Training plan 3:1 or 2:1 on the new easier Systm

Back into training on Sufferfest/Sytm in the chamber of moderate discomfort (paincave!).

Had several weeks with only moderate training on the road with a dodgy back, knee, tight ITB, solved by shorter cranks, changing saddle on new bike to my usual 130mm saddle instead of the 140mm that came with it and lots of physio and stretching.

Which to use 3:1 or 2:1 high volume?

Planning a 12 week road plan. In January this year I did Sufferfest 12 week road advanced which automatically does a 3:1 hard easy week ratio. This I found hard but completed it without missing a session, although nine hammers I had to have extra rests and sometimes dial down the intensity.

The second 12 week plan I did on intermediate which gave a 2:1 session. Made gains, but not as great, but missed a few sessions towards the end due to work commitments and didn’t have the best end of programme 4DP but still made great gains, but not as much as the 3:1 session. But, it was my second session, so the adaptations I presume would not be as great.

Now that the Sufferfest has become Systm and sessions have been made easy(er) I am thinking of going back to the 3:1 plans as the are a teeny bit less intense with a teeny bit more recovery?
I read the changes made by Coach Neil and the data it is based on and believe it to be sound.

Being 53 and just getting back into training I had thought the 2:1 would be best, more recovery at this time of year, but now I am having doubts and I am thinking 3:1 would be better as the sessions are now slightly less intense?

Any thoughts? 3:1 or 2:1?


Both. :blush:


What are your goals? It sounds like you’re on a recovery path, which I think suggests that a lower intensity might serve you best.


Sure, get all sensible. Geez. :joy:


Get fit so I can keep up with my son’s training sessions that start in January and then build to April with the vain hope I can shift another 10 kilos (gone from 97 to 85 in 16 months) and if I can get around 75 kilos I may see if they do Vets racing in Belgium and have a last go at it before I really do get too old. At 53 I’d like another shot at racing and doing Sufferfest has given me hope I can again.
I never stopped training, just eased off, call it a rest/transition and now I’m ready to bang my head against the wall again.
I eased off before I got properly injured, but bad back was too much work on the computer and knee was out of line sat on a wide 140mm saddle and longer 172.5mm cranks. 165mm cranks and narrow Fizik Arione 130mm saddle awesome. Knees good yesterday in The Chores.

Your suggestion of 2:1 seems reasonable, I just worry that the new revised easier SufferSystm has made it easy enough that I could handle the load of 3:1. Just uncharted territory.

Had it been the old Sufferfest I would have had no doubt going for 2:1 but with the new revised interval intensity/power levels of Systm, I am thinking 3:1. Don’t want it being too easy!!

Really i have no idea the intensities of the new Systm, just what I read suggests they are easier and this would suggest the 3:1. But then I’m no spring chick anymore, hence my dilemma.

Cheers for your reply

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I restarted a training plan a while ago after an extended time off. I started with a low or medium.intensity plan and after a week or so, removed and replaced it with a high intensity plan once I could see I could handle the load.

The other option you have is if you’ve got time to do two plans do a 2:1 plan followed by a 3:1 plan?


We are the same age. I also did the Advanced (3:1) plans this year, but I’m going to try 2:1 this winter. I figure it will give me a bit more flexibility to add in the odd extra “freeride” outside of the plan. I found the 3:1 manageable, but I was on my limit in terms of completing the harder sessions. I actually did 2x 12 week blocks at 3:1 and only made significant gains on the first block. Then I hit a plateau for pretty much the rest of the season. So in hindsight I think I tried to do a little too much and stopped progressing.


@FatSprinter I am 50+ and on a 2:1 high intensity plan with strength and would recommend it. I started the plan with fresh 4DP numbers about a month ago. I struggled in the beginning of the plan but now feel like I have adapted and will likely start making some further gains. Whatever you choose you can always modify it and the newly designed calendar makes it very easy to reschedule or replace workouts.

Also I haven’t found SYSTM easier and there are definitely some things that are harder - especially the “A Week With” plans and the “ProRides”. There have been some modifications to workout like Nine Hammers but they are still very challenging.

Good luck!


For me who hasn’t started yet, great timing on this topic. Thanks all.

Thank you all for the feedback. Just a quick calculation of training hours has for the 12 week plan
2:1 total of 86:26
3:1 total of 72:39
Which is interesting in itself.

Not calculated TSS or IF as I don’t have any apps that connect (I think Trainer road can do it??). But for W2 of the programmes
2:1 TSS 452 IF 5.68
3:1 TSS 417 IF 4.92
If I had more coffee break time it would be interesting to work out the full plan. (need more coffee break time - sure I don’t get as much as my colleagues who take cigarette breaks!)

Rest week hours
2:1 14:26 (3 rest weeks)
3:1 6:44 (only 2 rest weeks)

So more volume on the 2:1, more concentrated intensity and more active recovery? Fascinated by what science could be behind it.

So @DameLisa I think I will certainly follow 2:1 up to Christmas and maybe switch to 3:1 after, but may end up sticking with 2:1 depending on the gains. (and it is meant to be better for older riders like me)

@Peteski There may actually be more training stimulus in the 2:1. At some point I’ll do the calculations unless @Coach.Spencer.R @Coach.Mac.C or any of the coaches (sorry to pick on you) has the numbers to hand, or am I missing something or got my calculations wrong?

