Personal help Fitness & Fatigue

I am looking at my fitness graph and it has me stumped. My fitness has gradually increased since May 2020 when I started cycling on the road. I’m up to around 70 which I’m really happy with. I now combine Peloton rides with 3 road rides a week averaging 4-5 workouts most weeks. Without delving too deep I have an indoor FTP of 226 and an outdoor FTP of 255. This has been pretty consistent for a few months.

The thing I am struggling with is that I just can’t get into the green… I am doing around about the same amount of load, some lower weeks but in general around the same and with very similar time in different zones. But now the same work done just doesn’t seem to get my fatigue up, and my fatigue number is consistently lower than at times in the past… now if my FTP is the same and the work done is the same, surely my fatigue should be the same?

I’ve looked at the detail and I can’t quite put my finger on it… as an example;

At the end of the week of 28th Nov, FTP was 255, CIL was 61, I did 5:45 in Z1&2, I did 2:25 in Z3&4 and 0:55 in Z5+ I had a load of 549, fitness of 73 with fatigue of 95…

At the end of the week of 10 Jan, FTP was 255, CIL was 59, I did 6:06 in Z1&2, I did 2:21 in Z3&4 and 1:28 in Z5+ I had a load of 536, fitness of 71 and fatigue of 75…

So why is my fatigue so much lower? That 20 points is the difference between gaining fitness and stagnation and I just can’t seem to get there with the same training against the same FTP… the only thing that has changed a bit is I am doing more internal rides, but the indoor FTP should take care of the impact this has on the fatigue number, shouldn’t it?

I’m at a loss, maybe I’m being dense so don’t be afraid of stating the obvious… can anyone help? Is there a calculation or factor I’m missing? I took a rest week last week to see if that meant I could go for an even higher load this week, but that would mean pretty much doing a hard session most if not every day… is that just what it takes to improve? Are my expectations of continuing to build fitness with this level of training unrealistic?

Sorry if this is a noob question, any input would be greatly appreciated.

Because you dont progress your training load (intensiteit/time). Your CTL is Plateauing. Thats why your fatique is going lower because of your increasing condition, your body will easier recover from the work. So you have to increasing your trainingload to avoid that your CTL is plateauing.

Here is my Fitness curve. You can see the ATL is increasing because of progress the load per week.



I agree with @PattyP. You can see the same in my chart. By increasing the intensity (in my case the red bar at the very bottom), a greater and greater stimulus is achieved and thus the load remains in the green range. The body adapts and puts the higher stimuli away better - we are better simplified.

This is where reality kicks in :). I am in much the same situation as you, Michael, beginning to plateau - and now the question is, if one should settle for that or “go pro”. I mean: As the (training) Bible says: There are only three factors to consider: intensity, duration and frequency. At one point or another, we hit the plateau. Even pros do. The low fruits are taken. In my view, your fitness is actually pretty high - congrats with a great “plateau”.

When reach the limit of time, you have to increase the intensity. I have some great video’s about overcome plateau, and not to stare you blind on CTL. It is just one of the tools in a toolbox :wink:


This is all so helpful thank you guys, I guess it’s time to bring some order to my training. Otherwise I am not capitalising on my opportunity. The amount of time I can give training is limited more in terms of duration than frequency I can do 5 sessions a week but really only one session of 2hrs or more. So I’ll have to find a program where I can work around that limitation and still make some improvement. My focus is to lose more weight to get my watts per kilo above 3 (currently 2.95 based on my eFTP of 271 although I feel that is a little high) and then I think by the spring/summer I will be in a position to join a cycling club and be able to keep up with the group rides! Now I have a target, I can work on a plan. Any additional tips welcome.

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A really simple way to look at it, is you need to keep the purple line (load) above the blue line (fitness. It doesn’t actually mean fitness, but that’s a different story). It can dip under on recovery weeks.

