My Road (back) to 300W Threshold

Introduction

Back in my pre-grad school days (2018 or so), I was training hard and challenged myself to achieve a Threshold Power of 300 W, which was a big achievement for myself at the time. At a relatively light 67 kilograms, this gave me a relative threshold of 4.47 Watts per Kilogram - not too shabby!

However, after a few years of lower fitness due to less consistent training (grad school & life changes), I have recommitted myself to reaching those levels of fitness once again. In this thread, I was hoping to showcase some neat ways that you can use the platform, as well as demonstrating a bit of how I use the software - hoping you all find it helpful & interesting!!

Analyzing My Previous Performance

To understand what it takes to get back to my previous peak-level fitness, it’s important to understand what it took to get there in the first place… let’s look back at my XPMC:


Above you can see my XPMC from the winter/spring 2019 season. In late Febrary, I started 4 weeks of block-periodized training, pushing my Training Load (TL) from 75 up to ~90. We can see that during this time, I had multiple Breakthroughs that verified a Threshold Power of 300 W.

From this information, I can reasonably assume that I will need to reach a training load of approximately 90 to reach my previous levels of fitness.

Understanding My Current State of Fitness

Anyone can aspire great things and set high goals, but I think another important aspect to reaching that is having a good understanding for where you’re starting from. In general, the higher your goal, the longer it will take to get there - this is why even professional athletes know that training to win the Tour takes years of preparations.

One (of many) aspects that sets Xert apart from other platforms encompasses this idea of training relative to your current state of fitness. Many other programs allow the user to select the number of hours that they’d like to train, but beyond that, they treat every athlete the same. Each athlete is assigned the same workouts on the same days - e.g. a ‘cookie cutter’ approach. Without understanding where the athlete’s current fitness is, it’s possible that these training programs are either too hard - leading to potential burnout or injury - or too easy - meaning that the athlete may actually lose fitness by following the training program!


The key difference with Xert is that each athlete needs to (should) be training relative to their current training load! Therefore an athlete with a 1.5 star Training Load (~35 TL) will receive different training recommendations than an athlete with 3 star Training Load (75 TL).

Personally, I am beginning my winter training with just under 2 Star status, with 40 Training Load. From here, we can start to make predictions on when I will reach a TL of 90. With it being the winter season, I plan on making a slow, but steady, increase in my TL using a Moderate - 2 Improvement Rate (IR), which equates to an increase of 2 TL per week. From here, some simple algebra can be used…

90 TL - 40 TL = 50 TL needed to reach goal
50 TL / 2 TL/week = 25 weeks needed to reach goal at Moderate - 2 TL

My goal is 90 Training Load and I’m starting from 40, so I need to increase my TL by 50. Assuming an average Improvement Rate of +2 TL/week, that will take me 25 weeks (50 TL / 2 TL per week = 25 weeks). With it being early December now, I should reach a TL of 90 by late May - actually pretty great timing, since that will correspond roughly with the return of outdoor riding! Adding in just a few weeks of Extreme - 1 Improvement Rate (+3 TL per week) would help me reach my target of 300 W Threshold maybe a week or two sooner.

Next, let’s look at how I have my training set up…

Selecting a Program & Athlete Type

For my 2023 calendar, I am hoping to compete in the Paris to Ancaster (P2A) gravel race, as well as complete an everesting attempt. In order to be competitive at P2A, I will be using a Breakaway Specialist Athlete Type so I will be prepared for some of the short, hard, punchy efforts that are a part of the course.

By inputting Paris to Ancaster as my Target Event (29 April), I can see that I will still be in pre-base phase for the next month or so, until the end of December when the 120 day Training Program will begin:

Weekly Schedule

For the next month while I’m in Pre-Base, I will start getting into a weekly routine - this includes a mix of Xert Group sessions, an Xert Surplus Seekers Zwift Group Ride, and solo rides. Here is the general layout for my weekly training, with occasional flexibility based on regular life & my morning HRV readings :slight_smile:

  • Monday: High-Intensity (Climber Focus)
  • Tuesday: “Fat Burning Tuesday” - Low Intensity
  • Wednesday: Xert Surplus Seekers Zwift Group Ride (Moderate Endurance Rating)
  • Thursday: High-Intensity (Climber Focus)
  • Friday: Low Intensity
  • Saturday: Longer, low-intensity Endurance
  • Sunday: Rest Day

For my low-intensity days, I typically stick to 2-diamond endurance workouts or just free-ride around 70-90% of LTP while watching Netflix or listening to podcasts. And (at least for the next couple of months) I plan to keep the Focus of my bi-weekly High Intensity Training relatively longer, such as Climber (10:00 Focus). On that note, SMART - Enter Sandman is one of my favorites!

