If you want to consider my gains as moving from untrained to trained that’s fine by me.
I’m old and when not actively following a training plan my numbers likely decay more than younger folks or anyone competing year-round.
Those in the high-watt club who stay fit are also closer to the ceiling to begin with. Their gains will vary accordingly, but I don’t think I’m unique.
For example, 125 to 175 or 150 to 200+ after 12-16 weeks isn’t uncommon. 250 to 340 would be less likely although I am sure someone out there has done that.
My point is Xert’s hybrid polarized phased progression works well when you follow XATA recommendations, make choices to fit your goals and capabilities, and adjust the knobs and dials as they are designed to work.
Gains will differ by individual but the results may surprise those who have their doubts.
If you want to consider my gains as moving from untrained to trained that’s fine by me.
How does intervals.icu estimate of ftp compare with Xert’s? Also, have you done a “reality test” on the TP number that Xert gives you? Fro instance, if Xert says TP is 250w, then are you able to 250w for 20 minutes, or anything close?
Currently 3 pts lower eFTP on icu compared to Xert TP. If I drag icu’s date slider the delta varies up to 10 pts lower. However, TP isn’t FTP and I consider them all -ish numbers anyway.
Each platform has their own algorithms and theories on estimating “FTP”. I think people should choose whichever method they like best and stick with it. Otherwise it’s comparing apples to oranges to plums.
I notice icu expects a single max effort between 180 secs and 30 minutes for their calc. I don’t have that on file for this year. Only one BT workout (v3) has an interval over 180 secs but I use v2 or Under Pressure as my goto BT workout. Perhaps a hill climb smash will suffice in the near future and I’ll recheck the numbers again. However, I don’t compete and am not interested in going back to a 20 min RAMP test if that’s what you’re asking.
I’m only using Xert now as I like their BT event approach and signature decay method to gauge fitness.
Wasn’t suggesting a ramp test, or even a 20min FTP test. Just a “reality check.” If Xert says your TP is X, you have to think you ought to be able to do X for some period of time. I said 20 min because it’s kind of reasonable.
I just got the TR beta invite. I can’t wait to try it! I’m really happy I didn’t cancel my subscription.
No offense, but I don’t get why nobody answers this simple but absolutely relevant question … I also don’t get why one would be so shy whith absolute numbers, especially if one doesn’t compete.
For what it’s worth, my TP is at 255w at 68kg right now (I am on “no decay” though and I feel it might be closer to 265 … anyways, let’s just say Threshold-Zone 250-270) oh, and oh yeah, 8 inches, so there is that … Middle of the pack in all fields
I can hold that 255watts for 1 hour. Well I think I could … haven’t put it to the test, but 40 minutes felt “comfortable” and I could have kept going.
5 mInutes (320) and 20 Minutes (275) is spot on and field tested several times. So for me, the Xert power duration curve is spot on.
UPDATE: Still lingering around 4 stars since ending the TED progression back in April.
I was at Slow IR briefly then switched to Maintenance as I don’t have the time or desire to increase TL. Stayed in post-event phase (due to expired TED) then changed to Challenge for 30 days when that option was added to ATP and switched Athlete type from Climber to Puncheur. That resulted in a slight bump in TP to the predicted number from my original indoor experiment. That number can be 5 pts higher than intervals.icu estimates (typically after a BT event) to matching icu after a week or so of decay. So basically I am at my ceiling for this season without upping TL or experimenting with block periodization.
Currently on Continuous ATP at 4 stars which IME presents you with more challenging workouts day to day (similar to Peak phase). I occasionally switch Athlete type.
I’ve shifted to mostly outdoor rides with indoor relegated to rainy days which sometimes end up as a day off leading to more blue and occasionally green form. If the workouts look too tough I often free ride to recommended Focus instead (a skill worth learning). Other rides are easy/easy (4-6 hours) or easy/hard (2-3 hours).
Although my TP is hovering, I have gotten stronger week after week confirmed by PR’s on Strava and a bump in HIE.
This image is from the monthly stats recap email from Strava for August –
I have a question @ridgerider2, @ManofSteele @xertedbrain . I’m currently in the base phase( day 28 of 120, Gc Specialist, Moderate-1 IR) with current weekly hours of 10,6. And projected weekly hours at the end of the full phase 13,9 or so at the moment. With the current condition in my country, i can’t do much outdoor riding, so I committed to do all of the phases indoor, 100% following XATA workout. Last week the weekly hours was about 11, i follow 100% workout from XATA. But, at the end of the week, my total weekly hours (that all of them are XATA recommendation workout) doesn’t meet the weekly hours target from Adaptive Training Program (9hr38min). Because of that, this week’s weekly hours came down to 10,6. If i keep doing this, how can i increase my TL or weekly hours? Am I supposed to do a long ride outdoor ride if the XATA doesn’t provide long enough workout to meet the weekly hours at the end of the week? At the start of the phase, my projected weekly hours was 15hour or so. Now the weekly hours is 13,9. I train 6 days a week. With restday on monday.
Don’t worry about hitting exact numbers. The hours/week projection is flexible by design.
IR is your current ramp rate which sets a weekly progression but you don’t need to match those numbers. Some weeks you may stay close. Others you won’t.
You can also change IR at any time as your schedule or recovery form dictates. So if you’ve taken on too much you can dial it down to Slow for a bit then back up when ready to resume a higher rate. The pacer needle and estimated hours will change accordingly.
Ideally you want to keep the pacer needle in the 11am-1pm position but that can waver depending on your weekly schedule and time you have available to train.
TL is a combination of hours and intensity. Indoors you are also compressing time requirements since the same XSS effort typically takes longer to accumulate outdoors (due to uneven power output). A 1 hour indoor effort may take 90 minutes to match outdoors.
Take a look at my Progression/XPMC chart showing TL year-to-date –
You can see where my Mod-2 IR was active from Jan to my TED in April. That was my exclusive indoor training period. There was a point during the latter half of Build when I felt “stretched” and was ready to lower IR for a week, but I recovered and stuck with same rate.
After I reached my TED I migrated outdoors and lowered IR to Slow for a bit then shifted to Maintenance.by end of May. I have remained there since that is the max hours I am willing to commit. Some weeks I hit that goal (4 stars >= 110 TL) but other times I waver below. Notice how I have gotten uneven in daily activities starting in June. The needle has dropped into the red on occasion but I often push it back up with one long weekend ride. You can see my long rides interspersed with more days off during the weeks since June. Compare that to my consistent 6 days/week indoor training during Jan-Apr.
Keep in mind you shouldn’t worry about making up a deficit since XATA is based on a rolling seven day period. Any deficit/surplus is absorbed into the next seven day cycle. You may be off one week and back on schedule the next. Overall you are still on target to achieve your progression goal but it may take longer to reach max hours/week.
In the next month or so I will switch to Taper or Off-Season to scale things down and take some time off. Then I’ll start a new cycle of training in late Nov/early Dec beginning with 4-6 hours/week indoors.
Others’ TL charts may resemble a roller coaster ride during their year. YMMV
Thanks for the comprehensive explanation.
UPDATE 2: Winding down my season. IR is currently set to Taper as I reduce hours and number of days per week. Will go to Off-Season in November and ride sporadically until committing to another indoor progression likely in December.
Here’s my Strava PR recap from September –
I’m not a segment hunter and no longer subscribe to Strava so I can’t view full history or comparative stats by age group. However, some PRs are substantial improvements measured in minutes not seconds. Most of my prior best times are from 2017-2019 which includes my TR subscription period.
Of course most Strava segments are of marginal importance but the trend is notable. I am riding faster than in years past along my usual routes; primarily at a comfortable pace and ramping things up when I feel like it because I’m stronger. Sometimes that means attacking rollers because that’s always fun, or cresting a climb faster than normal just because I can, plus stomping in top gear on descents which normally I don’t do.
Free rides to Focus have become a contributing factor. That entails monitoring power by both feel and head unit glances plus frequent shifts to maintain watts and reach the Focus you’re targeting. I especially like to draw down Focus on long descents where you can get into a rhythm of pounding on the pedals then coast between efforts for RIBs.
Learning how to ride to Focus can be a separate post if anyone’s interested in discussing that. It’s a skill that takes some discipline to manage whether riding irregular intervals to drive Focus down or keeping things light and easy to retain an endurance Focus. Both are challenging in their own right. Endurance rides can lead to surprisingly sore legs afterwards but with quick recovery.
My PR’s have included some popular climbs where I simply maintained a steady pace (at/below TP) and was not trying for best time.
Example ~2 mile climb during one of my long rides on a weekend –
You can see where I stopped for snack/drink before the ascent then got settled into a pace after the first switchback. All seven switchbacks are identifiable (orange/red zone seconds) ending with a blue pause at top of the climb (a stop sign entering a highway).
This was a 2-1/2 minute improvement over my previous best time from two years ago in September.
My all-indoor full progression experiment on Xert set me up for a a banner year riding outdoors. I am very happy with the results and how I’m feeling during rides.
With ATP now set to Continuous I’m getting plenty of difficult workouts as form goes to blue more often and occasionally green. When I do ride indoors I continue to complete selections from the top four list at 100% including hard ones at a 4-5 diamond level.
Here’s a tough 2 hour one from today (form went green): Xert - Workout Designer (xertonline.com)
Xert is uncanny in its ability to scale workouts to your fitness signature and factor in fatigue (MPA) and difficulty. Okay, I just squeezed by on this one. But the point is you can.
One of my goals was to occasionally sit in on drop-group rides as they pass me on some of my favorite routes. After my first attempt doing that (too many A class riders) I decided I don’t want to hurt that bad. I am enjoying solo adventures and infrequent buddy rides at an easy to moderate pace. At my age feeling fit and being fit is a worthwhile goal in itself.
I have conclusively achieved higher levels of fitness on Xert proving that endlessly chasing FTP improvements and “getting faster” shouldn’t be your only goal. Get fit and fast will follow. Xert offers unique and satisfying ways to do that.
Enjoy the ride.
Great story @ridgerider2. Congrats.
We hope that everyone develops a simillar story of their own personal accomplishments, whilst having a sense of fulfilment in having executed the process. Achievement, when there is an understanding of how you did it is much more fulfilling than achievements that come from unknowns.
You may try RideWithGPS: you get all the stats you need on your segments, you can compare your numbers to others or to your own bests. Sure, there are fewer users, so fewer people to compare to; the positive side is that you can “easily” climb the ranks That feature is enabled in the “free” version.
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…