Progressive Overload, Ramp Rate, and XSS Question

That’s what concerns me. At this point, I assume the projected column is hogwash because, after all, the projected date (race day) falls at the end of a taper week. Surely, Xert doesn’t anticipate that I will workout 20+ hours on race week.

I think Xert is doing a pretty good job of determining my freshness, at least macroscopically. The star color is generally accurate. Sometimes it doesn’t actually lineup, though. For instance, I’m coming off a rest week Sunday (a concept that Xert doesn’t appear to incorporate) and I also have my normal day off on Monday. Therefore, Tuesday I will be ready to demolish some intervals, but Xert shows me yellow until later in the week. It just doesn’t make sense that a person coming off recovery ride, then rest day would gain freshness as their training load increases and not be ready for intervals until Thursday.

The other thing I don’t understand here, is that Xert’s planner seems to imply that I ought to ride every single day unless I get red stars, which never happens. Does the planner assume you will ride unless red or does it eventually learn what days you take off and recovery ride?

Actually, when I turned it down to Aggressive it projected 17 hours as of the projected date. This is much more reasonable considering I am doing between 11-15 now. It’s still nonsense though, unless Xert completely ignores the concept of tapering for a race. I see that I can turn it down to taper but I have no idea how that will affect my plan at the time.

And this is all besides the fact that I don’t just have one event. I have one A race, but I have several other B and C races. Xert seems to take things day-by-day and I just don’t know if I can live without my ATP. :slight_smile:

Incidentally, I changed to continuous progression and manually populated the planner with my schedule from TP. This seems to work a little better for now, because I can ignore Xert’s periodization and all of this projected outcome stuff, but still analyze my fitness using Xert’s metrics.

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I think you need to manually change improvement rate to ‘taper’ to see the impact (but don’t race so in truth have never used it… I guess it’s a -1 ramp of TL but not sure). You can always apply your own taper at the time if you don’t like it

I suspect the long term yellow is the effect I mentioned earlier - if you do a ride with significant high and peak strain, starting with near enough zero high and peak TL you will be yellow for ages. Yellow doesn’t mean too tired to ride, just that intensity is not recommended. You can use the freshness slider to make XATA give you higher intensity if that’s what you want

The planner doesn’t assume anything actually… so if you plan a ride every day it will put one in. I think of it as a ‘what if’ tool (and so rarely use it). You need to plan your own days off, as well as recovery weeks (though if you have a lower improvement rate you may find you don’t need them). XATA kind of learns which days you normally ride longer or shorter, and is the thing to check for daily advice (and may tell you training is optional if you are ahead of plan for example)

Following your own plan is always an option. I personally don’t follow XATA particularly closely, in part as many endurance workouts are a bit on the hard side for an ‘easy’ day, but still find Xert useful, especially for intensity


Why go through all of that, though? So, the system says: “you are tired today; do this workout.” Then you press the not tired button, and the system says, “ok, here’s a harder workout.”

If I have to tell it exactly how I feel, then the star color isn’t conveying any useful information. At that point, why not just plan a training block that includes progressive overload and adequate rest and recovery?

Even if you aren’t training for an event and schedule your workouts from day to day; can’t you just skip the “freshness slider” and pick the ride that feels right for you?

I agree with this and also noticed that the endurance focus rides seems a little hard for my taste.

I think it has to do with how Xert classifies endurance focus. Xert doesn’t recognize %FTP or zones, so by definition, there really isn’t any such thing as a “tempo” ride in the Xert environment. I suppose tempo rides, as they are classically defined, also increase endurance focus, but I wouldn’t want to do them everyday unless I want my hard days to just suck.

To your point: I just finished a ride classified by TP,, and Garmin as a “tempo ride,” but Xert called it an Endurance Focus. To put this in perspective, I spent a considerable amount of time in Zone 3 and 4, and more importantly, my HR was well above LT1 for 35% of the ride. I suppose it’s fair to say that this ride benefitted my “endurance focus”, but for me, it’s definitely too hard for everyday base miles.

Checkout our blog on Sweetspot for more info about how tempo/sweetspot training fits into Xert’s paradigm.

You can create a plan with blocks of intensity and rest but if you fall ill one day or don’t replenish carbs, your recovery may not be enough. With Xert, you can instruct the advisor to account for external (non XSS) factors that effect your ability to perform and you that need extra rest. You may also indeed feel pretty good and feel confident about overreaching further than what the advisor recommends. That’s ok too. Just remember that you’re doing this.

Following a plan doesn’t normally raise your fitness to its highest levels because it doesn’t adjust to needed rest or takes advantage of additional traininig opportunties. A well designed program with appropriate advice can squeeze out everything you can fit into our schedule, rest when needed and have you attain far higher levels of fitness.

Listen to our podcast on the difference between a Training Plan and a Training Program.

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I was actually considering this yesterday. XATA recommended the Sweet Spot @90% Classic 3x20 workout. During the workout I was wondering how Xert defines SST without reference to FTP. Thank you. I will check this out!

The blog says, “The slider ranges from -60 and +60, but is set to a value of 0 by default, where is should generally be left most of the time.” But can it be “left most of the time”? Once you move it I think you are married to the new setting. Say I feel really charged up, but I have all yellow stars for the rest of the week. I move the slider some amount to the right in order to get a fresh color, and in turn the system dishes me a high intensity workout in my focus zone. Great! I complete the workout. After the workout, I now have all yellow stars for the rest of the week again. Fine. This makes sense. I am actually tired now, so the stars are accurate. However, the slider is still in the new position. I can’t move it back. If I do (correct me if I’m wrong) all the colors change again. The yellow stars are now out even farther, or maybe the planner gives me red stars because when the slider is neutral it never thought I should have done the intensity workout in the first place. Either way, if I move the slider back to the default value it will register that I am more tired than I actually am (again).

Also, it feels kind of arbitrary. Maybe it’s not, but it’s not explained in the blog. What are these units? I see that zero is neutral and + or - 60 are the extremes. But 60 what? I see green to the right and red to the left, but how do I know if I’m a +10 or a +12? I keep moving this slider around (which frustratingly is on a different page) until the darn planner gives me what I want. I have no idea how the slider, or the units on the slider, work or connect to anything that I am experiencing in real life.

It makes sense that XSS needs user feedback to deliver accurate results on how an athlete “feels”. But at that point, couldn’t you gather RPE and FEEL score for each workout, which in turn Xert can use to modify the XSS data and inform the star color to produce a more congruent result on a ride by ride basis. Or … what about maybe HRV? That would be pretty cool! :slight_smile:

I agree. This is a good reason to hire a coach rather than buy some pre-canned training plan. A good coach is expensive, though. I’m really pumped about the thought that Xert can be an AI coach that adapts to my needs. A coach ought to check in with you after each workout to see how you feel and modify your plan accordingly, though. If your coach is trying to figure out your volume / intensity balance based on calculated TSB numbers alone, then you should probably run away.

But the xata necessarily does want the hie and pp training load to be close to zero by the end of base phase for all athletes right?

Xert isn’t using AI. It’s more like a standard PMC chart, but is generating XSS, (TSS in Coggan-speak) in three categories of strain, rather than just one, with the goal of providing a more accurate recommendation than the standard PMC model. That said, Xert should have some of the same limitations that a PMC system (like Training Peaks) would have, namely, it doesn’t know how you feel. You need to give it additional information, and hence the existence of the freshness slider. I think one method to proceed is to use the freshness slider as more of a way to customize Xert, to tweak it so that its recommendations are more accurate for YOU. In other words, most of the time, leave it off of Zero, based on how you feel, and perhaps your performance. Use the slider to fine tune Xert longer-term.

