Goal Date and workout recommendations

Xert doesn’t seem to recommend different workouts if I change my event date, is that normal? I initially put in 1/28 for goal date because I’m doing an event that day but it’s not really a target event at all. I was using it to help figure out Xert. I’ve been doing nothing but endurance rides with only 1 interval workout and a few faster group rides in the past 5 weeks.

Are the workouts during the build phase different that the peak phase? I had a workout auto created for 1/28 goal date and a 2/28 goal date and the suggested workout was the same. What am I missing? Should I be self selecting different types of workouts during these phases? In the past my intervals would get shorter and more intense as i approached peak. Trying to understand how Xert works in the different phases.

I’ve seen amazing fitness gains so far just doing heavy L1-L2 miles keeping power below 250 watts. I was shocked at how good my fitness was on a hard windy group ride yesterday as well as my ability to recover from repeated hard efforts, and I’ve not pedaled really hard like that for 6-8 months.

How many stars do you have and what is their color? Have you played with the freshness bar to see the change in recommended activities? What type of rider are you set to? What is your decay rate? What is your improvement rate? I believe all these can affect recommended activities.

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I suggest you clear those event date entries as you don’t populate the Planner like a traditional training calendar.
You can use the Planner to play what-if scenarios for the week ahead, but you’re not necessarily tied to those workouts. They’ll disappear the next day if you decide to do something else when the day arrives.
Most of us leave the Planner blank and work within XATA guidelines on a day-to-day basis.

Base, build, and peak phases vary in intensity depending on calculated form, selected focus duration (athlete type), and ramp rate. A full phased progression cycle is 120 days (45+45+30). Setting a TED of 1/28 would skip Base and Build and put you into Peak phase. View the chart in this article for an example progression: Program Phases – Xert

Base phase is easy since it’s all endurance level workouts although you can select workouts that include more tempo/sweetspot intervals if you prefer. Build starts intensity by midway and Peak revs it up a bit before a Taper week preceding the event. This also depends on your ramp rate setting during the progression. A Slow or Moderate climb is easier than Aggressive or Extreme. :wink:

If status goes to yellow (high/peak system strained) then endurance level workouts will be recommended until your form returns to fresh (blue/green; ready for HIIT workouts).
You can use the Freshness Feedback slider if you feel calculated form doesn’t match how you feel. E.g. slide right towards blue if feeling fresh when calculated status remains yellow/tired.
There isn’t a single recommended workout but rather a list of candidates you select from. The top four shown are closest match to XATA without applying a Filter or changing Duration (both of which you should use). The Suggest button picks one of the top four randomly. Load More will give you more choices. Any entries rated Good with Optimal Focus are viable workouts or sessions for today.

Reference –

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4 stars, yellow when I posted this. I have not played with the freshness bar. I’m set to puncheur. Decay is set to normal decay, I haven’t changed it. Improvement rate is set to extreme 2.

I only picked an event date via the goals tab, I didn’t put anything on the schedule. I also haven’t planned out any workouts in advance, I only look at today or the next day and try to figure out what to do. It’s going to take a little time to fully understand Xert, that’s why I’m asking frequent questions.

I wasn’t attached to the date I had put in, I just changed it to an event I’m ok with to use as a target event. This makes the schedule fit perfectly to where I’m at. I’ve done a solid base period, ready to start a build period which is where my question started. Xert was recommending the same workout for peak as it was for build if I moved the target date out a month.

I’m primarily a road racer, I’d consider myself a punchy climber type that does well in technical or hilly criteriums or road races with moderate climbing with preferably an uphill sprint finish. However, this is the first year that I’m looking to do all kinds of events like gravel and Fondo’s as well. I figure my best bet is to train based on my road capabilities but add more endurance miles for the gravel and fondo events.

I’m wondering how my peak power will also affect the workouts? Xert currently has that at 1163 from an effort I did last spring when I was dabbling in some road/crit racing while being in terrible shape. Though that isn’t a good peak number for when I’m fit, it’s most likely too high for right now. I’d guess I can do somewhere between 1050 and 1100 right now. Is this an issue or nothing to worry about and let Xert adapt to my data? Seems I’d have a hard time getting a breakthrough with the peak power number being too high?

appreciate the effort you put into the responses.

I believe the yellow stars are indicating fatigue and so easier workouts will be recommended until you overcome that fatigue. If you are not feeling the fatigue, then try pushing the status bar to something like +20 or +30 and see how that works for you. You can play with the freshness bar to extremes to look at recommended workouts as well before a final setting to where you are truly at.

Indoors it’s unlikely to hit your PP during sprint intervals as you can’t thrash and stomp like you can outdoors. Many riders generate 150-200+ watts more outdoors.
However, PP is the least sensitive of the signature values in terms of MPA drawdown and training.
See this chart for a bell curve range of values comparing PP and HIE –
Are there errors in my Fitness Signature? – Xert (baronbiosys.com)

As you have determined you can manipulate TED to put you in the phase you want to be in.
Base is all endurance, Build starts higher intensity, and Peak has the most of it. Taper week is up to you with the idea being to ease up while maintaining your edge and arrive very fresh (green) for your event date.
Extreme-2 at 4 stars means you’re ramping up quickly at the top end of the range.
IR changes are more likely to change the recommended list.

The recommended list is essentially a rating system listing the top four candidates between Workouts, Activities (prior rides), or Sessions.
Load More also lists viable workouts if Suitability stays the same. At some point you’ll drift further away from best match (Suitability and XSS).
Consider changing Duration when you have more or less time to train today. Otherwise XATA will default to how much you normally train on same day of the week.

When you hit 4 stars the sky’s the limit as far as choosing workouts. 5 diamond workouts may be too tough, but any 4-diamond workout is game.
If you’d like an extra challenge when fresh, search the Workout Library for “hardness test” in quotes. Select a 4-diamond entry (level 07 or 08) to match your stars count and see how you do. Then try moving up a level week to week and determine how far up the ladder you can go.

I guess the question I should have asked from the beginning was, all things being equal, what is the workout type difference that will be recommended during the build phase vs the peak phase assuming the subject is fresh. Can you give examples?

I wouldn’t bother trying to get a break through on the trainer. I can’t stand riding the trainer and there is zero chance I could motivate myself to push that hard. Also, I stand a lot, I’d say 80-90% of my climbing is done standing and I produce more power with less effort standing making riding on the trainer for hours a miserable experience for me. I live in the mountains and average 100 ft of elevation per mile ridden so lots of climbing.

This brings me to another question I’ve thought of. Why is the android app recommended for use outside over the IOS app? The IOS app seems to work fine on the trainer, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work outside? I have old Iphones laying around, I’d have to buy an android and then the question is, which android? How cheap can I go since I’d only be using it for this purpose?

It’s just that focus changes gradually from endurance to your target focus during build. In peak you are at target focus. You can slide the program phase thing in the ‘training’ tab to see how focus changes (and hours increase). (You can search the library for workouts of different focus)

Will leave the ios vs android one for @ridgerider2 as I also wouldn’t see a reason not to use ios if you have a device

You can certainly use the iOS EBC app on the road if you have an extra phone laying around.
No need for a cellular connection but you want Wi-Fi connected during startup and later when uploading the saved activity to XO.
Both OS apps have outdoor functions while the Android version has additional features such as definable data fields.
Main benefit to Android is there are inexpensive small phones (3-4" screens) available such as the Cubot Kingkong Mini 2 or Mini 3.
The Android app gets new features sooner than iOS.
Add a quarter turn mount to whatever you decide to use and you’re all set.
Example: Brand X or KOM.
Rainy days? Not so much. Rain drops make screen viewing and touchscreen control impractical.
Best to have a ziplock bag handy so you can keep recording a ride in your jersey pocket when needed.

As @wescaine mentions focus duration wavers over the course of a progression starting with endurance in Base then narrows to selected Athlete Type by Peak phase.
This chart is an example where Puncheur was selected as Athlete Type for the target event.

Anyone who elects a type in the endurance quadrant will see the least variance since they’ll be starting in endurance and ending in endurance.
Otherwise, workouts align with difficulty level based on your increasing TL. E.g. 2 stars TL to 2 diamond difficulty workouts, 3 to 3, 4 to 4, etc. along with XSS goal for the day.
That coupled with changes in form from high/peak system stressed (yellow) = mostly endurance recommended to fresh/very fresh (blue/green; recovered) = HIIT options with focus varying as above.
If you go red (very tired) only active recovery workouts will be recommended (or take a rest day).

Something else to consider is the type of event(s) you want to excel at or the event profile itself. That can be determined if historical ride data is available to analyze a prior event. For example, a century event’s profile may indicate GC Specialist as the ideal focus duration. Selecting Century Rider as target type would undertrain you for the strain mix you’ll encounter on that course.


ok, thanks for the good info. I’ll start with an IOS device since I have them laying around rather than purchasing an android. I feel like I almost have an understanding of Xert but still need to read up more on the focus. I get the concept, just trying to understand how to train within the current focus. I watched a video of Scott explaining it, probably need to re-watch that and find some more info.

Try this experiment the next time you ride outdoors with EBC (or Garmin Connect IQ data fields).
Monitor just the Focus field and watch what happens.
Let’s say it’s a day when 6:00 minute focus (Rouler) is the goal for the day.
Warm-up easy then perform some irregular intervals to drive focus down to 6:00.
Hit whatever watts you want on efforts for as long as you want but not to exhaustion. :wink:
You don’t have to get there quickly. Chip away until you reach 6:00 with reasonable recoveries between efforts.
Now imagine doing the same thing but monitoring target watts to stay within a narrow range (your 6:00 power or a bit above) while watching TTE/TTR during efforts and recoveries to gauge when to end an interval and how long to rest before repeating. That adds structure to ensure your strain work is on point. Continue this pattern until you reach your XSS goal for the day. That is free riding to focus. :smiley:

In practice you’ll find it’s easier to drive focus down than it is to ride to an endurance focus (20:00 minutes and higher). For those rides you need to start out easy (literally coasting :slight_smile: ) then pedal constantly shifting gears to maintain low watts while avoiding surges and steep pitches.

Reference –
Focus Duration – Xert (baronbiosys.com)
Focus Duration – What is it and how do I train with it? – Xert (baronbiosys.com)
Podcast - Episode 21

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Thanks for the explanation. Question then, if I did a “free ride” but rode to focus the way you described, that would be as effective as doing a structured workout indoors? Doing it how you describe outside would work best for me, I’m in the mountains so it’s hard to do a long structured workout due to the terrain. I can do structure on the climbs but then need to pause for the downhill then structure on the next climb or the occasional flat road. I’ll check all the links you provided. I’ve for now decided just to use my current Iphone for EBC outside, bought a new 2nd case to apply the mount to and I’ll just swap cases when I need to do a workout. Seems like the easiest solution since I always have my phone on me. It’s an older XR also so not concerned about it getting damaged, the screen is already cracked from a recent drop.

Precisely! Before Xert, no one has ever truly been able to quantify non-structured activities in meaningful way, or compare those non-structured rides to a structured workout. However, Xerters will understand that it’s not the physical structure of the workouts that make them strong (e.g. 4x8’s, 2x20’s, etc.) but the strain (XSS) that they accumulate during those activities. Xert tracks your second by second strain across all 3 energy systems (Low, High, & Peak) and uses Focus to help us further understand how that strain is being applied across your body.

If a structured workout has a Focus of Breakaway Specialist (5:00) and ~100 XSS and an outdoor activity/group ride also results in a relatively similar focus (~5:00) and XSS, then Xert would say that both are equally beneficial for your training! For many people, they find group training more enjoyable and are also less likely to burn out from training. Bonus! :slight_smile:

I’m currently in base phase, given the workout recommendations for endurance workouts often contain sweetspot or threshold intervals, is riding to an endurance focus just as effective then? For example, rather than do a structured workout, would I be just as well riding in a Zwift Pacer group as long as I keep the focus as endurance?

My recommended training today is 2.5 stars endurance ride, so as long as I maintain the focus and get near to the XSS I’m on track?

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I don’t claim to be any sort of expert and possibly one will chime in but the reason sweet spot and threshold training exists is simply to gain the training benefits in a shorter workout time which is ideal for time-crunched athletes.

The same training benefit and possibly more can also be obtained by a lower intensity but a longer duration.


Precisely! This is a textbook way to use the software to train without structure! If your training recommendations are for endurance focus, then you can simply ride easy! Whether that is joining an easy pacer group, an easy group ride, below LTP, below a target HR, or below a target blood lactate level - however you wish to determine your ‘easy’, go out and ride to accumulate the recommended XSS :slight_smile:

Pretty much spot on!
That being said, there are very different metabolic responses to riding at SS (high glycolytic flux) and at a ‘zone 2’ effort (at/near Fatmax). But I don’t really want to go down that rabbit hole right now :slight_smile:


Thanks Scott, I saw our reply yesterday but wanted to read the links and listen to the podcast that ridgerider2 recommended before responding, which I’ve now done. I understand focus now and theoretically how to do it on a ride, I’ll have to get out on a couple of rides and “practice” riding to focus before I think I’ll have a full feel for it. Since I can’t stand the trainer and I live in the mountains, riding to focus outside will be the best option, allows me to use and deal with the varying terrain better.

My last question now is on specificity. I’ll sew what I can find in the blog/forums/podcast but feel free to answer here :slight_smile:

If I have for example a 4 minute focus, is having a pure specificity vs polarized better? What are the advantages/disadvantages to both? Thanks.

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To me this depends very much on the purpose of the session… if it’s ‘race simulation’ you want specificity similar to the race you are doing… that can be mixed or polar… but if you’re targeting specific energy systems or capabilities (which is most of training traditionally) you want more pure specificity. Adding a few sprints to an endurance ride is unlikely to improve your ability to repeat efforts at your 5-min / VO2 max power, even if the resulting focus of that endurance + sprints ride is 5 min.

Actually if you do some pure 5 min power efforts in an endurance ride, your resulting focus will be longer than 5 minutes, which should also be kept in mind… you can use the workout creator to play around with that

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Yes, but Specificity will differ outdoors as Scott explains in this video from the Mastering Xert series. (Similar functions on EBC as with Garmin data fields.)
In particular note this slide and description when you get to it (at 6:05 mark) –

The more you ride to focus like the top and bottom charts, the closer to Pure specificity you’ll get.
However, Mixed is more likely outdoors due to traffic, terrain, and pedal stroke compared to a controlled workout indoors. The exception would be a long gradual climb that allows you to closely control effort and rest intervals. Or an out-and-back course that is mostly flat. You may also have a long warm-up or cooldown either side of the workout portion of your ride. That can change overall focus for the activity, but you achieved the workout goal on a portion of the ride. When viewing activity details, you can highlight that section to see the stats.

Your outdoor ride charts are going to look a LOT different than an indoor workout.
Here’s an example of me riding to a Puncheur focus for most of a ride –

I wasn’t tightly controlling target watts (Puncheur = 4 minute power), but you get the idea.

Here’s an example endurance ride (any attempt to maintain 20:00 focus or higher) –

You can also discern how I tried to pedal constantly during the endurance effort while I coasted a lot :slight_smile: during RIBs on the Puncheur effort especially towards the end (getting pooped). YMMV

All activities (indoor/outdoor) are classified by Difficulty, Specificity, and Focus.
Difficulty Rating: Easy, Moderate, Difficult, Tough, Hard
Specificity: Polar, Mixed, Pure
Focus Duration: 2 min (Road Sprinter), 3 min (Pursuiter), 4 min (Puncheur), 5 min (Breakaway Specialist), 6 min (Rouleur), 8 min (GC Specialist), 10 min (Climber), 20+ minutes (Endurance - Sprint TT thru Triathlete)

My two rides above were rated Difficult Mixed Puncheur and Easy Polar Endurance.