Is this how it ends?

Hi,

As the title of my topic indicates, I am wondering how things work when we reach a point in time where we don’t simply have more time to train?

I have been training regularly using Xert (and other platforms) since last october with ramp rate of Moderate/Slow. In the last month or so, I succeeded raising my training load (TL) by doing tougher workouts (same duration, more XSS) to 3 stars.
Now I have reached the point that I can’t put in more hours per week (Maintenance, signature decay = no decay).

Now to get back to my question. Since I am now in maintenance mode, will my actual TP never raise again and is thus maxed (in theory). Reading about Xert, I have understood that the no decay mode is updating the fitness signature according to the TL and I can’t raise it anymore (no more time available). Am I stuck at that level?

My gut feeling is telling me that even if I maintain my actual TL, I will get fitter (more aerobic at least). Is that what will happen? Will TP be affected?

As a workaround, I thought that I could train less for some time to let TL lower a bit, ride for fun during summer and then start again raising TL when it has lowered to say 50 (2 stars). My guess is that even if TL is lowering, TP will not lower as much but I do not know…

I am curious to read your answers to my questions. I am still new to structured training but I like it very much. I did not expect the results I am now witnessing with my fitness. I consider myself an enthousiast (no race event, only endurance rides, mostly for fun). But there’s a geek in me who likes to understand how things work.

Thanks!

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That is a great question and one that I have been pondering as well. I too will be interested in the answers that come back!. my feeling is that no matter who you are there is some basic set of constraints that will limit the max achievable. Even Usain Bolt reached a maximum, I assume the most of his training near the end of the career was to maintain with hopes to tweak some finer points, ie marginal gains. For the average bloke like me time, motivation and genetics will limit me. But within that constrained problem there are all sort of things to look at. Same Tp but maybe more repeatability/ endurance, hold of the inevitable age decline? I think it never really ends.

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I am happy that my question is of interest to some people. I am eager to read the answer from the eXpERTs…

For now, what I think I will do is stop training on the trainer completely starting from next week (just riding outside, except when it is raining) because I know that when I ride outside, I tend not to push as hard, thus TL should decrease (since less XSS / day).

My guess is that TP will remain approximately the same, then I’ll be able to ramp up the TL again eventually and raise the TP again…

This is my favourite topic too as I ask myself it every year when I “max out” my available time.

Some thoughts:

  • Your threshold power might not keep increasing but other aspects of your fitness can - in particular your endurance.
  • Try different training cycles that vary the Xert athlete type - a different stimulus can raise things higher
  • Once you get a feel for what you respond to don’t blindly follow XATA. Earlier this year got my best ever TP numbers after 3 months of only Zwift races and endurance rides, using Xert to track load/progression

TP is the important indicator, but not the only one. This winter I worked on my 10m power (focus Climber) and was somehow surprised that my TP was pretty flat all the time. However on my very first outdoor rides, I have crushed all my local 5-10 minutes climbs. I can also recover quicker and attack climb after climb with pleasure :wink: Interestingly, my performance on longer, 40-60 minutes climbs is quite the same as the last year.

My learning is that even with limited training time, I was able to improve as a cyclist, just by training different aspects of my power curve, having different focus.

I’m in the same spot. I’ll put in some absolute numbers here as I think they help seeing things in perspective (at least for me it is easier to put things into context with something concrete).

I’m relatively new to cycling (3 years now) and built up to avg 6h/week with avg 325 TSS (note TSS not XSS) and realized over the last year that this is the max I can handle time wise and stress wise without the need for a taper week. Note: This is a real average over 52 weeks! Including special weeks (like an quick trip to the alps or a whole day group ride) and holidays (with 4 days completely off). I never took more than 1 week completely off for 4 years now (I realize this for the first time actually, congrats to myself :stuck_out_tongue:)
Although my training time/load is the same over the last two years, I still improve in all aspects (also TP) at a reasonable rate. Peaks in autumn (as I naturally ride more during summer):

Year 1: 180 TP but 300 5min, basically no repeatability, not great at tempo, every ride longer than 1.5 hours was a real challenge
Year 2: 250 TP, 310 5min, slightly better repeatability, ok at tempo, ok at endurance
Year 3: 270 TP, 320 5min, gimme one more hill, I’ll churn 240watts all day!, still just “ok” at endurance
Year 4 (May): 260 TP, 320 5min, ok at repeatability, ok at tempo, great (at my standards) at endurance: I literally can go 190watts all day
I hope to hit 280 TP, 325 5min in September

The big jump from year 1 to year 2 is kinda natural I guess when you start out at something new, even though it was just 3-4 hours/week at that time. Gains come slower naturally, especially as 270w is that mysterious 4w/kg barrier for me, but I hope the gains keep coming due to higher mitochondrial density, which leads us to … well … patience and consistency over years.

