Adaptive Training: Should I Increase Intensity as AT "Learns" Me? And other Questions

I’ve just started using AT this. Before that, my weekly TSS was about 550 - 800 with a 104 CTL at the moment. I am over 6 in the main Progression Levels (6.8 end, 6.0 Threshold, 6.0 VO2 Max, 6.8 Anaerobic). my typical schedule is:
monday: VO2 Max
Tuesday : Endurance
Wednesday: Threshold
Thursday: Endurance
Friday: Anaerobic
Saturday: Group ride / Fondo / Mountain Bike KOM hunt
Sunday: Rest

The problem is AT seems to be giving me fairly easy workouts and I’m not trying to lose hard won fitness. It seems to have started me at a rest week next week (Probably based on where I started my plan already using PB) with a ramp test the following week, which is fine and understandable.

  1. After the ramp test, will the hard workouts be challenging? Why aren’t they at the productive range already and only achievable?

  2. Should I increase intensity on tough workouts? I get it that some workouts are meant to be easy… but come on, an hour and a half at threshold 4.0? Will this adapt based on the results of my ramp test?

  3. Scheduling: My schedule is above and I like it. In order to build and best stick to PB, I had to choose medium volume plan, so 5 days, and leave saturday open for my unstructured outdoor rides. Can I continue to do this and just trust AT for the rest of it? With Medium Volume it also cut short my training time during the week, which I prefer to keep long as I can do at least an hour and a half every morning. Any suggestions to add hours to this? Maybe a quick 30 minute workout after the 60 minute workout?

I’m just trying to generally build myself to be strong coming out of the gates next year when I move back to the US. I have maybe 12 hours a week to train.

Thanks!

well, you’re not going to see adaptations in the workouts until you start the actual plan, so on the day of the ramp test you’ll see adaptations to that plan phase. For example, I have CX specialty starting next week, it has not yet been adapted to my current levels and I believe still reflects the stock version anyone can load. So I’d wait and see what happens once the calendar gets to a particular phase

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Thanks. Yes, I’ve decided to trust in the system (it’s what I signed up for, so duh, right?) and see how it plays out.

I’m sure there’s some very clever calculation and logic behind it but what the user experience comes down to this for me (been on AT plan since june)

  • If you stop a workout early, you’re asked why. depending on your answer, your next same kind of workout (if you fail a vo2 max, your next vo2 max, if you fail a sweet spot, your next sweet spot, and so on) gets adjusted down or stays the same.

  • At the end of a workout if you answer “easy” or “very hard” your next same kind of workout (again, ss, vo2max, endurance, etc) gets adjusted up or down.

  • If you miss a workout that’s on your plan, the next workout will get adjusted down (even if you do a non structured outside workout with plenty of similar efforts to what you were prescribed by TR)

That’s pretty much it. It’s nothing unexpected (to me anyways).

  • When I genuinely have a hard time or easy time with a workout, I let TR adjust.

  • When I skip a workout only so I can stay fresh for a big outside ride next day that has same or more minutes of similar kind efforts with that workout, I don’t let TR adjust cause I believe I made forward progress with my outside ride to the point where my next, higher level workout won’t be too hard to complete.

Until AT is capable of analyzing unstructured outside workouts and adjust your levels, I wouldn’t let it adapt your program when you skip a workout to replace with another ride.

Just my 2 cents!

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Thanks gurk700.

I’ll continue to play with it and see what I find.

I haven’t gotten any adaptations yet, but I assume that’s because i am in a “rest week”? I assume its a rest week as its all low level endurance stuff and I have a ramp test scheduled on monday.

Is it true that I wont see any adaptations until after the ramp test?

All good advice. Rightly/wrongly, another thing I do is adjust intensity up if early on I feel like I would end up rating the ride as “easy”. In most cases this is only 2-3%, sometimes up to 5% - to get to what feels like the right level for where I am. As I understand it, AT doesn’t take the increase in IF into account, but I get what feels like a productive workout. Then the debate I have with myself after the workout is how to rate the survey – easy, to reflect the workout as prescribed, or say moderate, to reflect the IF increase…

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You say “rightly/wrongly” and i feel you. That is another question of mine. Should AT bring you to the point where you don’t have to adjust intensity? I would imagine so, unless you feel super good on one day and you really want to push yourself. But then, should you instead be selecting a higher level workout and increasing your progression level? Or do you just increase intensity until you get another ramp test increase?

All good questions, and for me all I can say is I don’t know. :slight_smile: If you are consistently getting workouts that are too easy, I would suggest a re-test.

For me, I haven’t found them to be consistently too hard or too easy. AT has surprised me with both easier AND harder workout recommendations at times. Sometimes I do them, sometimes I replace them. It is also interesting to look at how I am progressing/feeling within a specific energy system - endurance vs. SS vs. threshold vs. VO2, etc.

I have been in AT for a few months now, and becoming less worried about how my choices may impact PL. Or if I am optimizing the training. And I am kind of enjoying it, even if the long term goal is more efficient / responsive training. I have noticed it has made me tune more into how I feel on a particular day - reflecting on sleep, nutrition, outside stress, nagging fatigue/injuries.

Early on, my biggest concern was the limited # of workouts with PLs. They now have increased dramatically so enjoying doing recommended workouts I haven’t seen before over the last 4 years.

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Thanks for the thoughtful answers. Is your FTP still increasing with AT?

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I am seeing consistent gains week to week over the last 3 months – despite work, a few 4-5 day vacations, and most importantly, coming back from injury and surgery that had me off the bike for 2 months earlier this year.

My situation is atypical - I started AT at my lowest FTP in 4 years, and a year off my all time highest FTP/fitness level. A hip injury in March required rest, doctors, and PT (which I am still doing). And in the midst of it had surgery for skin cancer (thankfully caught early). Slow and steady has been my goal and so far so good.

To your original question, I haven’t re-tested in a while. I am looking more at my PLs at specific zones to measure progress, along with progress against familiar outdoor rides. I am good at predicting my Ramp Test outcomes. If I tested today I would bet I am 5-10% higher. I have one next week, so will see! But in any case, week to week I tend to be using AT and PLs more to gauge progress than 1 FTP #.

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You won’t see adaptations unless you answer your survey questions with “easy” or “very hard”
Indeed, after ramp, you’ll most likely see adaptations.

In theory, not seeing adaptations means everything is going as planned so stick with it.

Example : I personally get adaptations on VO2Max frequently. My VO2Max relative to my threshold is pretty high. I have an easy time with VO2Max workouts. After a ramp test, my program adapts and VO2Max workouts go down in level accordingly, along with SS and Threshold ones. While SS and Threshold ones feel like they should (pretty hard but not so much so that I can’t complete), VO2Max ones feel easy so I have to answer the survey “easy” and the AT will adapt and increase the level for my next VO2Max workout.

It’s with outdoor rides where AT really falls down. I could very easily do a 6 or 7 hour endurance ride outdoors yet this won’t be recognised and I’d get very low graded endurance rides in a plan.

As long as you accept this and use the difficulty levels for tempo and above it seems fine. You sound experienced enough to be able to modify what AT gives you, I very regularly move up and down the +/- scale of workouts depending on how I feel that day.

So an update:

I completed my ramp test for this block. Wahoo KICKR and TR said 286 FTP (last time was 288), but my Garmin Fenix with Assioma Duo pedals said my FTP went up to 295 from 290. In this case I trust my pedals more as they seem to be more consistent than my trainer. Plus the number is higher. I get that the trainer will typically show less power (5%?) than pedals due to parasitic loss, but my pedals and trainer are typically very close.

In any case, I am happy to report that the adaptations happened and my training looks to be headed to where I want it. All of the upcoming workouts adapted to a more challenging version. Looks like its all on track and I need to trust the system.

PS, did anyone see @Nate_Pearson’s threshold level 10 workout? An hour at threshold. Crazy.

Yeah, though obviously Nate’s threshold has gone up a lot and he hasn’t tested in a while. It was my understanding that with AT the goal really isn’t to get anywhere near a level 10, because that just means your FTP is way off.

Agree with you, Outside rides is the issue. Did Outside this morning, session was 90 minutes but rode for 2.5 hours… assume i only get “credit” for the 90… but accept it is not perfect at the moment.

Just a follow up:

I 100 percent attribute this to AT. My new FTP is 295! And my ability to hold this at longer and longer intervals has greatly increased. I see my training REALLY paying off. When I get out on the road, I am starting to feel “effortlessly fast” if that makes sense. Really happy so far!

Trust in the system… seems to be working for me!

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