Very interesting and informative post, thankyou. I’m curious as you have used both the 120 day TED and Continuous Improvement which way you think is the best way to go? I’m thinking ahead to my plans for next summer and can’t decide what I think is the best option. I’m finding with the Continuous Improvement method it does seem to recommend a lot of intensity, which concerns me a bit.
I am set to continuous, I get intensity recommendations starting with blue stars (fresh) and the difficulty goes up when I am very fresh. Trying moving the freshness bar around and you can see the impact on the recommendations. I am in the 50+ category and often need 3 to 4 days off before I can get a “very fresh” rating after a moderate to intense effort. A light effort can some times push out the very fresh rating another day
Ps: I read that I might be able to reduce the recovery time if I truly followed a 80/20 polarized routine
For newbies I would encourage a full progression to experience the process whether you have a particular event in mind or not. Pick a date 120 days from now (or less if you have established a Base already) and watch what happens during each phase (45 days in Base + 45 in Build + 30 in Peak).
With that experience under your belt you might consider Taper/Off-Season to lower TL for a week or so then consider starting another progression by manipulating TED (ex. Build phase). Or change to Continuous and experiment with Focus and IR. This may sound loose and fancy free to those accustomed to strict block periodization and canned plans with set number of weeks, but the more you experience the Xert process the clearer it becomes what you can do, how and why.
You control the flow and direction of your training whether with you have short range goals (Challenge), specific events in mind (TED), or long range aspirations (multiple TEDs as seasonal goals). Or perhaps you simply like to ride your bike to stay fit at TL levels you are comfortable with.
Since TL is the over-riding factor in all scenarios consider this visualization…
Imagine what you want your graph to look like based on your goals and season.
In my case it’s going to end up as a rise from winter into spring (TED progression), plateau (summer time), taper (into fall), then drop off shortly as I roll into November (off-season).
Here’s my Stress chart showing that profile plus how little high/peak I accumulated during my progression (on purpose) versus what I do now free riding to short Focus points or when form suggests harder workouts.
Others may have a wavy profile with more than one peak during their year or irregular steps up and down if performing specific training blocks with recovery time between them.
With the advent of “indoor season” there is tendency to downplay an off-season period, but I think you’re better off scheduling some downtime if you want to see gains year over year. You can’t peak continuously.
Thanks for that, makes a lot of sense. I’ve got a fairly decent base, but I think I will switch from Continuous to a TED, mainly because I have just had a bit of a break but also I did let my TL drop off a bit from the end of summer. I am currently trying for the Audax RRtY award, which is a 200km ride every month for 12 consecutive months, so I need to be fairly fresh at least one weekend a month! Also my goal next year is the Super Randonneur Award which is a 200,300,400and a 600km ride in one season, so what you did with a 120 TED phase then shifting to Continuous Improvement makes some sense as I can tweek the IR once the good weather and longer rides come along. Thanks for sharing, it’s been extremely helpful.
This a really interesting thread which I’ve enjoyed reading. One of the things I don’t really understand is how much intensity Xert puts into the Base period. I did as you suggested and put a target date 120 days into the future just to see what workouts Xert would prescribe for me and this what came up. Climber-rider type. Not exactly base miles!
I’ve done this before and got similar results and to be honest its the one aspect of Xert that I I don’t really have any faith in.
From the looks of it your TL is >110 (4 stars), form is fresh. and you have an XSS surplus. In my book you could alternately decide to take the day off.
My experiment was a progression from off-season one star status (~35 TL) to 4 stars status (>= 110) in season. I’m not sure what happens if you try to start a progression with a high TL but technically you haven’t entered Base phase in your screenshot.
XATA works on a rolling seven day period so you’re looking at today’s advice based on where you’re at and what you have been doing. I think you’ll see a different picture seven days into Base as intensity changes to mostly endurance.
This was my base/build/peak phase breakdown using traditional zones at intervals.icu –
Haven’t used that site in months but here’s last 30 days riding a mix of outdoors/indoors –
YMMV of course. I’m sure many who compete incorporate a lot more intensity than I do. Add some races into the mix (ZRL or IRL) and your high/peak minutes will mushroom on your Stress chart.
