Progression Levels - Useful or not useful?

Hi all!
To me, Progression Levels seems to be the one and only thing TR uses to make the app/service a bit more gamified. Maybe that’s an appreciated function for many riders, to have something to chase, as in climbing the level ladders. But I don’t see the point of them at all, and ignore them all together. because they do not represent or measure real life efforts and development.

I mean, I can build a 180min long Z2 workout in the workout creator, I add two sets of 6 x 20sec full out sprints in the middle of my ride, and that ride will give me no endurance credit, but it would give a majestic sprint value well over 10 (more like 15).

So I wonder, - what’s your relation to Progression levels? How do you use them, if at all?

Ride safely
// Matt

I use them to tell me which workouts are appropriate to my level of fitness


I use them to appropriately ramp my workouts within each block of training.

For the last few years, I also ‘fought’ the idea of PL. Guess what? I had a complete plateau.

For the last 6 months, I stopped fighting the PL’s. Now, within my plan – which I follow as closely as possible – the progression levels seems to be very accurate in their ramping of my fitness. They adjust (correctly, for me) depending on the outcome of each ride and keep me productive on the bike.


Are the Progression Levels not a reflection of Progressive Overload? also handy for finding alternatives etc?


As far as I understand it PLs are only really useful within the TR workout ecosystem. They assigned each of their workouts to a level and they work with each other. The creation of custom workouts, as mentioned above, has long been known to break that as they are assigned the PL automatically and the system just isnt very good at checking yet.

I, like others here, find them super useful for picking workouts. With such a vast workout library its nice to be able to filter them down to an even more granular level and have only a few to choose from.


I’m a bit of a process type person over goals and I like the confirmation that trusting the process is the right thing.

Otherwise in TR you only really see it on new FTP day, I do see it in my power to weight changes over various periods elsewhere (shout out to!) but it’s nice here as well.

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If you are making custom workouts and training plans, PL will be less useful at the moment. However, if you use Plan Builder and follow TR prescribed workouts, they are very beneficial (not including z2). If you are ignoring PL you are missing a huge part of ML that TR has dedicated so much time to and has made the training plans exponentially better.

PL are not intended for a measure of real life anything. They are there to ensure your workouts are appropriate to your fitness and adjust future workouts up or down going forward. This is why when your FTP goes up, your PL actually go down even though you are more fit IRL.


I look at them like this if you have an ftp of 200 and a PL across the board of 1.0, you’re actually FTP is 200. if your PLs across the board are 7.0’s then your FTP is North of 200, maybe even 220. (I do wonder what the percentage points of your FTP are for each level, if it works that way linear, probably not & who has the same PL numbers across the board! )

If like me your FTP goes up and down depending on the time of year, you could in theory (if the swing isn’t too much), keep one FTP figure (mid range) and just work off the PLs.

Obviously if you hit either extreme then you would have to adjust your FTP.

  • FTP has been and remains a focus of many users here. It’s arguable that it has been “gamified” as much or more than PL’s, though there is a distinct difference in length of time in use which is notable.

  • Others have noted the potential for people to manipulate training to kick up PL’s. We’ve seen people mention goals along the lines of “maxing out all my PL’s” and other similar comments. Essentially, it is practically human nature to strive to improve when any form of measurement is presented.

  • Keep in mind that the current implementation of PL’s with respect to custom workouts is flawed. It can give accurate values, but is also frequently seen to give errant data as well. The case you mention, of adding in sprints is a known “bug” and one that TR aims to address in the long run.

  • Until then, I would hesitate to use any custom workout as validation or proof of problems with PL’s. They are not stable enough for that purpose.

  • I use them as intended, within the context of a training plan applied to my calendar along with AT and doing the post workout surveys. I use PL’s at times when I want to alter a workout harder or easier, as well as consideration when adding a workout to my calendar.

  • Like any tool, it has a defined purpose and functions well when used within that range.


I think if your levels are truly 1.0 across the board, meaning you could not complete a workout any more difficult, then your FTP is actually lower than 200. I’m curious to know what levels are considered “above FTP,” though I’m sure the answer is complicated. I know when my sweet spot PL is above 5.0 and my vo2 max is above 6.0, then AI FTP suggests an increase even if I haven’t done any recent threshold workouts.


I don’t think they are gamification. Progressive overload is a fundamental principle of training. I actually find them more useful than some of the more hyped features like adaptive training, train now and plan builder.

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Hey there! Thanks for the question.

Our aim with Progression Levels is to have them represent where your fitness is currently at in relation to TR Workout Levels and your ability to express your FTP/fitness across each training zone.