One way I manage ramp rate is to increase stress week on week, recover, and then build again. For example:

Week 1: 400 TSS
Week 2: 450 TSS
Week 3: 500 TSS
Week 4: 250 TSS (Rec)

Week 5: 450 TSS
Week 6: 500 TSS
Week 7: 550 TSS
Week 8: 300 TSS (Rec)

Week 5: 500 TSS
Week 6: 550 TSS
Week 7: 600 TSS
Week 8: 350 TSS (Rec)

Once you have these TSS targets, you can then carve the sessions up depending on your chosen periodisation or methodology. e.g., polarised, specificity etc.


James, I would like to ask: What would you think I should aim at ramping it up towards in terms of weekly TSS, when my goal is a 220 km ride (2000 m altitude) in May? The longest ride I have had this year was a Four Horsemen race at 3 hours and 242 TSS. It is difficult to know what the TSS will be for an outdoor event and so on, but let’s say it will be about 400/450 for a 7 hours finish time at 30 km/h pace. What weekly stress should I go for, if you were to say it?

Appreciate what you a putting out very much, I will try to learn the lesson before “feeling” it :).

Don’t think of it in terms of your target event. Maximum fitness is ideal for any length event. The specificity of the training will change though.

Ramp up gradually from now until the event in the way that I explained. Focus on endurance.

Thanks, but would it be unwise to participate in an event with a higher Load than you are able to ramp up your weekly load to? I guess that is my question. Let’s say: If you over the course of time are able to ramp up to 600, what would you not go above for a single event? - or is this really not the way to look at it? Morten

Really not the way to look at it.

As it is an endurance ride, you need to build up said endurance. As long as you go easy enough and eat enough you will be fine. The more you train, the faster you will be able to go.

In terms of specificity, make sure you have lots of long easy rides with lots of climbing in the plan.

I did a 200 mile (330km) ride last year. Longest I did in any training ride was 100 miles.

Your TSS calculation is definitely wrong though. A 7 hour ride will likely be less than 50% of your FTP, so under 350 TSS, as it seems your goal is completing it as well as possible, rather than racing it.

Thanks for explaining! Yes, I guess it will be mostly in zone 2 (roughly 2.0-2.5 w/kg) and then more on the climbs. Btw, is it correctly understood that TSS is calculated fairly simple with 1 hour at FTP = 100 TSS - and 1 hour at 50% = 50 and so on?
I agree that intensity is the key as long as you sit comfortably in the saddle with everything dialed in correctly. At least, the Four Horsemen race I did, I did at max emptying the tank on the Alp - and it took me more than a week to feel recovered afterwards. It is that experience that is pushing me towards making a good plan for the next three months in front of the biggest goal of my season :).

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And to add to other answers, these are just models with varying degrees of error.

The correlation of TSS with changes in fitness is not as high as one thinks it is. Below is a table from a study, and if you know stats, what its saying is that not all changes in fitness can be attributed to changes in TSS.

That complexity aside, you can monitor HRV (RMSSD) and pop in that as one of the graphs in that Fitness page. The general idea being that you can increase load and/or intensity on those days when RMSSD is > baseline and reduce when HRV is low or you sense other anomalies. This way, instead of sticking to some ‘static’ blueprint of TSS/day, you adapt each day to how you feel. Could that lead to increased fitness, not the blue curve - but actual fitness gains? Experimentation required over several weeks. Personally, I just started tracking HRV and found that despite the chart saying I’m in “High Risk” territory, the HRVs are positive and high. I’m interested in tracking this more to get a general feel for what’s going on but that’s just my limited observation.

I frankly like using all the tools at my disposal, and I’m generally suspicious of using the Coggan performance chart in the default form it comes in.

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You’re right that riding at FTP for 1 hour is 100TSS but you need to be riding at about 71% of FTP for the hour to get 50TSS.

TSS can be worked out from the following equation where NP is Normalized Power and s is the duration in seconds.

TSS Equation

If you make FTP 1 and NP 0.707 you get a ratio of 0.5 or 50TSS/hour.


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