Should I just pick the highest PL alternate within the workout’s targeted difficulty?

Is there anything wrong with picking the workout with the highest PL in the same recommended difficulty zone? For example, training plan has me doing a productive vo2 max ride. Is there anything wrong with going into alternates and finding the hardest workout that has the highest PL in the “productive” range?

Might be fine, assuming you are able to execute the workout to the desired intent. The first question I have is why? I can imagine one or two reasons, but understanding exactly why you want to do it and what you hope to gain vs following AT are important details.

If my research is correct and consistent, Productive starts a 0.1 higher than your current PL and goes to 1.0 higher. Seems that TR aims around 0.5 for steps above current PL if all else is equal.

Outside of that, picking a top of the range option may be a minor kick up in value, or as much a 0.9 higher. That may be enough to turn a “good” workout into a “bad” one that leads you to potential bailouts, or at the very least more stress than TR intends in the scope of your training plan.

Point being that looking at a single instance is one thing, considering the fuller picture of your week and training plan overall is important. Unless you are using this approach to “accelerate” your progression from some form of reset (like a PL drop after an FTP change), I think this approach would lead to issues in a relatively short order (1 or 2 weeks as a guess).

I’d urge caution and consideration of your plan progression and make choices like this knowing the potential risk, and that you may well need to alter your tweaks if/when things change.


Probably better to rely on Adaptive Training to dial things up (or down) as necessary. I.e. if you’re nailing your recommended workouts and marking them as Easy then soon enough AT is going to give you something harder anyway.


Thanks for the responses. Burnout is something I watch. I’m doing an Olympic triathlon “low volume” (still 6/7 workouts a week). With only 2 rides a week, I find myself wanting to “push it” as far as I reasonably can. Adaptive training does have me in a really good spot, all my rides are hard, but achieve, I just seem to think that if I can stay in the same difficulty zone but just push a little bit more in terms of PL it might compound positively over the season, considering I’m riding only 2-4 hours a week

I would steer towards workouts with the same profile type. Don’t swap long efforts for a workout with a higher PL score that has lots of short efforts with rest in between, etc.

If I miss a single workout during the training block due to fatigue I would question if bumping things up was worth it. It’s not do I feel fine today or even tomorrow but at the end of whatever block is going into a recovery week.

1 Like

Once your fitness starts plateauing, picking the top range of productive is going to bring on some failed workouts.

1 Like

I know from doing TR Triathlon (Pre AI) that there is a balance that you need to manage.

In the past AI hasn’t taken information from Runs/Swims. I would say bumping up the PL .1 or .2 may not harm you in the long run, but also understand that there is no such thing as a short cut. If you bump it up too much now and burnout in 2-3 months and can’t train for 1-2 months let alone the fact that it may line up with your race date. You are better off taking the slow and steady approach and being able to train with 5-6 months with no burnout.


I think this is not a good idea for several reasons. What this means is that you would override AT and put yourself on a faster progression than what the majority of TR athletes can sustain. Likely, it will derail your training schedule. And it need not mean that you would fail these particular, harder workouts, but you could incur so much fatigue that you cannot manage the next hard workout.

AT can and does adapt to your individual needs: just answer the post-workout surveys honestly. The latter is super important. Speaking from personal experience, the larger the distance in time between a very hard workout and me judging it, the easier I tend to find it — I “just” forget how hard it felt in the moment. :wink:

Here are my suggestions based on my experience with AT:

  • If AT does not put you in the correct PL, you can override it. E. g. after a training hiatus AT will frequently pick PLs for endurance and VO2max that are too low for me. Here, I will override AT and pick a workout that I think is a better fit. But do this very carefully and don’t forget that workouts will become harder every week.
  • Some workouts are meant to be easier than others. Don’t make every workout hard for you. For some you might need to fight, so save up on that gumption with a few that you know you can nail, yet are challenging.
  • Question your reasons for picking an alternate. I felt the same urge in the beginning to “correct” AT: I feel great today, it can’t know, so I will pick a harder workout. In the grand scheme of things, it won’t matter much whether my VO2max workouts were done at 118 %, 120 % or 122 %.
  • Be much more inclined to correct downwards (rather than upwards) on days when you are not feeling it.
  • There might be other, legitimate reasons to switch workouts with an alternate: timing is a big one. Perhaps I got up late or have a prior commitment, and I can’t spend 1:30 hours on the trainer that morning. Or if you don’t want an endurance ride with constant small changes in intensity and rather those with big 1+14-minute blocks, you could pick alternates here.
  • Don’t let your feelings be hurt if you have to go back a few PL points.

Overall, in my experience AT does its job quite well. It isn’t a “leave your brain at the coat hanger”-type solution, nor is it meant to be, but you should allow yourself to get to know it as it was meant to function first — and then override it when necessary.

Suspect almost everybody on this forum has felt the same desire to push it! Sometimes works, but IME more often leads to mild overreaching, plateauing earlier and needing to dial things back down to make progress again.