Your experiences with Hardness tests: which section puts the nails in your coffins?

Hey guys, just keen to learn about what is tough for you with hardness tests and I am “normal” in that regard.

I did hardness tests 8 and 9 in January, I intend to do one every three weeks instead of a 4/4.5 workout.

For me, the hardest part is the 60 seconds HIE “warmup”. Already for hardness test 9 it is 20 watts short of my 60 seconds “all-time-best-effort” recorded on training peaks.

The rest of the workout still is really tough, but I feel in control all the time, only in the very last intervall I notice that there is a ~10 second section in the middle where I become short on Oxygen and perceived suffocation begins, but apparently, the power dropped a sufficient amount just in time so I can complete the section controlled.

So - which section kills you guys? Is that a “me-thing” to almost die in the “warmup”, but then being fine with the workout?

I am fine with short and spiky reds, but nosedive on VO2max intervals. The hard start format helps but… yikes.

I don’t try to tackle any of the hardness tests until late in the season – for fun on a rainy day. :slight_smile:
Occasionally I may see one on a recommended list when I get to 4 stars.

The idea (for those who aren’t aware) is there is a collection of hardness tests in the library you can locate by searching for “hardness”. Note the descriptions.
They are meant to be tackled in order starting with your current status star count.
The minimum test is two diamonds level, so you want to reach two stars status before attempting Hardness Test Level 02.
If you get through that fine and you can start climbing up the ladder week by week and see how far you can push yourself. Of course, they are also a good workout by themselves when you are up for a challenge.

TIP: On XO, select Training, Workouts, Show 25, tap XSS or Rating column header to set sort order, then search for “hardness”.
Now you can scroll down the list in order (02-16) and watch the thumbnail charts evolve especially in regard to MPA drawdown the difficulty/fatigue shaded portion of the graph.
It’s an eye opener. :grimacing: :scream:

Level 02 –

Level 16 –

YMMV – Remember the detailed chart view shows YOUR signature applied to the workout. Open in Workout Designer (click on thumbnail) to see there are any predicted crash-and-burn points before you try to ride one.

I like those Hardness Tests, as they fully deserve their name :wink:

However, I struggle with explaining the results based on MPA concept. Namely, it is clear that Hardness Test 16 is extremally difficult and most of us will not make it. But on the other hand, MPA line never intersects the actual power line. So why will we fail? What are we missing on those charts? :thinking:

The goal isn’t to fail you or necessarily generate a BT, but to test your toughness and repeatability. IE, drive down MPA (to whatever level that test goes to), let it rise (but not recover), and repeat – all while difficulty and fatigue are increasing.
Can you push through all the way to the end without failing any intervals?
I wouldn’t even attempt Level 06 at this point in my training knowing how hard it "might* be.

Here’s Level 16 with my current signature –

Total carnage. :smiley:
Notice the shaded portion of the graph with difficulty off the chart. I would have bailed by the third dip.

Great point! It’s in the charts… just in the background :slight_smile: Difficulty Score is a major part of Xert’s and it’s something that other platforms can’t really objectively analyze at this point in time. It’s a way for us to capture how deep you may need to go to complete a workout. And we can objectively calculate how difficult a workout will be for you & your signature before you even do it!

One could easily create/design a workout that has you riding 20 min intervals until you’re on the verge of hitting MPA over and over and over and say “I couldn’t possibly hit MPA over and over and over again - this model doesn’t work!” However, despite the workout designer showing that your MPA may never crosses the interval power, the difficulty score would be off the charts - indicating that an athlete would likely bail on the workout.

Further, we know that as an athlete becomes more well-trained, they’re able to handle harder workouts & this is captured in the XATA recommendations. The difficulty rating of recommended workouts (in diamonds) will track really well with a user’s training load (in stars). Pretty neat, isn’t it? :slight_smile:

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Is it just me or is " HARDNESS TEST - LEVEL 01" missing?

I’ve tried searching for it but can’t find it.


I got it :+1: I will highly appreciate if you could dig a little bit more into this interesting topic, as Xert has really the edge here.

  1. Does it mean that everyone has a maximum difficulty score that one can handle during workout or ride at given fitness level?

  2. Let’s assume that my best performance was Hardness Test level 10 with difficulty score ~140. Does it mean, that I will most likely fail also other workouts/rides with higher difficulty scores e.g. 150-160? Or such conclusion is not justified?

  3. What are physiological traits of athletes who can sustain tougher workouts? I guess it goes beyond their power curve characteristics.

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I think number 3 is interesting here. I have read the phrase “the ability to express it” (it=fitness) here and in “Xert on Xert”-articles.

What “expresses the ability to express fitness” is my question ;).

The numbers I have to match in the hardness tests are derived from my metrics. So if they are derived from my metrics, I should be able to complete any level of hardness test at least on a good day, unless my metrics are somehow wrong (I had that before flagging run activities that lead to an estimation of HIE with which I could have won Paris-Roubaix).

So in the end, the Xert assumption is that all Hardness-tests are based on the metrics of the individual, but at the same time, a 3-Star-Rated guy (in the “Training” menu) is - Xert assumption - not able to complete a Hardness-test rated 4.5 stars.

So: what is it beyond my metrics that gives me the “ability to express my fitness, hence my metrics?”.

For me: Xert rates me as 4.5 stars, I have ~265-275 Watt TP (which is somewhere 3.5-4 W/kg), ~21 KJ HIE, ~1050 MPA. These are not extraordinary figures, also when looking in the Xert statistics, I am rather in the midfield to upper midfield. So why am I able to complete a 4.5 hardness test (yet to proof, 4.0 worked) and another guy with the same metrics not?

FYI, we added a new Session to the library: Hard Ride up the Angliru.

The video is a ride up the famous, crazy steep Angliru. Perhaps finishing the Hardness Level 7 that goes with it might make you feeling confident enough to attempt it IRL. :smiley: