HOW TO: Recovery Week

Hi Folks,

I thought I might take a chance to show some of my data as an example of how to take a recovery week.

I was off my bike for 10 days over the holiday season, so I’ve been getting back into the swing of training again. Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been successful in ramping up my training volume, seeing an increase of 13 W on my Threshold for 17 points of Training Load. This “month” of training culminated in a rather large (for me) trainer ride yesterday, which resulted in 338 XSS & driving me very deep into the red (form was -58 after the ride was uploaded):

Note that as I as stack on the training, my form gets progressively worse - makes sense, as training more than you’re used to is going to wear you down. This was especially the case over the last week, where I suspect I reached the edge of functional overreaching (ramp rate was +7.3).

So now that I’m so far into the red, how do I get out of this and back to my usual training?

First, I turned my improvement rate from Aggressive - 1 (+4 TL/week) all the way down to Maintenance (+0 TL/week). This does 2 things - extends my XSS surplus even further - offering me the opportunity for extra rest without falling behind on my training and 2, slowing down the XSS I’ll need this week to keep the training pacer on track.

  • I did still felt like riding today, so I started this week with an easy “noodle” ride, < 1 hour of easy spinning (:diamonds: difficulty).
  • For Tuesday, I’ll be back to fresh status, so XATA might want me to do a little intensity. But knowing that I want to take a full week dedicated to recovery, I set the filters for < 1.5 :diamonds: difficulty and < 60 min duration.
  • On Wednesday, I lead the Zwift Xert Surplus Seekers Ride on Zwift, which is a 2.0-2.5 W/kg ride. The ride has a steady, endurance pace for me (LTP is 3.06 W/kg for me, so this is below LTP pace).
  • I will most likely re-assess how I feel on Wednesday evening/Thursday morning before I schedule my Th/Fri rides - maybe I’ll edit the post later this week.
  • Regardless of my freshness, I’m still planning to get my LSD rides in over the weekend (1.5 - 2.0 hours; 90-120 XSS/ride), since they’re performed generally at pretty mild intensities (75-95% LTP, sometimes a tiny bit higher).

After Sunday’s ride, I’ll likely move my Improvement Rate back to Aggressive - 1 and get back to work!

Hope this post is helpful for folks! Be sure to follow up with this thread if you have any further questions!


Very timely. I’ve just signed up today after using the trial for two weeks, one of the reasons was by following a traditional 3 week on 1 week off approach, I’ve found by the middle of the recovery week (especially during base) I feel more like I’m losing fitness rather than recovering. Given that you can’t constantly improve, what are the obvious signs you need to scale things back a bit and how should I interpret/adjust Xert to accomplish that?

Does altering the improvement rate affect each particular day, or is it over a set number of days?

XATA operates on a rolling 7 day period.
As @ManofSteele says you can dial down IR (improvement rate) as needed and dial back up when ready to resume normal TL (training load).
Otherwise XATA will indicate you are falling behind (pacer needle) and accumulating a XXS deficit. Of course that is demoralizing :slight_smile: so best to dial down to reflect what you are capable of riding. Dialing down also lowers intensity.
If you did happen to leave IR as is during a down week when you resume normal activities a week later XATA resets to reflect that change by the next week. IOW you don’t have to worry about trying to erase a deficit accumulated during a down week. :sob:

If you bump IR higher than you can handle you will definitely know that by the end of the week. :smiley:
You can also adjust the freshness feedback slider under Goals any time if you feel more fresh or more tired that XATA predicts before the next workout. Doing that will also change recommendations.


As @ridgerider2 mentioned already, XATA works on a rolling 7 day window, but changes to the IR take place immediately. As I’ll cover below, you can change this value at any time - it doesn’t need to be left at a certain value for an entire week before being changed again.

Generally you will lose a little fitness during recovery weeks. But what’s neat about Xert is that you may not need the full recovery week. As I posted originally, I’ll re-assess how I feel on thursday, and may consider bumping my Improvement Rate back up if my freshness returns to > 0 and I feel fresh/recovered.

Days or weeks of yellow are indicative that you’re never fully recovering, so you’re missing out on potential opportunities to get harder HIIT sessions in. So if you are/have been yellow for days on end, taking a week of reduced IR and easier rides can go a LONG way.

This is yet another way to ensure that you’re recommended easier workouts on a recovery week. Just be sure to reset the slider to 0 before starting your next week/block of training :slight_smile:


Thankyou, for the replies. Makes sense, given the situation with Covid in the UK, I’ve taken the decision not to plan to do any racing this year (I normally race TTs) so I’ve selected a different rider type (GC Rider)and I’ll experiment with the information you’ve given me. Should hopefully give me a change from what I normally do which I think I’m in need of to be honest.

Thanks for the post @ManofSteele! Coincidence wants that I’m in a recovery week right now. I’m glad to read that my understanding of the Xert system goes pretty well, as I made the adjustments in Xert as you described.
Only thing I didn’t bump up my training like you did (kudos for that btw). I only just increased my training (base phase) from slow to moderate 1. I do want to get more TL, but I dont have a lot of time to spend.
Do you have any tips on how to cope with the fatigue of training? As I can feel pretty fatigued now and then… I already toggled my freshness feedback back a little. But it feels a bit demoralising to switch it lower any more.

