How fit / in shape can I get at different volumes?

Question for @Prof, but you coaches as well.

How fit can I expect to get at low / medium / high volumes of training?

Yes, training history plays a role.

I read on another post that is biased to volume. If I can currently train 7 hours a week, what is the maximum fitness number I can reach?

Yes, I know that number is arbitrary and individualized.

Looked at it another way, based on yous (yes I pluralized that) experience, 7 hours a week is good for up to what event? 2-3 hours of racing? 7, 12?

Just my daily pondering!

1 Like

Hi Jesse,
Here’s my coaching perspective: You can do a lot on seven hours!
You’re right in that training history and your context plays a massive role: Have you been training for years, are you doing seven hours for the first time, etc.? Are you still able to strength train and do some mobility work in that time?
There are a lot of crit racers I know who can only do five to seven a week and do pretty well, but they have been training for a lot of years.
I’d say, with good nutrition and off-the-bike habits, you’ll be good for events that are three to four hours. Of course, you’ll be able to do more, but you may not be as comfortable finishing! As always, the context of your event goals matter: Are you riding to finish or racing?
More volume is always going to help, regardless of the length of your target event. At a certain point, you’ll max out your training capacity and need to do more to overload your system.
In terms of Athletica’s fitness number, again, you’re right in that it’s individualized and you can’t really say that once you reach this number, you’ll be “fit.” You’re trying to maximize that number for yourself.
I hope this makes sense, Jesse, and I’m also assuming you’re talking about cycling!


Thanks Paul!

I’m aiming to get back into triathlon, but cycling is the most convenient for now. I’ll add in running soon and then swimming at some point.

6 years of rugby from high school to cégep, traditional strength training until 2017. From 2017 - 2022 I managed less than 7 hours a week between the three (3 hours bike plus commutes, 2 hours swimming, 2 hours running), and spent a lot of time in the famous sweet spot. I wasn’t consistent, however. Frequently injured in the run or just run down.

I managed a 2nd and 3rd place in my AG in the sprint distance and felt I could go faster.

Now I want to see how far and fast I can get with the polarized approach.

1 Like

The bike commutes will help because that’s part of your total volume. How far is your commute?
Congrats on the podiums. If you were doing a lot of sweet spot, you may find yourself a little frustrated by the slow pace of the “aerobic development” rides, but I’ll tell you that getting these miles in, along with your commutes, are worth gold!


My cycling commute is about 30km total. I’ve got my gravel bike or the electric fat tyre bike, depending on the day.

It is something that I think about, sweet spot vs aerobic development progression speed. But I’m doing my best to just trust in the process.


At the time I first got into long distance brevets I had a 1 hour each way cycle commute plus I did 3 hours on a Sat on the mtn bike. Thus 13 hours every week year round (other than holidays etc) unstructured. That worked fine for events up to 175 hours elapsed. On Athletica my weekly hours are pretty similar, except it is structured and more purposeful.

Fitness is a nebulous thing unless you break it down into specifics. But if I had to go with my current gut feel. I would say that 2023 was the year that my bike fitness drew level and slightly surpassed my 2010 bike fitness. That’s me saying, that under Athletica at 57, I’ve passed 44 year old me under unstructured but similar hours.

I can’t go back in time to test this out. Well I suppose I could because I still have the fit files from then and could race my virtual partner.

What Athletica brings is how best to structure what I do given the time I have available. I then just have to execute without tying myself in knots trying to get under what the scientific research says.


… and how cool is that everyone? It’s within each and every one of us (well, most at least) if we want it…


I’ve always had the feeling that when I’m 50+ I’ll be in better shape than <50… At least that’s what I’m aiming for :smiley:


that’s very inspiring - age is just a number :slight_smile:


I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been out of shape. I’ve been active and exercising my entire life. What’s new is that I’m actively training in a structured and purposeful way.

There’s a lot of doom and gloom about ageing and what it’ll be like when you reach such and such a decade. But I think a lot of that comes from research that was based on sedentary populations.

Ageing if you are active and regularly exercise is very different in my opinion. Ageing research is tending to agree on everything from cognition, immune health, lung function, heart and vascular health, muscle composition from what I, as a layman, have read.

Certainly, on a personal level, I have nothing to complain about so far. No illness , no medication, good blood pressure, no aches and pains etc.

As you age you focus as much on ageing well and healthily as your performance in the events you enjoy. Health span is what you’re tilting at, not just age span.


100% on board with your thoughts here. Physical activity has always been an important part of my life: being active and an expert in the field. The structure has changed ove time.

Since fitness level is the topic of the week, I have a suggestion for Athletica @Prof :

I’d love to see an alternative display for fitness. One that emphasizes recent successes and improvements in endurance while de-emphasizing the one number to rule them all.


I’ll add my two cents here.

You can get really fit with 7hrs a week, and you can get very unhealthy and ruin your fitness with high volume 15+ hrs a week.

Wait, what ?!

You can only train with what you have available in your life.

If you are have little kids, full time job, travel, etc. and you aim to train as much as possible without proper nutrition, sleep, recovery and rest, your body will find a way to put your sorry ass on the couch.

Speaking from experience :joy:

And on the other hand. If you drop the volume and or hiit when your “other life” calls for your presence, you nail the basics like eat whole foods, prioritize good sleep and recovery, you are happy, you feel connected to your higher power…. You can move mountains.

Also speaking from experience.

My point: you can make priorities but you can’t make more time. Burning the candle on both ends will end up you at the doc’s office …


Good day all,

@Jesse Thank you for asking this question! I honestly love this query.

I am a coach of one (me), but I have personally thought long and hard on this question historically.

Strive for improvement no matter how small; be grateful when it occurs. Appreciate the journey and those around you who support you. Support others in their journey whenever possible.

There have been countless times where I have lost myself in the quantification of my “fitness” in some way, be it a value through this or that model.
That is not even touching the human nature quotient of comparison… “Where am I against that person or myself of yesterday?”
The essence of fitness for myself, as an athlete, is more a fluid subjective qualification of where I am currently, but more importantly where I am focusing my improvements and also where I have come from.

I consider fitness to be more of a verb rather than a noun; it is not a final “something”, but a journey of change both positive and negative and my response to those.
We all know a sprinter’s fitness is different than a swimmer and the subcategories of any sport are often all specifically targeted and yet different from each other.
I would also position the thought of a person training for their first 10k Vs someone who is training for another 100km race; both are going to traverse highs and lows and both are hopefully growing in their fitness. One is not more relevant than the other simply due to volume or distance or the measure a model puts on it.

Things I try to keep in mind as I muddle through:
Be in touch with yourself and don’t forget to listen. (shout out @Marjaana & the importance of avoiding OTS)
Search for gratitude in each session.
Love what you do, when you are doing it and great things will happen.
Comparison is the thief of all joy.


… a lot of wisdom in that one folks… +1

1 Like