Does workout difficulty adjust to manual changes in intensity?

I’m on the experimental 8-week polarized plan with adaptive training, and I added in some sets of max effort sprints to finish off each week. I had Birling -3 on the calendar, and I did the first interval at the recommended intensity, which wasn’t enough, so increased the intensity throughout the intervals until I reached 125% for the last one. I have a downhill mtb racing background, which is why my sprint is much more developed than my threshold. The IF for the workout increased from 0.84 to 0.94, but the difficulty level remained at 2.6. I’ve got this style of workout every week (increasing number of intervals and intensity), so I just want to know if the difficulty level will/should increase if I manually increase the intensity of the workout? Thanks

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no, it won’t. The difficulty level is associated with the workout as designed, not how you performed it. The idea of a “super-pass” has been mentioned, but as far as I know the best result you can get from completing a workout is a Progression Level equal to the planned Workout Level.

Since you had to increase the intensity to 125%, I would mark the workout at “Easy”. This should affect future workouts.


Yes, as Nate said, they are looking for big swings. That tells me that Moderate, Hard are probably virtually ignored. Easy and All Out probably yield the biggest movement either way. Not sure about Very Hard. I’ve seen it do nothing and I’ve seen it adapt to easier workouts.

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I played around with Birling -1 and saw these Workout Levels:

  • 5.8 level for TR’s Birling -1 which has 4x30-sec sprints and each sprint is 225% FTP for 20 seconds, and then 10 seconds decreasing from 225% to 30%
  • 5.9 level if I use WorkoutCreator to make a copy of Birling -1
  • 56.3 level if I use WorkoutCreator to increase the intensity by 133% (taking the 225% portion up to 300%)

some details here:

Quoting the workout description: “Each sprint is intended to be a maximal effort, so adjust the Intensity appropriately in order to barely finish each 30-second effort.”

I’d suggest doing the sprints in resistance mode, in order to do them at max effort, instead of playing around with intensity in Erg mode.

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Fixing this should be much simpler than ‘classify unstructured outside rides’, so hopefully we will see this properly handled in the not too distant future.

yeah, I think that if they just looked at the outcome and not what should have been the outcome, they may be able to kill two birds with one stone.

In cases where you know the workout on your calendar has too low of a progression level, don’t be afraid to replace it with something harder. Once the workout is complete AT will update the progression level and present adaptations to accept for future workouts.

My experience has been that I manually updated my FTP at the beginning of SSBLV1, the difficulty of the workouts was lowered and I replaced the first workout or two, to make sure I was at the appropriate effort level.