Are AT and FTP Detection working correctly with my Athletic Profile?

So a little background first (apologies in advance for the longwindedness of the post).

I am what would be classed as a “Masters” athlete I believe (43), who over the last 10 years only form of exercise was pretty much the commute to work and that was walking to and from the office from the train station or car park with lunchtime walks thrown in, occasional nike rides and rounds of Golf.

Since the pandemic that was reduced to pretty much 0, where working from home and rolling out of bed into the office and from the office onto the sofa are a daily occurance.

Back in my youth I was a professional athlete for 5 years, competiting at a very high national level. When I stopped competiting professionally, I continued to stay active and playing various sports pretty much up until the 10 year hiatus.

I was previously well known for my speed, clocking 40m sprint speeds of sub 4.7secs and have never been remotely known for endurance. In fact when in school I was threatened to be suspended from all sports teams for clocking a walking pace time for cross country, which I had to halve before being allowed back onto my teams.

I recently decided to try to kickstart my fitness, I’m presuming from the hiatus and rudemenatry job I years of atrophy have me starting from an embarrassingly low base. I first started off using Trainer Day, doing a ramp test that resembled a few false dawns in prior years FTP’s, sessions were mainly base endurance and at the time I found them demanding so I would say the starting point was accurate.

Then I found TR, just prior I had done a 20min FTP test which had increased the preiovus FTP by 7%, so started with this number. Within 3-4 weeks, I was already pushing the intensity of my workouts by 10%+. My recent FTP Detection pushed my FTP up 10% in line I guess with how I was previously performing which was all in Base.

Now I’ve moved into the Build phase which is more VO2 and Anaerobic and what I feel is more suited to my athletic profile. Pushing efforts of 120-140% of my new FTP I feel weren’t really pushing me and straightaway I’ve pushed pretty much each session by 10-15% and even then I would say that the sessions are “Moderate” or somewhere in between “Moderate” and “Hard”. However I don’t feel the same way when doing a longer Threshold workouts, which is generally more Endurance and Over/Unders, pushing that by 10-15% for me I feel would kill.

Although I find all the workout to be pretty productive, i.e. fatigued on rest days, pretty much ready to go on training days. I’m not sure if I’m being productive enough to see the gains I’m after in this current phase.

Using HR as a metric, recently doing a Santa Rita workout at 10%-15% increased intensity, I only spent 2mins in Z3 the rest was in Z1-Z2. Comparing that to a Mono workout where I spend 12mins in Z3-Z4.

I guess my questions are:
Did my FTP Detection put me in the right place?
Am I still working effeciently towards my goals even if I’m finding my current workouts pretty mild?
Although I seem to be working my neuromuscluar system pretty well, am I working my cardiovascular system enough?
Should I retest my FTP with a Ramp Test?
Am I just a bit of an anomaly that doesn’t quite fit into the bell curves and therefore right zones for effective training?

Would love to hear your input…

I could be wrong but I think from your background of strong short sprints and lesser endurance attributes that a ramp test will over estimate for you and AI FTP detection will be more on the ball for your training. The danger of doing one if I’m right it fires up your FTP so high you start failing workouts; AT will sort it out eventually but the short term it might be demotivational. I would just carry on with AI FTP D and let the system adapt for you.

FWIW I’m at the other end of the spectrum and whilst I can ace (well ace for me :roll_eyes:) a 20 mins tests, if I get the pacing right, whereas a ramp test significantly underestimates my FTP (by up to 30-40 watts). AI FTP D gives me a result closer to a well paced 20mins test. Ramp tests capture most folk but miss outliers that don’t quite fit into the typical bell curves. AI FTP D I believe is supposed to give a better prediction for those outliers and AT dial you in. It might take a while to do it but its better IMO for motivation than potential failure.

If you are crushing VO2 and anaerobic workouts I would suggest using workout alternates to find workouts more in line with your capabilities.

Santa Rita has a PL of 4.4. On a scale that for anaerobic goes from 1 to 15.7 that leaves you with quite a lot of room to adjust to a level that is more suitable.

1 Like

I guess this is the thing. I think that maybe as the majority of the work I’ve put in has been say at or around “Sweetspot”, I don’t race and haven’t previously had a power meter to record higher power short efforts, whether the AI truly knows me. I’ve never missed a workout or never failed a workout.

It started me at 1.0 VO2 and Anaerobic, I forced a 3.9 VO2 workout as an alternative and crushed it and continue to crush the adapted workouts.

But longer Sweetspot/Threshold workouts around FTP are more challenging…

I was on a 13wk Training block, which ends at the end of this month. Before continuing on I just wanted to get a sense of if it’s working maximally for me, or whether it might be struggling to put me in the right zones for working out. On a RPE rating of 1-10, I don’t ever feel like I’ve gone past a 7.

2 more sessions to go in this block, I would’ve expected AT to have adapted me. I’ve had adaptions, but nothing that significant.

I may look for some bigger alternatives next week. :+1:

How have you been rating the workouts?

Are you doing workouts in ERG? Some folk don’t get to their physical VO2Max zone at the prescribed power VO2max zone yet their overall power zones are suitable for training at SS/Threshold. If you are running ERG my suggestion would be to switch it off during VO2Max work out and spin to your actual oxygen based VO2Max but keep to your AI FTP D for the other power zones. Kolie Moore done an interesting piece on the subject.

