Training Using Xert’s Adaptive Training Advisor – PEZ Cycling News

The Xert Adaptive Training AdvisorThe Xert Adaptive Training Advisor is a smart training recommendation engine that factors in many variables obtained from analysis of... More (XATAThe Xert Adaptive Training Advisor is a smart training recommendation engine that factors in many variables obtained from analysis of... More) uses advanced analytics to not just model your current fitness, but to individually prescribe workouts guiding you towards a desired fitness and time. I relied on it for >90% of my training this winter leading up to April’s gravel season.

Read the whole story below…

Periodized & Progressive Training

Training needs to be progressive, steadily building upwards from a solid aerobic foundation to become more and more specialized towards your target event and its specific demands.

 

With Xert, I set my target event date to April 29 for the 25th running of the Paris-Ancaster gravel race. XATAThe Xert Adaptive Training Advisor is a smart training recommendation engine that factors in many variables obtained from analysis of... More then sets up a template of a 45 day “Base” phase, 45 day “Build” phase, and a final 30 day “Peak” phase.

Here is overall fitness progression from January 1 to Paris-Ancaster on April 29th. Yellow dashes = Threshold PowerAlso used as an acronym TP in Xert and sometimes described using the more colloquial term FTP, Threshold Power is...; Black line = Training LoadAlso referred to as TL, and a component of the XPMC, this represents the exponentially-weighted moving average of activity XSS...; Purple bars = daily Xert Strain ScoreAlso called XSS, this quantifies how much strain an athlete endures during an activity.  By taking strain, which is measured as...; Coloured Circles = Breakthrough Activities.

 

I started systematic training on the bike again in mid-December, following a 6 week break (3 weeks totally off and 3 weeks cross-training). As you see from the progression chart, my Training LoadAlso referred to as TL, and a component of the XPMC, this represents the exponentially-weighted moving average of activity XSS... at the start had dropped down to 50 (2 out of 5 stars), while my starting fitness signatureIt is represented by three values: Threshold Power (TP),  High Intensity Energy (HIE) and Peak Power (PP). The three fitness values are used... was 1010W/17.5kJ/228W for Peak PowerAs one of the three parameters that define an athlete's Fitness Signature, this is an athlete's highest possible power.  Sometimes... (PP), High-Intensity Energy (HIESee High Intensity Energy....) and Threshold PowerAlso used as an acronym TP in Xert and sometimes described using the more colloquial term FTP, Threshold Power is.... Lower Threshold PowerAlso referred to as LTP, this represents a modeling artifact associated with the depletion of Endurance Energy. As endurance energy... (LTPSee Lower Threshold Power....), an indication of sustained endurance power, was 184 W.

Note also the pretty close matching between Training LoadAlso referred to as TL, and a component of the XPMC, this represents the exponentially-weighted moving average of activity XSS... and Threshold PowerAlso used as an acronym TP in Xert and sometimes described using the more colloquial term FTP, Threshold Power is.... That is one reason why Training LoadAlso referred to as TL, and a component of the XPMC, this represents the exponentially-weighted moving average of activity XSS... is often used as a surrogate of overall fitness.

During the Base phase, XATAThe Xert Adaptive Training Advisor is a smart training recommendation engine that factors in many variables obtained from analysis of... More focuses on building up aerobic capacity, prescribing a variety of endurance workouts that aim to raise both LTPSee Lower Threshold Power.... and TPSee Threshold Power..... By the end of January and Base phase, with every ride done on the trainer due to the harsh Canadian winter, my LTPSee Lower Threshold Power.... and TPSee Threshold Power.... rose to 199 W and 242 W, respectively, while my Training LoadAlso referred to as TL, and a component of the XPMC, this represents the exponentially-weighted moving average of activity XSS... increased to 77 (3 out of 5 stars).

 

 

Graph of my Peak PowerAs one of the three parameters that define an athlete's Fitness Signature, this is an athlete's highest possible power.  Sometimes... (green), High Intensity Energy (blue), Threshold PowerAlso used as an acronym TP in Xert and sometimes described using the more colloquial term FTP, Threshold Power is... (red), and Lower Threshold PowerAlso referred to as LTP, this represents a modeling artifact associated with the depletion of Endurance Energy. As endurance energy... (grey) from January 1 to April 29. TPSee Threshold Power.... generally changes gradually, whereas PP and HIESee High Intensity Energy.... can spike up and down more.

 

Now in Build phase from February to mid-March, XATAThe Xert Adaptive Training Advisor is a smart training recommendation engine that factors in many variables obtained from analysis of... More began prescribing workouts of some intensity 1-2x/week. In keeping with my desired focusThis is a generalized concept that is quantified as duration value and categorized as an Athlete Type. The value is... of 6-min power and my fitness level of 3 stars, these intensity workouts were primarily 3-3.5 stars in difficulty, and with the focusThis is a generalized concept that is quantified as duration value and categorized as an Athlete Type. The value is... of 8-10 min power to build me gradually towards my 6-min power focusThis is a generalized concept that is quantified as duration value and categorized as an Athlete Type. The value is.... By the end of Build phase, my Training LoadAlso referred to as TL, and a component of the XPMC, this represents the exponentially-weighted moving average of activity XSS... had increased to 92, while my LTPSee Lower Threshold Power.... moved up to 208 W and my Fitness SignatureIt is represented by three values: Threshold Power (TP),  High Intensity Energy (HIE) and Peak Power (PP). The three fitness values are used... to 1031W/18.6kJ/254 W.

 

 

The ‘smart’ Closer 140 workout that was a staple of my Build phase. It’s ‘smart’ because the wattage constantly changes to keep you fatiguing at a set rate, recognizing that your ability to generate wattage decreases as you fatigueFatigue represents a reduction in an athlete's ability to produce power.  It either manifests as a reduction in Maximal Power....

Over the final Peak phase, XATA’s prescribed intense workouts were mostly in the direct focusThis is a generalized concept that is quantified as duration value and categorized as an Athlete Type. The value is... of Rouleur or 6-min power itself. My overall fitness did not really change much over this phase but, as with the whole idea of a Peak phase itself, the plan worked towards sharpening my fitness to match the specific requirements of the racing I would be doing. My final LTPSee Lower Threshold Power.... and Fitness Signatures on P2A race day were 208 W and 1046W/18.4kJ/254W, with a Training LoadAlso referred to as TL, and a component of the XPMC, this represents the exponentially-weighted moving average of activity XSS... of 97.

This Positive Split Micro workout was a staple of my Peak phase, being right in my target focusThis is a generalized concept that is quantified as duration value and categorized as an Athlete Type. The value is... of ‘Rouler’ or 6-min power, and also featuring lots of repeated surges just like in racing.

Racing Results

I did three gravel races in April, each one drastically different despite being of similar 60-70 km length.

 

Paris-Ancaster was a peak physical & mental performance for me. Times are impossible to compare due to the conditions always changing, but my dream target was top 200th overall in the >2,500 field. This would be a pretty challenging goal, as my previous best-ever placing was 263rd overall. But I did it, moving all the way up to 177th!

 

What other things about training and about using XATAThe Xert Adaptive Training Advisor is a smart training recommendation engine that factors in many variables obtained from analysis of... More shone through this experiment?

 

Appropriate Difficulty Levels

One lesson learned is that, the fitter you become, the harder the workouts that you can tolerate and complete. Xert ranks each workout in its database, and each of your activities, according to a Difficulty Score based on the rate at which you accumulate strainMeasured in joules, this quantifies how much work is performed close to MPA. As MPA drops with fatigue, strain increases.... These are ranked 1-5 stars, matching the 1-5 stars fitness ranking you have based on your Training LoadAlso referred to as TL, and a component of the XPMC, this represents the exponentially-weighted moving average of activity XSS....

 

One of my favourite workouts that fit my desired focusThis is a generalized concept that is quantified as duration value and categorized as an Athlete Type. The value is... of Breakaway Specialist is “Let the Sparks Fly.” Typically a workout with a maximum difficulty score of just under 100, it’s ranked as a 3.5/5 star workout in terms of difficulty.

 

 

Throughout summer of 2017 and during my Peak training phase in March & April 2018, I could easily complete this workout despite its difficulty.

 

However, early in training after 3+ weeks off the bike and travelling, I tried the workout December 30, 2017, two weeks after restarting training and with a Training LoadAlso referred to as TL, and a component of the XPMC, this represents the exponentially-weighted moving average of activity XSS... of 60 (2 star fitness).

 

As you can see, despite the workout wattages being much easier due to my lower fitness signatureIt is represented by three values: Threshold Power (TP),  High Intensity Energy (HIE) and Peak Power (PP). The three fitness values are used..., I simply found the workout far too intense even in the very first set, and ended up bailing and just riding easy.

 

Lesson Learned: Xert does a nice job of only recommending workouts that are appropriate for you in terms of difficulty. If you’re at a 2 star fitness, it’s not going to recommend workouts in the >3.5 difficulty ranking.

 

Frequent Fitness Testing

The old axiom of “garbage in, garbage out” absolutely applies to proper training planning, either with or without power. When using power, one important keystone is to accurately and frequently set your fitness signatureIt is represented by three values: Threshold Power (TP),  High Intensity Energy (HIE) and Peak Power (PP). The three fitness values are used.... Without this accurate fitness signatureIt is represented by three values: Threshold Power (TP),  High Intensity Energy (HIE) and Peak Power (PP). The three fitness values are used..., you will either be doing workouts that are too easy – slowing your fitness development. Probably even worse is doing workouts that are too hard for your current abilities, leading to repeated failed workouts, non-functional overreaching, or injury.

 

Traditionally, this involves doing 20-min threshold tests every 4 weeks or so. But I’ve always hated these, and I’m actually not really the type of rider who can do a good sustained 20 min effort. I know from past history that I’m much more of a TTT-type, thriving with hard pacelines featuring short & hard efforts with brief recovery bouts.

 

A strength of Xert is that it makes frequent testing much easier, both indoors and out. Rather than requiring standard, steady-state efforts of different durations, Xert will automatically recalculate your Peak PowerAs one of the three parameters that define an athlete's Fitness Signature, this is an athlete's highest possible power.  Sometimes... (PP), High Intensity EnergyAlso used as the acronym HIE, this is the amount of energy or work capacity an athlete has above Threshold... (HIESee High Intensity Energy....) and Threshold PowerAlso used as an acronym TP in Xert and sometimes described using the more colloquial term FTP, Threshold Power is... whenever you do a ride of sufficient intensity, indoors or outdoors.

 

So whether you’re doing a hard Zwift race, a fast club ride/race, a set workout on Xert or other training platforms, all you have to do is ride hard once a week or so, and Xert will automatically adjust all future workouts based on your new fitness signatureIt is represented by three values: Threshold Power (TP),  High Intensity Energy (HIE) and Peak Power (PP). The three fitness values are used....

 

For me, I have a favourite Tabata-esque workout that is guaranteed to reset my fitness signatureIt is represented by three values: Threshold Power (TP),  High Intensity Energy (HIE) and Peak Power (PP). The three fitness values are used.... Each set consists of 13 reps of 30-s all out, with 15-s recovery at about 125 W. I find these easy to do both indoors and out, and it fits with both my preferred style of riding and my main focusThis is a generalized concept that is quantified as duration value and categorized as an Athlete Type. The value is... on cyclocross racing. During summer 2017, my average watts can hit 270-282 W. In contrast, my average watts during our flat 15 km club TT is only about 250-255 W.

 

 

Here is an indoor effort that I did in mid-February. My Fitness SignatureIt is represented by three values: Threshold Power (TP),  High Intensity Energy (HIE) and Peak Power (PP). The three fitness values are used... prior to the workout was 1003W/17.1kJ/243W. You see how my Maximal Power AvailableAlso referred to as MPA™, Maximum Power Available or Max Power Available, it is a measure of the maximal power... (MPAMPA stands for Maximum Power Available. It is a measure of the maximum power an athlete can generate at a given moment... More) with the blue line repeatedly fell below my actual power (red line). This tells Xert that the current fitness signatureIt is represented by three values: Threshold Power (TP),  High Intensity Energy (HIE) and Peak Power (PP). The three fitness values are used... cannot explain the power profile.

 

As a result, Xert automatically recalculates to determine a Fitness SignatureIt is represented by three values: Threshold Power (TP),  High Intensity Energy (HIE) and Peak Power (PP). The three fitness values are used... that fits the power profile, potentially changing 1-3 of the PP, HIESee High Intensity Energy...., or TPSee Threshold Power.... parameters. In this case, PP remained at 1003W, but HIESee High Intensity Energy.... rose to 17.3kJ and TPSee Threshold Power.... to 245W.

 

 

To see what happens without an accurate fitness signatureIt is represented by three values: Threshold Power (TP),  High Intensity Energy (HIE) and Peak Power (PP). The three fitness values are used..., if I did the exact same workout and power profile with my current fitness signatureIt is represented by three values: Threshold Power (TP),  High Intensity Energy (HIE) and Peak Power (PP). The three fitness values are used... of 1043W/18.3kJ/253W, that same workout wouldn’t be nearly as intense, nor would it provide the same training stimulus.

Lesson Learned: No matter what system you use, accurate and frequent updating of your fitness parameters is essential to ensure that your workouts are optimized to your abilities. Xert makes this frequent assessment super-simple and automated.

 

Summary

I hope that you see the power and adaptability of Xert’s Training Advisor. Day to day, it will adapt to your training history and your desired target, recommending training that will put you on that ideal path to a peak performance.