I know I shouldn’t skip them for top performance gains, but I studiously avoid VO2max intervals when suggested. Ronnestad’s I don’t mind but 2-3+ minutes in yellow/orange/red are my Achille’s heel.
Never been to that training load so I always get easier endurance workouts recommended. In your situation, what happens to future recommendations if you actually do that recommended workout? How long are you yellow for? You can add it to Planner and then check advice for the following day(s). Intensity once a week or so may not be so bad in base.
If you want only easier workouts with the right XSS, you can filter workouts and limit them to 2 or 2.5 diamonds or so… 3 diamonds for long tempo rides…
To be clear this is the aspect of Xert I don’t use as the recommended workouts would generally kill me. I do a lot of outside riding with friends which vary from long and slow to long and hard.I would really like to integrate the Xert system into my riding but the high training loads which result from my hours outside seem to make the recommendations too hard for me when I’m fresh. I monitor my training load and freshness and try whenever possible to follow the spirit of the recommendations. My TL is currently mis 80’s as I’ve let it come down from 105. I’ll probably let it drop to mid 70’s before starting to build it back up again. When I get there I’ll probably give the Base Build Speciality another go.
Hard to say without knowing the bigger picture. Pacer needle and outdoor free ride advice weren’t shown, plus you’re familiar with your recent history to best weigh the options.
Looks like form went to green (very fresh) which explains suggested HI workouts. No doubt you could have found a more palatable option under Load More. Or the free ride advice to Focus Type or substituted a hard group ride to similar effect.
As you say, following the spirit of the advice works too.
Do you cycle year round without any particular off-season? I wouldn’t consider a TL of 75 as my downtime.
Training Status and Form – Xert (baronbiosys.com)
Understanding ‘Focus’ and how to use it – Xert (baronbiosys.com)
Because I never really Peak I’m probably permanently a percentage down on what I could do. I’m retired and cycling is what I do either on my own or with 2 or 3 groups/clubs. Thought the year I actually have a number of weeks off as we visit our 2 children at opposite ends if the country. I treat those breaks as my down time. One of my riding chums is training to do the London Edinburgh London next August, so I’ve got to up my game if I want to continue riding with him
That is definitely an epic adventure – About (londonedinburghlondon.com)
It certainly is. We all think he’s off his trolley.
I notice it looks like you had one big jump in TP and then it stayed basically flat until you’re longer outdoor ride where it jumped again. So despite the progressive increase in stress, you didn’t seem to get much of an increase in TP. What conclusions do you draw from this or am I misinterpreting the results? Also, how closely did your actual results match the progressions from your goal? Example - I’ve set a TED for an event in June and the software is predicting an 89 watt increase (from 250 to 339) in my TP with a moderate -2 ramp rate. I would be ecstatic if those projections are accurate, but I’m skeptical. That’s a 35% increase when I think it’s generally accepted that single digit increases are all you can expect year to year in a well trained athlete.
Depends on decay setting and how often you force BT events if they aren’t occurring while training indoors or riding outdoors.
During Base phase many users change to No Decay as they don’t expect to be testing themselves with any BT efforts. Any change to signature will be gradual and TL based (up as you increase training load or down if you take days off). However, with optimal decay (what I used for entire progression) your signature will trend downwards without BT events but TL is factored into the calc. So the graph may look fairly level while load increases until you test yourself again to validate any signature changes.
That’s what is going on here where 3 weeks or so into Base I purposely tested myself with a BT workout. A BT workout won’t show up in recommendations. You make that decision when you are feeling fresh and want to check on progress. In my case I achieved a Gold BT riding Under Pressure (revised) which is a BT workout I selected from the library. My next circle is a bronze BT from a workout on the recommend list during Build. Then I tested again shortly afterwards for my next gold (using same BT workout which is my favorite).
As you recover from recommended training load and feel stronger you may want to test more. You may also encounter BT opportunities during HI workouts from the recommended list. On these occasions if feeling good you can change to slope mode and go for broke with the goal of exceeding target watts and interval durations to force a BT. I didn’t try doing that on my first full progression because it was an experiment, and the HI workouts were hard enough during Build/Peak that I didn’t want to jinx my 100% at 100% goal.
