Weekly TSS load question

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  • #18271

    Hello all, I am pretty new to TP but it appears a lot of you use it. I know that this is all relative, but I’m curious what I should be working toward on a weekly TSS scale to prepare for Rainier. I am averaging in the 400-500 range now, with rest weeks built in. I feel pretty good about it, but talked to a buddy who doesn’t climb and averages around 700 each week. So, in general, what’s a good number to target to be ready for the summer climbing season?

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    Anonymous on #18311

    TSS scores, especially in our mountain sports can be very much like comparing apples to oranges.
    I strongly suggest you do not compare yourself to others. Many factors come into play: How long have you been training using TP? What is your fitness background to name just two.

    Does your friend train for a conventional endurance sport like running or cycling? If so, TSS will be more easily calculated and quantified.

    CTL is a better metric of work capacity but the model for calculating it is a backward looking non-linear weighted running average over the last 6 weeks. We have found that CTL is not very accurate until it has several months data to look back at. This is because when you start TP assumes you have a CTL of zero.

    What we see is people who have sustained a high CTL for several weeks do better in big mountains. I once ran some numbers out there but people wanted to use these CTL levels as proxies for their preparedness for such and such climb. So, now I shy away from making too specific of recommendations. I can tell you that some of the top alpinists I coach sustain a CTL of over 130 for months on end before a major climb. Most of our amateur Everest and Denali climbers will top 100 for several weeks leading into their departure.

    For Rainier which is only a couple of days long a much lower CTL can suffice if you are mentally tough and do not mind suffering. Speaking in very general terms I would say that person with a CTL of 50 is likely suffer much more than one with a CTL of 85. However, many non-fitness factors come into play. Such as the altitude and who well you do above 10,000 feet. If you are coming from sea level then it is possible that the altitude will be as big a factor as fitness.

    Your CTL should be used to measure your fitness against your old self. But you must be consistent in how you calculate it.


    rcj on #18347

    Thanks Scott. This essentially tells me what I need to know, which is where I should try to be by the climb. I was worried I hadn’t planned for enough training based on where my ending CTL would be, but I asked in a different way. I appreciate the explanation and can definitely use what you said to get me set up for where I should be in training for this climb.

    While I am pretty new to TP, I did take a lot of old data and load it in just to see where I was prior to beginning to use it, and I can see some background as a result. It’s enlightening. My buddy is a triathlete, as am I, but my training has shifted from some of those things to more strength and longer days hiking with weight. Knowing that a lot of Denali climbers (my goal) reach around 100 for several weeks gives me a goal to shoot for. This is really helpful.

    Anonymous on #18479

    Hi, I apologize for hijacking this thread but the topic is perfectly relevant to me; I am training for Rainier this summer (late June, 13 weeks from now).

    I am new to organized training, not a sloth but a true CTL of 0 is probably accurate for me. Since 1/1/19 (convenient tracking start), starting of TP and better structure for my TFtNA plan I’ve worked my way to a CTL of 43, weekly hours 8-11. I’m now (just this week) starting to feel true fatigue and need for rest days (never more than 2) but no injuries and I feel this is sustainable. I’m starting ME integration in April.

    Should I pay not too much attention to CTL? Just keep plugging away (3 hour box steps and rolling hill hikes in Z1-2 for X weekly hours), core, add MEs when the time comes? I read in another post don’t aim (can’t sustain) an increase in CTL of more than +5/week. I am “following” the general mountaineering/big mountain plan but I’ve started to obsess about my TP data and won’t want to get off track.

    Thanks all.

    tomherren on #18593

    Hey All,

    I’m also planning to climb Rainier during late May of this year. Thought I could weigh in with my personal TP data so far and maybe further the conversation. I’ve been training since October 2018, read TFTNA around December and started logging my workouts/data for January 1st. I got a HR watch in February and backlogged my TP data to then. I’ve included my current Performance Chart, including all workouts to date, with some planning as best I can until Rainier.

    My current CTL is 46, with my projections putting it peaking around 80/90, and hopefully in the mid to high 70s to be well-rested for Rainier. I’m in week 3 of the ME phase of training, hoping to finish this phase with 2 bigger climbs (Costa Rica, Adirondacks NY) and then leave 2 weeks to taper/rest. My weekly workout volume ranges from 5.5-7hrs, but I’m working on increasing that also during this phase.

    I’ve attached a look at my chart with projections all the way until Rainier. Let me know your thoughts and maybe we can discuss specifics since we are all in this together.



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    Steve House on #18624

    You should aim for an increase in CTL of 3-5 points per week. I’ve consistently seen that people I’m coaching who exceed 5 points per week end up getting sick. Age is a major determinate of where you are (more towards 3 or more towards 5) as the maximum sustainable increase in CTL gain. Training history will also be a major factor.