@JSampson I have gone for the high intensity 2:1. I am looking forward to see if any of the sessions are harder. Next week looks a good week with The Bat, Four Shots by Joey and Defender on the Tues/Wed/Thurs mid week crunch hard, mid, hard sessions.

Generally 2:1 has more time on the bike and a few more sessions which I am hoping will also help with calorie deficit and losing a few unwanted lbs. Need to address the other side of the going faster coin, more power less weight.

I think where possible I will road ride at the weekends and get some fresh air unless weather really bad. I’ll have to see what I can do on the road to replicate workouts like the the Blender and Cobbler, although I can find some real Belgian cobbles to ride that one on.

Cheers again for your thoughts and insights. Much appreciated.


I would also recommend a 2:1 plan for you. First, I would first do a 7 Day Fitness Prep Training Plan and get relevant and accurate 4DP metrics by completing a Full Frontal Test. Then, I would follow a 2:1 Intermediate Plan. This will give your body a moderate amount of stimulus. After a 12 week plan access how you feel and take another Full Frontal. I personally think you are likely to experience more consistency over an extended period of time with a 2:1 plan because your body will be able to consistently handle the training stress with more frequent recovery. More consistent training over long periods of time lead to healthier athletes that experience more consistent gains.


Cheers @WahooCoach_Corey. In fact I have done the 7 day fitness prep plan and have new 4DP figures and I had started the 2:1 plan but on the high volume. From my basic calculations there is more training stimulus (total hours) in the 2:1 with more rest weeks, so I’m sold on it. The first week whilst not “easy” was not as hard as expected, so concerned I didn’t try enough in my 4DP. Although the second week looks harder and with the compound load of 1st + 2nd week, the 2nd week may be tougher. Thanks again.

Really timely thread for me too - I’m trying to decide between a 3:1 and 2:1 from Jan.
However, it will be multi-sport and having looked it seems as though they are much more similar than with the All Purpose Road.

The first 2 weeks of 2:1 and 3:1 are the same, and the first rest week is the same, just with another week thrown in between for the 3:1.

I’d be interested in the difference in approach here to the cycling plans, if any @WahooCoach_Corey

I just got off a MAP block where I was also weighing up 2:1 vs 3:1. In the end I went for the latter as I liked the workouts more, but I ended up swapping week 3 for AWW NH, which was nice.

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I’m doing 2:1 on the Pre-Season XCM plan. Trust me, it is not easier. Just as challenging as SUF.


That’s very interesting and certainly counter-intuitive. I’m going to have to check that out for myself before I start my next training block as I’d assumed 2:1 would have been less volume overall with more recovery weeks.

@Peteski - Recked my calculations and I had made a mistake on both, sorry. It was niggling away so I had to recheck to make sure I had the right figures before anyone else embarked on the training plan. Screenshots below of plans side by side and training hours. You can see that the rest weeks for 2:1 contain more hours. This is probably where the difference really lies.

Despite my errors, the 2:1 still has more volume by ± 5hrs

What I have not worked out is the difference in intensity using the IF/TS scores. If I get time, I’ll work that one out fully at some point. I only did a snapshot of W2.

Total Hours
2:1 87:25
3:1 82:17

So whilst the difference in hours is not as great as I originally erroneously calculated, there are still more hours training in 2:1.

Worth triple checking my calculations, would be great to have them verified or put right.

---------2:1 ------------------------------------------3:1

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Okay, that makes a bit more sense now. I agree it looks like most of the extra hours come from slightly more work in the recovery weeks with 2:1, which is fine by me.

It’s interesting to note that the 3:1 plan only gives 1 extra hard week over 12 weeks and the volume of that additional hard week is actually quite low (05:29) just before the last recovery week.

The more I look at this, the more I prefer the 2:1 plan. I always struggled a bit with the 3:1 recovery weeks feeling too easy, while 3 consecutive weeks of intensity quite tiring. The 2:1 version looks more balanced in this respect, whilst still providing similar overall volume.

BTW - I presume this is the All-Purpose Road plan right?

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Yep. All Purpose Road with High Volume. The 2:1 hard weeks are a fraction longer too. At 53 I’m looking at the more frequent rest weeks as a positive. I think this is a major change from Sufferfest in being able to so high volume on 2:1. In Sufferfest it was only possible to select intermediate without selecting intensity. Hope it works.

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Very interesting. Thanks for putting this comparison together. That 3:1 looks identical to the one I’m doing at the moment. My weakness is sustained and probably always will be. My strength alternates between sprinting and MAP and that doesn’t seem to affect the plan, it comes up exactly the same regardless of my strength. I’ve done a plan adding in the strength to change it up a bit, but it adds a ton of cadence work that is simply boring AF. Maybe I’ll take the 2:1 option next time around as it doesn’t appear to contain significantly less training and has a different workout mix.


Sustained efforts? FTP? Maybe you are a candidate for “Building Blocks”. Although I’ve never tried them myself. Might be worth planning something like that in. It is a shame the Sytm system cannot give the option of adding more of the workouts to address ones weakness. @Coach.Neal.H maybe one for the next development cycle to make an excellent training app even more excellent.
One thing to think about though, I have not calculated total TSS or IF scores for 2:1 and 3:1, so this is my only caveat. I’m sure curiosity will get the better of me at some point and I’ll end up doing it.