Focus duration and power targets for Endurance

I’ve posted this a little on the FB page, but thought it best to redirect it here. I believe I have a good understanding of how focus duration and power targets work for free rides. For non-endurance rides, the XATA recommendations for structured workouts also seem pretty consistent with these two quantities. But Endurance rides don’t seem to be close. When the power target is at my LTP, it is clear and the recommended endurance workouts are consistent with this. But if the power target is at my TP, i.e., which should be close to a 1 hour focus duration, none of the recommended workouts come close, no matter the structure. If I was training as a time triallist and only got Endurance workouts which are all around LTP, I don’t see how my TP is going to improve if I never ride near threshold. Related to this, why when I complete Lucy in the Sky-60 it generally has exactly a 1 hour focus duration even though the power never gets close to my TP value? Perhaps it would be better to split endurance workouts into recovery and time-trial or something like that?

I see the same thing… for some of those activities. I’ve done some version of Lucy in the Sky 28 times, most of them have a specificity of Pure and a Focus Duration of 1 hour. A few have a Specificity of Polar, and those are the ones where duration is above 1 hour (one of them is 24 hours). The power duration curve of the two partitions are quite different, with the Pure one having a very flat curve across all durations. A difference that jumps out to me is that the Polar activities have a longer break where I paused the workout to turn on the fan, and then had a spike in power well above TP when resumed.

I don’t understand it enough to have an explanation though, just observations.

I’ve had the same experience with Lucy but a power spike that happens usually just at the end of the warm-up shouldn’t set the focus duration to 1 hour. All that time at or below LTP should lower it and the power spike rarely approach my 1 hour power. Maybe Endurance is just a catch-all for anything below TP, but it would be nice if the definitions were consistent, i.e., related to the power-time curve. Hoping maybe Scott Steele pipes in here.

I believe ‘Endurance’ is pretty much anything over 20 minute focus, so from sprint time triallist onwards in rider types. Where I live it is quite rolling, with short punchy climbs, with a bit of discipline it’s quite easy to keep focus down to over 20 minutes when I ride outdoors, so all those rides usually come back as moderate endurance rides. Once you get your head round it, it becomes easy to ride by feel and achieve ‘endurance’ as a focus target.

Until this April I was a time triallist. I always got into my best form (and results) by doing lots of longer lower intensity stuff , so that’d be LTP and below, alongside a couple of hard workouts such as V02 or micro-bursts such as 30/15s. Whenever I followed a plan with lots of threshold work I burnt out and my racing suffered. It’s one of the reasons I made the switch from TR to Xert. It does feel counter-intuitive at first, but give it time and I bet you see good results.


I should mention I’m coming up on 2 years using Xert and I do really like it. I generally chose climber or breakaway specialist as my rider type. I can see how the long LTP training will improve your time trial performance and this fits in perfectly with discussions elsewhere, but only if you mix in some VO2 max or other harder efforts. Unless I"m mistaken (certainly possible), those workouts currently will never be suggested for you by XATA if you are a sprint time triallist or such athlete type. This seems counter to the other athlete types where rides with power targets at your focus duration are common. So my original question was really about this (seemingly) inconsistency.

Same experience as @SecretSquirrel switching from TR with SSB/SST focus to Xert’s hybrid polarized approach. First surprise was seeing TP exceed the FTP I achieved with TR in base phase without any threshold workouts then steady improvements since with a mixture of workouts but still mostly endurance.

20 minute focus and longer is the “endurance” block as shown in my power curve/spider chart mod –

You can also see this grouping when you select Filter under Recommended Workouts and select the Focus dropdown. Note there are only 9 selections to choose from with 20 min, 1 hr, 2 hr, 3+ hr duration points lumped under Endurance.

As to the range of “endurance” workouts you may encounter with XATA, go to XO, select Workouts, select Show 100, click on Focus column and scroll down to you see the Endurance collection which continues on page 2. Note the variations (glance at the charts) especially when you reach 2-1/2 diamonds and higher. That includes VO2 max and threshold workouts. IE, “hard” endurance workouts. :slight_smile:
Whether any of those will be recommended is dependent on your star count status, freshness form, and progression phase when a TED is defined. With Continuous program type you’ll see a variety of workouts suggested around your selected athlete type. Again dependent upon freshness and star count.
Plus the beauty of Xert is you may elect to use Filter to generate a different list based upon focus type or time available, or follow the outdoor advice and ride to a focus point instead.
Or you use the Freshness Feedback slider if predicted form doesn’t match how quickly you recover and the list will update as well. Test this by moving the slider to blue or green and “harder” workouts will appear.

