Progression Levels - What are they?

Hi all. Fairly new to TR and about 8 weeks into my training plan. Just getting to grips with adaptive training (ISS and IF etc). Then I noticed that the pic from TR on strava has changed to include progression levels. I have done some digging and reading up but still dont really get it.

What do these progression levels mean? For example if my sweet spot is at 5.9 / 10, what does it mean? Also, I am following someone who is a very experienced racer on strava, and noticed his levels are lower than mine, obviously he is much stronger than I am so what does that mean?

If someone could explain it to me like im dumb (because I feel it :rofl:) that would be amazing!



I’m afraid to click links now thanks to Rick Roll


Progression levels are the “difficulty levels” of a given workout, compared to other workout’s in the same zone. Example: A 4.0 Sweet Spot workout is slightly easier than a 5.0 Sweet Spot workout.

Your friend’s FTP is higher than yours, so that’s why he’s faster than you despite lower progression levels. If his FTP just raised significantly, that would force his progression levels down, because you can’t just jump into workouts at a higher FTP with the same progression level.

I missed this one, thanks!

Great reply thanks! I am starting to slowly get it. Pretty cool stuff. @jesse_v

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I think the best way to think of them is to NOT spend much time thinking about them - progression levels only mean something within the TR training system and are part of how the adaptive training engine selects appropriate workouts for you.


@WindWarrior that’s a very fair point :+1:

Your response is certainly well-intentioned, but a little off the mark. Progression levels (PL) are not workout difficulty levels; they are a measure of the athlete’s performance. They apply ONLY to the athlete, a grade, if you want to call it. They range from 1 to 10.

Workout levels (WL) express the relative difficulty of the workout, and also range from 1 to 10. And this is where much confusion arises despite TR’s excellent explanation of the difference. Many folks refer to “progression levels” when they actually mean “difficulty levels” when talking about a workout. But, we’ve already established that PLs only apply to athletes

Finally, difficulty levels ((DL)–achievable, productive, stretch, breakthrough–obviously apply to workouts, not athletes. Quite obviously!

There are those in the forum who take issue with PLs because they aren’t a standard concept used outside TrainerRoad. As such, I reference the Matrix scene where Neo meets the train conductor in the subway. He says to Neo, “I built this place. Down here, I write the rules.” Adaptive Training is TR’s subway, and PLs are their rules, irrespective of our personal opinions. Much confusion would be avoided with proper use of the terms, which, in turn, really helps our newest athletes.

Good read below on PL, DL, and WL.

Thanks for the clarification. Yes, I was mixing up those terms. Hopefully the message was still clear enough for the OP.

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Progression levels do two things…they keep users more engaged throughout workout progressions and they give users a way to place a given workout’s difficulty with respect to that user’s own ability AND the relative difficulty of other workouts.

A lot of times I would find myself really engaged during threshold workouts but kind of going through the motions during VO2max workouts. Progression levels keep me more engaged during all workouts, all week long. It gives me a framework to keep ‘achievable’ but consistent progress in all types of workouts. Not just the type of workout I’m preoccupied with.

Also, if I want to dial things up a little bit and use that “Alternates” drop down, progression levels serve as a guide so I can pick a workout that is definitely more challenging but not over-the-top-make-my-eyes-bleed hard. This is actually the number one thing for me. I get a systematic sorting of a given workout type with respect to the workout I want to replace and with respect to my own current state of fitness.

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As an analogy, Imagine weight lifting, you can do 20 reps with 5 kg but 8 reps with 10kg. Your friend is working with “heavier weights” = FTP so “lower reps” = progression levels

At this time:

  • Progression Levels (PLs) are a measure of your ability to complete workouts
  • Each workout in the TR library has a Workout Level (WL)
  • Successfully complete a workout and the WL will impact your PL (up, down, or no change)
  • PLs are therefore a reflection of your ability to complete workouts, zone by zone
  • for example Beech has an Endurance 4.1 WL, and if you complete it as your first TR workout your Endurance PL will become 4.1
  • you also provide feedback on how difficult the workout felt

There are some other details, but lets skip those and go back to the big picture to help answer @markirwin1988 first question.

What are progression levels mean? How does TR use PL and WL and workout feedback?

  • for new users it helps AT find appropriate workouts and set you on a path of doing productive workouts
  • during a training plan AT may adjust your rate of progression of key workouts, and possibly suggest different workouts

These are all good things to help anyone new to structured training, but you benefit without having to understand PLs or even think about them.

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Great point, and very helpful advice for new folks!