Faulty training approach vs faulty fitness signature?

Hello everyone!

So I have had a very intense training block when I first started cycling and using Xert (August 2022) and saw some quite astonishing improvement. Going up from originally 150W TP (I was a couch potato before) to 256W TP by the end of November.

Then December hit. I kept training but dialled my training goal back a little bit, because I was just struggling to keep up with all the workouts and also wanted to focus more on Zone 2 work and less high intensity stuff, because my legs were quite sore non stop. Switching back and forth between the slow and moderate 1 goal I was able to keep up with my XSS with mostly zone 2 work and the occasional higher intensity stuff thrown in.

Now after a month of training like that something very weird has happened and I‘m not quite sure, if that’s an effect of my training or simply Xert still dialling in my fitness signature.

Take a look at the following stats:


Even though my high training load actually decreased and I really didn’t focus on any high intensity stuff my sprint power went up and my TP kept going down and to be honest, I feel like I wouldn’t ever be able to hold those kinds of numbers for any amount of time.

So what gives?
I‘m pretty confident in the peak power value. MAYBE I could hit 1000W outdoors if all the stars aligned and I didn’t screw up the sprint with my technique. I know that I was able to do 4,4 W/kg over 4 minutes a month ago, because I physically did that. I also went for a BT today which ended up being a near BT (though this might be a psychological failure. I probably could have pushed on for 5 more seconds or so). So my fitness signature should also be up to date.

When you put my values into the Xert magic formula HIE*1000/(PP-TP) you get a value of 23,425 which indicates, that I am outside of the normal range. Since I am quite confident in my PP though, either my HIE or my TP seem to be too low. Both of which I feel like are actually too high… :smiley:

So what do you think?
Did I have a bad approach to my training, or is it really Xert still trying to find the right fitness signature for me?

Thanks for your help everyone!

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That would mean days off or even a rest week for me. I might even dial IR down to Off-season or at least ignore XATA for a week while I recovered.
Were you using the Freshness Feedback slider during that period?

Near BT typically indicates signature is dialed in for training purposes.
PP can creep up from a BT event if the algorithm predicts you’re capable of a higher number based on watts you were able to generate while sprinting under fatigue.
In other cases, a change can reflect a power blip in your data. Xert usually ignores unusual spikes but if you view activity details and notice watts you definitely didn’t hit you can flag that activity.

To complete the picture, you’ll want to post your XPMC chart with 3 Months or Year selected.
I don’t see you falling outside the bell curve shown here –
Are there errors in my Fitness Signature? – Xert (baronbiosys.com)

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Hey! Thanks for your feedback, that’s much appreciated!

First of all my chart:

My PP is definitely correct because I have hit those exact numbers and actually a bit more both on the indoor trainer and outdoors. So two different power meters over a period of time.

Regarding dialling down my intensity: That’s why I eventually went for much more low intensity stuff. Was still able to hit my targets but didn’t feel so sore all the time. And low intensity riding actually fits my training purpose much better. I don’t race or anything. So for me it’s trying to keep up with the random pro rider that shows up during my ride when they go for their long endurance rides that’s my goal.

I was of the opinion that you were supposed to be somewhere in the range of 30 with that formula. I have seen the error thing and my HIE seems okay for my PP but that would probably indicate that my TP needs to be higher if the equation is anything to go by. That doesn’t seem right to me though.

That‘s why I thought, combined with the downwards trend in TP, that I‘m training in the wrong power zones and maybe my XSS calculation is therefore wrong as well…

Again thanks for your help!

Chart looks good. Plenty of BTs to validate your signature changes.
At a glance everything looks fine to me. Nice progression!
Easier to read using landscape mode on a phone. Even better insight on laptop or tablet if you get a chance. Then you can zoom in/out, hover over BTs, and drill down.

Well yes, but why is my TP going down then since December?
My TL has been going up steadily.

That’s basically what’s confusing me.
Why am I losing fitness instead of gaining it since switching my training to more zone 2 work.

Edit:

I‘m specifically talking about the dip you can see there:

If primarily riding low intensity I would expect TP to drop some with Optimal Decay.
The Near BT confirms that change unless you did have more to give during that effort.
Changing to No Decay will align signature changes with TL when you expect to be riding low intensity for weeks at a time. However, I wouldn’t worry about that now.
If you are increasing TL and recovering sufficiently (not hanging in perpetual yellow), you’ll see improvement soon enough.
Next time you go blue/fresh or green (may need to take days off to ensure that) pick your favorite BT workout and go for it.

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Thanks again for getting back to me! I thought adding a bunch of low TL should actually bump my TP up and lower my HIE and PP. But maybe that’s not quite right. I‘ll keep training like this for the rest of January but add in a few high intensity sessions, whenever I feel up to the task of going for one.

I try to go for 2 a week, but I sometimes really struggle to find the motivation to do them and still hit the volume I want to hit.

Doing 8 hours a week (completely indoors) is already a major struggle for me. A 2 hour session really is the max I can hit. After those 2 hours I really just feel fatigued, demotivated and frankly, quite bored. It‘s not like I‘m lacking the time to do the sessions either.

But oh well, maybe things will get better in the summer! I really do want to finish my first ever metric century ride and have that as my main goal for this year really.

Thanks again for looking at the data and chiming in. It seems like I am not yet experienced enough with Xert and misinterpreted something completely normal as some kind of problem with either my approach or my signature!

It should, you are right.

@ridgerider2 is referring to ‘optimal decay’ causing (estimated) TP to drop, which is correct. That’s different to your actual TP which should be expressed by a breakthrough. That should generally go up with training, hence your question

From your comments (soreness, low motivation), and progression chart (strong and near continuous increase in TL, with loads of breakthroughs which are by definition ‘all out’ and stressful), I suspect you are getting close to over-reaching hence seeing some decline in performance. I’d try a recovery week eg ride even easier eg 50 to 60% TP for half your usual hours for a week, then try a breakthrough again and see what comes out… you could also try a week completely off the bike… don’t get too obsessed by your TL number - it’s normal for it go down when resting, in the off season etc…

More broadly, are you following Xert by adding intensity when blue, and riding easy endurance when yellow? It could be that two intensity sessions a week is just too much for you at the moment, as it’s probably 2 sessions out of 5 a week? Or 2 hours of sessions out of 8 hours? And there are degrees of intensity e.g. 2 weekly threshold workouts would be considered intense but easier to recover from than 2 VO2 (Rouleur) workouts

You can use the freshness slider to reflect your fatigue, and bias to getting more endurance recommendations - more base endurance training is often a good idea (which it sounds like you started with the z2 focus, but perhaps are still overdoing the intensity)

Finally got my laptop to reply to you. That will probably make it a bit easier for everyone to read!

First of all thanks for chiming in on the discussion wescaine! I know I can sometimes get a bit annoying and lost in the details simply because I am quite a curious person!

@ridgerider2 is referring to ‘optimal decay’ causing (estimated) TP to drop, which is correct. That’s different to your actual TP which should be expressed by a breakthrough. That should generally go up with training, hence your question

So if I understand you correctly here the expectation would be, that the decay overestimated my loss in TP and because all I did in that month was a sprint BT it only bumped my PP up, not my TP. Got it!
I stand guilty of avoiding longer all out efforts and instead going for shorter sprints or one minute efforts. I just find long efforts above threshold to be super uncomfortable and they always leave me rather dizzy. Not really something I like doing on a regular basis :smiley:

From your comments (soreness, low motivation), and progression chart (strong and near continuous increase in TL, with loads of breakthroughs which are by definition ‘all out’ and stressful), I suspect you are getting close to over-reaching hence seeing some decline in performance. I’d try a recovery week eg ride even easier eg 50 to 60% TP for half your usual hours for a week, then try a breakthrough again and see what comes out… you could also try a week completely off the bike… don’t get too obsessed by your TL number - it’s normal for it go down when resting, in the off season etc…

Interesting assessment! I was always wondering if I was doing too much while I was feeling super sore. But because Xert recommended high intensity workouts I was of the opinion that it would be okay. I thought soreness in the legs would be quite normal when first starting out. Maybe I did actually overdo it!

But oh well, that is why I ended up switching to a mainly low intensity zone 2 type training regime starting in December. I thought this alone would be enough to recover. Especially because I am now only following the medium 1 improvement rate, which is supposed to be doable without breaks.
But getting to your next point, which I think, is actually quite interesting:

More broadly, are you following Xert by adding intensity when blue, and riding easy endurance when yellow? It could be that two intensity sessions a week is just too much for you at the moment, as it’s probably 2 sessions out of 5 a week? Or 2 hours of sessions out of 8 hours? And there are degrees of intensity e.g. 2 weekly threshold workouts would be considered intense but easier to recover from than 2 VO2 (Rouleur) workouts

According to Xert, I should be doing a high intensitiy workout every day of the week pretty much. Even after my near BT on Monday it still had me showing as fresh. And sure enough, I COULD have gone for another high intensity workout the day after, but the literature seems to suggest that you should only do one or two high intensity workouts per week. Back when I was really hitting it hard I was often getting a yellow star and kept it yellow for a while (but only doing high intensity stuff when fresh) but now I never really seem to be able to get it to yellow. The only way for me to change my freshness is by getting it to a red star. Which I usually manage to do, if I simply ride long enough.

So I can see two options here:

  1. I am a soft little rider who isn’t psychologically able to go to his HIE limits
  2. Xert overestimates what I am able to do in the HIE area.

When I got my near BT on Monday I went for one longer-ish pretty much max effort where I only really had a couple more seconds in me. Had I known that I was actually that close to a BT I probably would have been able to push on that last little bit to get it, but it really was quite close.

After the effort I was feeling sick to the stomach and just overall not very good. So I rode on with a low intensity for a while and decided I was going to finish the workout off with some more 1 minute high intensity intervals. I was still fresh after the workout.

As you can see my HR went up all the way so those efforts were definitely max efforts. Could I have done one more effort in that time frame? Probably, yes. But the prospect of literally having to destroy myself all the way and not being able to function anymore afterwards for it to count as a high intensity workout sounds quite daunting to me…

On to your last point:

You can use the freshness slider to reflect your fatigue, and bias to getting more endurance recommendations - more base endurance training is often a good idea (which it sounds like you started with the z2 focus, but perhaps are still overdoing the intensity)

I haven’t used the freshness slider at all yet, which probably is a major oversight. I always thought that because I was technically able to follow Xert’s recommendation of going for high intensity, the freshness feedback was correct. I just wasn’t willing to do it basically. But then again, aren’t you always technically able to do a high intensity workout, so long as you are not injured?

For reference I will post a typical endurance ride here. Note that most of my endurance rides tend to have some amount of intensity in them, simply because I only do free rides in Zwift and I wouldn’t get up the mountains otherwise.

Of course I know that I could technically reduce the trainer intensity of Zwift below 100%, but I really draw a lot of motivation from the fact that the things I do have at least some sort of connection to reality. If all I did was doing some mindless simulation of something where the numbers didn’t at least try to depict reality, I’d probably just not do it…That’s why I love Xert so much. It lets you just ride without having to follow workouts precisely.

Again thanks for looking at all of this and giving me feedback! This is very much appreciated!

@wescaine @ridgerider2

Also concerning this:

I got this from the following post:

The Xert Ratio question (per Armando’s facebook question) - General - Xert Community Forum (xertonline.com)

And since I fall way outside the mentioned range in this post, I thought something might be wrong.

Status stars color = math calculation
Training Status and Form – Xert (baronbiosys.com)

Freshness Feedback = how do you feel?
Personalizing Xert’s Training Algorithms by using Freshness Feedback – Xert (baronbiosys.com)

Super sore, all the time = over training, not enough rest days or rest week required.
Remember, fitness gains are the direct result of recovery, not training more when you haven’t recovered. :wink:

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Happy to try and help

Is that last image meant to be a z2 ride? Looks way too hard given HR is high for a long time. That would count as hard day in my book. If your max is 194, an easy day would be below 135 while a solid z2 ride (still tiring if long) could be 145 to 150 or so. Those are caps so average will be less. All very rough and everyone’s different, but for sure nowhere near the 180s or even 160s.

It’s odd that Xert recommends intensity every day, even after doing intense rides. Assuming your freshness slider is on zero (worth checking you haven’t accidentally moved it?) it suggests you have an unusually high training load for high and peak ‘systems’. Normally people go yellow and get endurance recommendations for at least a day after hard BT. Given the short history and super steep ramp of both TL and signature, something may be out of whack. I think it’s worth writing to support (email) to get their opinion or perhaps @ManofSteele will chip in here. There’s only so much we can see from outside…

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Freshness feedback is definitely on zero, I just checked.
Also, I just did a BT ride pretty much confirming my current numbers and completely demolished myself going up the Alpe du Zwift thereafter. Xert still shows me as fresh tomorrow. Does give me a red rating today though. See screenshots below:


The last image is more or less what I do for a zone 2 ride, yes. It’s one of the harder ones with a bit more intensity mixed in, but yes, that was supposed to be a more or less easy endurance ride and according to power in Xert I am more or less in the right zone.

If I went for the heart rate zones you mentioned I would be doing about 130-150 Watts max, which according to Xert would be way too low for a solid zone 2 ride…

My Garmin head unit does suggest my FTP to be around 216 Watts, which would align much better with your mentioned heart rate zones.

I have to say, I am quite confused now. Xert seems to confirm my fitness signature over and over again with BTs, but everything else seems to point to it being completely wrong. I hope @ManofSteele can chime in here, else I’ll take up your advice and write an e-mail to support. I have been training with the Xert power zones since the beginning and I might have just been killing myself with way too much intensity instead… :smiley:

Again thanks to you guys again! I’d be completely lost without the help of the forum here!

Edit: Here is a picture of the values I got after the BT. Again, pretty much just confirming the status quo.

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Hi @LucaMotz

Congrats on the Breakthrough! Excellent work!

I would like to mention that your efforts after the Breakthrough don’t really look like a “zone 2” effort to me… I would expect to see far less yellow/green and more blue. Your ride almost looks more like it’s in the ‘sweet spot’ intensity to me. Typically you’d want to limit your intensity for a “Zone 2”/endurance ride to no more than LTP.

With how the system works, your training status will only be ‘tired’ if you’ve placed sufficient strain (XSS) on your High/Peak energy systems. If most/all of the ride is sub-threshold, then almost all the strain is low-intensity. With that, the only training status possibilities are fresh or very tired. I suspect that an improvement will be made in analyzing training status with Xert 2.0, which will allocate more high & peak strain to sub-TP efforts.

Here’s are a couple “solid Z2” examples for me. :wink:

Easy Polar Endurance ride outdoors –

Easy Pure Endurance indoors –

Most associate Z2 with the 5/7 zone model.
Xert uses a 3-level strain model similar to Seiler’s three polarized zones.


Rather than Z2 I refer to my endurance rides as LTP-ish. :slight_smile:
My shorter ones indoors are over/under LTP at most. Outdoors I try to stay below LTP whenever endurance is the goal for the day.
When you see endurance recommended (especially 1:00:00 to 3:00:00 focus points) you want to keep it in blue/aqua range as much as possible. It’s very easy to creep up into green and touch yellow riding outdoors if you are not careful about monitoring your effort – constantly. Same thing can happen riding around in 3D world. :biking_man:

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Thanks for looking into things @ManofSteele

I believe we had a misunderstanding here. The BT ride wasn’t meant as an endurance ride at all but rather an all out effort kinda thing. So I wanted to go for a BT and then just get to the top of Alp du Zwift in a reasonable amount of time. What I did after the BT was pretty much as close as possible to a sustainable effort for that time as I could manage. So definitely below threshold, but not all that much.

I gave examples of my typical Zone 2 rides a bit further to the top of the post and looking at what @ridgerider2 has posted below my zone 2 efforts are mostly okay. I should probably try to avoid some high intensity stuff a bit more but I’m not making a complete mess of it at least.

Now I think my actual question kinda got lost in all of my posts. I understand that I gave quite a detailed account of my current situation thinking that this would make it easier for you. Whoops!

So in essence it is this:

I am unsure if my fitness signature is a bit out of whack, simply because I’ve seen that I don’t fall in the normal range for HIE*1000/(PP-TP) (you get a value of 23,425). I was afraid that this might have caused me to overtrain, because what Xert believes are zone 2 rides for me might be much closer to threshold in reality. So basically whenever I go for a 2 hour zone 2 ride it is actually a 2 hour zone 3 ride instead. It probably also means that my HIE is too low, which in turn means, my hard efforts might not be hard enough. So for example when I go for this 3 minute BT, it really wouldn’t be a BT and I should really force myself to go much deeper on those hard days maybe?

I have looked at all of the rides and the data certainly seems to be okay. All that makes me believe something is up is the aforementioned formula and the fact that my TP was going down in December, even though I was technically adding a lot of low TL.

Again thanks for your help and sorry for bothering you with a bunch of long paragraphs. I keep trying to boil It down to a few sentences but fail miserably! :smiley:

Hey @ManofSteele !

Have you had the chance to take a look at it yet?
Thanks for getting back to me!

You should be able to discern this if over/under LTP intervals don’t line up RPE-wise (talk test breathing) or over/under TP interval sets are too hard to at 100% (signature overstated) or too easy (signature understated). Or you are just able to complete a set of VO2max SMART intervals. Tough, but doable (signature dialed in).

I believe “roughly 30” was mentioned and we don’t know the variance. :wink:
I think the point being raised with this math exercise (not magic formula) is patterns can be established amongst data sets. Not a definitive rule, but a simple relationship.

If I view my activities table over the last 3 years, I see anywhere from 25-35 for that number. The median is indeed 30 and you are 1.5 pts below my n=1 low value, but I’m not sure what conclusion can be drawn from that. We’re dealing with a population of cyclists with a wide range of capabilities and fitness levels. There will always be the bell curve aspect.

Which brings me back to RPE. I think it’s important not to concentrate on numbers only and consider how you feel. Xert doesn’t know this unless you tweak the FF slider. I.e. “feedback”.
Regardless of what the math says, if you aren’t recovering properly after triggering adaptations, you risk over-stressing which leads to chronic fatigue, a dead zone plateau, or a decline in fitness.

If you are still feeling stretched after scaling back on HIIT days, the solution is some downtime. That is something to consider after any intense block of training. When you recover well, you come back stronger when you resume training. :+1: Same goes for week-to-week training. Rest days are mandatory if your body is not recovering.

Hey!
Even though I am warming up an old thread I thought it might be valuable to give a little feedback after having tried things out for a month now:

I feel much more comfortable with the “new” fitness signature. My current TP of 238W feels much more realistic for a 40-60 minute effort than the 250W it was at before. I do feel like my signature is still kind of high, but maybe I am, as you mentioned, just overtraining. It’s really hard to judge because my resting heart rate keeps dropping and my HRV average over night actually keeps going up. I even had 3 days off training recently (well lots of walking instead, but that shouldn’t stress me too much) although I still managed to fulfill my XSS needs for the week.

Looking at my Garmin training load, which only has my rides and none of my runs/walks, after this off period it had me recovering and I am now slowly climbing up to my optimum training load.

So bottom line: Xert is a nice training tool and especially helpful to visualise the training you have been doing. It does not provide a “forget about it” kind of training approach though, where you can just do your XSS for the week and hope to improve. There is way too much fitness signature variation for that.

Thanks all for helping me and furthering my understanding of Xert!

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