If you want to get more out of your training time by adding Training Stress (TSS) to your week, you don’t need to crank up the intensity of your workouts to do so. Add TSS to your week with adjustments that are easy to consistently integrate.

For more on nailing your training check out the Ask A Cycling Coach Ep 235.



Adding TSS Through Intensity

While many workouts might feel difficult, other workouts in your plan might leave you feeling like you could have done more. When you complete a workout that felt like it was on the easier side, you might be wondering if you should have cranked up the intensity or added some tougher efforts at the end of the workout. While it might seem like you’d want to make your workouts harder whenever you can, this isn’t always the best strategy for increased training adaptations.

Turning up the intensity during a workout can promote training adaptation and make you faster, but it’s most helpful if you can do it consistently, and it is rarely a carefully calculated approach.

Because it isn’t a prescribed training intervention, turning up intensity has the potential to add excessive fatigue to your body, making future training sessions much harder to complete. In our experience, consistently nailing your prescribed training plan is the best approach to getting faster.

So don’t worry if you feel like you could have done more. While there will definitely be workouts that are really tough to get through, and even some workouts that you can’t finish, not every workout should leave you feeling demolished. Remember that just because something feels hard doesn’t mean you are getting more training benefit by doing it. Those workouts where you feel strong are important too!

Adding Sustainable TSS

Instead of using intensity to boost training adaptation and increase TSS there are other more sustainable ways to consistently add TSS to your training week. 

Here are a few things you can do to easily add sustainable TSS to your training week:

Extend Your Cool Down

A great way to get in some additional aerobic training and extra TSS is to extend your cool down in the aerobic zone. By adding ten or fifteen minutes of aerobic work to your training each week you can accumulate additional TSS and training every workout.

Doing this can be easier than adding an additional aerobic workout to your training week, and it’s an easy way to add additional TSS. As an added benefit, it gives you a little extra time to spin your legs out after a tough interval workout. 

Do a “Plus” Version of a Workout

If you are completing a workout in a zone that you do especially well in and you want to add challenge to this workout, do a “plus version” of that workout instead of increasing intensity.

For example if you have Carson on your training plan, and you’ve been feeling like your sweet spot workouts haven’t been challenging enough, then you can swap your Carson workout, for Carson +1, Carson +2 or Carson +3. This gives you a chance to train in the same zone, but with the added challenge of additional intervals.

Add Strength Training

If you’re looking for alternative ways to add TSS to your training week, you can also add cycling specific strength training into your week. For the best strategies on how to integrate strength training into your training plan check out Coach Chad’s Strength Training Benchmarks For Cyclists.

Reevaluating: Are Your Workouts Too Easy?

With that said, if you are continuously making these adjustments and you feel like your workouts or your workload isn’t challenging enough, you might need to reevaluate your FTP or your training volume.

If you feel like you could consistently handle a higher level of training, increasing your training volume is a great way to promote additional training adaptation. Taking another Ramp Test to make sure your FTP is accurate is another way to double check that your workouts are appropriately challenging. 

Consistently being able to complete workouts at a higher FTP, or a higher training volume will make you faster, but only if you can consistently maintain the training load. If your FTP changes or your training volume changes and you can’t maintain the training load, you are better off using the lower FTP or the lower training volume and implementing one of the strategies mentioned earlier.

Consistency Makes You Faster!

When you add TSS to your week remember that consistency is what matters in the long run. One extra hard effort isn’t going to make you faster, the same way that one bad training session isn’t detrimental to your progression.

If you want to add additional training stress onto your training week, aim for a strategy that you can consistently incorporate into your training and you will see lasting benefits.


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Meghan Kelley

Meghan Kelley is a writer, XC MTB racer and trail riding enthusiast. Her years spent racing XC and working at TrainerRoad has translated to a passion for all things cycling.