What can I do with the ‘Training stress score’?
What’s it good for and can it help you get better?
The idea of training is to stimulate the body. A workout causes fatigue of the body after which the body realizes that the next time it needs to be better prepared for such a stimulus. This principle is also explained in ‘The basics of training’. During the recovery of a workout your body adapts and gets better. Depending on the intensity of the training you will need to rest for a certain period of time before you can start the next training again. Based on this training principle it is important to evaluate how heavy a training was. Of course, trainings come in all shapes and sizes. There are short intensive training sessions and longer extensive training sessions, but there is also a lot in between. With so many different types of training it seems almost impossible to compare them with each other. Fortunately, the Training Stress Score (TSS) exists.
Intensity Factor x duration
The idea of this is quite simple. The formula is to multiply the Intensity Factor (IF) by the duration of the ride in hours and multiply it by 100.
One hour of cycling on your FTP (Functional Treshold Power) based on normalized power stands for a TSS of 100. So two hours on 70% of your FTP would also result in a TSS of 100 and 30 minutes on double your FTP (which is humanly impossible) would also result in 100 points.
With this number you can compare a short intensive training with a long extensive endurance training and its impact on your body. All training stress scores of the last weeks or months give you a good indication of how much you are actually doing.
In the time when there was no power meter and training stress scores, the number of hours of the last weeks or months was simply added up without taking the intensity into account. This often resulted in more and more training hours at a lower intensity, but less training hours with higher intensity is also a way to increase the training load.
Increasing the training load in the right way is one of the most difficult concepts of training. First of all, you have to time a training well. When the body has not recovered enough from the previous workout, the next workout only leads to more fatigue in the body. In fact, if a workout was so heavy that the recovery period was too long, the body will not improve at all. The training stress score is a good way to monitor the training load and helps you not to do too much. However, there is still one important point to be noted. When two training sessions lead to the same training stress score it does not mean that the effect of these two training sessions is the same. A short strength training can have the same training stress score as a long slow ride to train fat burning. The training stress score is the same but the effect of the training and the way the body adapts are totally different. For this reason it is still important to monitor both the intensity factor and the training stress score when looking at the training load.
How to get better?
Getting better is all about timing. There are actually not good or bad workouts. There is only a bad combination or the wrong workout on the wrong time. The path of progression is therefore a training plan with the right training stimulus according to your level, goal and available time. To help you with that we developed an algorithm in the JOIN Cycling application. It provides you with a highly flexible training plan to makes sure you get the most out of your rides. You can download JOIN in the App Store and Play store. Or check this page for more info.