Best way to check progress?

So I’ve been doing trainerroad since November of 2019. I’m feeling good and feel like I’m getting fitter and faster most of the time, but then there are times where I feel like all of my inside work does not translate to faster/stronger outside rides. My ftp has come up. But when I break my year into seasons, just breaking the year down to quarters, it looks like the season I’m in now (Third quarter), I’m getting weaker, not stronger. If I look at intervals icu, I was making pretty good progress until recently, now my fitness is dropping. But nothing has changed, I’m still doing all my workouts and following plan building. I’m supposed to be “peaking” now but I’m not so sure that’s happening according to intervals icu, as it show my fitness is dropping.

So how are y’all comparing fitness to see if you’re making gains or not? I know the guys on the podcast said to break things down into seasons, but not sure of the best way.

I’m also not sure how accurate the chart is on

Any help is greatly appreciated

Are you in the speciality phase now? It is normal for your fitness to stop increasing in this phase, because, it’s meant to 'sharpen’your existing fitness for racing.

The ‘fitness’ on (or Trainingpeaks) is just a measure of your training load (in TSS), where the most recent weeks are more important than what you did a few weeks ago. So any drop in training volume or in TSS per session will make your fitness graph drop.

Typically, when it comes to racing, you want this to happen just after your fitness peak - a fitness peak always also has a high fatigue peak, and you want the fatigue to go away before racing.

that makes pretty good sense. I peaked in mid June for what would have been my whiteface 100 Mtb race. did a simulation race, then went right into a build for a couple weeks for crit and then right into crit specialty. I have a rest week next week. so now I’m not sure what to do next as we have a local Mtb xc series that is continuing (time trial, no mass start). its my first year racing cat 1 Mtb so I’d like to stay sharp as I can for the races that do happen.

It’s accurate :slight_smile: TSS is calculated in the normal way for rides with power. Activities with only HR are estimated using one of several different models.

There are things other than FTP and the fitness/form chart that you can use to track improvements:

  • Your power / HR ratio, especially when riding easy in Z2. Basically more watts for the same HR means you are getting fitter
  • Your power curve and your ranking vs other athletes for different durations
  • Decoupling on long rides
  • Your HR recovery after a hard effort (how quickly your HR comes down)
  • Can you drop your riding buddies on your favourite climb?

If you’ve been training every week since since November your body needs a mid-season break. Just take off 5-7 days with no riding or any strenuous activities. Let your body completely recover and start up again.

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You’re right. Actually I probably haven’t taken 5 days off the bike in well over a year. I hare to do it but it’s probably necessary. This is also a recovery week for me, maybe I just stay off the bike for Monday thru Friday.

FTP. It’s the least bad single metric that encompasses a broad range of fitness attributes (both aerobic and anaerobic contribution) and I prefer riding my bike (or commenting on TR :wink: ) to spending too much time doing data analytics.

If I’m focused on a specific aspect of fitness for an event then I’ll train and measure that aspect e.g. increasing the power I can put out for a 40k TT, or repeatability of 1 minute power for crit racing. But that tends to be a fairly short to medium term measure over weeks or a few months in the speciality phase.

Some platforms use TSS or an equivalent as a measure of “fitness”. It’s not, it’s a measure of how much work you’re doing. Useful for planning purposes to increase your workload at a sustainable level, not useful for measuring whether you’re actually getting fitter.