Yes, exactly, if you follow XATA precisely during base, at least with my low TL. Perhaps with a higher TL you also get recommended intensity during base (mentioned above actually - song 2 was listed as endurance, but goes a bit above TP), in which you wouldn’t quite start build at zero

It’s not aiming for a particular HIGH/PEAK TL… rather, the goal of Xert’s base phase is to build LOW Training Load as high as possible. If Low training load isn’t sufficiently high later in the program, athletes will have a hard time recovering from harder workouts (e.g. HIIT workouts would put you in RED afterwards instead of yellow). While rest is certainly important… if you’re red multiple days from HIIT workouts, you’re missing out on potential training opportunities - it’ll be hard to continue building TL (and increasing your fitness) if you’re too fatigued to ride.

FWIW, I have been adding in more HIIT into my base this winter (manually selecting harder workouts once or twice a week) to keep my HIGH/PEAK TL’s from not being zero, thus making it a bit easier to add more HIIT into the later phases of training. A hard workout now usually keeps me yellow for 1-2 days instead of 3-4.

Yes. I think so, too. For me, it’s not that Xert’s endurance workouts are too hard for base phase. As you say, a little intensity may even be beneficial down the line. The problem is that they are too hard for build phase. Working under fatigue slowly saps your energy. This is ok during base because you don’t have much structure and you are just racking up volume. However, when you start mixing in VO2 work and become more race specific, it will kill your gains because you will feel sapped constantly.

I’m not sure I follow you. How is Xert not using AI?

Training Peaks is different. The PMC chart on TrainingPeaks doesn’t make any recommendations. It just calculates your training load and stress from each workout.

Xert, on the other hand, does make recommendations. It uses XSS, and probably other factors, to decide your “freshness”, which iin turn, informs XATA’s decision on which workout to recommend.

Except this explicitly goes against Xert’s instructions on how to use the system. The blog states that the slider is set to zero as a default where it should generally be left most of the time.

This is actually bold statement. It implies that we are going for a system where, most of the time, it should be able to calculate your freshness without any athlete input at all. Wow. Really cool. But at that point, it also means that if you need to adjust the slider, then the system isn’t working as intended.

The slider is an adjustable wrench in Xert’s toolbox. Use as needed if required.

Xert’s not using AI. It’s more of an advanced version of a standard PMC system. Instead of one CTL, ATL and Form curve, there are three, one for each of the three “energy systems”, Peak, High, and Threshold. The recommendations are based on your Form. hard coded I believe.

Let me add this…and keep in mind, it’s just my opinion…The human coach and the athlete are the AI (minus the A) component in Training Peaks. You make judgements on training based on your Form as defined by the PMC. Xert purports to be able do it all by itself…except when it can’t :wink:, and then you make use of the slider to adjust its recommendations.

I think you just have to use Xert for a while and see how it works for you. I’ll bet few rely on its recommendations 100% of the time. Customize as needed…

It would be worth reading this thread on how xert determines your training status: Understanding Status

Some of the numbers are slightly out, but the explanations are correct.


It’s a little tricky in the off season… on the one Hand yes you could do some sprints and even vO2 to keep the system from going to zero, but lifting can be quite costly on the hie and pp systems… it can keep that system from going too stale and even prepare it to be ready to achieve new personal records later during the race season… suppose you could possibly enter a manual ride with xss and focus of power sprinter to try to incorporate that into xert pacer?

Probably a true statement - we are careful to use use the phrase recommended workout, not prescribed workouts. Xert isn’t necessary a coach prescribing workouts. However, it is another tool to help you make informed decisions about your training.

As you mentioned, there are so many factors outside of your cycling power data that can influence one’s readiness for training. In another thread, I mentioned how I incorporate a daily HRV reading (from HRV4T) into my daily training recommendations from Xert: HRV integration with Xert Freshness / Fatigue Chart and Recommended Workouts - #20 by ManofSteele

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Are you referring to adding in strength training? If so, then yes, you’re best to enter it manually with a fairly low XSS value (~10-15), but also a relatively short focus duration (Power Sprinter, Road Sprinter, or Pursuiter).

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Thanks for answering all my posts!

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It would be worth reading this thread on how xert determines your training status

This is great. Thank you. I recently listened to the podcast on this topic as well.

I guess I used the term “AI” too loosely. I didn’t mean that there is artificial intelligence determining training status. I just mean that the system recommends workouts automatically based on freshness, XSS, etc…