Intensity vs TSS

Hello all - new in here. Background - the last couple of years I’ve not raced - endurance and z2 miles. Pinned a number on again a couple of months ago, got into the sufferfest, been smashing a couple of really good quality sessions a week. Power numbers way down on where they were a couple of years ago - but I’m not sweating that…yet.

Question - my weekly TSS has dropped - I suppose a big week for me was 500-ish, now I’m frequently struggling to hit 350 - after the interval sessions I’ve been pretty cooked, almost everything else has generally been z2 or recovery rides. Generally one longer ride a week - call it a total of 6 days a week, working in the 3 on / 1 recover sort of thing. How does TSS take account of quality, if indeed it does - or is it a pretty crude measure of volume?

I haven’t really been much of a numbers nerd or a data cruncher the rest of my riding career, but as I’m getting older my body’s responding in different ways, and an information, etc…

I think you’ve got this nailed already sir.

Quality (which from your tone of your note you’re getting !) vs quantity is a big thing.

Without knowing your detail … (and that’s better for the coaches to comment on anyway - one will be along I’m sure !) I’d suggest you’re off to a flying start if you’re hitting hard workouts and performing in them to an extent you’re goosed afterwards.

I’d also suggest that if you’re doing the occasional hard workout then it is spot on that you then keep it to Z2 (or even Z1 might actually be better) in between.
What has been a typical week for you?

All in all though - tss should probably take a back seat for a while while you continue the re-acclimatisation work … and if you’re getting two great and hard workouts and the rest is easier then I’d say stick with it until you’re well back on track.

Then maybe decide if you need more volume later on …?

Thanks, Sir Martin.

Typical week is riding 5 or 6 days, Monday’s usually rest, usually a hard interval session on Tuesday, 1hr z2 Weds, another interval session Thursday, recovery ride Friday, race or long ride Saturday, Sunday can be a bit variable - if Saturday’s been a tough one, then generally another recovery-ish ride. I generally get a couple of short sessions of yoga a week in, plus a session or two of ground flow / primal movement.Typically, 7 to 8 hours on the bike in total per week…

Definitely feeling stronger after the last couple of weeks - my first 4dp test identified my weakness as repeated efforts, which I’d agree with…doing workouts targeted at MAP and AC. Definitely fun ones to get through…! Love the 4dp adapting of the workouts to my level, finding myself properly challenged but not wrecked for days…

Curious to see how I feel in a couple more months of this…Cheers!

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Hi @patchsurfer,
Hard to say exactly what is going on but the first question I would ask is how long has it been since you had a significant rest? are you following a periodized plan with regular rest weeks built in and then, has anything in the rest of your life changed, (sleep, stress, etc.) These are all very important things to pay attention to along with the simple numbers.


Hi Jeff, thanks for chipping in.

Yes, I generally have a rest week one week in 4. It’s more a general question about how much attention to pay to TSS when introducing a bit more structured intensity. I’m picking that like most things, it’s just one measure…and perhaps I’ve being paying it a bit too much attention. Def not an issue - even in a couple of weeks of using the sufferfest, I’m feeling stronger!



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Looking back at this, I realise I’ve done a terrible job of explaining myself. TSS seems to be an imperfect measure for capturing stress on different parts of the human system. I could go and do a couple of hours at steady state, or a shorter session of say, 40/20s, with an identical TSS number. My body would feel very different afterwards. Rather than looking at aTSS score as a whole, would something like looking at time in zone be a better measure for gauging my effort as I up the quality?


Not all TSS is created equal. Looking at their metrics such as IF, NP and VI will tell you something about how the TSS was created. At the end of the day we all respond differently to different workouts and sequences of workouts so, as much as I love my numbers, it’s also about listening to your body.

If you’re used to a lot of volume but not much HIIT then it will be as much a mental adjustment as physical to a different way of training.


Hey @patchsurfer … I think you were clear enough :slight_smile: and that, as you say, is the issue with TSS.

It’s also hard to use anything else … though if we step away from the classic bits of software that only use tss, and look at some of the other options out there, where you can build your own analysis, then I suspect more can be done.

I think this is why some people refer to TSS as ‘totally silly score’ (copyright sir @JamesT)

Overall, even though I sometimes spend time myself using tss, I think structured plans work better, and there’s almost a case for forgetting tss.
(and therefore saving money on software subs at the same time lol)

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Thanks all, it’s a bit of a mental leap away from how I’ve measured my effort over the last few years - hours on the bike, weekly mileage, then TSS. Old dog, new tricks, etc…

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I think you already got very solid advice here.

I have nothing to add other than to pile on trash talking TSS. :slight_smile: And I like posting articles: