Pre-Base to TED; 120+ days; 100% recommended workouts completed at 100% difficulty

My COVID-19 stuck-at-home experiment was to train exclusively indoors following XATA’s phased progression for 120+ days, pre-base to TED. Here are the results.

Background: Older cyclist (septuagenarian next year), enthusiast, don’t compete, some chronic health issues.
Failed miserably trying to complete any TR plans starting in 2018; too many DNF intervals or scaling down to 90% or lower to finish sets. A demoralizing experience which I blame on TR’s Plan Builder and SS focus which seems more a game of chance IMO or is it a slot machine? :wink:
Discovered Xert in late 2018 as I began to sour on TR, but did not subscribe until end of 2019 while running in parallel with TR.
Xert is now the only platform I subscribe to. Does everything I need from workouts to analysis, indoors and out, plus solo/group sessions mean I can watch and listen to what I want during a solo workout or join a public group session and ride “together” at normalized intensity based on signatures. Or I can create a private ride buddy session of my own.

Configuration:
Decay Method: Optimal (periodic BT tests when warned)
Athlete Type: Climber (used to be a decent one but waning now with age/sarcopenia)
Target Event Date: April 4th simply because it was first Sunday in April (Springtime!); Base phase began Dec 5
Improvement Rate: Slow ramp rate to start (pre-base in November) then Moderate-2 for remaining phases. Switched to Maintenance post-event for two weeks; now at Slow (shooting for 4 stars TL by summer).
Workout/ride ratio: 100% indoors
Allocation: 6 days/wk (Mondays off/rest); longer workouts on weekends; no weeks planned in advance
App choice: Xert EBC on Palm or Kingkong Mini 2, plus XO Session Player on Windows 10 2-in-1 laptop in tablet mode running Edge or Chrome browser.

100% of all recommended workouts were completed at 100% difficulty in AUTO mode.
I did fail a couple workouts during the phases but they were not recommended. Both were beyond my reach during group Sessions. Diamond count was higher than my star status, plus they were the interval type I normally avoid due to a chronic health issue.
All workouts were selected from the Load More recommended list of twenty during Base and first half of Build. Then I switched to picking from the top four selections for remainder of Build and Peak. I used Filter on a few occasions to fit duration to schedule (shorter or longer workout).
Since you can bend Xert to your will based on your selections and feedback, I avoided workouts that aggravate a chronic issue that affects my cycling. As a result I reduced my HI minutes, but there were plenty of tough workouts during the latter part of Build into Peak.
For any zone counters out there (I don’t bother anymore) here are totals by phase as tabulated by intervals.icu –

Base phase:                       Build phase:                       Peak phase:
BaseStats BuildStats PeakStats

Xert is a hybrid polarized model (3 zones) that fluctuates focus during the phased progression. In my experiment this ended up PYR compared to traditional POL. YMMV based on choices you make during phases and how often you adjust settings such as freshness feedback and ramp rate (IR).

I used Freshness Feedback on occasion during Base, moving the slider to the right when feeling fresher than XATA’s calculation. Then back to neutral (0) for remainder of phases since XATA was correct about me being tired during most of Build. :slight_smile: (see Form in XPMC chart below)
One week during Peak my legs were pushed to their limits but recommended endurance rides were sufficient to recover without taking extra rest days.
I selected a BT workout whenever signature got stale and I felt fresh enough. I messed up on the last one though. I meant to select the Ronnestad classic workout as my “target event” after Taper which would have been my first time with that type of workout. When I realized my mistake I didn’t go all out as planned so only got a bronze BT with minor boost in TP.

I got around to tackling the Ronnestad a month later during an OPEN group session –
Let’s See Some Recent BT’s - General - Xert Community Forum (xertonline.com)

One more time: 100% at 100% for 120+ days!
How many TR plan followers can claim anything close to that? Is it possible none do and failure is considered a right of passage? [TR is attempting to “fix that issue” now but I believe their AT approach is flawed.]
I don’t see any point risking burn out and DNF intervals following a cookie-cutter calendar plan from any source. I’ve gotten much better results with Xert’s flexible training approach and signature based workouts. No calendar entries required (or desired) and no failed workouts. Completing workouts at 100% regardless how tough they are is a distinct benefit of Xert. See: POLL: How often do you complete XATA recommended indoor workouts at 100%? - General - Xert Community Forum (xertonline.com)

Here are my Progression trendline charts (XPMC, Stress, Strain) from beginning of this year until now (Base began Dec 5) --.

XPMC: Below you can see my mostly Fresh form (blue) during Base moving to Tired (yellow) during Build along with TL and FS progression from BT events.

Stress: Below you can see the Moderate-2 ramp rate in effect followed by Maintenance (leveling off post-event) then resuming at Slow rate.

Strain: Below you can see my strain mix and focus evolving through the phases. Note recent tall entry at right (first long outdoor ride, 68 miles no problem :slight_smile: ).

Conclusion: Xert is the elastic-fantastic way to train by power.