Program Phases – Xert (
Program Type – Xert (
Personalizing Xert’s Training Algorithms by using Freshness Feedback – Xert (

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You are right

There is some discussion either in the support material or on the forum suggesting you should only choose the long focus duration athlete types if for some reason you only want to do low intensity (e.g. injury), and that otherwise it’s not recommended.

Agree, could be much clearer (e.g. with warnings or pop-ups when you actually select your athlete type) to avoid confusion. Or they could have a set of questions about real goals then recommend the athlete type based on that. Or they could rename them entirely… triathlete athlete type is not really the best for triathletes despite the naming

At the risk of beating this (nearly) dead horse, I wonder when XATA would recommend one of these “hard” endurance rides. For grins I set my athlete type to Time Triallist and I’m in the continuous program. Even when I chose a day in the planner when I would be very fresh, XATA gave me ordinary LTP endurance rides even though the power target was at my TP. Granted I only have 2 stars, but it is certainly possible to give me threshold or VO2max workouts at that training level if the algorithm wanted to. Unless of course these workouts just don’t exist (power targets around TP or above with an overall focus duration longer than 20’). In that case it would be great if XATA would tell me it couldn’t find a workout that fit, but here is the best I can do with what I have in my library (and maybe say what criteria were missing)

Never tried continuous so not sure what it should do.

Depending on how far in future you are looking, you may have a big deficit so XATA may be prioritizing high XSS workouts to reduce the gap… these are usually longer sub LTP workouts

I personally don’t use XATA much. I use the filter instead (for focus and difficulty). Am also around 2 stars and find 3 to 3.5 diamonds ok for hard days. Easy days I just ride easy, no need for a ‘workout’. Each to their own though - Xert is flexible

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I appreciate everyone’s comments on this topic. As I think I’ve mentioned my athlete type is set to climber or breakaway specialist and I’m fine with endurance rides being prescribed for days I’m marked as tired (although the name is perhaps misleading). My questions originally arose from trying to understand how power targets and focus duration work. I thought I had it under control except it just doesn’t seem to work for endurance rides - at least for XATA recommended ones. How can Lucy in the Sky have a focus duration of exactly 1 hour when the power never comes close to my 1 hour power? Can someone explain the math underneath the hood to me?

Pretty sure it’s not actually one hour focus, and your understanding is correct. Xert seems to round rides that stay under TP to one hour in the analysis. I often get one hour focus even for super easy rides…

That said, sometimes I get 3 hour or 24 hour focus - not sure what I do differently in those cases but guess I may go above TP on occasion, which may trigger a different calculation… but I don’t worry about it

Definitely some good recommendations in here, Wes. Thanks. With most ‘ulta endurance’ types of rides, the athlete’s training load is likely the best measure of preparedness, and they should still select a shorter athlete type (GC Specialist or Climber, for example).

Easy answer: It depends.
Long answer: XATA is looking at your suplus/deficit plus available training time. If the deficit is large, it’s going to pick a workout that can maximize the XSS gained in the available training time, while keeping the Workout Focus value approximately equal to the recommended Focus. For endurance focus workouts, this typically means that ‘harder’ near threshold workouts can be recommended to maximize the XSS/hr of the session.

Supra-Threshold and VO2max workouts tend to drive difficulty score up rather quickly, since they pull MPA down and increase the XSS/hr. Only relatively short workouts could likely meet the criteria of a Threshold/VO2max session and stay below 50 difficulty score.

An interesting thought, thanks Kirk.

Thanks Scott! Lately I’ve been modifying my endurance workouts by simply adding some 30" or 60" intervals at the power target (or above) while the rest of the workout is generally some type of over/under LTP stuff. This doesn’t crank the XSS/hr up too much but makes me feel like I’m following the XATA advice better. XSS/hr of 65 or 70 is ok for me even at 2 stars - I only can train 6 days a week and then only for an hour or an hour and a half each day. Hard to get past 2 stars at that rate.

Nope, and this explains why time is the ultimate limiter for just about every single athlete in the world. Since the literature suggests that most training should be done at an easy to moderate intensity, and since you can only place strain on your body at such low rates at those intensities, you need a lot of low intensity volume to be riding 3+ stars. For example, 75 TL is equal to approximately 75 minutes of easy to moderate riding per day, on average.

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Hi Scott, this comment stood out for me and must highlight some of my lack of understanding of XATA and how it recommends workouts. Are you saying here that because one has 2 stars (relatively low TL), that XATA limits the difficultly to 50 for recommended workouts?

I understand the Xert/XATA methodology is a hybrid polarized method (not totally sure what the hybrid aspect is), and that for low volume/time folks the progression will be quite slow due to, well… the low volume. Does this mean there is no ‘place’ for a higher XSS/hr strategy for low hours folks?

I quite enjoy (and seem to be able to handle given my 3-4 rides a week schedule) higher XSS/hr rides/workouts. Is there a strategy to have XATA guide me in this sort of strategy of 1-2 higher XSS/hr rides per week combined with 3-4 low intensity (low XSS/hr, low difficulty) rides? My strategy I mean, choosing a particular goal/ramp rate?



This is only my 2 cents. Knowing how your body responds to different training stimulus is great. If you know you can handle a session or two per week of time above TP I would just go for it, and let Xert suggest endurance workouts on the other days. That’s pretty much what I do when my training load is something above 2.5 stars. I like the Ronnestad and the 4x8 Seiler workouts (but mostly the Ronnestad ones - longtime mountain biker) once a week and whatever endurance rides the rest of the time. In general I am not afraid to look for workouts I like and want to do on the day, and let Xert figure out the other days.


My experience at two stars is that I get recommended up to 2.5 diamond workouts, but nothing harder. I don’t find those hard enough for a ‘hard’ day, but I do ride endurance days quite a bit easier than Xert recommends (often classed as ‘easy’ at around 80% LTP).

As mentioned above, and similar to @jw66 I don’t hesitate going above that on hard (blue status) days. Just use the filter in XATA to set minimum difficulty to 3 diamonds (actually in the interface it needs to be 2.5 - filter then returns workout above that minimum). You could use the freshness feedback slider, but remember to put it back afterwards (easy to forget). Of course, see how you feel / recover, and you may need to further polarise (ride endurance at an easier intensity on yellow days) but that may be no bad thing.

Also not 100% sure what the ‘hybrid’ refers to but guess it’s that LTP is typically more like a tempo pace than easy endurance… and that Xert doesn’t follow an 80:20 approach based on sessions or 90:10 time in zones; rather, it uses more sophisticated TL tracking by fitness signature parameter (low vs high strain) to decide whether you are recovered enough to handle a high intensity session on a given day (during build and peak phases at least)

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Roughly, yes. The idea is that a relatively untrained rider is going to have a very difficult time completing high-difficulty workouts. That doesn’t mean they can’t complete them, but the compliance at 100% difficulty is likely going to be much lower. Therefore, we’ve built in logic to recommend high intensity workouts that are roughly equivalent in diamond difficulty to your training load (e.g. # of stars).

Xert is hybrid because it doesnt use FTP based zones nor LT1/LT2 for determining your workout targets. Instead, Xert uses focus and strain. From the blog pasted below, “Xert is not entirely polarized since training variety is an important element to training success, but you will find many of the Endurance workouts and the rest intervals in workouts to be defined at or just below LTP.”

As mentioned by others, you can use the workout filter to find workouts that might have a higher difficulty score (and likely a higher XSS/hr) on days that you feel good, and then free-ride at/below LTP on days that you’re yellow and waiting for blue freshness to come back. Like @wescaine , I do many of my low intensity days around the 75-85% LTP range, or just free-ride in slope mode (or in Zwift) and aim to keep the intensity sufficiently low (often guided by DFAa1).

You can also pair intensity with your endurance training to give your training a bit of XSS/hr boost. You can do this by using intensity to draw down MPA and then holding your endurance targets. Doing so will boost the Low XSS/hr you receive. Look at some of the workouts with endurance-paced efforts under fatigue in the workout library (Firestarter, Bangarang, etc.).

Hope this helps!

Reference: (btw… am I becoming @ridgerider2 ? haha)


Or like the ones that came out of the contest you ran some time back (search for Hezlava Variation under the Coach workouts). I tried that one time… oof that was rough. 96 XSS in one hour though, with almost all of it at low intensity.