Feature request - Ensure progression of progression levels throughout a training plan

Thesis: In a perfect training plan (consisting of 2 base, 2 build and 1 specialty phases) progression levels (PL) would evolve roughly as follows (along with FTP increasing at the same time):

  • Base 1 - PL 1-4
  • Base 2 - PL 3-6
  • Build 1 - PL 4-7
  • Build 2 - PL 6-8
  • Specialty - PL 7-10

This is because in most disciples the duration stays more or less the same so an increase in PL means higher intensity, longer intervals and less rest. These should (based on everything I have ever read or heard on the topic) get more demanding in a fairly linear fashion as the plan progresses to ensure optimal adaptations.

Issue: It is currently possible to get a training plan from the plan builder with progression levels way above what is underlined above which can result in absolutely brutal workouts right out of the gate particularly in low volume plans. I doubt that this is a sustainable road to success.

Solution: One fairly simple solution would be to implement hard coded upper limits of what PLs you can have entering a specific training phase. Counting backwards from the end to the beginning these could be for example:

  • Specialty - MaxPL=9
  • Build 2 - MaxPL=7
  • Build 1 - MaxPL=6
  • Base 2 - MaxPL=5
  • Base 1 - Max PL=4

The check could simply be:

  • IF PL(Athlete.Diciple) > MaxPL(Diciple.Phase) THEN PL(Athlete.Diciple) = MaxPL(Diciple.Phase)

If there would be less phases than described above, you could just omit the missing phases from the beginning.

If there would be more phases, could could extend the curve accordingly.

Within each phase PLs could move freely and if the actual PL would be below MaxPL (Diciple), nothing would change, so this would be simple one time check at the beginning of each phase (followed by a suggestion for plan adjustment, if necessary).

The simplest and least invasive way to implement (or test) this type system would be a simple opt in (YES / NO) toggle in the account settings, by default set to “NO”. If implemented this way, this feature should require minimal coding and very limited other resources and could easily be removed, if data would not support its inclusion in the product.

I understand that this would not be suitable for everyone (particularly those competing) and probably not even needed by manyt, but it might still be worth considering to to improve the product for edge cases.

Thank you for your time.

Without hitting on the deeper part of your intention here, your premise is a little flawed.

  • Sweet Spot Base includes 2 separate phases (6 weeks each), but Traditional Base is actually 3 separate phases (4 weeks each), and then Triathlon Base is a single phase that varies in length with the distance chosen. So there is variability here that complicates the issue.

  • Additionally, the normal TR progression only includes 1 Build phase, not 2 as you listed.

Beyond that, with the advent of Plan Builder and the recognition that most people will not be able to perfectly fit a “full or normal” Base, Build, Specialty progression into their plan, I don’t think that a rigidly defined projection is necessarily useful or correct. We see Plan Builder truncate or extend phases as well as repeat them over time. So expecting a particular progression level range at the end of any phase is not practical.

  • I don’t think it’s practical to expect that everyone or even a majority can hold the same progression trend. We know the factors like age, training history, recovery ability and many more all impact how we are able to make improvements over time. It may not be possible for people to hit higher progression levels. And if the edge cases are the real target here, it seems like a fair bit of work for potentially limited benefit overall.

  • Then consider that the 1 to 10 approach as a foundation here likely fails when people either repeat this proposed process another time, or athletes come in with ability notably beyond the 1.0 starts. It would be wasteful for time and training if people literally have to restart at the bottom with this proposal. I know that even after some FTP related deduction of my PL’s, I am rarely in the 1-3 range for several of my PL’s. I would really dislike an assumed rest to 1 for stuff like Endurance and Threshold if I am already in the mid range of those PL’s.

    • A major point of AT and the magic hiding within it is to take a generally planned progression (the default TR plans and baked in AT logic), but adjust it dynamically upon the completion of each every workout to tweak the pending workouts as needed. That may be lower progression steps at times or more aggressive steps at others. I just see a more rigid layout like this as a very limited use case and one that would lead to problems we saw repeatedly with the locked-in plans of old TR. This proposal seems like a backwards step to me here compared to maximizing the performance and individuality of AT in the future.
11 Likes

Nate also discussed there being a change on whether to shoot for higher PL vs higher FTP based on experience/some other inputs which kind of addresses the issue.

If you are both upping the PL and FTP every phase then it’s not likely to be something most could follow.

2 Likes

Errr, no.

It doesnt make sense and reverts back to the problems prior to PL, i.e doesnt account for strenghts and weaknesses of individuals.

1 Like

Your thesis is based on a misunderstanding of what Progression Levels are and how they are used to adapt TR training plans to an individual. PLs are not absolute measures of difficulty, and the job of e. g. Base 1 is not to bring someone from PL1 to PL4 in all relevant power zones.

The idea of progression levels is that fitness expresses itself in several dimensions, here power and repeatability/endurance/number of matches are relevant. Your FTP test determines the power zones, and PLs allow TR to adjust workouts depending on one‘s endurance in a particular power zone.

Training history and personal abilities might favor or disfavor some abilities. E. g. I am very good at sweet spot stuff and good VO2max. But currently, I am struggling with threshold workouts, because I took April off. When I restarted training, I did an FTP test and validated the results, so I know where my lactate threshold was. My drop in FTP was much lower than expected and predicted by TR‘s AI FTP detection, but basically I had no endurance. AT is able to accommodate me.

With your proposal, my only recourse would be either to do workouts in the correct power zones that are way too easy in some power zones. Or I‘d artificially raise my FTP to stay within your PL window. But then I would not be in the correct zones. Hard endurance workouts would become tempo workouts. Threshold workouts would be easy VO2max workouts.

If I were you, I‘d check that my FTP is set correctly. With experience you can tell what it feels like to be at your lactate threshold. Do not just rely on FTP detection, do a ramp test, followed by a week of workouts. You can test the FTP value with e. g. a 4x10 threshold workout. If you fail early, your FTP is too high. Adjust it downwards a few percentage points, and try again. Learn the sensation in your body right at the knife‘s edge.

The other thing is that you should give honest feedback to AT. If you fail a workout, tell it it was too intense. It‘ll adjust itself downwards until it finds one appropriate for you. In my experience, PLs should start in the 3s or 4s, but not lower than that. If you have to go lower, go back to adjusting your FTP.

3 Likes