AT: Progression Levels

Help me understand how you can use progression levels to compare between zones to get an idea of workout difficulty and/or prescription.

For example:

I just did Alegres -2 which is rated at an 8.8 Sweet Spot workout.

I’m looking to do a block of over-unders that starts with Picket Guard -1 a level 4.9 workout. I have no idea how an “FTP workout” @ 4.9 compares to “Sweet Spot workout” @ 8.8.

Instinctually, I think it could be close, but the way in which TR assigns progressions makes it hard to draw a comparison. Perhaps there should be some sort of chart to help with that.

Not the answer you want, but TR specifically set each Workout Levels (the basic 1-10 range) “independent” of any other level. Meaning, trying to compare workouts between different Levels is not intended or practical.

  1. Per above, they chose not to “connect” the Workout Level ratings in the first place (ex: a ‘5’ in Threshold has nothing to do with a ‘5’ in any other level).

  2. Additionally, because each of us has different abilities in each Progression Level, it’s not practical to expect similar comparison between any other Level anyway, at least not with how TR made the system.

Essentially, your Progression Levels and Workout Levels can’t be compared between the 7 zones/levels. You will be better off to look at the old stuff like IF, TSS and Duration, all in mind of your own specific training history and abilities.


Chad nailed it. That context and how the workouts are applied/ their ‘prescription’ to develop Progression Levels is built upon our machine learning model from a lot workouts. Adaptive Training does that work for you via Plan Builder! :sunglasses:


It may not be intended, but in my opinion is one of the flaws. Not being able to tell which systems you are strongest at makes it hard to know how to train strengths or weaknesses.

I think generally Alegres +2 is roughly equivalent to Wright Peak -1, which seemed to me to be one of the gold standard Sweet Spot workouts prior to workout levels. Some might argue, that from a TTE perspective, still not that hard, but let’s say it’s about the equivalent of the hardest SS workout TR would prescribe before AT. Leconte was the workout that used to be next to Wright Peak -1 and it is Threshold 5.9. So I’d say comparatively speaking, Alegres+2 is probably > Picket Guard -1. This is a very odd mental gymnastic that gets me to this conclusion and something I think should be unnecessary if the levels were related somehow. Also, it’s very confusing given 8.8 is quite a bit larger than 4.9.

And don’t get me started that Spencer +3 is a VO2Max 8.4, but Lamarck and Leconte are only 4.9 and 5.9 respectively. To me it’s clear VO2Max and Sweet Spot are graded on an entirely different curve.

I don’t think we really need the zones to be equivalent. Perhaps to someone brand new to TR there is some value in finding “similar” workouts, but to users who have been watching the PL’s and WL’s it won’t take long to work out the relevant levels per zone.

I think it’s too hard to have them equal based on different strengths. For example I just did San Joaquin and (not accounting for training fatigue) it was a significantly easier workout than the equivalent Mindego or Red Lake.

I think Sweet Spot skews the WL’s a bit as a 10.0 (or 8.8) to someone working on the SS Progression is not all that difficult, but for the larger TR consumer base I bet it’s probably Leveled more accurately :man_shrugging:.

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The only flaw of this, in my personal opinion, is total disconnection between SST levels and threshold. SST lvl 10 is 3x30@92% - nothing spectacular, threshold - anything above 8 is very or extremely hard. It is skewed by the suprathreshold and threshold with spikes - this is the reason of such discrepancy between those two. For example - Caubvick is 3x17@105% is lvl 8.1 - seems ok, but this is almost like 3x 20 min FTP test done all-out with proper FTP. 2x30@100% - basiclally a workout that probably 70% of TR users won’t be able to do is 8.7. And then there is a mix of “normal” things like 1x60@100% vs 3x21@105% scored similar- those are completely different workouts. One is doable by some, other is probably sign that your FTP is off. And there is more of this. I understand why vo2 max is so much different from SST but my biggest issue is how threshold is scored (or rather how a complete mess it is).

The other zones seems quite ok and rational, that is why I am so surprised with threshold workouts.


Totally agree - I’d call threshold a strength of mine, but even workouts in the 7s look daunting. Any of the + versions of Azurite for example look nearly impossible.

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I wonder if it’s skewed because the longer SST workouts are a new additon to the TR workout library. So the ML algorithm hasn’t had any examples of people doing them, because they didn’t really exist. Thus the SST level tops out fairly early.

I think that’s the problem with having expectations of levels and where we need to keep learning the new new.

Threshold isn’t really a strength of mine, though I’m getting stronger, and AT has just changed one of my workouts to Keith. I hadn’t really considered it being more brutal than a straight high level threshold effort. I have Emerson+2 this week and this discussion made me go look it up. Brutal but hopefully doable.

