Adaptive training vs 4DP

Hi all,

Recently swapped back to TR from SUF.

SUF’s gimmick is obviously their ‘4D Power Profile’ which individually tracks neuro-muscular, anaerobic capacity, maximal aerobic capacity, and FTP as well as giving you a LT-HR figure.

Their pitch is that the workout’s interval will be individually adjusted depending on your capacity to produce watts in that zone.

e.g: if your FTP is pretty average compared to your AC, then your AC efforts in a given workout will be much more challenging than the ‘baseline workout’, and will be harder when compared to your sweet spot or threshold efforts (perhaps even in the same workout).

With TR’s adaptive training I can see that it will change your stats if you complete a more challenging or productive session and then will recommend harder/easier workouts in your calendar.

My question is,
Is TR’s response to 4DP that: the increased difficulty/duration of a different workout (as recommended by the adaptive system) will achieve the same results as individually adjusting efforts on a single given workout in SUF?
Additionally for clarification: Does TR only adjust FTP, if you want something more challenging use a +1/2/3 or a different work out of the same genre to achieve that training stress (again, in place of individually modulating a certain interval’s watts)

Just as an observation, SUF’s workouts seem to be somewhat simpler than TR, less variation, more ‘standard’ blocks of watts, somewhat less imaginative looking from the power profile. I wonder if this is because of the need for simpler workouts for the 4DP, or maybe its a symptom of over reliance on resistance to make you work, rather than number of repeats/intervals?

What are your thoughts?

I think the two approaches address two different aspects of a structured program. The SF 4DP approach recognizes that the relationship between the various training zones is not fixed, but varies between individuals, and with time. The most evident part of this is power at threshold vs power required to train VO2Max: TR assumes the latter is 120% of the former (while telling you over and over your mileage may vary, and adjust accordingly), while SF tests both and makes no assumption. In theory, the SF method is “better” since it measures rather than assume.

TR’s AT addresses another part of the problem: while keeping the targets the same, it works on the evolution in workouts in each zone. You may have a threshold at 250W, but that does not mean you can go and do 60 mins at that level; TR will take you from shorter intervals with longer rests towards longer intervals and less/shorter rests, to develop your potential that zone, and in each other one.

Short version: SF works on levels of the zones, TR on what you do in each zone.


Seems like a good explanation but I think you are underselling adaptive training slightly.

Although TR still doesn’t test the different zones I think that the progression levels do still go some way to address the fact different athletes have different power curves.

I.e. the workouts are not just simply assigned a level based an the “time in zone” but a combination of intensity, duration, and interval and rest frequency. In doing this I think it will at least partially address the power curve problem by having athletes progress through the various levels at different rates.

The OP asked “does TR just adjust ftp” and the answer to that is not really because each of the 7 zones has its own progression level.

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You don’t need more complex or ‘interesting’ workouts.

Hmm, I see things differently. TR has built out workouts that implicitly acknowledge the targets should be different, and instead of personalizing the target power explicitly, its done implicitly by level rating. For example easy and hard TR vo2max workouts are not at 120%. Previous to AT/PL, I believe this workout:

would have been tagged Anaerobic because power target was 126%.

Now its properly tagged vo2max, however:

  • if you do it at exactly at target
  • you will accumulate 12 minutes at 126%
  • confusingly TR analytics will show 12 minutes Anaerobic

WKO iLevel analytics would show 12 minutes at vo2max (assuming 126% was within the FRC/FTP level). I use iLevels (WKO) for analytics and above threshold workout target power planning. TR uses workout PLs to basically accomplish the same.

Don’t know what SUF analytics would show.

Agreed in general - the “combination of intensity, duration, and interval and rest frequency” is what I meant by “what you do in each zone”. it remains that over-unders will be referred to the FTP level, and that level won’t change, for example; the number, duration and over/under ratio of the workouts will be progressed by AT.

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Possible, but I don’t have enough experience with it to say. The main issue with TR is that the VO2Max level is set by reference to FTP, leaving it to the user to adjust, while SF does that for you; the main issue with SF is a lack of progression of workouts within a zone, which TR addresses through AT (and the workout library and base plans).

I think this is where our experience of adaptive training differs slightly.

Before adaptive training I found that I had to alter the intensity of VO2 max workouts - but now I never do.

Maybe I was only just outside TRs predicted curve so the adjustments made by adaptive training are enough for me?

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This is true, however with AT this adjustment will now be ‘automatic’. I still see TR’s use of FTP as the metric that VO2max and above efforts are based on as ‘incorrect’, but since AT ‘should’ adapt to the individual athlete this becomes less of an issue. I think that this is likely a good enough solution for most cases, and and that effort spent making AT better will likely have better return than adding a new testing/benchmark regime like 4DP. Once you get AT working to the point where athletes move quickly to the level of workout they ‘should’ be doing, then if you start a little bit off of that it doesn’t really matter than much.

What I’ve said is based on spending time looking thru the TR library, updated plans, and FAQ.

I do have plans from other coaches, with less progression/repeatability in the TR sense, and they delivered better results for me versus TR. Personally I believe TR approaches things more like my perception of StrongLifts (add weight every week until you can’t), and focuses on progressions and repeatability.