As far as the predictions go those are relative to where you are now and what if you can achieve (mathematically) if you are able to recover from the projected training load increase over time. What will happen IRL is the rate of improvement will likely slow as you get closer to your achievable fitness level for the training block. XATA in turn will revise the numbers.
The prediction I refer to in this related thread was what was shown during Peak phase. I didn’t monitor prediction changes that occurred from when I started the progression. –
How accurate are the TP predictions for the training programs? I think mine is way off - General - Xert Community Forum (xertonline.com)
As far as year over year gains go, I guess I’ll know for sure by July 2022.
Currently I just started a new progression, but at a much higher TP than last December. I will have to blame Xert for that. I am not expecting similar results this time around.
BTW: Some experienced endurance riders who specialize in long events prefer No Decay or Small Decay instead of Optimal because they purposely don’t challenge themselves with HI during their training. This assumes signature is dialed in to start with (BT tested) and you continuously train without any major gaps. At some point though you will want to test your fitness levels to confirm status.
What do the coloured circles on my XPMC mean? – Xert (baronbiosys.com)
Xert’s Magic Setting – Signature Decay – Xert (baronbiosys.com)
@ridgerider2 when choosing the suggested workout, did you choose number one or any of the first four? Curious.
Keep in mind there is no #1 entry. Automatic, for example, randomly selects from the top four. Load More displays a full list of twenty options where top four are closest to today’s recommendations based upon target focus, deficit/surplus, and XSS goal related to what you did last week on same day. As you move further down the list they drift further “off target” but they are viable workouts. IOW you have options on how literally you want to interpret the guidance.
This year I am being even more flexible. While I have predominantly selected from the top four (so far), I also check group sessions on a next-day or last-minute basis and join one if it fits my schedule, suitability is rated Good, and I manage to wake up at the right time.
The more you learn how Xert works the more you appreciate what you can do with it.
Something else I’m doing with my latest full progression is manipulate IR. I set a TED of April 11, then lowered IR to off/season and taper when I started (Dec 11) because I wanted to reduce my hours/week commitment. I’m currently at Maintenance in the 6 hour range. I will move to Slow or Moderate 1/ 2 next and begin an actual “progression”, but a progression doesn’t have to be constantly moving up. You can manipulate IR to match your life schedule, recovery form. and desire to improve.
I assume you’ve watched the Academy videos by now, but in case you haven’t IR is discussed in Episode I2 here –
Thanks RR to taking the time to write this amazing post. Found it when searching for a season assessment done with XERT as I’d like to improve what I’ve done in 2021.
Well, felt the need to share mine with you all :
Athlete type: Rouleur (6 min power)
Start date: January 3rd 2021(*).
Improvement Rate: Kept it at Slow ramp rate for the most part of the season
My background: casual riding without following any plan. In 2020 I started getting interested to triathlon and did some training. It didn’t lead too far and decided to focus only on the bike. I took a license for the first time in a local club.
*I was targeting a decent amount of races (~10) from Spring to Summer (in Europe) but with COVID restrictions and races being canceled, I ended it up extending my TED by a few days (April 15th) in order to complete a race simulation from my club. First race came only in June 5th (stage race, 2nd overall in my category ).
The experience with XERT in the beginning was, as expected, a little bit challenging as there are many parameters to be dialed out and the continuously need to be changed in order to adapt to your available time for training, freshness status, etc. Sometimes, form status had good correlation with my HRV values and there were some days where I decided my session upon the later.
I followed the plan roughly at 100% including the outdoor rides (except when doing long easy rides where I didn’t look to my power numbers).
In terms of improvement, my signature changed as follows (to a peak condition):
Reached Training Status of 3 stars
Training Load: +34
STRESS: note the ramp rate until March where the TED arrived. Also, in order to peak for the first race beg. of April, I changed my TED accordingly. (note the increase in the High and Peak stresses while Low Stress was kept constant).
The decrease in the training load from mid June correlates to me stop training and travelling. The huge drop late July is where I did my first bike packing trip (3 days, 624km, 5700m D+).
Trying to find the training distribution, I used the planner tab and did the ratio of Low, High and Peak Stress throughout the season:
My personal opinion: having not followed any proper training plan before, I am very happy with what I was capable of doing together with XERT and I believe in what the system has to offer in terms of improvement.
I was able to race and be at the level of the riders with much more experience than me.
