On importance of progressive overload

What is everyone’s opinion on the role and importance of progressive overload for effective adaptations?

It is hard to follow the prescribed TSS buildup over weeks, especially with outside rides and travel. Should an “average Joe” sweat over such detail? I am under 4 w/kg and under 10 hr/week.

My N=1 is that the progressive overload on key workouts is more important than the weekly TSS buildup. E.g. in the SSB MV plan the Saturday threshold workout progresses from 101->103->112->114->119 TSS as you accumulate more time at or above threshold. I think that progression is key.

Total weekly TSS is important for looking at consistency at a macro level. But I take it with a bit of a pinch of salt. Not all TSS is created equal - it’s good for comparing like with like (e.g. one 90 minute threshold workout with another) but 100TSS on a 3 hour coffee ride is a totally different effort in terms of stimulus and recovery to 100SS from 1 hour of anaerobic intervals. So if there was a week where I completed my key TR sessions but happened to add some extra easy outdoor riding then I wouldn’t necessarily be concerned if there was a drop in TSS the following week instead of a progression.

Plus grouping the numbers by weeks can be misleading if you don’t follow a regular schedule. My work is pretty flexible and I travel quite a bit, meaning a key workout may move from one calendar week to another so that the weekly TSS is quite skewed, but if you look at what I’m doing on a day to day basis I’m still getting the key workouts in and leaving enough recovery time between them so there’s no issue.


Thank you. I find your reply quite insightful.

Use your CTL as a better tracker of training “fitness” than weekly TSS. Then look at the ramp rate of TSS/CTL and determine was is maneagable and what level you want to/expect to plateau at nearing your events.