Now that I’m venturing outdoors I have a higher TP/LTP than any other year since a health incident lowered my capabilities over a decade ago. I’ve gotten halfway back which is fine by me at my age. I’m an enthusiast rider more interested in getting fit, not fast although obviously the two go hand in hand. I’m just not going to head out and hammer for no good reason. :slight_smile: YMMV

Xert IS NOT hard to learn but it takes time and a commitment to try something new and different without letting old-school bias and dogma get in the way.

My experiment is just one example of how you can use Xert. In my case it shows how their methodology worked for an aging cyclist without any special “senior plan”. A Moderate-2 ramp rate with one rest day per week kept me moving through the phases without wearing me down. I could have taken extra rest days and gone blue (fresh) more often. That would have triggered higher intensity workouts, but I was content with the progress and training load intensity. The results speak for themselves.

Any questions? :grin:

References:
Program Phases – Xert (baronbiosys.com)
Training Status and Form – Xert (baronbiosys.com)
Beginner’s Guide: Improvement Rate – Xert (baronbiosys.com)
Are Your Workouts Too Hard? – Xert (baronbiosys.com)
Training with the Xert Adaptive Training Advisor – Xert (baronbiosys.com)
Freshness Feedback – Xert (baronbiosys.com)
Starter Guide: Xert Sessions – Xert (baronbiosys.com)
How to Create Group Sessions – Xert (baronbiosys.com)

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Excellent update thanks. Have you seen that TR are in the process of releasing their Adaptive Training which according to them will prevent the high burnout rates TR tended to produce.

How much did you increase your TP, percentage-wise?

Let’s see your ride on Strava.

:clap: :clap: :clap: Love the detailed description of what you did, RR. You used the system precisely how it was intended and glad to see it work out so well for you. Congrats to you on your commitment to yourself and persistence in getting the training done.

I would hope that one thing people will take away from this is to trust the process and believe in that they can follow it. Anyone can make it work as well or more likely much better than what they’ve used before. This comes from understanding how fitness and training status change day-to-day and how things are connected between themselves and Xert.

Great stuff.

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38% increase in TP from beginning of Base to my recent BT.
That’s 4 pts lower than what XATA predicted under Goals. Works for me. :smiley:

TP is 11% higher than my past TR attempts, but can’t say for sure that’s a valid assessment.
TP isn’t the same as FTP and I’m not about to do a TR RAMP test to find out. :thinking:
Plus I balked on my last TR plan. I was failing intervals at 80% and abandoned ship since the weeks ahead were more of the same. Classic burnout.
Now that I know better populating a calendar seems counter-productive and quaint. :wink:

You increased you TP 38%? Is that coming off the couch? In how many months? What’s more surprising is that XATA predicted even higher. In any case, it looks like you’ve found in Xert a system that gets you where you want to be. I do admit, Xert is kind of fun to play around with. As for TR, the only reason I don’t cancel mine is that I’m grandfathered at the old monthly. I’m not a fan of their training plans, as they’re not flexible. Sweet spot on the other hand makes sense to me for the 6-8 hour a week rider. You do need to be careful not to overextend yourself, as you build training load quickly, but if you listen to your body, if you have experience with what you can do, sweet spot can be metered effectively. I simply use Intervals.icu fitness curve, watching I don’t go into the red too much or too often. And besides, I like riding hard, especially outdoors on gravel. LTP intervals I find very boring. Are you on Strava? It would be interesting to see what it says your FTP is. Xert and Strava agree exactly for me.

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But that’s not currently (at this moment, today) accounted for in their program, no? There’s no adaptability? The assumption up til now is that every athlete can complete their SS plans, which seems very unlikely given the complaints I’ve seen about burning out on 6+ hours of SS every week. The science would suggest that, even for athletes with < 8 hours training time per week, that polarized is still superior to SS training - here’s just one example of that here: https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/japplphysiol.00652.2012

Boring, but works! I find something fun to watch while I do LSD rides - Netflix/Disney+, or some Youtube videos work great with the Xert session player! If outdoors, I simply use EBC and keep the Watts in the Blue and enjoy the ride views :slight_smile:

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Well I did mention in my reply that I don’t use TR plans because they’re not flexible. As for people “burning out”, these people must not have the experience or ability to listen to their bodies. Isn’t that what Xert’s feedback slider is for, for those who have some experience and know when to adjust load? I basically just use a regular PMC (Performance Management Chart) to gauge my training load…the TSB model. Xert uses the similar Bannister model, together with a unique interface. I listen to my body and adjust as necessary, just as one would with the slider in Xert. As for polarized, there’s very little science showing it’s better for low hour cyclers. One or two small studies does not a fact make.

I wouldn’t call it off the couch. :slight_smile: Was riding casually 2-3x week during Fall 2020 which included periodic BT workouts to check my signature numbers.
I committed to the indoor experiment at the end of November and set a TED on Dec 5 to start the progression.
A full phased progression in Xert is 120 days (45 Base + 45 Build + 30 Peak/Taper).
So the TP increase was over 4 months.

