Legs giving up - do I need to do squats or similar?

I’m training hard, recovering just as hard, eating right and generally committing myself to this indoor training lark.

December 27th 2020, FTP was 154w, (MAP was 214). I did 12 week intermediate all purpose and March 21st when it ended, the full frontal was showing FTP up to 212w and MAP was 275w.

I then started the 100 mile advanced plan - I wanted the higher volume of low effort endurance to have a better base and I’m trying to lose weight. Mid plan half monty results are FTP 243, and MAP 301w.

Pleased with the results so far. But… my legs give up. The lactic acid builds up and my legs grind to a halt. I’m a sprinter with weak sustained efforts (1130w sprint), and I really want become a diesel engine and ride all day at a higher pace. After this 100m plan is done, I’m going to do the time trial plan advanced as I think that will focus on FTP and MAP.

But coming back to my legs, on the ramp test, I felt like my heart and lungs could have kept going, but I physically couldn’t turn the pedals because of the burn. Does this mean I need to do squats to build strength? I’m confused because 300w isn’t a lot, but it’s the flushing out that I need to get better. How do I improve that part of it? Or does that just improve with time the more I stick to the structured training plans.

My LTHR is only 146, so when I was at 157 for 5 minutes of the ramp test, it didn’t feel like I was giving up early. Or maybe I was?

Either way, what sort of training will improve my ability to flush out the burn faster? Is it Vo2 related? LTHR? Strength? I don’t even know what to google so thought I’d start here.

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I’m not that advanced in terms of training knowledge myself but a higher cadence could be something to look at. That way you put the strain on your cardiovascular system instead of your muscles. Pedaling at a cadence of 110 instead of 90 when you pedal above FTP can make a big difference.

It’s probably more advanced than this but that would be the first thing I would try out and take a look at. Not to mention, being a sprinter implies to me that you have strong muscles and a strong kick.

yeah, especially as a relative newcomer, i would be careful about attributing the issue to a specific limiter based on subjective perception. Like you might have a subjective feeling of what is giving up first (e.g., lungs, heart rate shooting up, legs feeling like jelly) but in reality it’s all related. Like lactate and hydrogen ions, yes, high intensity training will build your ability to “buffer” it (i.e., transport it out of the working muscle so that the increasing acidity doesn’t make those muscles stop), but it doesn’t mean you should only focus on high intensity training, because lower intensity endurance training helps you produce less hydrogen ions in the first place (so there’s less need to buffer) so you’re producing more power before you even get to that point.

That’s jsut one example but you get the idea. Really you’re building a whole system. And what you primarily need to focus on is (i) progressive overload, (ii) long-term consistency and (iii) sensible intensity distribution (i.e. mix of harder and easier days), and finally (iv) patience, and that’s like 95% of what you need. All these are related to each other too, but these are the boxes to tick.

So to the specific question yes, i think it has been very clearly demonstrated that strength training is beneficial. It’s a bit more complicated to balance fatigue and overload but you can do it, and it’ll be helpful. But it won’t be a magic bullet (because as noted above, leg strength might feel like it’s limiting you but in reality it’s probably not).

So the bad news is, no magic bullet available. But the good news is, no magic bullet needed! Just keep it up.


That’s good to know. I’ll keep the consistency up and see what happens over the rest of the year. I just do what the plan tells me to do and that usually means 2 hard, 1 recovery, 2 endurance 1 session with tempo intervals a week.

I think I also need to adjust my expectations. I’ve had great gains so far, I should be pleased with them (and I am). After my last full frontal I was failing almost every session for 3 weeks at the new numbers, had a recovery week and managed to hit all the numbers with relative ease, then I had the most recent half monty this morning and it was a big increase again.

Wishful thinking to believe my legs wouldn’t give up. “It doesn’t get easier, you just get faster” I guess.



exactly. they still give up, you’re just going harder when they do!

And yeah, once the newbie gains are gathered, you can still make very meaningful long-term improvements, but it just might take longer.

I’m with @devolikewhoa here. Strength training is beneficial in lots of ways, but I don’t think it’s actually holding you back here. Most of the 12 week plans can be chosen with the strength training option, which I find really useful and there are plenty of squats involved! For example your current Century plan can be chosen with the indoor/outdoor + strength option.