As I begin my TED program in January, I will start following the weekly Focus recommendations for my High Intensity Rides from XATA as it guides me towards my P2A race in April.

Hope this is a helpful start to the thread - I plan to keep updating as we progress through the winter months. We’ll see how accurate my calculations end up being! :slight_smile:

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Fantastic thread Scott, thanks for sharing!. I do have some questions, as I find myself in a similar spot:

  1. What is your current signature (starting point)?
  2. If I got this right, do you expect to have a 300w TP in 25 weeks?
  3. Back in 2019 when your TP was 300w, for how long could you hold that steady power?
  4. During the pre-base period, what is the difference between Tuesday’s and Friday’s low intensity?

And the key question:

How do you plan/structure the pre-base period?…the reason I’m asking is because my target is Feb/2024.

Thanks a lot.

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Showing a bit of my naivete, certainly there is more than just training load to increase your TP.
I had been running a training load of 100+ during a good part of the summer until an injury (non-bike. related) set me back but even then, my training load dropped to the high 60’s and made it back to the 90’s before going to the off season. Since Oct I dropped my training load down to the mid 70’s and will slowly work on bringing my training load back up. All of my off-season work has been Zone 2 training staying below TP but most training near LTP.
Having said all that, my TP reached a high of 193, dropped to 181 after injury and climbed back up to 191 before my off-season. Off season has seen my TP drop to 188 but doing mostly Zone 2 work has caused my HIE to drop very low currently at 12.7 kj with my LTP increasing from 139 to 157. My goal when I get back to base and on is to increase my HIE and TP without dropping LTP.
My plan as a century athlete type at the start of 2023 is to enter true base training going from off-season to a slow improvement rate for a goal that will be at the end of April.
Hopefully I’m not coming across as a complete idiot :blush:

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Good - hope it’s a useful (or at least interesting) discussion for everyone!

  1. Current Signature is 250 TP | 22.5 HIE | 1115 PP. The main difference between myself now and then is that I’d consider myself more anaerobic than I used to be - in 2019, my HIE was typically more in the range of 17-20 kJ, where as my (almost untrained) HIE is ~22 kJ. I definitely used to spend a lot more time pedaling easy and perhaps not enough hard workouts - think that helped contribute to a higher TP, but at the cost of being a rather poor attacker/sprinter.
  2. Optimistically, yes! Realistically, we’ll find out - I think that’s part of the fun & excitement of this exercise for me! Currently, I am extrapolating forward a bit from my entire history of TL vs TP in Xert. If I were to estimate based only on the last ~2 years of data, I can reasonably a TP of at least 280 W at a TL of 90, perhaps not reaching 300W TP again until 100+ TL.
  3. Hard to say, since I don’t ever really do 1 hour (or even 20 min) all-out efforts. At the time, I was often doing 4x8’s comfortably at ~330W. Using older methods, 90% of all-out 8 min power should be a ballpark estimate of FTP (90% of 330 is 297 W), so I think 300 W was definitely a fair estimate!
  4. Nothing really - I pick one of the recommended ‘Climber’ focus workouts :slight_smile:

Structure of my pre-base is pretty much already described. The overall weekly structure will remain the same for me, but the XSS needed for each particular day/ride is already calculated for me by XATA. I follow the training pacer needle and Xert gets me more fit! Easy, huh? :wink:

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Perhaps at the very highest of levels, I suppose - marginal gains territory.

But for most recreational athletes, this is the fundamental principle of Progressive Overload… if you want to be more fit, you need to train more. Or conversely, if you train more, we expect you to be more fit than you were previously! That being said, the relationship between TL and fitness will be different from athlete to athlete - this is why I am 100% certain that if I trained up to 5-star TL in Xert, I would still never race a Professional Road Race. And it’s also possible that the relationship between TL & fitness changes over time within a given athlete… as I described above, I may not be able to achieve the same fitness at the same TL as I did a few years ago. Interesting to think about…

This whole thing is a bit of an abstract concept, since no other platform has ever tracked multi-dimensional strain (e.g. Low, High, Peak XSS)! Historically it’s been been hard, if not impossible, to predict fitness based on traditional exercise stress scores, since not all stress is equivalent (for example, 1 XSS of sprinting is not the same as 1 XSS of endurance riding)! However, since Xert is tracking your training for each system independent of one another, we think we can provide better estimates of where fitness will be by tracking XSS & training load across each system. :slight_smile:

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fitness also means that you can deal with more load as well

How would you structure this if Saturday was the day off and Sunday long ride?