I seek a better improvement in 2022 and defined some key points to achieve it:
- Add more strength training throughout the base and build period varying number of sessions and load
- Increase the IR to Moderate-1 or even 2
- Increase the High and Peak stress ratio (@ManofSteele , @xertedbrain your thoughts here are highly appreciated)
- Plan rest weeks after long period under high TL and start again
The goals are:
- To go beyond the TP and 5 min power achieved last season
- Level up from Cat5 to Cat4 (a win is required here)
- Two peaks along the year: Road season then CX season
- Finish Top10 for at least 5 races (road and CX each)
Open to your suggestions and questions
Wonderful @wbezerras ! Happy to hear about users’ success with the Xert platform. Love to see people starting to see that there is a ‘plan’ with Xert, even though you don’t see weeks and weeks of pre-arranged workouts for you to follow! Once you have a basic understanding of the 3 principles to Improve (as I’ve tried to outline in the Mastering Xert - Improve video), it’s hard to not have success with Xert!
One way to do this is to (manually) select a HIIT workout about 1 to 2 times per week, even during periods of lower-intensity riding, such as Winter season or base phase, for example. You could even mix in a Zwift race in place of a structured HIIT workout. Xert will adjust the days following your high-intensity day anyways, and that’s a great way to work in some extra HIIT before you’re farther along in your training program (Build/Peak phases). Hope this helps/makes sense!
That being said, great work last year! Hope you have another good season this year!
Thought it was a good time to update this thread with what happened during my 2022 season and where I’m at so far in 2023.
My aspirations fell a little short in 2022 as shown in this XPMC chart from start of my TED progression in Dec 2021 through October last year. Even so, I consider it a good year for riding with a number of short climb segment PR’s during mid-summer into fall even though TP drifted downward.
The first silver BT was at beginning of TED Base to get my bearings. Decay Method was then set to No Decay for remainder of Base. The second silver BT (deliberate attempt during start of Build phase) was 10 pts lower than highest TP achieved the year prior. The bronze BT and slight upward drift three months later gave me my highest TP so far on Xert (5 pts higher than TP in 2021). The downtime gaps and TL reduction brought things to a halt of course and initiated declines.
The first gap in Feb was unintentional due to another melanoma, this time on my right calf. If you’ve had one of these before you know the divot they remove down to your muscle isn’t small. Result was I had to sit with leg raised on an ottoman for two weeks waiting for the hole to fill in enough to ride again. (Netflix binge time.)
Jumped back into training and reached a decent TP ceiling (for me). The other gaps were travel or family related. I ended up taking November and part of December off the bike.
This year a more even attempt is in progress starting mid-December at a Moderate-2 rate, Slow Decay, and TED of April 17.
At the moment I’m 15+ pts shy of TP high of last year but plenty of time to get there by summer with hopefully fewer gaps and perhaps a second peak effort for late August.
I don’t compete so I’m not challenging myself with frequent BT efforts. I’m happy with how well Slow Decay has been tracking my fitness as confirmed when I do insert a BT workout.
I’ve had a few failed workouts during Build/Peak this year. I edit the title afterwards and insert SORTA or NOPE as a prefix so I can glance at the activity table to see which workouts they were. I’ll circle back and try again when I reach 4 stars status (currently 3 plus a smidge).
SORTA means I went into Slope mode for some portion of the workout and gave it my best.
NOPE means legs said “no way!”
I’ve got some new ailments to deal with this year but I’m hanging in there and still enjoying it.
Biggest disruption has been to my sleep cycle. I’m no longer up early to jump on the trainer at 6am or ready to head out the door at sunrise.
One downside to tracking data over years is you get to monitor any declines as you age.
For me the most obvious drop is to PP over the last three years plus a lowering of average speed on regular routes. Sarcopenia (muscle loss) is a bummer. OTOH I am a lot lighter going up hills (muscle is denser than fat) which are the only segments I hunt.
One of my goals this year is top five age group results on longer climbs in my area. I’ll likely go for one after my TED progression ends and treat that ride as my “event”.
Hope everyone has a great season whatever their goals and however they like to use Xert to reach them. Enjoy the ride.
Nice job Ridgey. And big respect on overcoming the melanoma Sir. From one cancer beater to another