Not all TSS is created equal



My background has been predominantly triathlon for the last 7 years. Since I have been using TR and listening to the podcast, I have gained interest into jumping into Crit racing for 2019. I have dropped my volume in swimming and running to do a focused period of training on cycling. My average TSS during 1/2 ironman training was between 750 and 850 with big weeks up to 900. Is the amount of TSS I accumulated from the other sports directly transferable to cycling or do I need to ramp up my training based on the low volume plan I was doing for cycling training? I have already jumped to the mid volume century plan but feel like I am leaving TSS on the table compared to what I could handle during triathlon training.


That’s a lot of Tss , nice, you have been rotating the stress around, upper body, lower body, and using different lower body energy systems, you may find just trying to focus all that stress into cycling is difficult and perhaps counter productive, Maybe rotate in more stretching or other exercise’s to complement your cycling , great ambition good luck


It’s definitely not directly transferable. My recently completed 70.3 season was similar in TSS to yours, but I’d usually have around 350 TSS/wk on the bike in my build phase. Mid volume century specialty is ~420 TSS/week, which is probably close to where you were in terms of bike TSS. I’d finish out that plan, then go high volume on another plan or add a ride to the mid plan if you want more TSS. But remember, more TSS isn’t necessarily going to make you faster… recovering from a different/more training stress is. TSS is just a number.

If you think you might do crit racing in 2019, why not start over with mid-volume SSB, and then do crit-appropriate build and specialty blocks? Mid-volume SSB is 347-402 TSS, short or sustained power builds are over 400 TSS, crit specialty is 387 TSS (all mid volumes). Those are probably right in line with the numbers your body is used to on the bike, but all of those would probably give you a much different training stimulus than your 70.3 training did.

You might also add some recovery running or swimming in between your bike rides to keep those skills up while really focusing on your bike. That would make it easier to shift back to tri training if you dump the crit plan to focus back on your tri racing. If you’re like me, doing one thing over and over again gets mundane, so having a swim or run to look forward to might help keep you motivated to knock out the TR work, too.


Swim/Run TSS: not directly transferrable to cycling.

Also keep in mind that, in general, TSS OVERempasizes ~Z2 work and UNDERemphasizes threshold&above work.

To prove this to yourself, consider the following thought experiment. Two cyclists, A and B. Cyclist A starts doing 100 TSS days, every day. Cyclist B, same, 100 TSS days, every day. Cyclist A accumulates TSS strictly at zone 2 intensity. Cyclist B accumulates TSS strictly at or above threshold. Which cyclist will be able to sustain their training plan for the most consecutive days? According to TSS should be the same # of days for both cyclists but…

So the point of the thought experiment is triathlon bike work might focus on a lower intensity effort. Crit bike work is on the other end of the spectrum. So try to go into crit training with a ‘tabula rosa’ TSS expectation.


@nash031. After my 1/2 ironman this summer my plan was to do a Olympic distance in the fall but after Olympic build I just wasn’t into it. I switched my fall race to a 100k road race and jumped into the mid volume Century plan. After that finishes, I am taking 2 weeks off and then will do mid vol SSB I & II, Short Power Build, & Crit Specialty. I don’t know what the plan is after that. It seems like doing a little more swimming and running is a better option then loading on more cycling TSS.


Got it. That’s what I’d do. You’ll build a a lot of fitness on that bike plan rather than just trying to raise TSS numbers with “junk” miles.


This thread has me looking and thinking about my next step. Due to “life”, I don’t have a good idea of what my next event will be. Could be anything from some hammerfest group rides next year to a 70.3 in May to some sprints and “other stuff”. I’d planned on doing SSB Low Volume to start, but like you, I’m used to 750-800 TSS/wk and 260-320 TSS on the bike alone, usually over 3 rides. I recover from 200 TSS rides pretty quickly if there’s no running after. Kind of feels like SSB Low might not give enough training stress to see the adaptation I’m hoping for.

If I’m not going to run or swim at all, I think I’ll step up to the mid-volume. For now, I think I’ll start with low and add some swims and runs as I feel like it, and see what that does. Maybe by the end of SSB1 I’ll have an idea of what I’m going to do!


While running doesn’t directly translate to bike fitness there is a correlation to how much a triathlete runs to their overall performance. Running takes a larger physiological toll on your body than cycling unless you are really new to cycling. I feel swapping a 70 tss ride from a 70 tss run would be quite easy to handle.


Probably true, but there’s a crossover point. I did a 200 TSS ride on Friday with a 0.91IF and I was fine to go again by Sunday. If I did a 200 TSS run of any kind, it’d take me longer to recover fully. The title of the thread is true too: not all TSS is created equal. A 70 TSS easy ride exchanged for a 70 TSS easy run is probably not a big deal for someone adapted to both sports. But a 70 TSS - 90 min easy spin does not exact nearly the same toll on the body as a 70 TSS - hour long tempo run session.