Intentionally Overtraining

I have often heard people commenting about overtraining and how training is very specific to the individual with the amount of stress the body can take. So my question is what are peoples thoughts on continually upping the weekly TSS (from outdoor rides at the moment, while the weather is still ok in the UK) until I either get ill or devolop an injury! I know it sounds like a bad idea but I have time to recover from overtraining and feel like i want to make sure I am training as hard as my body can handle. I am 41, weigh 70kgs and have an ftp of 314. I train most days and average 800 tss a week (all outside rides till Dec) with a mix of hard short rides and long z2 rides and usually average 15hrs a week on the bike. Any advise would be great.

Umm … don’t do this? That’s my advice.

More fully, overtraining is a term that gets thrown around a lot. Being fatigued (from an intense period of training, like a training camp) you can rest and recover from over a week or two. That’s not overtraining. Real overtraining is something that could take you off the bike and cause physiological issues that could take years to recover from. Injuries aren’t to be flippant about either. At 41, you’re not likely to recover from serious training fatigue or injuries the way you may have done 10 or 20 years ago. Be sensible.

Take a listen to AACC ep 160 from 1:15:15

If you have the time and ability to ride a lot, lift your TSS gradually and see how your body copes with it. Don’t go from 800 to 1,500 TSS and expect that you’ll be ok. Try lifting 50 TSS a week and see how things work for you, but be prepared to back things off if you don’t feel right. Pushing yourself to injury is just silly. Doing it intentionally, I have another list of words for.


I wish I had that much time to train!

I think that sounds like a terrible idea. A better idea IMO would be to add perhaps 50-100 TSS per week for a couple of months and see how you handle it. If that works, up it agao. Stop when your workouts stop being productive, not when you get injured/ill!

Thanks for the advise. I was thinking the same about adding 50 or so TSS a week and really listening to how my body feels. I think my use of the word injury was a bit too much. I was thinking more like aches and minor pains like sore feet from pushing too hard in the pedals rather than an injury that might involve more than a few days off the bike to recover. P.s. i have qualifications in bio mechanics and sports therapy so wont be doing anything life changing!!

At the risk of being blunt: this is a bad idea. Joel Friel says most people who train seriously overtrain and that the thing that separates elite from non is knowing when to ride easy or recover so that hard workouts are done at your peak. Excessive training will make the hard workouts mediocre. Throwing more and more TSS on won’t make most people faster. You can’t nap off overtraining. When your body decides it’s had enough it can end your season.

Ok, sounds good.

Pulling on this thread a little more. You’re suggesting an experiment of riding more (maybe a lot more) outdoors. Is this just because you like riding outdoors and want to do more of it, or are you hoping that you’ll get a performance gain (FTP bump) from greater workload?

If it’s the latter, I would propose an alternative experiment. What about riding less, but with more structure? I checked out your TR profile (hope you don’t mind) and can see you do almost all your riding outdoors. Why not try committing to 3 months of structured indoor riding? I was in a similar position to you and through the AACC podcast I was convinced that a period of structured training would improve my cycling strength, but had a hard time getting over the thought of losing outdoor riding which I loved. I just decided one day to bite the bullet. I did 3 months of Sweet Spot Base 1 & 2 and saw my FTP jump from 250 to 308 (I also lost 2 kg which improved watts/kg by 27%). Based on that, I just haven’t looked back and have seen my numbers continue to rise (but slower of course). I still ride outdoors on weekends, but during the week with shorter, more intense workouts is where I get the real work done. Something to think about.


Do you race? Do you have objective performance goals? If so, your training should be focused towards these events. Overtraining can be a very deeeep hole that’s difficult to climb out of. You’ll regret trashing yourself for fun.

Actual overtraining is quite rare. The term is quite trendy at the moment with all the focus on recovery and good sleep. However, in your context (functional) overreaching is the proper term. But doing something voluntarily until you get ill/injured by intention sounds really bad. Really, really bad.

Acutal overtraining would need months to recover. I train between 15 and 20h. I do not pay attention to TSS but what “killed” me last autumn (I had similar thoughts) were huge endurance blocks. Multi hours rides, constantly at/slightly above AeT/LT1/VT1. I would call this a soft version of overreaching. Must say I overdid, needed a few weeks to recover. These were really demanding.


I really enjoy riding my bike outdoors and because i actually enjoy training use the weather as the determining factor as to indoor vs outdoor training. I dont enjoy the kickr as much as outdoors so thats why my rides are mostly outdoors. However as the temp drops i will adjust to midweek turbo sessions and weekend rides and really like the sweetspot base low or mid volume but i will have to adjust the tss as 600 to 800 per week will kill me i think!
I do race and feel i am a very competitive cat3 racer. I love road races and also so short 10mile tts. (22min barrier is the next milestone which i am very close to)
From the reply’s so far I will not be overtraining as this sounds worse than I thought!

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