[For newbies that may read this thread the progression phases can be manipulated as well. You may not be prepping for an actual event (I wasn’t) or you may already have built a base. In which case simply adjust TED to enter the desired phase or adjust TED to stretch out a phase. If you enter a TED in the past that puts you to post-event phase in which case XATA will recommend a variety of workouts around the selected athlete type (focus duration).
So you can use Xert year round to prepare for specific events (or time of year) adjusting TED as required, or float along in post-event status, or detrain. Your main tools are TED (phase control), IR (ramp rate: hours/intensity), FF (freshness feedback), and Athlete Type (focus duration). All of which are one-click away in XO (Goals). Then it’s a matter of the day to day choices you make based upon XATA recommendations and what you’d like to do each week.]

That is what I thought too but having experienced Xert’s hybrid polar approach now it’s apparent it works well in the 6-8hr/week range. Note the charts I posted above are in that range. I only reached 10hrs recently during post-event.
I think SS definitely gets you there faster but at what cost? Apparently a lot of weekend warriors follow a TR plan blindly and crash. As you determined the best way to use TR is to ignore their plans and do your own thing being careful not to overextend.

The main impetus for posting my experience is to show how Xert works, how flexible it is, how well it works, and that it isn’t hard to learn in spite of what the naysayers claim on the TR forum. :wink:

I am not interested in riding hard anymore just comfortably long whenever I want.
I was a little surprised I could ride outdoors for 4+ hours upon completing the progression since none of the indoor rides were more than 2-1/2 hours (most <2). I was a bit squirrely the first time out, but felt fine otherwise. Rode the next day too (short and easy). Now I’m back to my normal schedule riding indoors or out depending on weather, schedule, and XATA recommendations. May start another progression in a month or two and see what happens.

When I first started on Xert (before Sessions existed) it was “Oh no, not Lucy again!”. Now Lucy is one of my favorites as a session workout watching a Bike the World YT video. GCN has some epic gravel rides too. When I tire of cycling videos there’s TED Talks playlists and channels.
My < LTP outdoor rides are in beautiful countryside so going slow is literally a breath of fresh air. Sometimes you just have to stop to fully enjoy it. :smiley:

Not using Strava anymore. Aren’t their stats subscription based now?

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TR have released new ss plans just this week which ties in with their new adaptive (machine learning) training. The AT is in beta right now and rolling out.

If I set a goal 4 months out, Xert predicts a TP increase of 10.6%…that’s a lot less than 38%! Regarding Strava, yes, I think it’s $5 a month. As for long rides outdoors, my bread ‘n’ butter ride is a 30 mi gravel ride. Last week’s ride generated 193 XSS and over 1400 calories burned. I sometimes do 40mi gravel rides, but any longer is just an exercise in how long I can hold a pose. I (my butt) really don’t like being on the bike any longer. I did a 70 miler last year, about a third gravel…I doubt I’ll do it again. It was a beautiful day and I had nothing else to do for the day.

But they don’t take into account outdoor rides, do they? Don’t see how useful that is.

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They will when the production version is released. It wouldn’t be any use otherwise. Its still in beta right now but is being rolled out .

Aren’t the predictions moving targets based on where you are at the moment and what you plan to do in the future? I don’t remember what it said on Dec 5 when I started Base but I assume the numbers change with each BT/FS update. Perhaps they narrow as you get closer to TED. When I looked during Peak the prediction was X and when I finished up and had my ending BT during post-event the number achieved was X-4 (not 4% but 4).
In any case I started at X and 4 months later the result was X + 38%. :smiley:
Perhaps it’s ~10% per month and dependent on ramp rate and whether you can handle the TL.

How accurate are the TP predictions for the training programs? I think mine is way off - General - Xert Community Forum (xertonline.com)

Blockquote In any case I started at X and 4 months later the result was X + 38%. :smiley:

I don’t think I’ve ever read of someone raising their TP that much in 4 months, unless they were coming off an injury, or were brand new to cycling.

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Okay, it was 37.6%. :grinning:
It no doubt depends how low the bar drops to when you’re not actively training.
I checked back on my TR plan attempts and found a 24% increase in 13 weeks was the best result.
I’m still a shadow of what I was in my fifties but realize that’s not coming back anytime soon. :astonished:
YMMV

You posted a graphic from intervals.icu earlier. How does its eFTP agree with Xert?

This is a really interesting thread and I intend posting a longer reply to it which sums up how I will use Xert going forwards.
I have asked before about user experiences of how they progressed when following Xert recommendations and this is the first reply I can remember seeing. So thanks for that RR.

PS with a 38% increase TR would be inviting you onto their successful athletes podcast - if you had used TR :grinning:

Mostly I do my Xert workouts at 100%. Sometimes i take it back a few notches, when I feel tired and/or cannot complete an interval.
Great thread by the way RR! :+1:

I specially chose Xert for my cycling training. Unfortunately, I have to take into account a brain injury that I suffered in a bicycle accident a few years ago. So it’s very important to me that I am not going to train to hard and deliver my body to much stress.
With Xert I can manage my training stress, so it fits in my life and I can get myself to a nice training level.

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