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Overall, it’d be pretty much the same - the main difference would be to switch Mon/Tues and Thurs/Fri to account for moving the long ride to Sunday and giving yourself enough recovery before high intensity… though may not be necessary if you’re still blue stars on Monday.

Sun: Long Ride
Mon: Low Intensity
Tues: High Intensity
Wed: Moderate Intensity Group Ride (Low-Intensity would also work here)
Thurs: Low Intensity
Fri: High Intensity
Sat: Rest Day

FWIW, I will move to daily training guided by XATA once I start in the Base Phase. I’ll let HIIT days be determined by my training status (color of stars), rather than manually selecting HIIT twice per week.

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Unfortunately as we get older (me) continued progressive overload bring with it overuse injuries. It requires a fine balance of duration and intensity as go get into your fifties and beyond.

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Yes, I certainly think that’s a part of it! As I mentioned, the relationship between actual fitness (e.g. TP, HIE, PP) and their associated training loads likely changes over time.

It is!!

Case studies are fantastic to explore. On the long term, it’d be great to have one for each athlete type. They might end up all being similair, but it’s frankly very cool to see someone’s story to achieve their goals with the implementation of tools (Xert, HRV, Nutrition, etc.)

Continued progressive overload isn’t something you should be looking to acheive at any age. Think of progressive overload as a training plan - has a start and an end with a goal. At the end, progressive overload should end. “Continuous Improvement” should also be a temporary application of progressive overload. You can’t improve at Moderate-2 for 52 weeks (that’s an increase of 156 points of Training Load!). Keep realistic goals.

Users should monitor their training closely. Note where you are in your training relative to where you want to be. Don’t just follow a progressive overload program willy-nilly. Allow periods of detraining with the aim of returning to improvement towards a personal goal. That may include reaching a particular fitness level, such as reaching a level that allows you to enjoy the type of riding you enjoy.

Xert isn’t a drill sargeant. It’s just showing and guiding you towards where you want to get to and what you want to achieve.

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Definitely valid points that I hadn’t mentioned previously! It’s impossible to perpetually increase TL - breaks are necessary, even at the highest level of professional sports.

which workout types do you consider HIIT?

HIIT is rather vague I suppose…

High-Intensity would have been a better way to describe it. Most of our workouts that have a Focus less than 20:00 would be High Intensity.

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Thank you for the post - very insightful as always!
In addition to your training on the bike, do you follow a corresponding strength training program? If so, how do you schedule your strength training around your on-bike sessions?

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Following the with interest. I am also keen to hear how you will tackle an Everesting attempt

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Hi Scott!

Very cool post! Nice to read. We have the same goal (300 Watts) although in my case I would end up with 3,57 W/kg :slight_smile:

I really like your focus on TL. This is my struggle (goal) at the moment. I have set a target for March 5, 2023. I can really follow and dig what Xert is recomending (Workouts). Most demanding is increasing TL. I train every other day. But I need a day or two more the sustain my Moderate 2 improvement. I noticed my biggest mistake is to train to intense whereas I should gradually plus TL. I have started doing so and I hope it will work and I won’t be too fatigued (I get fatigued when trauning harder than Xert recomends). Two weeks and my BUILT phase will start, so hope to get there on time. I am 47 and notice I recover more slowely then when kickboxing when I was a bit younger. But recovery has so much to do with (being able to cope with) TL.

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Not at the moment - I probably should to make myself a more well-rounded athlete.

If I were to add in strength training, it would likely be twice per week, probably on the Mon/Thurs days. Lifting & cycling should generally be separated by at least 6 hours, though even more time between would be better. Without getting to The “problem” with adding in strength training on top of cycling is a mix in cell signalling following endurance training (activating the APMK pathway) and strength training (mTOR pathway). Generally, AMPK signalling prohibits energy-expensive processes (like protein synthesis and cellular growth) while mTOR is a signal to build/grow.

If someones really keen to read more about AMPK/mTOR, this 2020 paper is likely a good starting point: https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/pdf/S1550-4131(20)30058-9.pdf

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Thanks John! I’m excited too!

The everlasting website has a neat calculator tool that I will fully take advantage of to help plan & prepare:

Using Xert, I will have a pretty good idea of an effort that I can sustain for quite some time… LTP. The initial plan for now (subject to change) is to pace each ascent around my LTP. That should generally be a pace that will be sufficiently low-intensity that I won’t eat through all my carbs in the first couple of hours, but also a pace that won’t take me all day to finish.

Using the lap calculator above, I can tweak the settings (bike weight, rider weight, target ascent speed) such that my climb power is near my LTP and have a ballpark idea of how long it will take & how many calories I’ll need prepared for that day :slight_smile:

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