Compensate for weekly TSS decrease due to changes in aerobic cross training?

I’m wondering how important it is to maintain a weekly TSS increase through a training period, when part of that TSS is not from cycling. Looking over my past few weeks, I went from a TSS of 532 to 516 to 491, due to the amount of Nordic skiing I was able to get in each week. If I were strictly training on the bike, my prescribed TSS for each of those weeks in SSB 2 mid would have been 407, 435, 448. In other words, they were intended to escalate, but because I ski in addition to riding, and I was able to ski a decreasing amount each week due to weather, my TSS went down. In a situation like this, is it preferable to add on-bike training volume to make up for the lost cross training volume and maintain a weekly increase? Or, is it irrelevant, and cross training when available should just be considered a bonus? Listening to this weeks podcast, I’m thinking it would make sense to add morning rides like Dans (@Nate_Pearson mentioned Brandon does this to add volume) on weeks when I won’t be able to ski much, to make up for the missing TSS. Thoughts?

This is kind of up to you!
From a cycling perspective, we usually consider crosstraining as a bonus when available, like you said. However, if you were accustomed to a certain TSS load, you can totally add small rides like Dans, Pettit, or Volunteer to fill in your weekly schedule and keep the TSS totals up.

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Thanks @larry I wasn’t sure if it would be a different situation because cross country skiing provides fairly similar aerobic stress as cycling. I recall in a recent podcast @chad and @Jonathan both mentioned experiencing fitness gains over their backcountry ski trip, so I was thinking that reducing my (admittedly low pace, very recreational) nordic ski stress would have the same effect as reducing on bike TSS weekly, rather than increasing it.

This might be better as a podcast question! The respective aerobic stresses of different sports and how they all work together is a little above my head at the moment. Mind submitting it here?

Hopefully Chad can go a little bit more in-depth on this.


Why not estimate TSS (or use HR TSS) from the xc ski sessions and add it to your weekly total? As you say there is a lot of cross over - xc skiing is good training for cycling. The last thing you want to do is pile skiing on to already heavy training weeks and disregard the load it is placing on your body.


Totally agree with @sssam on this one. In Episode 20 (Jan 25, 2016) i asked this exact question to the podcast, referencing Joe Friel’s TSS estimator from average HR.


I often use Nordic skiing for cross-training and the hrTSS from those workouts I include as part of my weekly TSS load. Adding more “TSS fillers” will overload you in the long run, imo. Nordic skiing is a huge aerobic booster for cycling fitness. Not only is it super-aerobic, but it strengthens core muscles and other stabilizing aspects of the ankle/knee/hip. You’d have a hard time choosing a better “off the bike” complement to getting stronger on the bike.

Don’t know what type of rider you are, but an interesting (and scientifically unsubstantiated! :slight_smile: ) observation I’ve made is anyone who seems to climb fast, is a nordic skiier. :snowflake::zap:


Thanks, I’ll do that!

Thanks, that’s basically what I’ve been doing. I had the skis going into TrainingPeaks, and added the hrTSS it spit out to my TrainerRoad Calendar. I ride lots of long slow miles in the summer on weekends (intervals during the week), so I’m used to the big TSS those sorts of efforts add, and would have trained SSB high volume as a result. I chose to go with mid volume knowing that I’d be adding in skiing at a similar effort level as those long slow miles I’m used to on weekends during the season.

That TSS chart is great! It’ll save me having to use TrainingPeaks for hrTSS calculations! I agree about Nordic Skiing it is amazing off the bike training. Unfortunately my technique is so poor that I’m embarrassingly slow relative to my fitness level. Lots of local guys who I match or am faster than on the bike are literally twice as fast as me on skis. But, it’s my first season trying to figure them out. I just need to find some time for some lessons.

I keep a second PMC in Training Peaks to track TSS for cross training. For example I do a one hour hot yoga session a week and since I’ve been doing that for a while I give it 90-120 tss at an IF of 1. This is based on some HR data, RPE and estimated recovery time.

The more important one for me is snowboarding 10-20 hours a week. Due to the plyometric nature of snow sports and the micro stabilization I compare it to a neuro interval set like ones found in Rattlesnake. Basically I set every 8 minutes. I track this conservatively at 30-40 TSS at per hour at IF 1+to help stay on top of TSB.

TSS off the bike is 30-40% of total weekly TSS.

4 wk Bike TSS is 473 and other TSS is 410. If I don’t plan in recovery it’s easy to rack up massive fatigue.

When the season is over I take 2 weeks at 300 TSS at IF .6 and let the winter fitness settle in.

It won’t be long before off bike TSS will be more accurately convertible due to the increased popularity and improved recording of exercise.


Here’s my TR cycling TSS. From mid-September to January I was doing about 400 TSS per week on the erg (not recorded in TR). In January I started to add cycling to get my cycling legs conditioned for the start of cycle training. You can see that the erg TSS should have been added as I was maintaining a weekly TSS of around 500 to 600. Jumping into cycling at 600 tss was no problem as the aerobic conditioning was the same for both sports.

We had some Nordic skiers in our collegiate cross country team. They has zero top end but they could go all day at threshold with their 70+ VO2’s. They had the cool ability to rapidly recover with any dip in effort. The cycling equivalent would be that they had the ability to recover nearly instantaneously if they came 1-2% below a pro level FTP.

There used to be a weekly training ride that a couple of guys that were on the Olympic Nordic combined team would come out to. Their level of fitness was incredible and they would blow the doors off the local cat 1-2’s when thing things heated up. It’s just a different level. My opinion is that you can only get so fit just riding a bike and that you need to do other modalities to actually achieve your potential .