Bottom line: I believe you can increase your TP (if your not already decades into cycling) with the same training load, keep or even slightly increase your vo2max and significantly improve your tempo and LT1 capabilities.

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Thanks for the reply @ChewieLeg!

I had little over training during this winter and since I did not want to completely stop training (for fear of stopping completely!), I switched to doing only endurance rides with very low difficulty (and following XATA!).

While doing so, I happen to have compared 2 instances of the same workout that I did and noticed that for approximately the same power output, my heartrate (HR) was lower by as much as 10-15 BPM on average. That indicated to me that my aerobic capability was improving a lot.

Another sign my fitness was improving was that I noticed my HR was more closely following the hard/recovery intervals.

When I started training last autumn, my goal was to preserve the fitness I had accumulated while riding regularly during the summer. What I did not expect is to improve! In fact I have found out that I improve a lot more while indoor (because of structured workout I guess) than outdoor.

Now I have reached a point where I can’t easily put more hours into training. So I am wondering how to address this. What will happen if I reduce my TL?

As you have suggested, during the last months, I have changed my focus a couple of times to work on different aspects of my fitness. I had a really low MPA (around 400W) so I changed to power sprinter for couple of weeks to get the chance to have XATA suggest me workouts to improve it. It is now at about 720W which I think is realistic for me since I don’t train high intensity a lot (mostly do climber/endurance). In fact, I have a lot of difficulty getting a breakthrough doing high intensity intervals. The last breakthrough I got was obtained while doing a workout that is not even designed to achieve a breakthrough! What happened is that my signature which was set to optimal decay mode at the time, had my TP at least 7W underestimated. So I did raise the difficulty of the workout to almost 120% and got a breakthrough which gave me 18W TP increase! Now, in order to get realistic training difficulty, I have switched to no decay so that it maintains it there.

Thanks for your feedback!

I’ll throw in the mix that variety might be important to avoid plateauing.

If you have reached your max weekly XSS and hours available, maybe change the athlete type, have more intense week followed by rest (block periodisation), replace some time on the bike with weight lifting, MTB? or cross country skiing… it might help you to reach different areas of your fitness and therefore still improving.

Even full time professional athletes reach the max that they can train without proper rest.

I think anything that brings different stimulus will benefit you.

Just my 2 cents…

When you want to change athlete type, would that be good to select the next athlete type using the ranking and selecting an athlete type into which I am not good at?

For example, I mentioned earlier that when I thought my MPA was too low (my power sprinter athlete type was maybe 5% which was my lowest ranking at the time), I selected power sprinter for a couple of weeks in order to get more high intensity workouts and raise it to something that is more in line with current signature.

Is that what you mean by variety?

Yes, you can work on what you aren’t good at which may just be a focus duration you haven’t been training at. When you avoid something, you tend not to get better at it. :slight_smile:
Consider selecting a type from a different quadrant as shown here –
Ranking Spider Graph and signature diagnostics? - Support - Xert Community Forum (xertonline.com)

The new Challenge feature could be used to do this. Challenge yourself to get better at ____ for 30 days and measure the results. Same TL. Different focus.

Also consider what @rogowskiwo mentions. While his TP flattened his ability to repeat maximal performance at a duration improved. Suddenly a route that used to tax you isn’t so hard anymore. You reach a new level of fitness even if your signature numbers haven’t changed. However, course times may go down or you feel remarkably fresh afterwards.
See: Fitness – Power versus Repeatability – Xert (baronbiosys.com)

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As Scott pointed me to this reference, this is a good example from one of the experts:
Stronger Again: Cycling Fitness and Repeatability - PezCycling News

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Yup, the above and the above of the above :laughing:

Your fitness goals will have to dictate the direction you will need to take.

In my personal case I’m not racing and I neither do group rides. I’m recovering from a knee surgery and burnout in Jan.

At the moment I already max out the time available, so I’m playing with intensity to increase the TL. Once I achieve my target TL I’ll change the improvement rate to maintenance and will start slowly introducing gym. I’ll introduce long walks too. I might have to reduce the cycling time at some point

I’m doing this because my goal is a more holistic approach to fitness.

If you race or have a target event, this is probably not for you.