Quantifying Training Stress Score and Fatigue

Is it possible to use training stress score and a few other derived metrics to manage your fatigue?  Can you simply know how hard to ride by just looking at a number on a computer screen?

I recently answered a question from an athlete that went something like this:

“I've been doing riding four days per week (2 trainer days and 2 outdoor days.)  I've been following this pattern for about 6 weeks now and I've noticed in the last week that I've been extremely tired and been feeling worn out.  Have I been training too hard?”

This question is an excellent illustration of why training with power can be so useful: Training Stress Score (TSS) and Intensity Factor (IF) can be calculated from accumulated power data.  These metrics, when combined with a performance management chart will allow athletes to calculate Training Stress Balance and can help determine when overtraining becomes a danger.  It can also help you vary the intensity of your workouts and tailor them to your training needs more appropriately.

As a side note, TrainingPeaks online and Strava offer some variety of TSS as well, calculated via heart rate.  That's another blog post entirely, so keeping in mind that we'll be discussing power based metrics, let's look at how you evaluate training stress and fatigue after the break:


Stages Power Meter Review

The Stages Power Meter burst onto the scene in 2013 with the promise of an affordable power meter option attached to the crank arm.  How does it compare?  Is it as good as it claims to be?  Compared to similar offerings of the time the Stages meter was a novel, if not brilliant idea.  It cut the cost in half by placing the measurement device on the left crank arm only.  It was easily transferable between bikes and easy to remove and replace if it needed service.  The super light weight of only 11 grams also made for an attractive marketing point.  So did the user replaceable, easy to source coin cell battery.

Yet not everyone was on board.

From the get-go, many complained about the left sided only power measurement.  It was claimed to be prone to inaccuracies due to the “doubling of the left leg” power calculation.  Many claimed the accelerometer principle wouldn't provide sufficiently accurate cadence to properly report power.

Here we are more than two years later and Stages power meters can be found on every manner of bikes from weekend warrior up through Tour de France winners.

I've got about 2 years on Stages power meters now.  How does it stack up against other power measuring devices I've used like Quarq and Powertap?  You can read my thoughts on the Stages power meter after the jump:


VO2 Max Training in 30 Seconds

VO2 max training is one of my secret keys to building strong cyclists, and it's the key to unlocking bigger functional threshold power (FTP) gains later in your training.  Physiologically, VO2 max is the maximal amount of oxygen your body can use during high-intensity exercise.  FTP is simply a fraction of that maximal amount under which your body is primarily producing energy through aerobic means. Basically, think of VO2 max as your fitness “ceiling”.  You can only increase your FTP so far before you start running into that ceiling, so you have to “raise the roof” on your fitness if you want to bump your FTP up further.

Here's the part most people don't realize: you don't need to backload your program with a ton of 5 to 8-minute intervals in order to accomplish the goal of VO2 max training.

VO2 Max Training In 30 Seconds?

Microburst training is one of the many tools I use to build fitness in the athletes I coach.  Surprisingly, microburst training (which is a fancy way of saying really short, really hard repetitive interval training) is a quick way to boost your cycling fitness and make you stronger and faster. It's been tested time and time again, and while it's TRUE that you can build big fitness in 30 second blocks, you have to be prepared to bury yourself in the pain cave for a while.  If you're able to handle the intensity, you'll end up realizing fitness gains you never believed you'd find in such a short time.

But how can blocks of 30 to 50 seconds build fitness that will allow you to crush those 4, 5 and 6 minute efforts in races and fondos?  After the jump, I'll explain why it works, cover the physiology of it and give you a few workouts that you can integrate into your weekly training.


The Cycling Performance Management Chart (Podcast #59)

What is a cycling performance management chart and what can it do for you?  Is it just a way to graph your fitness?  Does it tell you if you're ready to race?  Will it keep you from overtraining?

The performance management chart (PMC) is one of the lifelines between an athlete and their structured training work load.  Many of my listeners, customers and athletes have asked me what all those squiggly little lines and numbers mean?  Sure, there's a basic concept of “keep on climbing” the fitness mountain, but it's a far more nuanced tool than just that, revealing information about your fitness, form and where you may potentially be overdoing it.

After the jump we'll discuss the basics of the PMC, how you manage your training and your fitness using a PMC, how to read all those little lines and how you can use the PMC as a tool to maximize your performance.  I'll also talk about what the PMC CAN'T do, which is perhaps the most important thing to know.

Check the show notes after the jump for more:


Coaching Q&A – Ways to Boost Your Training Outcomes (Podcast #58)

This time of year, the focus of your questions has turned from how to get strong and fit for upcoming events to wringing the most out of your training time.  If you are anything like the 99% of cyclists for whom riding a bike isn't a job, you have limited time to train and need to get the most out of each hour. I'll wager that these questions that I'm getting will apply to many of you out there.  It's true that no question is a stupid one, and since there's a lot of valuable information in each of the topics I'll talk about, I've put them together into a podcast intended to help you boost your training outcomes.

In this episode of the Tailwind Coaching Podcast, I'll explain how you can boost your fitness and increase your training outcomes with some simple techniques.  After the jump, you'll be able to peruse the show notes and read a synopsis of what's talked about in this episode.

Don't forget to hit the like and share buttons on the left to share this information with your friend, group ride buddies and teammates!

Now, learn how to boost your training outcomes with these simple tips: