Maintenance plan... Enough volume? | 80/20 Endurance

Maintenance plan… Enough volume?

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    After coming back off of the Olympic plan I started maintenance this week. It seems like it’s a ton less volume than the oly plan will I still see improvements? My brain is telling me that because it’s not that hard or that much volume I need to do more. Can you give me some information on that?

    David Warden


    Let’s go over some definitions first. Intensity we know, and Duration we know. Intensity x Duration = Volume. “Volume” is often misrepresented as Duration (and I’m a leading offender in my writing) but Volume is a combination of Intensity and Duration.

    First principle to my answer: More volume will always lead to better endurance performance. More intensity won’t, and more Duration won’t, but more Volume will. At first glance, that may seem contrary to the 80/20 philosophy, but it actually is the core of it. The reason Pros can train for 25 hours a week is because the 80/20 system allows them to have more Volume. By lowering the Intensity, they can significantly increase Duration and that in turn maximizes Volume.

    Second principle to my answer: You cannot increase fitness indefinitely. The Maintenance plan is lower Volume than the Oly plan. Given that they both have exactly 80/20 Intensity balance, and that the Duration of the Oly plan is greater, the Volume is academic. But, you must take a break and reset at some point in a season. If fitness could be gained indefinitely we’d all be running 2-minute miles. The key to an increase in fitness is a change in homeostasis. You can only change homeostasis with a stimulus. You can’t introduce a stimulus if there is nothing to stimulate, if you are at peak fitness already. You have to lose some fitness to gain even more fitness.

    The Maintenance plan is a temporary deposit (loss of liquidity) for which you expect a return. Don’t be afraid of stepping back for a month or two. The Pros do!

    The Maintenance plan for a short period will give you more Volume in the long run, as the rest and reset will give you greater opportunity for higher intensity later on.



    The following comment pertains to run plans…

    In my mid 70s, the natural slowing of pace means I must devote more time to complete the prescribed distance based long run workouts in the 10K and 1/2 Marathon plans.

    I like and benefited from both the Maintenance and Stride Academy Plans. But, for my particular situation they do not get me to the prerequisites for the longer distance run plans. I felt I was better prepared when took a break from 80/20 and added a couple of weeks of just Level 1&2 running to build up a mileage base to prepare for the long runs; at least I found it much easier to execute the 80/20 plans as written afterwards.


    Hey there!

    Should I take a rest week after the mx plan? Like I would for the full plans? What are your thoughts on that?

    David Warden

    Plant, first, I love your use of “mx” for the Maintenance plan. I may steal that from you.

    I always recommend a break of one to two weeks after the end of a formal training plan. A “break” just means 2-4 hours of unstructured training, as you feel, not completely off. This includes the Maintenance plan.

    There are accumulated types of fatigue that take years to materialize. Taking a few breaks every year helps keep those at bay.


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