P.S. I really like these examples of how you/development team take Xert into action, like this one. Hope to see more of this in the future :slight_smile:

Hi Stephan,

If you’re really being worn down from your training, it could be an indicator that you’re being pushed maybe a little too hard on a week to week basis. Are you doing all structured rides/workouts from Xert, or are you adding in any other activities (outdoor riding, Zwift, etc.) into the mix? You’d be amazed how much a good, disciplined recovery week can help you really freshen back up for more training.

As I mentioned in the original post, I wanted to re-assess how I’d feel on Thursday and consider moving IR back up. But already I can tell I haven’t really recovered enough yet - so planning another long(ish) noodle ride (< 2.0 difficulty) for Thursday and most likely another Endurance (<2.5 difficulty) workout on Friday before some LSD rides on the weekend.

Fantastic! Glad you’re getting value out of this! I’ll certainly continue making some of these HOW TO posts in the future if people are reading them & finding them helpful. Cheers!


Hi Scott - just to add that I’ve also found this example really helpful. We have a group of 4 friends all using Xert and comparing notes etc., and these added insights are useful in either confirming understanding or pointing us in the right direction. More real life, worked example, type posts would be great.


Glad you’re finding these helpful/useful! I’ll continue to post things like this as long as that remains the case. :smiley:

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Hi Scott,

This week of freshening up / resting is indeed very helpfull. I feel a lot more fresh. Although I may not be entirely fit, because everyone in my household is coughing and are having a cold. I did a heavy effort today on Xert’s standard 20min FTP test. It turned out that my TP was a lot lower than my Fitness Signature was. I manually adjusted my TP with the Advanced MPA chart, and saved it to my signature. I think it is OK like this.
Maybe the fatigue came from a inflated signature… Hopefully with a couple of BT in the future my signature will be on point again :slight_smile:

Sickness can definitely impact your ability to perform, as can fatigue from training. For example, my last BT activity was performed with a moderately poor form (Yellow status when I started the ride), and I felt that even though I was able to get a moderate BT, I wasn’t able to fully push myself because of the fatigue. I’ll likely push for another BT sometime early into my next cycle of training to ensure that my training targets are accurate & representative of my fitness.


I decided to stay disciplined this week and restrict myself to rides that are all < 2.0 Diamond Difficulty. I rode enough to keep my training pacer far to the right, but I’m okay with that - the deficit will be zapped up as soon as I increase my Improvement Rate before Monday’s ride.

Notice how the form line has slowly crept up from deep in the Red, to Yellow, and now I’m finally back to blue freshness status. I’ve already uploaded my ride for today (Green Arrow), as well as planned my ride for Saturday. I’ve dashed the lines between the current form/TL and tomorrow’s activity - this is what those lines will look like tomorrow when I do the ride.

Finally, another cool little trick… I made a 1 min, 1 XSS test activity for Sunday morning, so I can see where I’m at by then in terms of form and surplus/deficit. Since I will still have a slight negative form and plenty of surplus to spare, I can decide now already that I’m going to enjoy my Sunday OFF!

Once again, hope this helps!


During hard training is it “normal” to be hovering around 0?

I’ve been wondering if I should recover more so that I’m typically above 0 even after a couple HIIT rides. For example, if I do a hard workout I can drop quite a way below zero (from +5 to -15 for example). Would it be better if I had some more fitness (being well above 0) always sitting in the tank? Or would that involve losing overall fitness (i.e. training load)?

Not sure if that makes sense or not. I’m just trying to figure out if “best practice” is to hover with freshness around 0 (+/-10).

If you want to increase TL you need to have negative form… form is basically your long term training load minus your short term training load (also acute TL in other systems… recovery load here in Xert) - the difference is just the timeframe,

Negative means your training more than your long term average and so the average will go up over time, and vice versa. Maintaining zero for long enough means your short term training is the same as it’s been in the long term, so overall load won’t increase. Maybe too many words but hope it makes sense

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Thanks for that clear description. It helped me make better sense of the problem.

So the question is: How low can form be before you start losing ability to perform well enough to increase fitness?

My experience is that when my form is below something like -10, even fairly low difficulty workouts feel extremely challenging. This gets more at the rate at which your increasing TL though; because at higher TL you’ll be able to handle higher difficulty workouts without losing as much form…

One of the very important questions of training… how far is over-reaching before it becomes non-functional? I’d like to say I’ve been quite close to that point (for myself) by doing front loaded periodized training in early 2019 (e.g. 5 HIIT workouts in 7 days, then 1 HIIT/week for 3 weeks), which I was able to complete twice before getting very close to burning out.

As you highlighted, form is relative to each individual’s training load, which is why we identify your form as given %'s of your training load, rather than absolutes. For an athlete with a TL of 25, a -10 form is almost 50% of their TL, whereas an athlete with a TL of 125 would barely notice a form of -10.

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I hadn’t made the connection that TL and form are in essence the same “units”.

My TL is around 70; when my form is -15 and lower that’s where I can start feeling it. That is around 20% of my TL…