Our intention is to have Progression Levels be a useful tool when following or modifying a training plan or even when just choosing a standalone workout for a given day. If, for example, you’ve followed a TR plan and gotten your PLs up to Threshold level 5, then you would know that Threshold workouts at or below level 5 would be Achievable, while those above 5 would be marked as Productive, Stretch, Breakthrough, or Not Recommended. We don’t want your workouts to be so challenging that they aren’t beneficial, so Adaptive Training uses your PLs to make sure you get dialed into the right Productive workouts for your current fitness levels. You can learn more about TR Difficulty Levels and how they relate to your Progression Levels here.

At this time, custom workouts do not necessarily fall in line correctly with TR Workout Levels. We’re actively working on improvements to this that’ll make it so Workout Levels for custom workouts can be used just as reliably as Workout Levels in the TR workout library, so stay tuned for more on that in the future!

This Support Article on PLs is a great resource if you’d like to learn more about their intended use!

Feel free to let me know if you have any other questions. :slight_smile:


Thanks everyone, for your input.

As pointed out above, the Levels DO make a lot of sense and serves a highly useful purpose, - IF and WHEN doing TR workouts.
When building your own plan based on TR workouts it’s a fantastic tool, making it so easy to build a steady progression, both in WL and TSS. It’s what I initially did, but then ended up having the opportunity to work with a coach, and thus following his instructions and plans.

But it’ from that perspective I don’t see how input from the PL would have any real value, as the AI don’t really know how to interpret my custom workouts.

Something tells me, from listening to the podcast, in the future TrainerRoads’ AI, AT and it’s PL’s levels will be nothing short of sensational.

They also indicate how good individual systems are within an FTP. If you have FTP 250 but your anaerobic system is a 1 but your threshold is a 5-6 then you’re probably better holding threshold intervals or work rates than your anaerobic system is.

This might indicate a weakness or just temper expectations on anaerobic abilities at a given FTP


Or that you’re not training them specifically. It doesn’t tell you about capabilities, its just a reflection of the workouts you’ve done. Anaerobic system capabilities would be better represented by W’ etc.


For custom workouts, is it best to not associate a ride with the custom workout in the calendar? I only recently ran into this as I was doing a few workouts via a friends program, but the PLs pushed me up to level 10 sweet spot due to associating the ride and the workout. Is there a way to undo this?

Yo! If it seems like the custom workout may not accurately reflect your PLs, you can disassociate the ride from the workout by going to your Calendar, clicking on the affected workout, and a menu will appear that says, “Associated with.”

You can click on the associated workout listed in that menu, and another option will appear that says, “Mark as unplanned ride.” Clicking on that will unpair the ride from the workout, which will then reset your PLs.

This support article goes over the steps for navigating those menus as well.


Until PL’s can take outdoor rides into account, I won’t pay much attention to them.

PL’s are a metric within the TR ecosystem only……last summer, just after SBT GRVL, my FTP updated and my Endurance PL was down to a 1 and Pettit was listed as a stretch workout. I had just completed a 9 hour gravel race……was pretty sure I could handle Pettit. :crazy_face:


Tried them when it first came out, but it added nothing to my training. My coach has a training philosophy that I haven’t seen in the TR plans, less about progression and more focused on adaptations. The AT and PL/WL stuff really didn’t add anything on the analytics side (versus using power curve and athlete pacing).

Now on your gamification comment, I think it helps to back up and understand what problems it originally set out to solve.

Two of the first problems that TR’s Adaptive Training and PLs/WLs set out to solve (vs previous static plans) were a) onboarding new users to get them doing productive workouts without doing more power profiling (just the ramp test), and b) adjusting progression ramp rates based on user feedback.

Hopefully you can now see it wasn’t about gamification, and solved real issues with the prior plans that were the same for all users.

If you are using TR to control your trainer, then carry on! You can have a coach and still use TR.

p.s. if you want to better evaluate current WLs/PLs, don’t build custom workouts with sprint/anaerobic targets greater than something like 180% FTP (or 200% FTP, can’t recall ???). Or in your example, drop the 6x20-sec all-out sprints and let TR rate it on the 3 hours of endurance. Sprint training is normally all-out and I’m not sure PLs have much to offer. All that said, as mentioned changes are coming with Workout Levels V2 (whenever that happens).

Hope that helps.

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Useful or not for:

Custom workouts? Not–not very reliable (at least now)
Endurance rides? Not. I mean really, there just shouldn’t be endurance powerlevels.
Picking a (non-endurance) trainnow SS/Threshold/Vo2 ride? Useful–I find them very accurate in telling me what is going to be productive v. easy v. what’s going to destroy me.
For adaptive training to work? Useful–they seem to be a pretty essential part of how AT functions.