Watts Doc #23: Training Your VO2max, and Why Not Rønnestad 30/15 Intervals - Empirical Cycling

1 Like

Make sure that you rate the workout ‘as prescribed’ and not the workout you’ve been doing with +10-15%. AT can’t ‘see’ this adjustment so if you rate the workout as hard then it thinks you found the original workout hard. I would try rating these workouts as ‘easy’ and I’m sure it’ll start to kick it up.

2 Likes

Mainly “Moderate”.

Yes running on ERG.

I’ll take a look at this article, thanks.

Might be where I’ve been going wrong. I’ve rated based on the Workout done, not prescribed.

There are more factors at play, but “Moderate” leads to small Progression Level increases on pending workouts. “Easy” leads to higher jumps while “Hard” often leaves them as already set on the calendar.

As I said, that’s a rough guide only. If you are looking at those ratings between the Difficulty Levels (Achievable, Productive, Stretch, Breakthrough) the results will vary appropriately.

But if Moderate is your common answer, that will lead to some increases, but mild ones in most cases.

How should I answer surveys?
Don’t overthink it. Consider the overall difficulty of the workout and not how you expected it to feel.

The most common survey you will see is the one pictured below, which asks you to rate how the effort felt on a scale from one to five. When answering the survey, consider the entire workout, and don’t worry about how you expected it to feel based on workout type.

With respect to any modifications you make within the workout to exceed the prescribed power targets, you need to keep in mind the limited state of what is currently in place.

  • In short, AT does not handle large changes (like it seems you are doing) well. It all but ignores that over-performance and is part of the reason you are not advancing as a person might reasonably expect from the app.
  • If you end up in a workout that is too easy, and you do increase the intensity more than about 5%, you can consider “de-rating” the survey to a step lower than what you might otherwise rate the actual feeling you did. This is a hack suggestion to bypass the current limits that don’t recognize major over-performance.
  • If you rated one of your modified workouts as “Easy” even though you felt it “Moderate” as a result of your adjustments, that will end up with a bigger jump in pending workout changes, and should get you on track with more appropriate workouts faster.
  • https://support.trainerroad.com/hc/en-us/articles/4414016379035-How-does-Adaptive-Training-recognize-if-I-go-harder-easier-than-what-my-workout-prescribes-

The best way to handle any workout that you expect you can do harder work, is to use the Alternates function and pick something more appropriate to your expectations.

3 Likes

That’s not wrong according to yesterdays podcast, rate the work out on how it actually felt and let AT do the thinking Heart Rate Variability (HRV), Threshold Training, Healthy Nutrition – Ask a Cycling Coach 354 - YouTube

Yes, I’ve previously read this topic and tried not to overthink it. So even if I had increased the intensity and still got through it pretty well I’d say it was “Moderate”.

But if we’re saying that the AI doesn’t see the increased intensity of the workout and just the prescribed workout, I’ve not overthought it enough and should’ve answered “Easy” to get the larger adaptions.

1 Like
  • This 100%!!! I just finished an edit in my post above, stating precisely this case.

  • The key issue here (and specifically a limit of the current state) is the lack of better understand by AT when we do work harder than the prescribed targets.

  • There is hope that the pending “Levels 2.0” that has been mentioned will address this issue among others.

1 Like

Thanks for the link, that was extremely insightful and spoke directly to the points I was making!! :ok_hand: I will definitely be giving some of those ideas a try going forward.

I guess then that goes on to confirm my suspicion of my doubt about me working efficiently through my time on TR and what I’ve been getting out of the recent VO2/Anaerobic sessions has not been what I’ve expected.

I then think that this image would show that while I have been putting in the work and feel fitter/stronger, I’ve not done any major work to improve my Cardiovascular system like I’d hoped I would have.

Without the individual knowledge of knowing how to manipulate AT to subscribe better workouts, choosing better alternatives yourself, or some of the workouts maybe not being as tailor made for everybody and the Zones they’re supposed to be working, does this beg the question of how truly effective AT is??

1 Like

So, I’m not sure why you are comparing these two workouts…
Santa Rita is an pretty straight forward Anaerobic workout:

While Mono is an Over-Under workout:

As others have said FTP is most ‘accurate’ to prescribe workouts close to FTP. As you get further away from it, it gets less and less accurate. So I would definitely turn off ERG mode of something like Santa Rite and just go by feel (AKA all out). For example, my FTP is 295 and the prescribed target for those middle intervals in Santa Rita is 368W. But if I were to do this workout I would most likely want to be doing that at more like 425-450.

However, because TR has to prescribe some percentage for these workouts they will most likely put down a number that is achievable for a larger number of people at a given FTP as opposed to putting a much higher number for those that have a better anaerobic capacity.

Santa Rita should be working your neuromuscular and anaerobic systems while workouts like mono should feel much more like they are working your cardio.

I was going to mention in the original post they’re not Apple’s to Apple’s comparatively.

But if you’re doing an Anaerobic workout, you’d expect your heart rate to reach higher levels than a threshold over/unders workout was my point.

As to your latter points, to people without this experience or knowledge I’m sure it would raise the same questions I’ve pointed out. Which I’m glad I did as now I’m much more informed.

Yeah, that’s what the AT/PL system is trying to correct. So TR doesn’t have to try to play to the middle (or below) of the bell curve for their training plans. I can’t say for sure but if you have rated that workout as ‘Easy’ then it may start to correct itself.