HTL question

@ManofSteele Question for you. I’ve shifted my focus from an emphasis on Focus to the the type of stress (peak, high, or low) and I’m seeing that I’m going to effectively max out my high load relatively quickly, and it’s a sort of a hard cap, because I don’t want to do more than 2, maybe 3, intensity sessions per week. Let’s say I’m not willing to do more than 2 intensity sessions per week, and no longer than 2 hours each, after that all I could really do would be to shorten Focus, and then that’s not going to increase my HTL, correct?

Is your goal to further increase HTL?
How much h-xss do you generate in such a 2h training session? And what’s your current HTL?

In general, if you shorten focus, you will start to shift strain accumulation more and more from high to peak. So probably not what you are after.

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Yeah, seems it’s just a math problem. With LTL, you could theoretically continue to stack up time and (XSS) and watch it rise. Now that I’m paying more attention to HTL and PTL, what I’m seeing is that you hit a cap a lot faster, and peaking actually makes more sense now too. If you’re at say, 5 HTL, and doing 3 intensity workouts a week, you don’t have much room to push it.

Yea, I think HTL 5 is already pretty high. I wonder what the real world range is among xert users. I assume somewhat between 0…10 (@ManofSteele ?)

To keep 5 HTL maintained you’d need on average to do 5 H-XSS per day, so 5x7=35 per week. If you want to stick to 2 sessions per week that’s therefore 17.5 H-xss per session which I feel is berserk :slight_smile:
But I am only at 1 HTL right now which I maintain without pushing while continuing to further build my LTL. But I feel how I already struggle recovering from my baby interval sessions.
Maybe thats because my LTL ramp rate during the last months was pretty high, between 3…5 per week.
Later in summer I want to put LTL on maintenance and focus on increasing HTL. I wonder how I will fare.

But back to your case, I think you should not bind yourself to those “2…3 interval sessions” per week.
If you further build you HTL and adapt, you will just need more stimulus and you should also recover much more easy from the stimulus you are used to. And I think increasing interval training frequency is the easiest way to achieve that.
I remember @xertedbrain argumented against that in the past, saying that overall it would be easier to recover from fewer but deeper sessions. But at least for me that’s not my experience. I seem to deal better for 2 H-xss every 2nd day than e.g., 8 H-xss once per week. The latter making me feel like 85y for at least the following day.
Just experiment what works better for you?

Thanks for an interesting topic @jjamesv !

What are the focus & specificity of those high intensity trainings that you have been doing? Maybe you should share the average L/H/P XSS from them?

I think the new XSS Buckets data field can help you visualize this better than I can explain. So in order for you to increase your High TL, you don’t need to shorten the focus duration - that’s actually more controlled by your Peak training load.

Instead, you want to increase the specificity of your training at the given Focus. The key difference in specificity is in the relative ratios of L:H:P, where a Polar (more threshold) specificity has the smallest amount of High XSS, Mixed has a moderate amount of XSS, and a Pure specificity has a more substantial input from your HIE system (at the cost of less input from your TP system). So even though the overall Focus is the same, the specificity relays more information about the relative contribution from your HIE system.

Let’s pick 5:00 focus as an example. Let’s say I can do (or want to do ) 2 high intensity sessions (of ~60 min) per week at a 5 min (Breakaway Specialist) focus.

Option A: SMART - Headstrong - 60

It’s still a solid workout with 8 hard efforts thrown in, but only has about 4.8 XSS of High Strain at the end of a full hour.

Option B: SMART - Break on Through (To the Other Side)

In the same amount of time, this workout accumulates over 4x’s the High Strain as the workout with polar specificity. Obviously this workout would be far harder, even if a Breakthrough isn’t achieved (side note: this workout is amazing for building fitness, even if/when a BT isn’t achieved)

If you were to compare your High TL before/after doing 4 weeks of one or the other, I would expect that your gains in High TL to be far greater when doing pure 5 min focus workouts, as the Strain on your HIE system will be far greater during those rides & we’d therefore expect a larger increase in your High TL (and therefore a larger increase in your HIE parameter of your fitness signature).

The other factor that should be mentioned is recovery. Depending on what your High TL is right now, you might not be able to tolerate 2x’s per week of 30-30’s without digging yourself into a hole. However, if your HTL is greater - I recall seeing some users with a HTL of ~12 or so - then you might be able to tolerate those workouts a time or two per week without being permanently yellow for weeks.


Great stuff @ManofSteele and @Beutelfuchs . I’m at 3 HTL now, and was at 3.5, so it’s definitely clear how relatively quickly HTL can rise and fall. I’ve been doing a Ronnestad-ish workout that’s between 8-10 high XSS. I’m not sure I could manage Option B week on week mentally, even if I could handle it physically.

One thing that I love about group rides as training is that they tend to be north of 150 XSS and 8-12 high XSS to boot. Essentially the message from other platforms is, ‘group ride? Just don’t do it’ where Xert actually quantifies the work and then you’re not “skipping” anything.

I’ll have a play with Option B and see if I can find something that I could live with.


I guess I also didn’t touch on that much… If you have more time, that will affect things too!

I agree with you… 20 High XSS in just 60 min is crazy to me - maybe something I’ll do only a couple times a year. However, 20 High XSS in a 3 hour ride isn’t too bad. Maybe a few hill repeats, or pulls in a pace line, or town sign sprints.

You don’t need to do structured workouts to gain fitness. The Buckets data field helps us understand this. If you are able to get yourself to a point where you can accrue ~15 High XSS twice a week, that’s solid! How you decide to accrue those High XSS might depend on where you live, the type of events/races you’re training for, or simply how you enjoy riding. Again, this could include hill repeats, or longer near-threshold efforts if you’re a TT-ist, etc.

Yep, buckets is great. I do a spicy “A” group ride that’s close to 3 hours, and that is anywhere from 11-15, so I think you’re spot on. It’s REALLY tough though.

At any rate, looking more at XSS by category has helped me understand peaking better. I see now in the modeling how to get to a desired HTL level too far in advance of an event/race just means you’ll have to keep piling on the high XSS to stay where you want. Classic diminishing returns I guess.

When you think conceptually about things, it really starts to make a lot of sense and you can also better understand how older training methods worked.

If your HTL is 3, this simply means that on average (exponentially weighted but you don’t need to think about this) you are doing 3 points of High XSS every day or about 21 per week. If you do 2 high intensity rides per week, this would be, rougly 11 high XSS points each. If you do 3 high intensity workouts per week, that’s 7 each. Simple, huh?

If your event has 7 high XSS, you pretty much don’t need to train. 3 HTL is fine. But if your event has 30 high XSS, you can see now that you’ll need to train your HTL in order to be prepared. You’re going to have a hard time finishing a 30 High XSS ride on 3 HTL. Your durability for 30 High XSS is not sufficient or your event readiness isn’t great. 30 High XSS is more than you do in an entire week and so you’d pushing beyond your limits.

To be prepared for an event with 30 High XSS, you can think through it yourself. If you wanted train 2 times a week and be prepared, you’d aim to do 2 x 30 High XSS per week or 60 per week. That’s about 8.5 per day or an HTL of 8.5.

Getting to 8.5 isn’t that hard for most people. Track cyclists and professional crit racers go much higher. For the average weekend warrior, this is pretty high though.

I’ve been asked: “Is doing X amount of High XSS every day bad?”. My answer is always that it depends on how much you regularly do to start with. If you’re one to do 8 High XSS on average every day, then doing a workout with 8 High XSS isn’t going to do anything for you. It’s what you already do on average. It’s when you start to do far more than you regularly do that things get can get dicey. Progressive overload is key, i.e. grow your TLs gradually and manageably and you can get to 5, 8, 10 or even higher HTL if you do it gradually. Eventually, whatever the number is becomes what you regularly do and thus by definition is the amount of High XSS you can handle daily.


Using HTL as a gauge for readiness is really clarifying. I think I understood using TL as a way to weigh up whether I could handle a given Difficulty, but didn’t consider HTL separately. It really explains why races that were 10+ HXSS were really hard.

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Follow on question. How do we determine what the “right” amount of HTL is? Is 15 HTL necessary better than 10? Is the only limiting factor our fatigue? I’m asking because I’ve heard that even if you could do more than 2/3 intensity days per week, it wouldn’t be beneficial, which seems to indicate there’s an effectiveness cap for HTL.

I’d love an opportunity to do a deep data analysis on our data to help answer this question. (Only so many plates we can spin at the moment…)

I think when 2/3 per week doesn’t cut it in terms of building HTL, you start to go more pyramidal where you do more efforts just above TP with less High XSS but with greater frequency so that you can still build HTL. Ultimately, the right about of HTL will depend on what you’re training for. Just keep in mind that building HTL means you’ll see larger HIE capacity but it also means you can tackle greater High XSS in your target event. In the former where, say, you’re training for a hill climb and your 5 minute power needs to be maximized, you’ll want to have as much HTL as you can build as this should provide the best 5 minute power you can produce. If you’re just needing enough for a race, you’ll want to examine the High XSS resulting from the event and decide on what Event Readiness you wish to have. Targeting an ER of 1 is like training for a stage race: you’ll want be recovered in 1 day on average thus the right amount of HTL would be essentially the average High XSS of the stages. If it’s just a 1 day race and ok with going much deeper than you normally go, you can target an ER of 4 or 5, which would mean the right HTL will be a fraction (1/4 say) of the High XSS for the event.

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I’d assume that while increasing your HTL, even if done at a slight ramp rate only, at some point would lead to a loss of LTL.
Because training time is limited and doing more of A would need to go at the expense of B.
But more so in terms of systemic fatigue. Your physique has a maximum recoverability which probably is dynamic and depends on all kinds of factors.
As long as you stay below that in terms of total strain, you can keep increasing load on your low and high energy system simultaneousely, e.g. training one while the other recovers locally.
But in the end you have a single immune system responsible to bring your body back to homeostasis. And once you exceed it’s capacity there will be something you need to dial back.

That’s probably pretty obvious if one thinks a bit outside the box of cycling. How many cycling champions are also winning e.g., tennis WC’s?

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