Had to stand up. Think the same interval, last one I was told to do like 150% FTP @110 rpm standing. Of course I cant produce that cadence standing up!

Otherwise I really don’t think that the workouts are impossibly hard. Uncomfortable, espacially the VO2-max ones at 2-3 min at 115% FTP at 105 rpm,

I would take the 20- min FTP test and use that FTP instead. If that also end up at around 260W I would lower it to 240 anyways since the problem might then be that you struggle with alternating cadence or wattages and need to get the body used to it.

Workouts like Amalgam with a couple of tough rampups/downs and Escalation with a 2x5 30s/30s 150%/50% FTP is going to be real trouble otherwise.

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Thanks, Daniel. I was troubled by this problems for a while and nowadays I’ve left Zwift and choose to train myself on Sufferfest. I thinks your diagnosis is right that the RAMP test cannot give some specific groups of riders the accurate results.

I took the 4DP test on Sufferfest, which was extremely exhausting and set my FTP 237. I did above average on index of shorter performances. They have some good articles which explain well.

I took the ramp test (half monty) on Sufferfest and the result was still overestimated which made me unable to finish the coming trainings.