What's Cool In Road Cycling

Build a Custom Training Program With Xert Adaptive Training Advisor

Xert software continues to roll out a wide range of innovations to make it a comprehensive fitness monitoring, tracking, and planning ecosystem. Its latest advance is the Xert Adaptive Training Advisor, an adaptive technology that can guide you day to day with your training leading up to a target date and Focus.

While nothing beats a customized coaching program, where the coach and athlete are completely in tune with each other and able to adjust and customize training on the fly weekly or even daily, that’s rarely the reality for the vast majority of riders and even professionals. What most riders end up with is random and unstructured training, or else a generic training plan that they have to somehow fit around their lives or adjust to their unique needs or situation.

A simple visual guide to where you are in your training. The big arrow and outer dial tells you whether you should train today (grey) or whether it’s optional. The small arrow is colour-coded to tell you your freshness or readiness to train, and the inner dial tells you whether you’re currently ahead (blue), on (grey), or behind (red) your current plan.

The effectiveness of generic training plans are limited by several issues:

1. They don’t have an awareness of the initial training status of the athlete. Athletes start their training towards a particular goal with a varying amount of established training already there. Some athletes are untrained making it difficult for them to do more aggressive training plans. Others have a lot of training already “in their legs” when they start training. Having them both do the same training plan would be a mistake.

2. Athletes are not always able to complete workouts. Athletes lead busy lives balancing work, home life and their training. They get sick. They are away on business. Following a rigid, inflexible plan weakens the periodization that the entire plan is designed to do. For example, directly resuming a pre-defined plan after missing a week due to work travel would be a big mistake.

3. Athletes don’t always have the same amount of available time throughout the plan. Some weeks you may have 14 hours available, some weeks only 5 hours. Schedules change and life brings different demands on you. An inflexible training plan will increasingly prescribe workouts that may not be the ideal ones that you should be performing on a given date.

4. Rigid plans don’t allow for ad-hoc group rides or fun rides. Some plans are so rigid, that athletes are left training alone, day-in and day-out in order to “stay on plan”.

Xert Adaptive Training Advisor

The new Xert Adaptive Training Advisor (XATA), offers athletes a way to address these limitations. XATA has been designed to do the following:

1. It considers your recent history to measure how much training you’ve been doing and to then determine how much you can handle or should be doing. Recommended workouts have a difficulty that is matched to your current training load. The more training you do, the harder the recommended workouts.

2. It helps you assess whether you have the freshness to do a high-intensity workout or whether that should wait. This automatically limits the risk of overtraining.

3. It allows you to choose how much fitness improvement you are seeking to achieve, based around how much time you have available to train or whether you’re in a tapering phase.

4. Based on your target event date, the focus of your training is periodized, week-to-week, day-to-day, to prepare you for your event. This includes different training priorities and recommended workouts depending on whether you’re in the Base, Build, or Peak phases, beginning from 120 days out.

5. Using all the information gathered about you and your goals, XATA ranks every workout according to what will be best for you. Any workout you choose or that gets recommended will have interval targets that exactly match your abilities at that given moment based on your unique fitness signature.

6. XATA automatically adjusts day-by-day. If you miss a day of training, XATA will adjust its recommendations accordingly. Ditto if you decide to skip a recommended interval workout and instead go for a long ride with your buddies.

XATA Page Overview

From the main page, clicking the “Goals” button is where you can set your target event date. In my case, I’ve set it for April 8, 2018 to coincide with the start of a month of gravel racing. XATA works backwards 120 days from this event date to build a periodized program, consisting of 45 days of Base, 45 days of Build, and 30 days of Peak. As you progress to Build and Peak, the Training Advisor will recommend workouts more targeted towards your selected Athlete Type.

You tell XATA your desired Improvement Rate, ranging from a weekly Xert Strain Score (XSS) Ramp Rate of -2 (Off-season) to +7 (Extreme). In my case, notice my projected Threshold Power and 6 minute power changes from 245/290W in my first ramp rate of +3 (Moderate-2; see previous picture), to 249/295W here with a ramp rate of +4 (Aggressive-1).

Note also that the estimated weekly training will change depending on what Improvement Rate you have chosen. For example, by choosing a Maintenance (0 ramp rate), training reduces to 7.1 h/wk, while an Extreme-2 (7 ramp rate) would require 11.3 h/wk of training. This can help you adjust training week-to-week based on your own time available.

Today’s Advice is the heart and primary summary view of Training Advisor (Click the “Today’s Advice” button from the main page). It tells you what phase (Base, Build, Peak) of training you are in currently, your Improvement Rate, and how much XSS you have left to accumulate this week.

In my case I have overloaded myself recently because I had a break in the winter weather and snuck out for 2 long weekend rides, accumulating a surplus of 95 XSS. XATA recognizes this overload and therefore suggests a rest day or else a very easy recovery ride. In this way, XATA automatically guides you away from the risk of non-functional overreaching or overtraining.

The bottom right is where the Training Advisor’s adaptive technology really comes into play. Based on a number of important considerations, the XATA ranks all the workouts in your library to find those that best match what your current training needs are. When auto-select is enabled, the advisor will randomly choose from the top 4 recommended. The data used in scoring is continuously updated throughout the day, every day, ensuring that when you decide you train, you’ll get the most up-to-date recommendation available.

Hovering on a workout gives you the general power profile, and clicking on a workout selects it. That workout is then automatically uploaded to Xert’s Remote Player, along with the Android and new iOS app. It can also be transferred to your Garmin for real-time workout guidance indoors or outdoors.

The “Load More” button opens up further possible workout options that roughly fit the recommended training suggested by the system.

You are of course free to select any workout from the Xert library, or do any other ride that you desire. The beauty is that XATA will automatically adjust to these free-form workouts, keeping you on track.

I hope that you see the power and adaptability of Xert’s Training Advisor. Day to day, it will adapt to your training history and your desired target, recommending training that will put you on that ideal path to a peak performance.

Sign up for your free 30 day trial at baronbiosys.com.

Check out our previous Xert articles discussing different fitness signature types and the unique analysis available through Maximal Power Available.

Disclosure: Stephen Cheung is the Chief Sport Scientist for Xert and Baron Biosystems.

About Stephen:
dr stephen cheungStephen Cheung is a Canada Research Chair at Brock University, and has published over 100 scientific articles and book chapters dealing with the effects of thermal and hypoxic stress on human physiology and performance. Stephen’s Cutting-Edge Cycling, a book on the science of cycling, came out April 2012, and he is currently co-editing a followup book “Cycling Science” with Dr. Mikel Zabala from the Movistar Pro Cycling Team. Stephen can be reached for comments at [email protected] .

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