The Goldilocks Training Principle

How to Train Just Right

For the most impactful training, you don't want to do too much or too little; you want to do just the right amount so your body can absorb the training stress and rebuild stronger and faster. Here's how.

One easy way to understand a fundamental of training is to think about the Goldilocks fairy tale, where the girl tries three bowls of porridge and finds one too hot, another one too cold, and the third just right.

In training, we must apply stress to the body, then allow the body to compensate and rebuild stronger. We need to balance the training stress with the recovery. Too little stress, and you won't stimulate changes. Too much stress, and you wouldn't be able to fully recover and you'll end up tired or injured or just burnt out. But with just the right amount of training and recovery, you will get progressively fitter and faster.

When we write training plans, we carefully build in hard days and recovery days. We progressively build up training load as the plan and your strength progress.

All our training plans and our one-on-one coaching programs are centered around first assessing where you are, fitness-wise, and then building you up from there. A vital part of 'just right' entails what is 'just right' for you. There is no one size fits all plan. A bowl of porridge that is too hot for one athlete may be just right for another.

 Goldilocks training principle

This Goldilocks Principle applies to the micro and macro scales of training. 

On the micro scale, think about intervals: You may do a few sets of 5 minutes on, 5 minutes off, for example. You are stressing the body, then allowing it to recover.

On the macro scale, it is similar: You need to have weeks that really load your system with stress, and you need to have weeks that allow your body to absorb the training and rebuilt stronger.

All this leads to the question, how do you know what 'just right' is? 

We have have long had two systems that guide you through doing the right amount of training and getting the right amount of recovery: well-designed training plans and professional coaches.

Now we also have a third method — our new Optimize app, which balances training data from your power meter and recovery data from your wearable to give you actionable insight and practical guidance.  The Optimize needle moves every day and points towards what is too much, too little, or just right: Optimized.

goldilocks in Optimize

With Optimize's Data Visualization, you will know:

  • If you should you take a rest day?
  • If you should train harder?
  • Are you recovering well?

To read more about Optimize and What the Numbers Mean, read out training tip here

A subscription to Optimize includes unlimited access to all of our training plans, which scale to your available time to train. This way, you have your training plan and your real-time fitness dashboard in one place.

Built on top of our 20 years of coaching experience, Optimize utilizes a proprietary algorithm to quantify your training stress and your recovery, including the short-term and long-term effects of your workouts and your quality of recovery as measured by your sleep and your HRV

Ready to get started to train just right? Subscribe to Optimize now, or hire a personal coach who will guide you every step of the way to a faster, fitter you. 

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Join our *FREE* Athlete Forum to nerd out with FasCat coaches and athletes about your FTP, race data, power based training, or anything related to going fast on the bike. For access to all of our training plans, subscribe to our Optimize Training Platform.

About Frank Overton

Frank founded FasCat Coaching in 2002 and has been a full time cycling coach since 2004. His educational background includes a Masters degree in Physiology from North Carolina State University, pre-med from Hampden-Sydney College. Frank raced at a professional level on the road and mountain bike and currently competes as a "masters" level gravel and cyclocrosser. Professionally Frank comes from medical school spinal cord research and molecular biotechnology. However, to this day it is a dream come true for Frank to be able to help cyclists as a coach.

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