Confused about following a Plan and importance of building TSS

I’ve been doing TR for quite a white and mostly following plans but outside rides sometimes get in the way of following the plan exactly and as a result my TSS can be all over the place week over week. I had been following the LV plans for a while and I just can’t seem to get my FTP up.

I decided that perhaps I needed a wider base and so started to do the Mid Vol Traditional. I quickly noticed though that Saturday and Sunday can be quite long trainer rides and found myself wanting to do rides outside. But going anywhere interesting results in a bigger ride of more TSS on one day and sometimes enough to cover both days. Other times, the weather is bad or schedules don’t work and I can’t make those outside rides.

So, I decided to myself that I would try to follow the plans in terms of TSS as best I could. Tue/Thur I am in. Saturday/Sunday I am out at least one of the days and maybe that covers both or I might be in and do both inside.

Last week ended as:
Tue: 1h 66TSS
Thu: 2h 103TSS
Sat: 3.9h 256TSS (Planned 2.5h 133TSS)
Sun: 0.5h 13TSS (Planned 2.5h 105TSS)

Actual: 7.4h 438TSS
Planned: 8h 407TSS

Probably rode a little too hard on Saturday but I had to be back in 4 hours and figured I would just do 1 hour the following day to make up the planned 5h weekend but went over on the TSS, so snipped Sun to be very easy (but am wondering if I am not missing out on something by not doing a longer Sunday also even though then the TSS would be way over).

Now, I guess I should ride more TSS this week in order to keep the number building up. I have 427 in the plan. If I try to follow my the plan though, I should be trying for about 460 in order to build TSS properly? How important is it to build TSS week over week for 3 of the 4 weeks for example?

FYI, I’m 47 and 72kg. FTP wise, off the couch I am about 180. My FTP is currently 240, well it was in June. Since then, I have measured it (always using ramp) at 238 and then most recently at 230 even though I have been consistently training. I’m using the same Powertap P1S pedals inside and out for power and always calibrate properly. I don’t actually have any event goals. Riding and training for fun and trying to better myself. Having trouble with that though which is why I am here. Anyway, hopefully this mid-vol base effort will have a good effect.

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All TSS is not created equal (saith Coach Chad). 100 TSS of VO2 is not the same as 100 TSS of threshold or endurance. Especially in Base 2 and Build, which add different types of workouts, to focus on specific energy systems.

Based on what I understand, it isn’t critical to do more TSS each week, but your overall trajectory should be fairly steadily upward during a plan. If you’re up and down all over the place, you may not be optimizing your improvement (volume not spent on structure). If optimizing isn’t that important, flex as needed.


  • Pick a plan series (Base 1, Base 2, Build, optionally Specialty) and follow it consistently to get the work on energy systems.
  • Pick a plan volume that gives you a day for a “whatever” ride. Set a TSS range to stay within so you keep your TSS trajectory on path, but have some room to vary based on factors.
  • Put a recurring ride on the calendar. If the weather’s bad, do a ride on the trainer to get the TSS in–endurance, sweet spot, whatever you feel like.

What I find is, planning like that lets structure drive the general upward trajectory while giving me room for fun and setting some limits so I don’t overdo it and derail my plan.

Hopefully something there helps.


Absolutely this ^. I would also add quality over quantity. If you’re doing eight hours a week, five outside, just turning the pedals, chances are that those five hours could be put to better use.

Don’t beat yourself with the TSS Stick. Some weeks you might be slightly over, other you’ll be under. 407 > 438 isn’t a huge difference and I doubt you’ll be digging a hole for yourself.

When you ride outside, do you have a goal in mind, other than the route and the destination? I couldn’t just ride the trainer. I’d go mad! When I do head outside, I try to apply goals. Sunday = endurance. If I go over the TR Plan TSS for this ride, I’m not too concerned, so long as I completed most of the ride in my endurance zone. I’ve targeted that time and that ride for a specific goal.

What IS important is HOW the TSS is accumulated. For performance progression to take place, you need to progress with a structured plan that encourages the body to adapt.

The TR Plans step you up, week-on-week. Week one might see you doing 3x12min intervals at 96% FTP. By week six of the Plan, your doing 3x20min at 99%. Yes, those 3x20’s are tough but when you look back, I’m willing to bet that they were no more challenging that the intervals in week one. The Plan stepped you up gradually. Your TSS will have increased gradually and there is the real chance that your body has adapted to this workload.


Another point made in a AACC podcast I watched recently (I’m a few months behind). Someone asked about training several zones in a single workout. Chad presented the basic info which boils down to, it doesn’t really work. Trying to stress one system reduces stress on the other, or something like that, and the time required to stress a given system is usually enough to over rest the other or doesn’t rest it enough. Focusing on a specific system with each workout is more productive both in terms of time and results.

For me, outdoor rides are variable depending on the route I choose, how many stops I hit, how much power I need to lay down to get through a given intersection quickly, etc. I have one route nearby that’s good for 10-14 minute intervals (basically flat, traffic circles, residential under construction, new asphalt and nearly zero traffic), and have tried a few outdoor workouts there, but can’t get anywhere near the power steadiness of a trainer.

My fun ride is more about fun than training, except the occasional hill repeats at the only repeatable hill in the area–only hill, not counting bridges. :grin: Perils of living in Florida. I do what I feel like, aiming for a certain range and don’t sweat it if I’m a little over or under because the structure balances the week. The approach I outlined also avoids having a couple of lighter days and one really big (2.5-4x the others) day.

I make exceptions for events, of course. Last weekend I did a ride (what the Brits would call a charity ride) that was about 2x my usual free ride and am maybe going to do a century or metric in late November that will be 3x (if I do the century). But that’s one weekend occasionally, not routine.

Oh, and maybe Disaster Day in December, but that’s during my “off plan until after Christmas” period, so whatever goes.

This is part of why I dropped Zwift last year. Zwift was fun, but I’d see a ride I wanted to do or a series of events with a shiny piece of digital kit and do them. I was wearing myself out with unstructured riding. Because if I’m going to try to race, I’m going to try to do well in my category (I wasn’t unless the field was small, but I tried :smiley:) and most of the group rides I joined thinking, “This is in my range,” started there, for about 10 minutes, then became a slam fest (a few didn’t, but they were lower end rides that were low Z2 or lower). (In summary, for me, Zwift was a siren luring me onto the rocks of overreaching and mental fatigue. YMMV.)

Thanks @jmjf and @PusherMan for your replies. It has been a while since I first posed the question and work things swallowed me up for a whlie (probably added even more TSS) and spat me out with a week of being sick following on from that. Well, perhaps not crazy sick but coughing phlegm and cold sores; enough to tell me that my immune system was down and I had better chill a little.

I guess this is it really and it’s easy when all the rides are inside. This can be hard to repeat outside but I usually try to read up on the indoor ride that I’m replacing if I’m heading out. I very rarely take it easy on an outside ride unless I am in recovery week and mostly try to follow the plan except that I tend to accumulate more TSS. ie, on Tuesdays out, I will go for Vo2 max hill repeats and if I am on my own on a Saturday or Sunday out, I’ll probably ride a lot of sweet spot.

Anyway. I think I’ll continue down the road of trying to roughly get the plans TSS to progress and trying to emulate the same kinds of training outside that I’m supposed to be doing inside. At this point, I’m looking forward to getting back into it again.