How do they assign difficulty levels?

I noticed that workout difficulty levels often way off for me. I often find that a workout that is marked a “Stretch” may actually be moderately hard, but in some cases I can barely finish a workout marked as “Achievable”. From my perspective I think the app overestimates my abilities to do intervals above my FTP and underestimates my potential to complete workouts in the sweet spot, just below FTP. Is this an incorrect prediction from the AI engine or my training level is somewhat different from other people?

I haven’t used AT, but for what its worth I had the same issue… suffering on vo2 intervals and had to turn down intensity, while I had no problem extending sweet spot. Switching to doing mostly endurance riding, over a long time period, fixed that issue and now I have no problem doing vo2 intervals.

I have been wondering the same thing but in reverse from you. VO2 intervals are no problem but Sweet spot is absolutely brutal for me. I wonder if that comes down to natural power profiles?

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If your ftp is set correctly, I believe sweet spot is mostly about muscular endurance. It is highly trainable.

I tried to determine threshold that lies within their Difficulty Levels:

This may be wrong, but I think it boils down to this:

  • Achievable = Below or Equal to your current Progression Level
  • Productive = 0.1 to 1.0 higher than your current Progression Level
  • Stretch = 1.1 to 2.5 higher than your current Progression Level
  • Breakthrough = 2.6 to 4.5 higher than your current Progression Level
  • Not Recommended = 4.6 or more higher than your current Progression Level

This is just a “simple math” issue related to assigning the DL Labels. The reality of actual difficulty lies within how accurate your actual PL is for any Zone. It’s more likely for this to be off for new riders with limited TR history in their PL, as well as people hitting Zones that are not up to date. This could be from focus on particular zones while not hitting others, or returning from breaks in training.

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I have been riding mostly in the MTB this summer. A typical climb is 30 mins of 10-20 sec anaerobic efforts + easy endurance and some tempo……Yesterday I did some sweet spot and my legs were the ones feeling the pain and my HR was in the low tempo high z2 area….

I wonder if there are some antagonist forces between anaerobic power and sweet spot.

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My understanding is that the progression levels of workouts are derived from completion rates of others. Workouts that are more often failed (due to intensity) are rated higher, whereas workouts that are easily completable by the masses are rated lower. There’s probably some TSS/hr calculation and sliding scale of percentage of workout at intensity vs rest that’s used as well.

However, it’s really irrelevant after the first few weeks of AT, if you rate the workouts correctly.

It will quickly figure out that you don’t have trouble with sub threshold efforts, and upgrade your PL quickly, and either keep the same Vo2/Threshold levels or downgrade you until they’re suitably difficult.

I mean, that’s kind of the whole point of PLs and AT. Trust the process and mark the workouts correctly and it will take care of itself.

Difficulty Levels are a ranking system to determine how challenging a workout will be in relation to your current abilities. They are determined by comparing the workout’s Workout Level to your unique Progression Level in the workout’s respective training zone.

Progression Levels are a dynamic, real-time representation of your fitness and ability to express your FTP across each training zone. As you complete rides, Adaptive Training analyzes and adjusts these levels based on the relative difficulty of your workouts in each zone, as well as how successful you were in completing them.

Training Plans ensure that you work through Progression Levels in the zones applicable to your A event. They will progress you at an appropriate rate and ensure that you are tapping into these zones frequently so that you see improvements in your performance.

In that way, your Progression Levels are continuously adjusted to reflect your current fitness. If you are not following a Plan, it is possible that some zones are not being addressed as frequently or methodically as we recommend.

In addition, it looks like you are doing a LOT of training. Training Plans ensure that your hard Workouts are offset by proper recovery throughout the week and the entire training cycle. When you are doing such a high volume of training without following a balanced Training Plan, you can end up overtraining. At that point, perceived exertion may not align with your fitness.

All of that is to say that if you are doing such a high volume of training, I’d suggest you follow an Adaptive Training Plan. This will ensure that your training is methodically balanced to ensure a steady progression. Furthermore, your Training Plan will adapt to ensure that your levels of fatigue do not interfere with your Progression or perceived exertion.

I hope this helps!