Tell me I'm wrong about Adaptive Training

Hi,

I’m six weeks or so into using Adaptive Training and it’s going really well so far. But something is bugging me about the logic of it and I’m wondering if I’ve got something wrong. (I may well have.)

For background, I would have had my ramp test last week on the old plans, and expect it would have shown significant improvement. I spent a lot of time off the bike (because of a crash) and running (because I did a marathon last summer) so I think that rest has meant that I’m seeing fairly quick gains this block, albeit from a lower base. I didn’t do the ramp test, however, because of Adaptive Training. My FTP is the same as it was ~6 weeks ago, when I did the test for this block – this, I understand, is part of the point, that the system will get to know me without needing endless testing.

But the trouble is that as I get fitter, the categories don’t seem to align with the energy systems anymore. So, for instance, my sweet spot rating has improved quite a lot, and I’m now doing much higher-rated workouts. But the trouble is that my FTP hasn’t changed, so those workouts don’t feel like sweet spot anymore – they’re a lot more like tempo. Of course, they’re harder than they were, but that difficulty seems to come in the form of more/longer intervals and fewer/shorter recoveries.

Surely, though, I’m no longer targeting sweet spot. The same applies for all the other energy systems. My heart rate is lower, as you’d expect, and the workouts that should take me anaerobic don’t anymore. The difficulty has obviously ramped up, of course – in that it has stayed constant as my fitness has changed – but it feels like that it hasn’t done so in a way that tracks with the intended physical adaptations.

I want to be wrong about this; I hope that I’ve either misunderstood AT, or I’m using it wrong, or this is just a consequence of it still being new, or something else. It really does seem to know me and the adaptations it suggests are clever. But I want to get my head around this so that I’m not doubting it.

Thanks!

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If you suspect a large change in FTP, you’ll want to reassess it. AT can only be as good as the data you feed it. If you’re FTP has made a large change, you are no longer feeding it good data by doing workouts that are not based off a correct FTP.

I have taken the approach that once either SS. Threshold, or VO2 Progression level has reached ~8, It’s time to reassess my FTP. I would GUESS in most cases testing every 4-6 weeks is a bit too frequent, My testing has pushed out to about once every 2 months.

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I had a car accident earlier this year right after coming off my off season, so my power was really low. I was bumping my FTP number in the app about 1% a week for 6 or so weeks before retesting. I kept doing that until the workouts felt appropriate.

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I’d do a Ramp Test! :sunglasses:

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OK that’s me told! Thank you.

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@IvyAudrain (I am guilty as charged… but here goes. Please read…)

The flashing neon sign that has been turned on by Adaptive Training is this: people (your customers) hate FTP and/or ramp tests. They will do anything and everything to not take the test. Whether they are afraid of a lower resultant FTP, fearful of the pain, believe it is a flawed methodology, or just think they ‘know better’… they don’t take the damn test.

(Hey, I don’t take it either. I’d rather train myself into a burning hole of chamois butter with an overinflated FTP, or poke my eyeball out with a rusty shift cable than take the test. BUT, I’m not holding TR accountable for my person stubbornness.)

While I’m only using the TrainNow thing and love finding all these new workouts and (yes) moving my Progression Levels, I suspect I’m not alone. A lot of people hate testing.

Why not modify the UI to basically prevent AT generated plans unless a customer takes the ramp or xx-minute test? I’m sure everyone will complain and say its too heavy-handed… but how many customer support calls will TrainerRoad deal with where the end-result is a customer that didn’t take a ramp test? Lack of ramp tests surely makes the AT engine confuzzuled more often than not.

[/flame suit ON]

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There is no “sweet spot” energy system. The physiological adaptions that occur at sweetspot intensity occur everywhere from zone 2 to suprathreshold to various degrees.

If your progression levels are going up, then you are either increasing duration, %intensity or number of intervals even at the previous FTP. Thus you are providing more stimulus for the real physiological adaptions. Now if the FTP is drastically lower than expected the adaptions would simply potentially occur at a slower rate

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Love it, I was going to post something similar but moved on.

Yes, fair enough. Sweet spot was probably a bad choice and obviously they all bleed into each other.

But even in that context there is a difference between a easy sweet spot workout and an hard tempo one (both in terms of how the TR system thinks about them, and what they actually consist of) and that’s basically what I’m asking about.

While I’m not sure whether I agree with your point here or not, I’m going to have to stick up for myself and say that I’ve behaved exactly as the TR system told me to.

In the old-style plans, you’d get a ramp test after every recovery week. Now you don’t. (Or I didn’t.)

All I did was follow the plan. I don’t like testing but I do it whenever I’m told!

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not to the body

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Before I dropped my subscription, Plan Builder and AT was giving me “sweet spot” workouts in SSB1 at 80% FTP. That was because AT wasn’t giving PL credit for my outside rides, but still… In my experience TrainerRoad has interesting opinions about tempo and endurance.

Hard to specifically respond to your question, without more info on what you see as easy SS and hard tempo.

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Maybe. But there is within the TrainerRoad system at the very least.

As far as I can tell the progression level (or zone) of a workout is decided by what % of FTP it focuses on. Its rating within that progression level is decided by how much it requires you to work at that %, how long each interval is, how long each rest is, etc.

There might not be a difference in the physiological stimulus but the idea that there is at least a conceptual difference is central to AT as far as I can see.

We have something cooking to help address this. :shushing_face:

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Sorry, what I’m getting it is what I referenced in my original post. Maybe sweet spot is a bad example, given it’s kind of wooly. (It was just on my mind because it was during this afternoon’s sweet spot workout that I was thinking about it.)

Just for simplicity’s sake, let’s pretend TR was built with two training zones: sub-threshold and supra-threshold.

So I keep being assigned supra-threshold workouts. I keep succeeding and getting fitter, so AT keeps making those workouts harder. Harder, as AT sees it, is longer super-threshold intervals, divided up by shorter rests, with more of them in a given workout.

But at a certain point, my increasing fitness means that my threshold rises. They become easier not because I can spend more time above threshold but because they’re no longer above threshold. It doesn’t matter if you make the intervals longer, at least for the sake of this argument, because what the system thinks is supra-threshold isn’t, anymore.

The obvious reason this can happen is because the system is working with two variables, one of which arrived with AT: how good you are at a given % (% range) of FTP, and what that FTP is.

Obviously as @IvyAudrain says the answer is to reset that FTP to my actual performance. But I suppose the reason I hadn’t done so is because 1) I’d heard that part of the point of AT was to test less (and eventually not at all?) and 2) I’d usually be told to test after my recovery week, and I wasn’t.

if you think workouts are too easy and want to do a ‘trial run’ to see what a workout at a higher FTP is like, I’ve manually bumped up my sweet spot and endurance workouts by 2% and after a few successful workouts I manually moved my ftp up 5w, might be worth a try.

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Simple answer - retest when you suspect a change in fitness. Ignore the long-term vision of testing less, it is not available now.

What you have now is a system that implicitly acknowledges that the previous off-the-shelf plans were filled with workouts that could be either too hard, just right, or too easy. The adaptive part is an attempt to give you an appropriate workout, while still retaining the fitness goals of a block of training (e.g. SSB1 or General Build). If you give honest feedback, and test or manually reset FTP, the adaptive workout selection feature works well. Without going too deep, the adaptive workout selection feature doesn’t deal well with some things but generally speaking it works well.

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Sure thing, that makes sense. And I think @hubcyclist is getting at something similar.

Perhaps my real problem, then, is that AT has occasionally been discussed as if it is something that makes testing obsolete, or less necessary, or requires less often, or works at any kind of longitudinal or zoomed out level. I think that’s where I was wrong. It’s a system that works in the time between tests, and only then; each adaptive block is as long as test-to-test, which presumably at this time for me should actually be five weeks or whatever.

I do have to say though that I don’t hold myself entirely responsible for this mistake! It has definitely been suggested that one needs to test less, in both the podcasts and the fact the plan actually has you testing less.

I’ll go back to doing regular ramp tests, and seeing AT as something that modulates the workouts within that context rather than replacing or obsoleting that context. That makes sense and I think I understand why I was wrong now! Thank you.

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Yes, that is a really good way to think about AT if you just want to follow the plan. If you have more experience at estimating fitness and understanding what you are capable of doing, then we get to hubcyclists point of manually bumping FTP (for below threshold workouts), or pick an alternative harder workout to push up PL.

you weren’t wrong, they just overhyped it. Marketing at work.

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