How important is CTL Ramp Rate for Trainer Road?

As a bit of background. I have been using TR for a while and have time to do the medium volume plans. I can do longer workouts on the weekend like many people, but I don’t have time to do the HV week day work. (This is probably fairly common).

Question: Realistically when using TR do we really care about our CTL ramp rate?

If I use the trainer road plan builder there are modest increases in CTL ramp rate, but I would not end up getting a very high CTL.

If we look at a source like the ‘Cyclist Training Bible’ by Friel, we would be doing a large amount of voiume to get a ramp rate of 5-7 points a week. Obviously that is difficult to do when you are doing a lot of sweet spot work in liu of large volumes of LSD. To me, it just hasn’t seemed like I need to generate as much TSS as someone who is going to do a lot of Z2 long rides to get good results.

To me, following the TR plan, it seems like that if one slightly increases volume and we follow the plan well, I’ve found results. Nice FTP bumps, PRs etc. But, if I try to simultaneously chase a moderatly high CTL ramp rate I burn out.

So really at the end of the day, if we are generating our volume / aerobic conditioning with a lot of SS work, does a high CTL matter?

A reasonable ctl ramp is built into the plans (and I assume plan builder). I don’t think the fact that you’re doing a lot of sweetspot necessarily changes anything, although certainly not all tss is created equal. Keep in mind, the plans are written to be broadly applicable, and hit a variety of energy systems. Individuals will respond differently and half the challenge is figuring yourself out. Or paying a coach to that for you.

So. if you’re going to augment, then you might need to keep an eye on it – I’d suggest consistent amounts of z2 riding, like a few hours with very little ramp. If you want to do more intensity outside (hard group ride?), consider a low(er) volume plan so you have more leeway with them. If you also try to ramp up your ancillary rides you could well find you’re getting to much sooner or later.

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A related question - should CTL be increasing during both base and build phase? Plan builder shows good CTL ramp throughout base but then goes backwards from build?! I would of thought it would not drop back until specialty?

Can someone confirm as thinking I may need to make some tweaks to build to ensure CTL continues upwards.

Don’t worry about CTL.

I keen to ensure my CTL builds correctly and thus peaks at the right time before switching to specificity ahead of A race.

Can anyone confirm if CTL should peak at end of base (like mine suggests) or at end of build?

CTL is a synthetic metric that only loosely correlates with performance. Focus on getting faster. Don’t worry about CTL.

Are you doing Sweet Spot Base High Volume?

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Here’s my progression from 2020, after getting down to 64 in March, I did a block of vo2 stuff (custom design) and ended up with CTL of 74 in April, and I kicked off SSB1 and 2 HV, that, in conjunction with a century ride I did on the 4th of July instead of the last workout, got me to 92, which was my peak for 2020. I did short power build and on Aug 2nd my CTL was 90, so that was my other “peak” at the first half of build. On Aug 30, end of short power build, CTL was 87. I then did 1/2 of CX specialty and a few weeks of zwift racing to wrap up my 2020 and that basically brought up me down to a steady 73ish CTL. I just finished SSB1 HV and my CTL got up to 80 and is now at 77 as I head into SSB2.

So for me I really peak at SSB and then kind of mini-peak at build. Specialty brings that CTL back down, presumably with the trade-off of being sharper to compete

Looks like for SSB low and mid volume plans CTL peaks at end of build. Only with high volume plan the peak is at end of base:

This answers it. Thanks! It also has me very nervous about SSBHV2 :smile:

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CTL decline is built into the plan builder ahead of your A-race to lift off some of the stress and trade it for freshness to assist in your ability to race.

I don’t know if I necessarily agree that we should not care about CTL. There are numerous coaches and systems out there which seemingly use the CTL model to plan good performance with their athetes. Perhaps it is just mumbo jumbo, but more likely than not, it is modeling something useful.

I suppose to simplify my question from before. If you are doing sweet spot work, do you want to use a smaller ramp rate if you are going to use the performance manager chart to model CTL.

I’ve always been under the impression that there is an assumption that you are doing a lot of Z2 riding if you are ramping CTL in the way that a lot of these coaches suggest. I also wonder if it is catered toward the more advanced rider who has built their ‘career base’ up.

Just because there are a lot of things on the internet doesn’t make it right.

That said, at its basic premise CTL makes sense as it tracks TSS over a 42 day period, and more TSS/d or per week results in higher CTL, which again at its basic premise means you are doing more stress and improving over that time.

What CTL does not account for is the quality of that TSS. Are you riding around noodling in low Z2 or strava KOM chasing with no rhyme or reason, or are you putting in quality structured hours on the trainer following a prescribed program that is periodized like what TR has. One of those will make you faster, the other will give you a bunch of CTL.

CTL is a helpful metric, but like any metric you need to understand how it is derived, and its limits. If you solely focus on CTL you have lost the plot, and even Coggin says CTL is not performance…

Again, the TR plans have this already built in. Following the plans builds stress week over week, plan over plan, and allows the requisite amount to come off ahead of your races so that you are fresher.

This makes sense and answers my question initially. As in essence SSB HV is a lot of TSS and moving to build the TSS is hard to maintain or increase due to that switch to higher intensity (ie not all TSS is the same).

I did SusPB HV last year and got no gains at all so hoping a more structured base will lead to some this time!