Always picking the hardest alternative

Is it just me or do others out there always pick the alternative, to their planned ride, with the highest progression numbers?

I haven’t been changing the difficulty, I usually just select the alternative at the same difficult with the highest PL. Might start increasing the difficulty when I’m feeling good though.

Surely there’s a lot of us out there doing this though? Pushing ourselves and trying to smash the hardest ride that TR will suggest to us? Had anyone found it to be a good easy to go, or had a terrible experience with it?

I realized a while back that I was constantly burnt out because I was constantly trying to push myself to improve faster, which led to a never ending roller coaster of gains and losses. Once I beat that into my thick skull, I figured out that if I progressed slower, but with steady consistency, the gains would continue almost indefinitely. As a result, I switched to monitoring TSS/CTL instead of PLs.


But the pretty chart and numbers…


I use Alternates most often at the start of a training phase, especially if I had a larger FTP increase that also resulted in larger drops in PL’s. I review the suggested workout and take guess if it is appropriate or under and then pick from there. I may push from Productive to Stretch in some cases, but most often stick within that and not at the top end.

My other use case for them is when I think I want a different format than the given workout. Sometimes the Alternates cover that and I stick within +/-0.2 PL or so. But there are also cases were I skip Alts and manually select a workout since the Alt won’t always bridge to a different type that I may want.

What you describe seems like a recipe for a problem down the line, but depends on plenty of factors. Your FTP, survey ratings, nutrition, recovery to name a few. Some people may get away with it, but I personally doubt what you describe is the majority of use cases.

TR has put most of their efforts in the last 4+ years into dialing things down (drops in baseline plan foundation) and tailoring to suit each athlete (via AT, RLGL & other features) in order to get away from potential burnout and overstepping desired training impacts. Perhaps they have made it “too easy”, which has been discussed in other topics over the years, but I tend to think they are on the right track.

Related to another discussion in the last two weeks, we see far less of the burnout claims these days. Could be a drop in users or at least ones reporting issues here, but I think much of that reduction is a result of the changes TR made in recent years.


No, but also yes.

The general answer is no, if I’m picking an alternate it is usually because I have less time than I thought and need something shorter so I’m usually trying to find the closets one.

2? blocks back though I felt that the workouts were a little too easy. I had taken a lot of time off (barely rode in 23) so I eased in and I was making good progress faster than the plan would normally expect I think and I started pushing things to whatever got me just into a stretch. It worked for me in the short term but absolutely not sustainable.


I am pretty much happy to complete the high intensity workouts as prescribed. I generally increase the duration of the weekend endurance though.

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I love it. But I’m no. I find the ai damn near always gets it right for me. But if you can push it and not get blown to bits, I say go for it. I wish I could!



I did but it’s a recipe for burnout/plateauing because after a while your body will not adapt in time for even more intensity. And really ever increasing intensity is not going to improve you more than just adding in easy z2

Ego often gets in the way of the best training.


It’s part ego but I think a big part of it is that I’m using a LV TP with 3 sessions a week. 2 of them are 45minutes ad 1 at 60minutes. Then on Friday I add in a long ride, so generally I have a lot left in me for the workouts because they aren’t significantly long. I don’t really have the time to commit to longer structured sessions - so feel it’s a good balance.

Was just interested whether other people tinkered around a lot or if people generally follow the prescribed plan?

I’m running a LV plan with loads of rides outside the plan. The intensity of the LV rides (that assume I’m not doing other rides) means I’m often tinkering down in either duration or intensity.

I land on a PL based on what happened last week, how the week is going, and what is going on next week and the answer is very rarerly the hardest.

My partner, who isn’t packing in loads more rides, is accepting the proposed PL. If a ride is super easy, the AI will push the needle for the following week.

Endurance is a long game!


Yeah, that makes a huge difference in the answers you’re going to get. If you’re only able to do three rides for a total of 2.5 hours of structured training a week (plus the long ride), I can see where you’d be very concerned with maximizing the workout output. I think that even on a bell curve of “time crunched” athletes, this is pretty far to the left, so you end up taking the “spin class approach” where every workout smokes you. Make sure you still keep an eye on stress and fatigue though. It’s easy to burn out when every ride is a hard one.


As @Pbase said, “it’s easy to burn out when every ride is a hard one.” With that approach, it’s also easy to become disenchanted if/when you’re not seeing the monthly FTP increases you hope to see, given the intense nature of the training. If over time, you’re not happy with your current approach, do more true zone 2 rather than more intensity.


Thanks. Sleep is often an issue with the kids. this past week has been a very busy week, but I’ve pushed through. Got a ride tomorrow afternoon with a friend and next week is a recovery week :+1:

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Totally get ya. The hope is that most of the outside stuff is enjoying riding rather than racing. I don’t do racing, I just want to improve and enjoy it more. A few long events in there, but no racing.

Since understanding the Z2 stuff, I find I enjoy that type of riding. Most of my rides outside are around 2-3 hours with a bit of climbing and the odd tough hills. I’m trying to push these rides to become more like 4-6 hours though, over time.


I wanted to hop in to “officially” back what other athletes have said here already – it might be okay to do every once in a while, but we’d recommend against doing so for every workout in your plan.

Picking the hardest Workout Alternate – even if it’s still “Productive” – increases the ramp rate of your training plan. Over time, this increase in training stress will likely become unsustainable and may lead to burnout.

Training and seeing gains from your training takes time and it’s not something that can really be rushed or fast-forwarded. If you’re feeling strong every now and again and you really want to push hard on those days when you feel great, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that! Doing so for every workout, though, may eventually derail your plan if you try to push too rapidly and dig yourself into a hole.

“Slow and steady wins the race…” :checkered_flag: :turtle: :rabbit2: