Adaptive Training - What are adaptations based on?

I was happy to finally be invited to the closed beta a few weeks ago and reloaded my plan beginning 5/24/21. I have a pretty good handle on how levels work and how workouts are rated, but there does not seem to be much rhyme or reason to some of the adaptations I am seeing.
I expected some strange adaptations in week one considering I had reloaded an existing plan that was already 2 weeks advanced and had not been diligent in matching outdoor rides to workouts; however, I had expected that after completing two full weeks of training with diligent tracking, things would start to normalize.
This past week I have completed all my workouts outdoors using the outside integration and the app picked up a match on all of them. My adherence to the intervals was 90 percent or better (most of the variation caused by terrain interference and last Tuesday’s workout in which the last three to four intervals fell short by ~5 percent due to fatigue). I have added some volume to the plan by extending my workouts with endurance but have been monitoring recovery and know my body is adapted to take the additional TSS with my training history.
I opened my app today and the pending adaptations are for Thursday and Saturday’s workouts (I am posting this on Sunday). Both adaptations are calling for lower-level VO2 Max workouts. I suspect if I do nothing, the adaptations may change as I get closer to Thursday, but it begs two questions: 1. Why are adaptations being made so far in advance? And 2. I thought the premise of these adjustments was to effectively adjust up or down based on adherence/performance, why then with good adherence are my workouts being adjusted down rather than up as I would expect?
I am perfectly willing to learn and grow as I understand the platform is still in beta and I am only two weeks engaged in the plan. I have also been training long enough to take a sensible approach to my training and evaluate how adaptations fit in with my goals and objectives and decide whether to accept them, However, I would like to better understand the data and adaptations so that I can work WITH AT and not against it. Anyone have any additional thoughts or context they could share?

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Outdoor workouts are currently not supported on Wahoo head units in terms of AT crediting your levels, and some are reporting the same issue for Garmin now as well. Best way to ensure adaptations work is with indoor rides at the moment, unfortunately.

I think this could be the answer to your question: AT is seeing that you needed to drop the intensity to complete the workout, so it is prescribing easier workouts.

The hard part with ML, which is what AT is, is that you can’t reverse engineer the recommendation. If I remember correctly, AT has 100 factors it is using. There isn’t going to be a way with this many factors to say why it is recommending what it is recommending. Unfortunately you either have to trust it or not. Not a very satisfying answer, but that is the choice with a ML recommendation

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I don’t know that this jibes with how AT was explained by the TR team. 3 intervals out of 21 undershot by 5 percent leads to an adjustment to 2 workouts over a week later? I could understand if the next day or two was impacted but not 9 days in the future. I also understood the journal feature to offset some of the variation I.e. mechanical or terrain issues during a workout wouldn’t be logged as failures.
Something really isn’t adding up here. It seems that AT is only recalculating adaptations at the beginning of each training week rather than each day which is not how I understood the functionality when it was announced.

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I use a Garmin and my levels are updating as I would expect on the career progression page. We aren’t talking about huge changes 0.1-0.2 point drops, but the scheduled work out was already below my current level. I also was under the impression that John has tested AR with a high percentage of outside workouts with great efficacy.
What I’m not seeing is daily adaptations. I saw adaptations served up last Monday and now Sunday. I thought that AT was basically going to refresh and suggest either stretch or modified workouts each day in response to the last 24-48 hours with the journal. I have less confidence in a weekly format. Given how TR describes this, it may be a function of beta or a need for more data points. I guess I will see…

It is possible it updates that often but not always. Generally the closer you get to a rest/recovery week, the fewer you’ll see. And during a recovery week, you’re likely to see no adaptations until after your next ramp test or workout. That’s been the case for me.

As for workouts so far out, I wouldn’t worry quite yet. They said in the first podcast it is like a weather forecast. The forecast may say rain in 10 days and three days from then the skies clear.

It updates when it thinks it needs to change, and depending on where you are in your plan you may see more achievable workouts (lower than your PL in some cases) than productive or stretch workouts. It’s not going to challenge you with productive or stretch every workout. Some are going to just be maintenance so that it doesn’t overtrain or bury you.

For example, I’m in specialty now and I only have two productive workouts per week with the rest being achievable. This has kept me fresher but has been topping off my anaerobic and VO2 systems to keep them high. That generally has been the goal of those plans so I can race to add volume and still knock out my key workouts.


My understanding is that it is looking at each type of workout (Sweet Spot, Threshold, VO2Max, etc) independently, and making adaptations accordingly. So if you are completing Sweet Spot workouts comfortably, but struggling to complete VO2Max workouts, you may see the progression of SS workouts remain unchanged, but VO2Max scaled back. Of course, with most plans, there is only one VO2Max workout a week, so the only workout to change is a week or more out from now.


That is a really good point about the proximity to a recovery week. Things start to taper next week as I head into a peak event on the 19th. I hadn’t initially considered that in the adjustments, more or less leaving that piece to the plan itself.
I think your points reinforce my intuition to just leave it and see how I feel on the day and whether that adaptation is still being populated. Old habits die hard with a traditional TSS mindset as well. That said, I would like to see more volume in the HV plans as many of us have the base for it and simply love to ride. A 45 minute ride on a Saturday 3 weeks out from an event… Yeah… That was my warmup… I know they always say to add endurance on the podcast to get that extra training benefit, but 7-8 hours per week is not objectively “high volume.” Perhaps an HV+ option for those who have more time to train and effect recovery. I don’t see most P/1/2 and even some Cat 3 riders being competitive without getting in more long rides.
Definitely not trying to whinge here, I’ve been on TR for close to 7 years and have a great deal of respect for the knowledge and value provided by the team, but I would love to see these new features right sized for even more training options. I probably won’t ever hand over the reigns entirely, but hopefully by deep in the in-season, it will check me on those bad decisions when stubbornness may supersede good training intuition :wink:


I do understand the intuition behind that and actually think the levels are pretty well thought out. What I thought was strange is that my VO2 max level has increased but it’s pitching a decrease in those workouts (for context I’m in specialty 14 days out from an event so most of the workouts are VO2/Anaerobic). My Tuesday workout 3 out of 21 intervals were 5% low but my Thursday and Saturday intervals were 100% or better with one or two terrain misses that I actually stepped back on my Garmin within 20 seconds to execute as prescribed.

Most of my aerobic work has been done off-plan as extra volume. I think it might be a function of a learning curve for both me and the program. I will see what happens with a new assessment, that might be a limiter as well. I didn’t want to test again mid block when I was added to beta and I am pretty sure that skews the initial level progression down until it aggregates levels.

If nothing else, the new workouts are great! After years on the platform, the old standards were getting stale.:stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t add more volume to fill out your calendar. I’ve certainly noticed that the specialty volume seems considerably lower and the workout weeks feel considerably easier than the base and build phases did. Specialty was really challenging and buried me last year, so it is a welcome change for me this year to feel so much fresher, but for a rider like you who spends even more time training, I can see why it wouldn’t be quite as ideal.

As for the associations, sometimes I feel like I have a big advantage in training these days because I only really started structured training with TR two years ago, so I don’t have very many years of training knowledge or engrained principles with TSS, CTL and the like. As such I don’t need to break any of those associations or habits that many of the more experienced riders on here have to do.

Best of luck on your event in a couple weeks, btw! My first event of the year (and really in well over a year) is Intelligentsia Cup in July, so I’m getting pretty excited now that it’s only 6ish weeks away.

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I really hope that the adaptive training is based on something like TD learning, (state, action, reward).

Your state could include things like FTP, prior FTP, training hours completed, training hours missed, weight change, sleep.

Rewards could include things like completing training, change in FTP in the ramp test.

Actions would be simply a selected training session out of the list of available training sessions.

This would be reinforcement learning. I hope TR is doing this, as it would be cool.

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Not really true, they could generate Shap values for the “learner”. There will be a central learner algorithm which is learning, as it goes, to recommend the training at the next time step. This could be learning in real time, based on the variables which are being recorded to describe the athletes “state”.

Lots of coulds here, but Shap values would definitely explain what has driven a recommendation.

Maybe we should put this in as a feature request, a Shap waterfall plot.

I was added a couple weeks ago and have done endurance, tempo, anaerobic and Vo2 workouts since. The endurance, anaerobic and tempo progression seem to corelate with the workouts I did (i.e. I did a 7.1 anaerobic and that is where my progression now is).

However, the Vo2 did not seem to follow the same pattern. I did a 4.8 Vo2 (Snowshoe Fire) at a much higher power than prescribed (4x5@330 instead of 308), but my progression only has me at 1.3 now. It also hasn’t changed any future workouts.

All rides have been done outdoors.

Adaptive training is only accounting for workouts pushed to Garmin prior to ride, but it is important to not that progression logic wont look the same across all zones, and will change after a Ramp Test or FTP update.

Feel free to check in with if you want a second look!

Newbie here…… I had set my FTP up at 220W and made a training plan.

Today I did the very first Ramp Test and my FTP 242…… (not far from my Garmin FTP of 239W via outdoor runs)

I had to do today’s ramp on Garmin Vector 2S with normal trainers on as the cleats I bought didn’t fit them :rofl:. I never quite maxed out heart but it was well up there, but my legs were falling off before I halted.

My question is, why is AT trying to lower my TSS and IF on its suggestions?

Hey Pirate-
any time you have a significant FTP increase, Adaptive Training will initially reduce the intensity of upcoming workouts, to avoid the dreaded sudden increase in difficulty that’s traditionally come with FTP gains during a training plan. Since your FTP went up a lot as a result of your Ramp Test, Adaptive Training is taking a cautious approach and making your next few workouts easier. It (and you) will quickly learn how you fare during these workouts, and if you’re finding them easy AT will begin making your next sessions harder again. Give them a shot and see what happens!


Ah thank you, makes sense. :+1:

Edit* one other point though, it had made reduced suggestions prior to me doing the Ramp Test. :thinking: (my Strava indoor and outdoor activities are loaded into TR.

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It’s hard to say, but remember that not every adaptation will make your workouts harder. Workouts will regularly be adjusted to be both more and less difficult as you progress through a plan. Feel free to reach out to support@trainerroad if you have specific questions.


Does AT take heart rates of previous workouts into account?

Reason I ask, I did a 1hr endurance ride today,…., 45mins of it was Z2 Power, but only 24mins was in my Z2 heart zone ……, I had more time in Z1 than Z2. :thinking:

  • No, it does not.
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