Random Question: Has anyone ever come up with a TSS-like equation for weight lifting?

How would one quantify training stress in the weight room for periodization purposes?

Not suggesting that 1 weight lifting “TSS” point would be equal 1 TSS point on the bike or anything like that.

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Pretty sure there is some advice on this in Joe Friel’s latest edition of the Cyclist Training Bible

I have it and I’m not sure if I recall anything off the top of my head.

I was thinking of something that sort quantifies the stress required to do a certain amount of sets/reps at specific intensity.

For instance, NP/TSS are used to equivocate different types of intervals/efforts. In other words, two rides of 100 TSS are meant to be similarly “stressful”. There is obviously a lot more nuance than that to it, but that’s kind the premises on a very simple level.

Lets say I did squats 3x5 @ 75% of my 1RM. Is there a formula or a way to figure out what type of percentage of my 1RM max I’d need to do to get the same amount of “training stress” if I’m doing 3x10 instead?

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interesting question.

The book “Weight Training for Cyclists” has periodized plans for road cyclists, mountain bikers, etc. The phases are:

  • Strength
  • Power
  • Maintenance
  • Transition
  • Stability

For example the 4-8 week stabilization phase uses 60-70% 1RM, 15-30 reps per set, and 1-2 sets per exercise. As compared to the 8 week strength phase @ 70-85%, 8-12 reps per set, and 2-3 sets per exercise. The power phase adds plyometrics to strength (and increase weights to 85-100% 1RM).

In other words, periodized plans for cyclists attempt to:

  • mesh your strength and cycling calendars (e.g. strength/power lifting during cycling base)
  • use different lists of exercises depending on lifting phase
  • for the same exercise, e.g. deadlift, different phases make adjustments to weight (% 1RM), sets, and reps

I think the currently-popular formula that I’ve seen is INOL.


Yes! I think this is what I was getting at: https://www.reddit.com/r/weightlifting/comments/88qmm2/inol_based_approach_to_periodization/

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Yep. There are some other useful resources if you’re interested, but that’s the most mathematical popular mechanism that I’ve seen.

There is.

I don’t have an “equation”, but I do track weight lifting TSS for 2 purposes:

  1. To estimate the fatigue induced by strength training for the purpose of knowing my TSB* prior to any cycling workout
  2. To track my weekly, monthly and annual strength training TSS in order to:
    a. make progress (similar to cycling TSS)
    b. measure it’s effect on my cycling

I assign either 5 TSS or 10 TSS to a weight lifting set based on the level of effort:

A 10 TSS set might be 4 sets of 15x single legged calf raise ladders (full body weight on each leg with 40->60 lbs).
Another 10 TSS set might be 4 sets of lunge ladders x 12 reps each leg with 50->80lbs
A 5 TSS might be a 4-5 sets of adductors OR a set of abductors where each set is a ladder similar to above

So in an hour session I might have a weight lifting TSS of 40 (modest day) or in a 90min really hard session I might have as much as 90. The “litmus test” for me that these are good estimates is that having ridden several thousand bike rides with a power meter and analyzing my rides subsequently, I know approximately how much stress an hour or 90 minute session will induce on my body. The system works for me.

*TSB = Training Stress Balance (see Andy Coggan’s Performance Management Chart that tracks ATL, CTL and TSB) in Training Peaks Premium or WK04. It’s also described in Joe Friel’s book mentioned above as well as Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan’s book: “Training and Racing with a Power Meter”)

I have worn my HRM during strength sessions and let TrainingPeaks do the calculation. It usually would give me around 50 for a 1 hour strength workout so that’s what I went with.

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Not exactly TSS, but you can measure strain on your body from non-bike workouts. Like you, I used to try to estimate TSS from other activities. Now, I use the WHOOP for this purpose. In addition to cycling, I am an avid snowboarder, and budding rock climber. I wanted to have an idea how those activities were putting stress on my body, so I asked Santa for the WHOOP. Having this data has certainly helped me understand what kind of stress those tasks bring, plus what kind of stress my body undergoes during a “normal” day.

Invaluable information for my tight schedule, giving me stress data, recovery data, and sleep data. So far, WHOOP has been remarkably accurate in predicting my recovery and strain.

I can’t recommend this enough!

HRM seems like a reasonable approach if your gym workouts are similar to crossfit or supersetting (i.e. little to no breaks between sets or exercises). I would think that approach would break down when the focus is on maximizing strength (i.e. taking sufficient breaks to be well prepared for the subsequent exercise/set).

How many exercises/sets are you accomplishing in 60minutes for a 50 TSS? Qualitatively, would you describe it as pretty reasonable paced or fast paced?

Funny you say that. Back when I worked out in the gym I would do fast paced Supersets alternating either opposing muscle groups or upper and lower body. As much to save time as for the other benefits. A year ago I started crossfit and still would get around 50 based on HR for a one hour workout.

In training peaks if I toggle between power/HR tss or pace/hr tss I usually get pretty similar numbers so I feel pretty confident my zones are set correctly.

you might find this interesting. about a year ago i was at an IoT conference (internet of things) and talking to the strength coach of a university in either Washington or Oregon (i don’t remember) and he was telling me that they now have these devices that go on weights to measure acceleration of the weights, apparently as a metric of how much force the athletes can drive; and of course it tracks # reps. it will be interesting to see what happens in the strength world for measuring work done.


I just read something about this — article said it was difficult to arrive at a (cycling) TSS for weight lifting because the HR is low relative to the muscular damage being done. :man_shrugging:

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Yeh, as a mechanical engineer by education and in the tech industry forever, I am very interested at seeing what comes out in this area. There are apps like FitBod that track total pounds lifted, but that’s sort of like tracking just TSS - it doesn’t tell you the quality of the lifts.

What was interesting to learn was that Coach Chad has a background in strength training. Given that, I would have expected that TR offers a strength training program, or at least an approach at measuring TSS. If you look at success Zwift has had in combining racing and training, you would think that there would be a similar opportunity for TR between cycling and strength training. I guess time will tell . . .

weird because TSS in cycling relies on power.

Conceptually the goal is similar, how do you compare different strength training workouts. Its a lot like interval training and progressive loading in cycling (e.g. https://www.elitefts.com/education/engineering-physical-performance-reassess-utilization-of-inol-model/ or watch this video particularly around 8:00 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h63JTsVdntw)

It can also be based on RPE.
That might have been how the article was trying to connect things. I’ll try to find it again…

Coggan invented TSS and this is from the horse’s mouth

I feel this this thread got derailed. From my original post: “Not suggesting that 1 weight lifting “TSS” point would be equal 1 TSS point on the bike or anything like that.”