New Concepts in Fitness Planning

Many of our users have been asking for Xert-based training programs. They appreciate all the great new ideas and ways to measure fitness but often ask about how they can apply this information towards improving their fitness and preparing for target events.  When we set out to design a training planner, we didn’t just want to provide some textbook-based generalized method or some method-based on various interpretations of the research.  Instead, we wanted to use all the insight we gather from from the data and match that with your performances and use this to drive how you should be training.  This is the first step towards fully automated and adaptive training that we’ve set out to provide, helping you optimize your fitness – The Xert Fitness Planner is now available.

The Xert Fitness Planner is designed to help you understand and answer the following questions:

  • Will my training plan actually work?
  • What would happen if I increased/reduced intensity?
  • What if I added/reduced the time I spend training?
  • Is my plan too hard/easy for me?
  • How do I get the best out of my training time?
  • What training methodology will work best for me?

The Fitness Planner as a Coaching Tool

The new Xert Fitness Planner is the ideal tool for coaches as it quantifies all the levers that are used to create and optimize an athlete’s training plan. Many coaches have spent years developing their practice by using both field results and examining the research. Often their practices become more art than science as they try to account for all the individual variations they need to contend with. With the Xert Fitness Planner, quantification of what normally came with intuition is now available at your fingertips. As a coach, Xert can help inform you of those unique differences between individuals and how they respond to training. Use it to reinforce or adjust your existing practices to look for improvements that you may not have been aware existed.

The Fitness Planner for the Self-Coached Athlete

You, like a great many athletes, may be looking to move beyond the cookie-cutter generalized training programs that are available, to a training program that moves you closer to being managed as if by a good coach. The Xert Fitness Planner gives you the tools to be your own coach and create/manage a training plan that is customized to you, your specific fitness abilities, your specific strengths and weaknesses, your available time to train and your ability to handle easy/hard workouts. Consider investing in yourself and your fitness by spending a few moments understanding a bit about Xert and the Xert Fitness Planner. It has raised the bar for many self-coached athletes to enable to see what an experienced coach sees when the manage their athletes’ training programs.

Create Your Own Fitness Plan

Before you start your planning, be sure to get your Xert account ready:

  1. Ensure you have good historical data in Xert. Be sure you don’t have strange errors that may have made the analysis of your existing activities and rides incorrect. Add more data to the system if it is sparse. Perform an Progression Recalculation if required. (See the FAQ)
  2. Keep your data up-to-date. The system uses all your data to determine how you respond to training. Missed rides may suggest that you haven’t been training as much as you actually have and can mislead calculations.
  3. Insert rides where you didn’t have power data. If you had a workout or ride where you didn’t have a power meter, perhaps a commute or other non-power activity, be sure to include the activity in your historical data. The best way to do this is to find a similar activity with power data and make it a favourite, then drag-and-drop it onto the calendar. Alternatively, click on the date where you had the activity and manually key in the duration, XSS, Focus and Specificity as these are they metrics Xert will use to undertand what type of training and how much training you did during the activity. Review the concepts of XSS, Focus and Specificity Rating as the are the main levers you’ll be using to direct your training, and thus your fitness.

Once your account is ready, consider the following factors that you’ll need to take into consideration as you decide on what to include into your Training Program:

  1. How much time will you have during each week?
  2. How much time will you have on a given day?
  3. What will your forecasted Training Status be on a given day?
  4. What will your forecasted Freshness be on a given day?
  5. How close is the day to your Target Event Date?

All these factors will help you answer the question: “What workout or activity I should do at that time?” This choice isn’t always an easy one and will change as you execute your plan and as your fitness changes. Xert allows you to optimize this by allowing you to plan it yourself and see what changes you will expect to see in the future.  It is the only tool to provide a comprehensive prediction of your fitness based on your own historical performances.

Simple 1-2-3-4 Steps to a Custom Training Program

Whether you’re a coach or a self-coached athlete, creating a customized and personalized training program built on the foundation of Xert’s data is easy.  Follow these 4 steps in creating your own plan.  Adjust it over time to suit your specific needs and availability.

Step 1: Favourite your Structured Workouts

The Xert Fitness Planner allows you to drag-and-drop workouts and activities on to the calendar to define your training program. It will display any workout or activity that you have favourited.  Open the Workout Listing and sort/filter the listing (use Standard, Coach or your own Workouts) and favourite a variety of workouts by clicking the star for each workout.   Consider the weekly Suggested Focus shown on the weekly summary to narrow down your choices.  (Getting precision on the Suggested Focus isn’t absolutely necessary).  If you’re unfamiliar with the workouts, look at the Difficulty Rating, XSS, Duration and Focus to make choices on which to choose from.  Review the Glossary to better understand these concepts.

Step 2: Favourite Your Planned Rides/Activities and Races

Using the Activity Dashboard or Activity Table, favourite your activities that are similar to those you’ll be doing – group rides, commutes, cycling camps, races, etc.

Step 3: Plan Anchor Activities

Anchor activities are ones that won’t change in your plan. Generally these are rides/trips/races that everything has to work around.  For example, for the next few weeks, we’re going to block off Sunday for our Long Club Rides:

Note that although you may be thinking that you should be planning out all the way to your Target Event Date, this won’t be necessary as things will be more dynamic as you execute the plan.  Just be sure to enter your Target Event Date under Account Settings (as well as choose the appropriate Athlete Type that you are training towards) and allow the system to map out your periodization towards these goals.

Step 4: Plan your Structuring Workouts / Activities

When you drag-and-drop workouts and other activities onto your calendar, follow these basic rules:

  1. Don’t schedule anything (or at most a Recovery workout/ride) on Very Tired days with red stars
  2. On Tired days with yellow stars, try and schedule endurance training workouts/rides only.
  3. On Fresh / Very Fresh days, go ahead a schedule a greater intensity or higher XSS workout at your Suggested Focus or close to it.  Your Weekly Focus doesn’t necessarily have to be identical to the Suggested Focus although the closer you get to your Target Event Date, the stricter you should maintain this Focus.
  4. Pay attention to your forecasted Training Status and look for workouts that have a Rating (number of stars) at or above your Training Status stars.This can help choose a workout that has the appropriate difficulty for that stage in your training.
  5. Manage your Ramp Rate.  Ideally this should be between 1 and 7 (green in colour), with 1 representing a “Light” program and 7 representing an “Aggressive” program.  A red value may mean you’re overreaching and should be avoided over extended periods.  Blue values may mean insufficient amount of training time or intensity, perhaps showing a plateau.

Final Monthly Plan:

Weekly Summary:

Notice how Ramp Rate stays between 3.8 and 6.9 during October.  This is ideal.  This example shows a month of base training where Training Status goes from 2 to 3 stars, Threshold Power goes from 281.2W to 286.8W, but with HIE and PP both declining due to the Base Training phase of the program.  As the program nears the Target Event Date, we’ll want to see these two values increasing which will also increase our Pursuiter 3 minute power value.

Advanced Concepts – How does Fitness Prediction work?

If you’ve worked with Xert, you’ll see that it obtains your Fitness Signature information from your rides and training workouts with greater precision and frequency. In the same way “What’s My FTP?” app is able to obtain your FTP from a great variety of rides, both with steady and variable intensity, so does Xert obtain your FTP and your other key fitness parameters, i.e your Fitness Signature, directly from your data. The rides and activities where Xert obtains your fitness are called breakthroughs and these are represented by the coloured circles on our progression charts.

Xert identifies the relationship between breakthroughs and your training loads by looking for patterns that correlate your training volume and intensity with the fitness signature values for your breakthroughs. Using this information from your own historical data, Xert uses it in predicting the results of your training. No magic formula. Just basic math. Xert simply does all calculations for you with your training and breakthrough data. The results of this are shown on the Fitness Planner when you plan your training. This allows you to plan and optimize your training based on how *you* respond to training.

Key to the success of the method is ensuring you have good representative information on how you respond to training.  This means keeping your data up-to-date and having breakthroughs with greater frequency and depth.  With this information, you together with the Xert Fitness Planner can plan to improve and optimize fitness in ways never before possible.

Using the Fitness Planner with the Xert Workout Players

Xert will automatically select a planned Xert workout when its scheduled time has arrived. This makes it easy to perform your workout since you simply need to run the workout player and the workout that you have scheduled will automatically be downloaded, ready to be executed.