If you wanted to add strength training mid-plan you just need to make a note of your current plan end-date, then apply the same plan again (but with the strength option) with the same end-date i.e. schedule plan from finish (which will overlay onto your old plan) and then finally delete the old plan. Not as complicated as it sounds!

Going from an FTP of 154W to 243W in less than 5 months is pretty epic! You are right though to adjust your expectations as the improvement curve will inevitably flatten as you get fitter. I’ve found about 10W in the last 6 months of hard, consistent training, but I was already close to my peak fitness when I started.

I’m also chasing endurance for big Gran Fondo events and I find that’s where training volume comes into play. I’m currently on the Hilly GF plan, which has decent volume, but as my events are up to 8 hours long with 4000+ m of alpine climbing I add even more Z2 volume to my weekend rides. But I wouldn’t recommend doing that while you are still making such massive FTP gains. Just keep on doing what you are doing already and maybe add the strength training option to your plan. They are designed to fit in perfectly around the bike sessions.

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I think I will finish this plan then add in the strength. When I did the intermediate plan, I could cope with the added yoga and strength, but was surprised at how much extra fatigue it added. I jumped up to advanced without yoga and strength and the volume is what I want, but also comes with the associated fatigue. I doubt I could cope with the added exercise.

Once I finish, I might drop back to intermediate time commitments but add in strength again.

Sounds very sensible. I also find that strength training adds a fair amount of fatigue. The plans are designed and integrated around it, but as you have already stepped up a level I can see how you would find it more challenging.

@Peteski I am planning to start HGF in July for an end of September event and was thinking along the same likes as you in terms of adding some extra outdoor volume especially since it will be summer. Are you doing the intermediate or advance and with or without strength? Do you generally split your sessions - morning indoor training and afternoon rides? Right now I am doing in season MTB and have a few shorter and less hilly races scheduled. Thanks!

i second peteski on that FTP increase being pretty dope. I agree that is great work

As suggested, your chosen cadence can certainly make a difference, as a low cadence will tire your legs more quickly, and a high cadence will tax your cadiovascular system more quickly. You have to do what feels good to you, but training at various cadences will help you gain both leg strength and cardiovascular fitness which can help you utilize both systems and maybe tap into one when the other peters out to get just a little more out of yourself on the test.
Also remember, that training is cumulative! The greater your “training age,” (the longer you train) the more general endurance and fitness you build. I don’t know if you’re new to cycling, or just new-ish to SUF, but you’re making great improvements and as long as you continue to be consistent, follow the training plans and add some strength and yoga along the way, you’ll continue to gain strength, endurance and fitness specific to the types of events you’re training for. The really cool thing about the human body and specific training is that the more endurance training you do will cause some of those Type 2b (intermediate fast twitch fibers) that make you a great sprinter, to gradually change into type 1 (slow twitch) fibers that will make you a better “diesel” engine, as you say to go the distance for long events.
Just keep up the good work and happy training!

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In training age years, I’m about 6 months. I used to ride and run every day, and I played 4 sports that competed at national level at various points. Then marriage and kids came along… and I’m sure a lot of people know the rest of the story :slight_smile:

I stick to the targets as much as I can - both watts and cadence. I find GOAT to be a session that almost feels pointless as I can go all day on that one. I’m going to stick with it.

308w by Christmas is my real Mt Sufferlandria this year. The weight loss will come but I don’t really mind when, as long as it keeps heading in the right direction.

As my year unfolds I am going to have less time to do long endurance rides. At that point I think I’ll add in the strength exercises to keep my body guessing.

Thank you all for your help.



@JSampson I’m doing the advanced plan indoor/outdoor + strength. All I’m doing differently is adding extra time onto the weekend outdoor rides. The HGF plan outdoor endurance rides start at 3 hours and progress up to 5 hours by the end. I’m working up to around 7 hours for my main event, so adding an extra 40% volume to each of those weekend endurance+ rides.

I haven’t actually got very far with this idea yet as my main event has now been pushed back later into the summer. So I’ve dropped back into a 3 week base block, but again with some added endurance volume. I had got to the end of week 3 of the HGF plan when I backed off, including a 5.5 hour local GF at the end of the 3rd week. It was all going fine. Now I just need to re-jig my calendar to fit in a few local events over the summer, with the last big event in September. I have a particularly hilly event coming up in July, so I will pick up the HGF plan again shortly.

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