I’m still somewhat new to TR, but I’ve been doing interval workouts for a long time, so I’m familiar with the concepts. I’ve made a few basic custom workouts for 2x20 minutes, 3x5 minutes, and a Tabata protocol. If I follow the Tabata protocol exactly and setup 3x8 intervals, 20 seconds @ 170% FTP, 10 seconds off, TR calculates the level to something like 17! I’ve modified it to make it “easier”, and currently have 2x8, 20s @ 150%, 10s off, then 20s @170%, 10s off with 5 minutes between intervals, then 3 reps of 1 minute @125%. It’s still level 10.4.
I know Tabatas are supposed to be very hard, but it seems like TR is over-estimating something. Any ideas? Here’s the workout, not sure if it’s public or not. Log In to TrainerRoad
The quick answer is that custom workouts in TR are NOT always giving good and useful Levels. They know and state this in various place on the forum, and I think it’s been mentioned on the podcast as well.
Since the Workout Level may well be wrong (often too high, but sometimes ok or too low), this value compared to your current Progression Level related to that workout are what give the “Not Recommended” Difficulty Level. Essentially, you have a “bad” variable in the form of questionable custom workout ratings. You will need to take what you know about the workout and your abilities over the Difficulty rating for custom workouts until they resolve the issue.
Just an FYI…Tabata intervals are even more insane than that! As I’m sure you know. Quoting from the 1996 paper:
“IE1 consisted of one set of 6-7 bouts of 20-s exercise at an intensity of approximately 170% of the subject’s maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) with a 10-s rest between each bout. IE2 involved one set of 4-5 bouts of 30-s exercise at an intensity of approximately 200% of the subject’s VO2max and a 2-min rest between each bout.”
So they were doing 170% & 200% of VO2Max. That’s very, very hard. For me that would be over 600W. Well over 600W. So that’s a real puke-fest.
Give real Tabata intervals a try some time. It’s crazy to believe that athletes were doing that workout. I guess that’s why many subjects were unable to complete the full workout.