I lost where my point was going, but I think it we have to learn the new system and forget about direct equivalency.

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  • This is true, especially since they covered the fact that the levels are not “matched” and comparison is not a good idea in one or more podcasts.

Asking for this as a Feature Request is one thing (which we could do by turning this into an FR), but for now we need to avoid any level to level comparison.


Perhaps the flaw is TR users trying to equate fitness to these floating and independent ‘progression levels.’ If PLs were tied to fitness, they wouldn’t be floating (they would be absolute). I’ve also heard PLs described as energy systems (they are not).


You can try Spickard +7 - it is 3x20 7x2min@115% overs and unders 2min@98÷ :smiley: it is only 8.9 :wink:

Though I’m not a musician or audiophile, I think a decent metaphor for Progression Levels is an audio equalizer. Progression Levels/ the adjustment sliders on an equalizer aren’t meant as a permanent indication of any strengths or weaknesses. Instead, they’re a tool to set and adjust individual elements in real time– in the case of the equalizer, various frequencies that contribute to a rich, balanced sound; with Progression Levels it’s the relative difficulty of workouts within each zone, to fine-tune your training towards your specific goal. And while we don’t intend for you to directly compare Levels in one zone to Levels in another, some related Progression Levels do influence each other. For instance, a breakthrough Sweet Spot workout I completed the other day caused my Tempo level to rise a bit as well.


What does that have to do with workout levels? Your personal capabilities have nothing to do with workout levels.

Nothing? Certainly my ability to hold power at 65-75% for 1 hour (low PL endurance) vs 6 hours (10.0 PL) has something to do with personal capabilities. It is helpful on a relative basis, for example if you are planning on doing a 10 hour event then having difficulty completing a 3 hour endurance (65-75%) ride should raise some concerns.

Prior to AT/PL I’m having a hard time thinking of any TR information on strength/weaknesses of ‘systems’ (the Coggan power zones are not energy systems).

I’m genuinely curious if you think putting PLs on a consistent scale would help expose strengths/weaknesses. Is it even possible to equate anaerobic capacity with aerobic capacity? If yes does that mean a 90 vo2max represents a 10.0 for aerobic capacity? What about fractional utilization? And something like 40kJ for anaerobic capacity is a 10.0? Guess we could agree on standards for cyclists and somehow attempt to map that to workouts, but then for things like anaerobic repeats there is interplay anaerobic/aerobic between draining the anaerobic system and individual speed of replenishing. Just trying to wrap my head around the idea.

I think this would overcomplicate things. Workout levels are and will always be imperfect, because you are trying to subsume everything that makes a workout hard in a single number. There are workouts with roughly the same difficulty level that I know will be easier or harder. Perhaps one threshold workout has race starters > FTP while another is steady state.

That doesn’t make PL or workout levels useless, because they tend to be correct to leading order. This morning TR scheduled a breakthrough workout. So I knew I had to bring my A game. Achievable workouts are generally easier than Progressive workouts, etc.

But I wouldn’t pin too much on the numerical values. Given the variability of our abilities I wouldn’t even want to try to normalize the scores. What feels average to you depends on your personal abilities and you could never get broad agreement.

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Hi, I do not want to change the subject of the thread so please point me to the right one if this is an off-topic.
Today I tried Sleeping Beauty +6 (5x30/30) but with a twist, I copied the workout in Workout Editor and increased 5% the hard intervals out of vanity so that the “on” interval target wattage was 400 watts instead of 385.
In the process the workout type changed from VO2 max to Anaerobic, therefore at the end of the (successful) workout, I just got an increase in progression level of Anaerobic. For me makes no sense that suddenly I just get better in anaerobic and not on VO2 max if the base workout is VO2 and I increase the wattage of the hard parts leaving the duration, rest between intervals and other parameters unchanged.
Thanks for the insights!

Well, despite the VO2 Max categorizing label of the SB+6 original, the work efforts are at 135% of FTP. That would place those intervals squarely in Anaerobic Training Level/Zone based on the typical Level split point of 120% of FTP between VO2 Max and Anaerobic Levels (Coggan).

Interestingly (and often confusingly) TR has set some Workouts Level Labels based on the intended Training Level for adaptations within the TR system vs a more strict definition of the actual work intervals percentage within the entire Training Level spectrum.

Then we have to add in the fact that using TR custom workouts are not officially supported within AT at the moment. As soon as you duplicate and modify a workout, I don’t think we fully know what to expect. This “re-categorizing” to the Anaerobic Level label, (after you added 5% to hit 140% of FTP in the work intervals), actually makes more sense to me (matching regular level splits) than what TR is doing with the interesting labeling of the original SB+6.