Training Log: Build Me Up, Week 2

Welcome to this week’s “Build Me Up” (BMU) training log (read last week’s here). Let’s get to work!

Planning My Training Plan

As I began this week, I had to figure out where each of the plan’s 4 workouts would slot into my life. This wasn’t a super-easy thing to figure out, because I had to understand what each workout would ask of me in order to properly schedule workouts on back-to-back days so I could be fresh for a big workout on the next Saturday.

I settled on the following:

  • Saturday: Orange Unicorn (90 minutes)
  • Monday: What Goes Up, Must Come Down (60 minutes)
  • Tuesday: Mishmash (90 minutes)
  • Thursday: Halvfems (90 minutes)

It might seem a bit weird putting the 90-minute Mishmash right after another workout, but Mishmash looked like an easier effort than the 60-minute Halfvems or 60-minute “What Goes Up, Must Come Down”. So I slotted it in, and as it turned out I made the right call (more below).

Whine of the Week: Workout Details

I’m not sure if everyone is like me, but I really want to look ahead at my next workout and understand exactly what I’m in for. And so far in my BMU journey, I’ve found it frustrating to do so.

The Companion app shows a nice workout profile picture, but you can’t tap a portion of it to see details like the actual wattage or length of an interval. The list of intervals appears below the profile, but crucially, like it does in game, the list doesn’t expand “grouped” intervals like over-unders… so you don’t actually know what those intervals contain!

It’s maddening. Add to that that you can’t see text prompts until they pop up mid-workout, and you really don’t know what you’re in for until you do the workout.

I do appreciate WhatsOnZwift and their library of workouts, as I can key in my FTP and at least see interval details for a particular workout. (Here’s their Mishmash page, for example.)

Daily Journal – Week 2

Saturday, March 25: Orange Unicorn

See activity on Strava

Ah, the Unicorn workout. There’s one each week for the first block of BMU, and I think I will learn to hate unicorns by the end!

This week’s Orange Unicorn was a big step up from last week’s Red Unicorn. Both had 4 sets of 6 OUs, but last week’s were 1 minute at 255W, 30s at 335W. This week it was 2 minutes at 275W, 30s at 335W. That’s a big jump!

Throw in coach Shayne’s cadence and position changes, and it was a tough workout. But I survived.

Monday, March 27: What Goes Up, Must Come Down

See activity on Strava

I’m used to doing hard rides every other day, but that’s a problem when you’ve got 4 non-recovery workouts to complete each week, which is what BMU asks. (3 workouts would be perfect. 4 means I need to do workouts on back-to-back days.)

So this week I tried to plan the two easiest workouts on Monday and Tuesday.

This workout turned out to be tougher than I’d anticipated, though. You begin at 5 minutes at FTP, then do 6 minutes at 98% of FTP, 7 minutes at 96%, 8 minutes at 94%, and 9 minutes at 93%. It seemed “challenging but doable”, until Shayne decided every interval would have a lower cadence than the one before!

That meant doing this:

  • 320W at 100RPM for 5 minutes
  • 315W at 90RPM for 6 minutes
  • 310W at 80RPM for 7 minutes
  • 300W at 70RPM for 8 minutes
  • 295W at 60RPM for 9 minutes

60 RPM?! Jimmeny Christmas.

Holding low RPM at near-threshold power for several minutes on Zwift is a weird feeling. While this would feel normal outdoors on a steeper climb, it feels odd in Zwift where I’m used to riding at a more comfortable cadence. So yes, this workout definitely got me out of my comfort zone. But did it kill my legs too much for the next day?

Tuesday, March 28: Mishmash

See activity on Strava

I hoped this workout would be easier than the previous days’ – and it was! While it wasn’t easy, I was never close to the limit, so that was nice.

“Mishmash” is a 90-minute workout broken into 3 roughly equal parts:

  • 4x over under: 3 minutes at 255W, 1 minute at 335W
  • 3x of 4 minutes at 290W, 4 minutes at 255W, 4 minutes at 225W (the final set is a smooth ramp from 290 to 200, but is basically like doing the 4-minute intervals)
  • 20 minutes at 240W

Plenty of cadence changeups and out-of-the-saddle work mixed in, of course. And a bonus – 30 minutes in, I hit level 60! I hadn’t even been watching my level meter, so this was a bit of a surprise. Hey Zwift: add level 61, please.

Thursday, March 30: Halvfems

See activity on Strava

This 1-hour workout is just 3x 12-minute sweet spot intervals (90% of FTP, so 290W for me). Last week’s sweet spot workout was 10-minute blocks, so this was a bit tougher.

