Am I better off doing intervals rather than longer(ish) rides?

I’m a daily cycle commuter. It’s not a long commute (7 miles/11km each way). I don’t have a power meter on my hybrid, but the heart-rate-derived XSS each way various between around 22 and 30 XSS. So typically 50 XSS each weekday just in commuting.

I’m assuming that accumulated XSS over the day has a similar impact to a single activity.

Looking at my chart for the past two weeks, where I’ve summed the XSS across the activities in a day:

The 100XSS on Jan 18th was a 1h 35m Zwift workout, and the 63 XSS on the Sunday was a short (20km) Zwift race where I got a near breakthrough.Both days lower than the days where I’ve commuted and done a bit of Zwift.

Those were followed by two days sick, but the chart seems to say my TP was dropping even without the days off. Indeed, apparently it was dropping when I got the near breakthrough.

Am I right in thinking that because I do an hour every day just riding to and from work, these Zwift rides at the weekend really do nothing much to improve my fitness? And unless I can dedicate 2 hours or more each day to a workout, I’d be better off doing much more intense shorter stuff?

Hi Daren,

I am not sure if I can really give you the answer which you are looking for, but the point in improving your fitness is based on the amount of XSS you do each day. If you want to produce of lot of XSS in a short time span the strategy is to reduce your MPA as much as you can and then sustain that MPA by riding on threshold power.

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Thanks Markus - I guess I was just after confirmation that I’m interpreting the graph right. i.e. 100 XSS isn’t enough to be meaningful if I’m doing more than that on a typical commuting day already.

Assuming you use the ‘optimal decay’ setting, I think your signature declines even if you maintain training load, until you push for another breakthrough. It’s not necessarily that your rides are too easy. You can set it to ‘no decay’ if you are only doing base / lower intensity rides, and the signature then tracks your load.

Intervals or not depends on your objective (athlete type, target event date) and therefore program phase… and also training status (whether you are tired). Xert tracks XSS and recovery for the three energy systems (peak, high, threshold) and also targets workouts for each system depending on objective and program phase. For general fitness I use Rouleur athlete type

You can also do a workout during the week, before or after your commute to accumulate more base strain. It all counts :slight_smile:

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Yeah, these are a bit at odds with each other. On one hand I want to be a solid B rider on Zwift, comfortably mid pack at least. On the other, I’m doing a 300km sportive with nearly 5000m of climbing in June. I’ve never done more than about 180km, so that’s a stretch. I’m set to “Triathlete” at the moment as that seems to be most aimed at day-long riding.

Yeah depends on the priority… either way a good base phase will be critical… and during that I’d use the ‘no decay’ setting to avoid the declining signature
Maybe worth a breakthrough effort now to get a good signature, then change to no decay for a while


And then of course do loads of riding - the sportive sounds epic! :slight_smile:

In this case scenario, I would recommend setting your athlete type to something a little further up the PD curve (maybe Climber or GC Specialist). When athletes are preparing for those long distance events, I would argue that the focus duration becomes less meaningful than the athlete’s training load, which is built up through Improvement Rate.

Moving your athlete type further up the PD curve will help you perform better in those Zwift races. In the meantime, you’ll still want to continue building that training load as high as you can prior to that 300k sportive later this year. A general rule of thumb is to aim for a Training Load of 1/4 to 1/3 of the expected XSS of your sportive.