Train­ing Tips

Use the train­ing stress score to plan your work­outs

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Andrew Ran­dell and Steve Neal of The Cy­cling Gym

How hard is too hard?

You need to tax your body when you train, right? By push­ing your­self, and then al­low­ing your body to re­cover, you get fit­ter. But, if you push your­self too hard, you’ll run your­self into the ground. So how do you know how hard is too hard?

There are quite a few ways to mea­sure how hard your ride was. You could look at av­er­age heart rate or av­er­age power. The lat­ter, how­ever, doesn’t take into ac­count the full phys­i­o­log­i­cal costs of a ride. A long easy ride might have the same av­er­age power as a short ride with a lot of climb­ing and de­scend­ing. To show the “cost” of each work­out, power-anal­y­sis soft­ware can cal­cu­late the “nor­mal­ized power” of a ride. The eas­ier ride will have a lower nor­mal­ized power (NP), say 135 watts, while the ride with climbs will be higher, say 156 watts.

There are other met­rics that you’ve seen if you ride with power. Func­tional thresh­old power (ftp) is the av­er­age amount of watts you can hold at your lac­tate thresh­old for one hour. There’s also in­ten­sity fac­tor (IF),

which is nor­mal­ized power di­vided by your ftp. How do all these fig­ures add up? Well, Andy Cog­gan and Hunter Allen in­vented a met­ric called the train­ing stress score (tss). tss takes into ac­count NP, ftp, IF and the du­ra­tion of a ride. Pro­grams such as Train­ing Peaks or Pioneer’s Cy­clo-sphere will cal­cu­late tss af­ter you up­load a ride. You can then add up the TSS for the rides you do in a week to see how hard you taxed your body for those seven days. Once you un­der­stand how much tss/week you can sus­tain, you can then use tss to plan your work­outs. While tss can help you un­der­stand how much work you can han­dle each week, how you gen­er­ate tss points is im­por­tant. Com­pare the chart with its two work­outs.

“TSS takes into ac­count nor­mal­ized power, func­tional thresh­old power, in­ten­sity fac­tor and the du­ra­tion of a ride.”

The tss val­ues across the two work­outs are not sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent. But look at the val­ues for tss/min. As you might ex­pect, the work­out with in­ter­vals is more tax­ing (1.52 tss/min.) than the en­durance work­out (0.7 tss/min.). The 137 tss you gain in that in­ter­val work­out is not some­thing you could re­peat more than two or three times per week. The 128 tss from the en­durance ride is some­thing you could do three to five times a week. Of course, these num­bers con­firm the old train­ing wis­dom that you should be spend­ing more time on en­durance than in­ten­sity.

You can use the train­ing stress score to mon­i­tor your train­ing and to be­come a stronger cy­clist. Just re­mem­ber, tss is one tool that you should use in con­junc­tion with oth­ers to track your de­vel­op­ment. Stress your­self, but do it smartly.

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