Typical or Optimal Weekly TSS??

Discussion in 'Power Training' started by robkit, Apr 19, 2008.

  1. robkit

    robkit New Member

    Dec 11, 2003
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    There was a thread some time ago along the lines of "how good can i be on 10 hours a week" which raised questions such as whether 15 hours training per week is better than 10, 20 better than 15, and so on upto a sensible limit. It also highlighted the need to run off lower volumes of training at higher Intensity Factors in order to maximise benefits.

    What I'm really interested in is any thinking that may be out there on what is either a typical weekly TSS for certain levels of cyclist, or else what could be considered an optimal level.

    Apart from the general interest I ask because in a couple of weeks I have the opportunity to quit work for a few months and this will afford me unlimited training and recovery time... I want to aim for some sort of "optimal" TSS so that when I opt to taper, my TSB hits the roof.

    Maybe there is even some thinking on what could be considered optimal based on an athletes ability to recover, which in turn could be linked to current level of fitness or VO2max. Or else some guideline on "max weekly increase in TSS".

    Or perhaps I'm looking down the wrong end of the telescope on this one?

  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

    Oct 3, 2006
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    I don't think there is an optimal level or even a level you can define based on racing category and preferred events. Every one is different in terms of available time to train and recover and even in terms of the nature of their events. Typical advice is to ride as much as you can as long as you can sustain the intensity necessary to elicit desired adaptations and as long as you can recover well enough to continue training daily, weekly, monthly and throughout your training and racing year. Then if you add in work, family, school and other obligations you need to plan around it gets even trickier.

    How far you can push it during your sebatical depends in part on where you're starting from and what else you'll be doing during that period. Even if you have no other obligations you don't want to ramp CTL faster than 8 points per week or so during your dedicated training block. So if you start with a CTL of say 80 and have 3 weeks off to train full time you shouldn't target much more than a CTL of 100-105 by the end of those three weeks.

    You should also consider what will give you the best bang for your buck relative to your strengths and weaknesses. For instance if you want to raise your VO2 Max with some focused L5 work it's unlikely you'll raise your CTL as quickly as you would with a lot of Tempo/SST but it might be more important to your competitive success than just getting a big CTL number. Same holds for focusing on L6 or pure sprints, that might be what you really need to be more competitive but they're intense enough and require enough recovery that you aren't likely to build as much CTL while working on those areas.

    Anyway, these are really good questions for a qualified coach. But lacking that, you should take a look at your strengths and weaknesses and make a plan that uses your extra training and recovery time to improve your weak areas. That might be CTL in which case SST is a very attractive option but it may very well be other things that don't allow you to utilize all the found time.

    I was between jobs for about a month and a half last summer and trained very hard and improved my weak areas quite a bit prior to racing in the second half of the season. But I didn't ride as much or build as much CTL as expected because I intentionally focused on L4 and L5 work which really helped but didn't build as much CTL as long L2/L3/SST rides would have. No regrets, but I was surprised that my weekly hours and weekly TSS wasn't higher although I was training hard and making substantial gains.

    There's also this quote from another thread that you might find interesting:
  3. Steve_B

    Steve_B New Member

    Dec 31, 2006
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    I generally agree with Dave.

    I know that Andy C. and Hunter A. tend to suggest no more than 5-7 points/week increase but I think that's over the long term (months?). I would suggest that it might be possible to ramp faster over a short-term, though probably at a lower intensity than what you may be be accustomed to.That is, if you're like the rest of us headbangers doing L3/L4/L5 most of the time, a huge increase in weekly TSS is possibly best accomplished with more L2 (%-wise) than you normally would, just to be conservative and safe. I find it easier to do heavy weeks like that at lower overall intensities.

    Of course, you will need to decide if that fits your goals. I find a huge impulse step of TSS can have some fitness (FTP) benefits, even if the intensity is a bit lower than normal. However, riding around in L2 may not do much for your VO2.

    If you are going to ramp your CTL like this, I would also suggest planning for some extra time off the bike sometime in the 6 weeks afterwards. I don't think it needs to be contiguous, extra days "here and there" might be OK. I find that the hard ramp up needs to met with an equally restful recovery period to keep yourself in balance.

  4. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

    Apr 3, 2005
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    More is generally better, up to the point that it's not. ;)

    Seriously though, TSS is aptly named the Training Stress Score because that's what it represents. It's not the amount of stress that you'll want to optimize, it's the strain, or resulting changes in the body, that you'll want to optimize. The strain depends not only on the amount of stress, but also the composition and timing of that stress relative to what the body can respond to. Sorry, not a cut-and-dried answer but I wouldn't suggest simply shooting for a certain weekly TSS and believing that one's training is optimized.

    That said, Andy has stated that during the testing of his TSS model, he found that cyclists of different abilities and disciplines all found that the breaking point over a sustained period of time was in the ballpark of ~1000TSS/wk.
  5. JungleBiker

    JungleBiker New Member

    May 17, 2004
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    Hi Frenchyge,

    What do you mean by breaking point? Do you mean that ~1,000 TSS/wk is the optimal TSS?

  6. acoggan

    acoggan Member

    Jul 4, 2003
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    I've changed the subject title to better reflect the way to view the ~1000 TSS/wk (or, better still IMO, a CTL of ~150 TSS/d, since defining it that way specifies quantitatively what is meant by "long term") guideline that Dave mentioned.