First, a disclaimer. I think AT is an improvement from the previous training plans. Despite taking a break from my TR plan, I intend to start using it again in the coming weeks. These issues are only with the marketing of PLs.
Any claims about AT improving progression levels are misleading until they can estimate PLs from prior workouts. Since AT starts people at level 1.0 for all PLs, they have no way of knowing whether there was improvement or not (correct me if they have changed starting PLs). If my Vo2 max is a 6 in reality, but AT starts me at 1 and I “improve” to 4, that is not an improvement at all. In fact, my true PL might decrease because AT was giving me too easy of workouts. Right now their claims around improving PLs would be similar to starting everyone at 100 FTP and claiming improvements with any FTP increase.
I think the way TR has tied them to fitness is an enormous misstep. One month prior to starting AT, I completed a 7.5 hour race with AP of 190 and NP of 200. My FTP 3 weeks later (limited amount of riding and no structure) tested at 245. Basically, my endurance PL was a 10 in real life. AT started me at 1. I liked that it started me at 1 because I was doing SSMV1 and wanted my Wednesday endurance rides to be as easy as possible. However, one random Sunday I replaced a SS ride with a long endurance ride. This upped my endurance PL to 4 or something. AT then made my Wednesday rides way too hard for my Wednesday recovery ride. In the end I just switched to easy rides, but my point is the following:
Progression Levels should be thought of as the level of workouts each individual can complete with consistency within the plan.. If I was naive enough to think my endurance PL of 1 meant I didn’t have good endurance and tried to increase it, I would have burned out on TR extremely quickly.
Two things that could improve PL functionality:
Let people manually adjust their PLs - just like they can with FTP. If someone is new to riding, they can recommend starting at 1s across the board. For people who think they know, TR could show people the adaptations to the plan at their selected levels to get a feel if they are right.
Let people choose which adaptations to select. This doesn’t fix the idea of tying PLs to fitness levels, but it would at least allow people to assess whether an adaptation is reasonable based on the workouts around it.
If a person has performed TR Inside Workouts and/or TR Outside Workouts, those will be taken into evaluation and any appropriate “starting point” for PL’s will be considered. This is usually couple with an FTP Test or manually edited FTP, which applies whatever math for a reduction to the “start”.
So, it is not correct to say that everyone starts at 1.0 as a blanket statement. People totally new to TR, or those without the TR IW or OW I mention above will not get “credit” for PL’s, and will start at the 1.0 levels. But others may well start with higher PL in some cases.
This is because “unstructured rides” are not currently included in PL calculations. This shortcoming is their #1 priority and the thing many people are waiting on to fully take advantage of AT. Once in place, your case above would theoretically apply PL from that or any similar “non-TR” ride, workout or race. The intricacies of how that happens and what “credit” will be applied to various PL’s is unknown, and likely where the difficulty lies in that tool.
So, upon successful implementation of that feature, I think it will address your concern here.
If I were to guess, TR might expect that the unstructured PL setup should solve most of that.
Even with or without that feature, any user with a decent guess to their PL in a zone, can simply pick and perform any related workout around that desired level and complete it. Upon successful completion, the new rider PL will take that value listed on the Workout.
So, if you look at the catalog and know you can rip a 5.0 of a given level, just do that when it fits the training plan schedule and replace any lower level that may be assigned via AT. It ends with essentially the same result as manually editing the PL directly.
I think I need more info about what this would look like. I’m confused on the suggestion.
You can - by declining adaptations proposed. Case in point yesterday morning: had an anaerobic workout, and since I hit the dreaded “14 days since last one” point, AT proposed to drop all anaerobic workouts to lower PLs, right as I loaded the workout. I declined, kept the scheduled workout, completed it, and no more issues.
No, I mean burned out. I wanted my PL to stay at 1 because my endurance ride was essentially acting as a recovery ride. When it increased, my plan adapted to make my Wednesday rides harder. I did not want this. I would have just not accepted the adaptations but the endurance ride adaptations were grouped with all the other ones that I wanted to keep.
This is valid, except for asking athletes to be realistic and have guided/accurate expectations for their own Progression Levels prior to using the AT system is … a big ask. Editing your PL to something its not and getting a bad experience with AT would be a huge bummer.
Like mentioned before, you can just replace any workout with one training the same zones but with higher PL
I have done that now after a break of a few weeks got me back to PL 1, and after completion of a workout it puts your PL at that level right away.
If you want a lighter workout you can just manually select one in the same way. Not sure if it will take your PL down also.
But why would you want to do that? The levels represent the work you have done in each zone, it has never, to my knowledge, claimed to accurately represent your fitness across everything you do. My levels in anaerboic and sprint has never budged from 1.0, since I haven’t done a single workout targeting them. Does that worry or irritate me? No, it just is.
You want to calibrate your workouts in the zones your are working on. And you literally do it the first time a workout in that zone is on the calendar. AT gives you a vo2Max of 1.3, bump it up to 5 and see how that feels. If you complete, you have now edited your PL level in vo2Max to 5.
Okay everyone, my problem isn’t that I can’t choose a harder workout to increase my PL, my problem is statements saying “ if your FTP doesn’t go up but your PLs increase you are getting fitter”. That not true unless your baseline is correct. Since AT starts most people at 1, it’s misleading to say they have improved their PL.
This sounds to me more like you want to not follow the plan, if you want recovery ride and not an endurance workout, which is not the same thing. Either substitute workouts or go down a volume level and fill in the stuff you want.
The 1.0 start will happen once until the first workout is completed in that zone. After that first workout, incremental changes in PL from week to week (workout to workout) is a valid “gauge” in the purest sense.
It becomes a proxy for fitness related to that specific zone and is also a part of selecting and adjusting future workouts.
I replaced one SS workout with one endurance ride that upped my endurance PL (this replacement was the one recommended in the weekly notes). This made my endurance rides too hard for my Tuesday and Thursday rides. If I had not done that, my level would not have increased. Every other workout was from the plan, I liked the plan, and saw improvements. The only reason I am taking a break is because I am getting over Covid.
If this forum had a “Signature” we could attach like other forums, I think I would put this in there since I seem to type it WAY too often.
“You are your own coach, using software to guide you”
PL’s are like testing out of classes in school. I can tell anyone that I can do basic addition (I used that because I think that is the only thing I can test out of right now), but you have to prove it first before skipping a class. You think you are at Calc 2? Okay, take the Calc 2 test. If you pass, you go straight to Calc 2. Think you are at a Threshold 5? Okay, do a Threshold 5 workout. If you pass, you go straight past Threshold 5.
See, you are your own coach.
The only true test of fitness is racing. Anything else is just a fitness estimate. I am pretty sure my FTP is pretty damn close to my former coach (he is a pretty fast guy), but he just destroyed me at my last race. Racing is the ultimate plan level.
Sure, but that is only true from the 1.0 to whatever you have on the first related workout.
After that, you will likely see bumps that follow the AT plan. From what I can tell, it aims around +0.5 from week to week.
I don’t think it’s appropriate to invalidate the whole dataset just because of a 1.0 that lasts as short of a time as it does. And a reminder, that 1.0 start is present for some, but not all cases. Starting points will vary and some rides will have elevated levels over 1.0 for at least some zones.