Understanding TSS - max, min, sustainable

Hi team,

I’m newish ( about 3 months ) into using TR, and just trying to find out my max, min, and sustainable TSS.

Is it based on a perceived feeling after the week and tracking accordingly, or is there a bit more to it?

I.e. I’ve just had a month of 927, 97, 364, 591. 927 felt hardest and I’m currently resting, does this mean my maximum achievable is 927 at this time?

I might probably note that I’m working on a low volume criterium plan, with actual summer criterium races and a fast group ride twice a week.

How are you recording power? What is the composition of the TSS? How many hours?

927 is insane and I’d wager in accurate.

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Thanks for the reply -

Basically two races a week, with two high intensity group rides ( one flat, one hilly ) and two TR workouts a week.

Using a power2max power metre, with a Kurt Kinetic wheel on trainer.

Wow! How many hours does that span?

Between 6-10 hours a week. I’m working on criterium power so shorter sessions but more explosive. I could probably get up to 12 hours a week when I’m training for endurance events.

Have you got your FTP set correctly?

Whilst intervals and the like can skew things a bit, 100 TSS is riding at your threshold for 1 hour, so 900 TSS would be 9 hours at threshold which even in races and hard group rides isn’t possible.


I was on 225 FTP with virtual power and my old trainer - my FTP is now 165 with the new trainer, heavier flywheel. I have another FTP test scheduled in a few weeks, so I’ll see if anything changes.

The races / rides have been very high intensity though, maybe my TSS is just a result of my low FTP…

I think it’s 99.9% because of low FTP. Retest, see how you go. For someone doing your hours and style of riding then unless there are some other circumstances at play turn your FTP will be way north of 165.


Also max tss is kind of a false thing…what want is sustainable. No point doing a 900 odd tss week if then too tired and only do a 90 tss week (like from your numbers). Consistency is king!



It’s not the be-all-and-end-all, but check out the tables in that article.

TSS is a tragically flawed metric & you should pay attention to it as a tertiary measure or at most a secondary measure. TSS is a rolled up summary of efforts that we pretty much all admit encompass three different energy systems…that’s the primary reason it doesn’t work well.

As a thought experiment, consider two athletes that have heard on a podcast that most athlete who qualify for a certain event have a TSS of 100 or more. Ok, so both athletes resolve to achieve a 42 day average TSS score of 100. The first athlete goes out every day and rides at Z2 until 100 TSS are accumulated. The second athlete goes out every day and rides at threshold for an hour. Do both athletes stand the same chance of success? Most of us intuitively understand that you can’t do an hour at threshold every day for over a month…but that it is well within reach to accumulate 100tss of Z2 work on a daily basis (but still hard!).

Not all TSS are created equal!!!

My advice to a newish cyclist would be to concentrate on consistency & really just do the minimum amount of training that results in improvement for the first three months or so. Increase volume as needed when gains from your current training volume start to plateau.


100TSS more or less represents an all out 1 hour effort.

Accumulating 937TSS in upto 10hrs would be roughly equivalent to nine and a half all-out 1hr time trials…so it’s likely the numbers are not helping you plan your training right now.

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I notice during that 927 week the C race you did had normalized power of over 200W but your FTP is set at 165. When I looked at your ramp test from that week the result was 225W. Are you sure your FTP is set correctly?

Thanks for replying - I think we’ve isolated the issue, the low FTP is most likely the cause of the high TSS.

I went to a new trainer with a heavier flywheel and power metre, before I was using a different trainer with virtual power. The FTP test I did, if I admit, wasn’t great, and I was thinking of upping my FTP manually, but I’ll do a ramp test in a few weeks and recalibrate.

I suppose I can take my TSS as an arbitrary number and use it to gauge recovery, etc, but won’t take it as absolute gospel - I actually didn’t know about the threshold calculation.

Thanks all!!

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Good to hear.

The RAMP test is much easier to recover from than the 20min test, at least I find I’m able to test more than once a week or more than once a day if I want/need to. So if you are a ways off, I wouldn’t be too concerned with the equipment, and it should be no more than 25mins of your time (and tears!) to correct.

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TSS is pretty good at what it does, particularly compared to the alternatives.

TSS is just a measure of training volume. Think of it as replacing “hours” or “miles” for “how much do you train”. It’s significantly better than both hours and miles.


That’s basically how I’ve been using it - just to gauge volume and effort. It’s a good general indicator and allows me to plan my recovery, and upcoming weeks better.

Strava has a similar stress score algorithm, but I only use trainer road for tracking my training.

I think you might need to plan a little better! You have the right idea, but maybe the wrong execution. A sequence of 927, 97, 364, 591 is far from optimal. Take that same total of ~2000TSS in 4 weeks and aim for something like a 3 week progression of 500, 550, 600, followed by a recovery week of 350. Then next block go a little higher e.g. 520, 570, 620, 370.

When you change your training focus and hence intensity mix then be prepared to re-evaluate how much TSS you can handle. E.g. averaging 600TSS in your non-recovery weeks might be fine when you’re doing endurance training or sweetspot, but when you move to Build phase and are adding in VO2 Max and Anaerobic training you might find 600 is too much and you need more recovery. This is where it can be dangerous to chase TSS as a goal in itself.

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Agreed! It’s been a fairly erratic block, the week of 97 I had a crash and a badly sprained wrist, so only did an indoor session that week.

I’m not going to do another ramp test until my next training program, so I’ll know what the current TSS numbers mean going into the back end of the year.

Great point re TSS being relative to the load itself - I was doing long race / gran fondo training until recently, and now into criterium & power building, so the TSS definitely feels harder this time round.

I think that’s the best use of TSS. Planning progression within a period where the type of training and mix of intensity is pretty consistent. And comparing similar blocks to each other (e.g. doing 10% more TSS during base from one season to the next should build a bigger aerobic base, all else being equal). I think it starts to break down a bit when your training is more erratic or you’re comparing different types of training. You can’t really compare a week when you had some time off work and went and did some epic outdoor endurance rides and then slept for 10 hours, to a week when you did all your training indoors with a high degree of structure and intensity fitted around work and family commitments. Still better than simply looking at mileage or hours, just needs to be taken with a pinch of salt at times.

And definitely not a number to get too fixated on and start chasing for it’s own sake. Though the same could probably be said for any single metric, including FTP! The challenge with power meters and all of the data now available is that cyclists and triathletes can easily get a little obsessive and there is a lot of data to obsess over. Good to step back from the day to day detail regularly and keep an eye on the big picture. Which I think is the real value either in following a structured plan like TR, or in having a coach. Because when we don’t have that structure or oversight then it’s very easy to lose sight of the big picture.