Failing vs. Nailing Workouts, and Erg Mode [Resolved ✅]

I’m trying to get a little better understanding of how TR classifies a “Nailed” vs “Failed” workout, or partially in between, and how that relates to progression levels and FTP Increases.

My background, new to any structured training in February when I joined TR. Did a low volume plan and saw FTP go from 240 to 272 over 4 months, no real lower body strength training included. I have used exclusively erg mode on a TacX Neo 2T. I don’t think I have ever failed a workout, or even classified one “Very Hard” or “All Out” - most are moderate or easy, with a couple “Hard”. Not like they’re fun, but VO2 Max for me always feels like it should be harder and I always feel better afterwards as compared to a threshold. More recently, I have started bumping intensity of later intervals up by 5% or even 10% I think. I almost never get my heart rate within 20 of my max except my one ramp test (Max HR 178, I think I saw 160 once in a VO2 workout). Just did my first race - WW100K and rode at a .836 IF over 6 hours based on a PM (I’m 80kg and rode it on a 30# enduro bike.)

Some things that I’ve noticed - short VO2 Max intervals, the only way I can nail the power target is by lowering my cadence beforehand (60-70) to start bringing resistance up, and then 1-2s before the interval starts jump my cadence up to 105-115. Otherwise, average power for the interval is always 5-10 W below target because of the ramp up time.

So - my questions.

Is using Erg mode on VO2’s and missing a power target by 5-10W impacting how adaptive training and TR classify my ride? Or, not enough to matter? I’ve read some of the threads on using resistance mode, but honestly it’d be a lot easier to just leave it in Erg and spin…

What other factors go into whether a ride was “Nailed” or not. I mean, if I just hop on the bike, use erg mode, don’t shift, and ride at 90RPM throughout and classify it as easy or moderate, Not really possible to nail it more than that, right? Does Cadence, HR, or power variability play into it? Or, is that secret sauce? What about participating in the drills or not (I often ignore them)?

What happens if I move a workout on the day it’s scheduled? I have had a couple days where I slept like crap the night before, and spur of the moment re-juggled my calendar and moved the workout to the next day or something similar.

I think for the most part, FTP and progression feels to be dead on for me when I look at Endurance, Sweet Spot, and Threshold. But, if there’s an area where I always feel I have more in the tank it’s VO2 work, but maybe that’s how it’s supposed to feel, and I’m just ready for medium volume?

Getting ready to switch from LV to a medium volume plan and add in Strength Training, so figured it was a good time to ask and maybe learn something new…


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Those few seconds of adjustment would not result in a ‘Struggle’ survey. In any case, saying that ‘I didnt struggle’ would negate any view Adaptive Training has that it was difficult for you.
Its normal for riders to take the first few seconds to adjust and settle into the effort.

There are not target HR or Cadence identified in the workouts (other than occassional cadence instructions in workout text), so those metrics are not being examined for success or difficulty.
TrainerRoad is measuring your power output, so compliance in that regard, along with your survey response, is what’s being considered.

If you struggle through a workout because of sleep, stress, fatigue, those are options in the struggle survey that Adaptive Training will account for.

If you’re ever curious about an isolated workout or need help looking what triggered a struggle survey, check in with so they can look at your internal ride log and provide more insight.

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It sounds to me like maybe you’re overthinking it. You say the plan is working and you are progressing as you would expect.

The only zone you question is VO2 because you feel like it’s not progressing your level fast enough…are you choosing alternate VO2 workouts above the recommended level? If it gives you an Achievable workout but you think that’s too easy, why not select an alternate that is a Stretch or Breakthrough? (By the way, there are lots of us who think VO2 is easier than Threshold or even SS. And there are lots who feel the opposite. It’s just different bodies, training history, specialties, and experiences)

As for being below target on individual VO2 intervals, as Ivy said, it’s normal to take a few seconds to settle in. I do mine in Erg and it’s always under for the first second or two, then over for a few seconds, then settles in. I am also always under for the overall target on a short interval as a result. Some people don’t like this, so they turn off Erg, but I’m in a noisy area of the house early in the morning, so I prefer not to shift.

If AT thinks you failed the workout, you will get a different survey where you can explain why you failed. Otherwise, you completed the workout as planned and expected. From what you’ve said, it sounds to me like you’re doing great and progressing well. Just pick a few stretch or breakthrough VO2 workouts, and you should be all set.

That’s a huge change. Just bumping to MV or adding Strength is a big addition. You’re doing both at once. Pay attention to your body and be sure to rest when needed. Better to underachieve in the short term but stay consistent over the long term than to spike way up and then crash. Good luck!

I’m assuming there’s no issue if I postpone a workout? I have on a couple occasions known it wasn’t going to go well, so just moved it to the next day in my calendar… Probably the right thing to do regardless.

Not necessarily the progressions, but for lack of a better explanation - VO2 always seems relatively easier than Threshold or Sweet Spot. I usually mark them moderate or even easy, and what I’ve started doing is upping intensity during the workout when I know it’s going well. I have not started choosing alternate workouts yet.

If I had to guess - I’ve done a lot of HIIT training, hill sprints in past years, and probably have decent relative VO2 capacity, but the burn of threshold is a lot harder.

Probably should have added - I’m definitely not new to strength training, I just did much less during this last block. Even at that, I probably have “Sprinter Strength” right now. But, point taken.

Dragging and dropping workouts is totally okay within AT, although, just skipping a day and leaving a workout incomplete if you arent able to do it will probably result in a better experience for you within Adaptive Training, because of the adaptations that result from a missed workout that will fit into the rest of your progressions more effectively.
If you want to drag it to a day where you had no activity scheduled, that works great too and AT will credit you for that!

Good to know going forward. In the past I was on a low volume plan, which gave me a lot of room for dragging / dropping. I’m going to try out the Medium going forward where it’ll probably be better to just leave it incomplete if I need the rest.

Thanks for the help!

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Of course! Happy to provide some insight. Let us know if more questions come up!

In the meantime, is it okay to mark this thread ‘resolved’ as long as you dont have any lingering points of confusion?

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Resolved! Thanks!

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My understanding is that this will not tell AT to up your levels. You need to take control and pick workouts at harder levels if you want harder workouts.

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Good to know. Maybe I do have to try subbing in harder.

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Just a bit of my experience in switch from a LV to MV plan. I had used LV for the first 12 months and then with work slowdowns with Covid I switched to MV for about 5 months. By the start of the 4th month I was starting to demonstrate some fatigue/overtraining. Having experienced this before I paid closer attention and realized that the MV specialty phase was mentally not what I needed or wanted.

As a result I moved back to a LV plan and now ride outside or use train now if I WANT to ride on a particular non scheduled day. That seems to be working. Some might say I’m a nutter for enjoying SSB but there you go, I do. I’m getting enough variety and I’m enjoying the training again

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That was definitely a problem pre Adaptive Training. I did similarly (moved from a MV plan to LV), hopefully AT gets things right now but there would still be a mental overtraining for me. “I’ve done my 3 days TR stuff and I can do what I want other days”.