#3: Some Training Peaks Changes
Updated: Aug 10, 2020
Welcome to the Coach’s Blog, powered by Dillman Coaching. I started coaching in January 2018 and quickly realized that there are a lot of topics specific for bike-racing that I want to share with my athletes. So I have decided to use this blog as a teaching platform to display specific topics and coaching ideas to my athletes and the general public as well.
In my last post, I discussed the training mentality I’ve developed that comes from an age-old saying among athletes: No Pain, No Gain. I talk about the theory, the science and the results of the pain tolerance mentality among athletes. Check out Blog #2 for the full read.
In the past week I’ve spent some time updating all my workouts in TrainingPeaks. Consequently, some things have changed so I want to use this post to update my athletes on a few of these changes and why I think it’s better.
One of the primary changes I’ve made in TrainingPeaks is the method for calculating power zones. I went through each athletes profile and updated their threshold numbers and made sure the settings were set to the “CTS Method.” Some of you may have already been set up with the CTS (Carmichael Training Systems) power zones so this wouldn’t have changed anything for you. See below for a chart laying out the CTS Zones.
There are a few reasons why I prefer the CTS zones over others.
Less intimidating. The names aren’t so scary. Steady State & Climbing Repeat sound much more friendly than Threshold & VO2 Max. And the simple names make it easier to differentiate and remember each zone.
Less zones. The reason for less zones is because the Power Interval Zone varies depending on length. A Power Interval is the maximal power you can sustain for a given length. It’s as hard as you can go for the amount of time given. For example: The average watts for a 5 minute Power Interval might be 300 while the average watts for a 30 second Power Interval might be 500. You can sustain a much higher intensity for shorter intervals versus longer intervals. Typically, Power Intervals will never be longer than 5 minutes.
Over Under workouts. If you look, the SS (Steady State) zone stops right at your threshold and the CR (Climbing Repeat) zone start right above your threshold. This makes for perfect Over Under workouts. “Over” meaning the effort is above your threshold, which would be CR. And “Under” meaning below your threshold, which would be SS.
During this process I also created an FTP Chart that has each athletes current and previous FTP test results. The purpose of this chart is to track your progress and to see the improvement you’re making throughout the year. This is good because it reassures both you and me that we are headed in the right direction and it also helps us to make good goals based off of previous numbers. For example: If your threshold before Nationals last year was 290 and you got Top 10 then this year we might set your goal threshold to 310 so you can shoot for a Top 5. You have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going.
Another thing I’ve added to this chart is your watts/kg. So if you got a random text asking for your weight this week, that’s why. An athletes threshold number is great for comparing to their previous tests, but it isn’t a good way to compare yourself to others. Riders who weigh more are naturally going to have higher thresholds and riders who weigh less are going to have lower thresholds. But as you may have figured out by now, gravity also plays a role in all this. For example: during a race a larger rider may be putting out 300 watts while the smaller rider only puts out 250, but they are both going 25mph. This is where watts/kg can be helpful. This takes into account your threshold and your weight so you can accurately compare threshold values with other athletes despite the weight difference. There is also a fun chart that lays out all the different levels of racing based on watts/kg. See below.
I’ve already had a few athletes ask me about the ranges on workouts so I wanted to mention this as well. Previously most of the workouts I assigned had a specific wattage you were told to hold. That has changed. Now each workout has a range which means your average watts for that interval should be somewhere in the range assigned. And conveniently all these ranges should match your power zones. For example: If you are assigned a “3 x 10min SS” workout the range for each SS Interval will be 95-100% of your threshold (See chart above). So if your threshold is 300 that would be 285-300 watts. So it’s up to you to make sure your average watts for each of these 10 minute intervals is between 285-300.
Set up different screens on your Garmin or cycling computer to help you during these interval workouts. I have found the lap button to be an excellent tool for these longer intervals. I have a screen on my Garmin (see photo below) that displays my current power, lap time, heart rate and average lap power. And the number I find myself looking at most is the average lap power because after 10 minutes I want to make sure it ends up in that SS zone.
Use the Lap button. For the screen above to be effective you must properly use the lap button throughout your workout. This means you should start a new lap at the beginning and end of each interval. This is also a huge help for data analysis as well, because when I go into your workout to look at your power graph I can just click on each lap and it will automatically highlight the specific 10 minutes that you did your SS interval and I don’t have to do any guess work about when I think you started the interval.
For Zwift users. As you may have seen, I have recently broken my hand so I am in the process of getting more and more familiar with Zwift and my new Wahoo Kickr trainer. But in the week I’ve been using it I’ve noticed that when you export a workout from TrainingPeaks to Zwift, Zwift automatically sets the target power to the middle of the range. So if your using ERG mode you’ll be stuck right in the middle of the zone so you could use the arrows at the bottom to increase or decrease the intensity as long as it stays within the proper zone.
The primary reason behind all of the changes is for consistency. Having just started coaching this year I hadn’t figured out the best way to write workouts and kept coming across subtle differences between how the workouts were written. So I finally sat down and made sure everything was consistent and similar.
Thanks for bearing with me and I believe these changes are for the better. If you have any more questions about the changes feel free to shoot me a text/call/email or whatever works for you.