4 minutes into the ride, coach Shayne says “Today is straight forward, we will be doing 3 sets of 12 minutes @90% of FTP @85-95RPM.” I found that message surprising, given the cadence changeups he’d been pulling in previous workouts.

Turns out I was right – Shayne was lying. The first set was simple at 85-95RPM, but the next two sets had cadence changing between 65-100RPM! The last set was the toughest, for sure – trying to hold 100RPM for the 2-minute blocks really felt like work, while standing up for the 1-minute blocks in between kept the heart rate up.

Not a super tough workout overall, though. Just a steady, challenging effort, as sweet spot workouts tend to be.

Summing Up Week 2

Week 2’s workouts were definitely a step up from Week 1. While I did 5 workouts in week 1, they only totaled 274 TSS, while week 2’s 4 workouts totaled 343 TSS.

It’s not called “Build Me Up” for nothing. Next week’s workouts are even bigger.

One to Keep, One to Throw Away

I think each week of BMU features a key “cornerstone workout” and another which doesn’t really need to be done, so I thought it might be useful to call those out each week, in case your schedule is tight. For week two, here are my picks:

  • Key Workout – Orange Unicorn: so many over/unders, and 90 minutes long as well. Don’t skip this one.
  • Throw Away – Mishmash: while it’s longer at 90 minutes, it’s probably the easiest of the week, and doesn’t target a particular energy system. This one feels more like a “keep ’em busy” sort of off day workout than one that builds key fitness.

Coming Up Next Week

Four workouts next week, totaling 5 hours, 12 minutes:

Questions or Comments?

Have you gone through “Build Me Up”? How was your experience? Share below!

Eric Schlange
Eric Schlange
Eric runs Zwift Insider in his spare time when he isn't on the bike or managing various business interests. He lives in Northern California with his beautiful wife, two kids and dog. Follow on Strava


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7 months ago

I’m coincidentally doing the plan at the same time following an injury. I like how it builds up over the weeks. I think 4 hard workouts a week is 1 too many though, even for someone doing twice as much volume as this (the rest being z1/2). After week 4 there looks to be more polarisation of the workouts. Week 3 and 4 and the key to the whole thing though and then after that it’s mostly 1 key hard workout per week. Could be worth redoing the ramp/FTP test in week 5.

Emilio Lence
Emilio Lence
7 months ago

I always wondered if with this plans, is it neccesary to be estrict following them? I mean, you only have to do the tranings that are programed there, or you can do other things, like races, social rides, another training sessions. I like to do fun things in the bike, and not always I’m going to be i the mood for the same.

7 months ago

I too find ‘what’s on Zwift’ really helpful for workouts. The Zwift platform workout interface could do with some work… very hard to find workouts… limited searching or filter facility.

Oren K
Oren K
7 months ago

Be mentally ready for Amalgam! this last interval sneaks on you like a smooth criminal.
Not sure why this session is on week 3…ride on :-)Oren

7 months ago

How fortunate it is that I started this program a week after you and how happy I am that I accidentally saw your recording and report for the first week. Today I did a Red Unicorn workout and to be honest I was a bit depressed. It was very difficult for me. I completely finished the training but it felt like I was beaten with a stick. Overwork was observed and there was a sensation of cold. Thanks to your reports, I will build my plan for the next week and will choose the right day off for recovery. Are… Read more »

7 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

You initially did the right thing by putting the unicorn on Saturday, at the beginning of the week. It just so happened to me that the unicorn happened today, on Wednesday (I did workouts sequentially from the plan). If I now move the unicore to Saturday, it turns out that this will be the last workout of the week, and not the first. I don’t know if I should do this or leave it for Wednesday.

7 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Hello Eric. There is one more question for you. Before the first week, Zwift offers to do a Ramp Test and after the test there is another Zone Benchmarking workout. Next comes the first week at the end of which is Zone Benchmarking again. Do you think it’s worth doing this task again or is it better to take a full day of rest before the start of the second week with the first “unicorn” workout? I don’t understand why two the same workouts were actually put in one week.

Rich Law
Rich Law
7 months ago
Reply to  Stas

The Red Unicorn shouldn’t be hard – it’s like a primer for sessions to come – an easy version of over-unders. I’d question if your FTP is set correctly if you found it super hard.

7 months ago
Reply to  Rich Law

It is hard to explain. I passed the Ramp Test. At the end, when the result showed, I would be broken after the session and did not have time to notice the result. As it seemed to me in a glimpse, I saw 194 watts. Later, out of ignorance, I went to my profile, did not pay attention to how many were indicated before, and manually entered a random FTP number to see what would change. After long attempts to find the test result, which turned out to be unsuccessful, I decided to indicate FTP 194 and Zwift built my… Read more »

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