    Scott recently wrote an article about this which I will post in the next 2-3 weeks. Keep an eye on the newsletter for that.

    And keep up the great work everyone! I love to see the shared excitement for these proven training methods.

    Anonymous on #18655

    Thanks for the response! Just by simply following the TFNA (24wk) plan I’m increasing my CTL about 5-7 per week but with the “rest weeks” it averages less, so that seems to be ok. Last week was a “big week” (12 hours) rose my CTL 10 and this week is “rest” (Wk 8). I feel sore but in a stoked way.

    I have time off next week for a “test” climb in NH with a plan to climb Mt. Washington in back to back days (the goal to replicate my objective climb of 4500′ gain/day x 2) just without any weight (other than needed to safely hike up and back). I’ve done it in winter before but not back to back. The “projected” TSS each day is 500 and would raise my CTL by 17. Will this crush me or derail my training? Or is it a reasonable test piece for someone without regular access to vertical terrain?

    Thank you (to everyone)!

    Felipe Q on #19139

    I’m also training for my first climb of Rainier in late June following a TFtNA plan, transitioning to a 12 week time crunched plan, and now on a modified plan based on a brief call with Scott (which I highly recommend).

    I have been ramping up my weekly training load and taking every 4th week down to 50% volume until I hit my maximum training time of 10 hours per week which is all I physically have time for. I have stopped increasing my training volume and have seen an expected stabilization of my CTL around 88 which gives me a nice cushion to taper from in about 11 weeks. I have attached my TP chart to visualize my progression. While I expected the flattening out of my CTL, I have also noticed a dip in my work output over the last few weeks. At my peak, I was ascending (on treadmills and stair mills) about 20000 feet a week at about 2000 feet per hour, pretty respectable for a weekend warrior I think. Recently, I am topping out at 17000 feet and my pace has dropped and I’m not sure why.

    I suspect it is because during my all important rest week, even though I am only doing 5 hours of work, my practice has been to work near the top of my aerobic threshold in zone two as I do during the 3 preceding build weeks. I think that during my rest week I should be in zone 1 or low zone 2 for my 5 hours or my body will not recover properly.

    I’m about to re-introduce muscular endurance (20-30% body weighted) workouts twice a week, once during rest weeks, but I’m afraid my progression (aerobic output) will continue to drop as I add weight into the mix. Should I be dropping training volume or taking it easier during the rest weeks? I’d like to keep to my 10 hours/week but I may have exceeded my max training volume capacity.

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    Colin Simon on #19176

    Maybe it’s just me, but I find the hrTSS to work very differently for running than for hiking or ski touring. Even with “fudge factors” applied as typically suggested on this site, if someone were to generate 500TSS over a week through hiking, it will have a dramatically lower overall impact on anyone than 500TSS of running.

    I’m not a complete amateur runner, but a 200TSS run is a significant impact that I could not repeat daily, whereas I could generate 200hrTSS from hiking every day for months on end. I find this discrepancy difficult when I, like so many frequenters of this site use a variety of modalities between running, hiking, approaching, ski touring…etc. Some local pro cycling coaches talk about how “chasing TSS” or “chasing CTL” is a great way to simply become fatigued and not become a better cyclist. Perhaps they also deal far more with athletes who overtrain.

    Jay on #21730

    One of the issues with HrTSS is the baseline of 20/hour. This would say that laying around all day is 480 TSS. TSS accumulation is skewed higher for easier efforts relative to what the real load feels like. 2 hours on the couch gets you 40 TSS, 2 hrs of easy L1 training gets you 80 TSS and at least for me, 2 hrs of 60 TSS/Hr level effort =120 seems a lot harder than L1 + 50%. I think it would be more representative of aggregate training load if the default baseline of 20/hr was not there.

    lionfish90 on #22198

    Hi. Any updates from any of the posters here? How did your plans go? Any feedback on CTL, TSS, hrs/week, any of that?

    My understanding is that TSS is defined at 100 for an hour at AnT/LT/FTP. For example:
    from here:

    Once you start to understand the simple scoring system, you will even be able to assign a daily point score through perceived exertion. Here is an explanation of how TSS works and some tips if you are just getting familiar with TSS:

    You earn 100 TSS for an all out, 100%, 60-minute workout. Of course most workouts are not completed at 100%, so most workouts will accumulate less than 100 TSS per hour.
    You can earn more than 100 TSS within a single workout (as long as it is longer than an hour), but never more than 100 TSS per hour.
    Think of intensity as an RPE value on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the hardest. If you exercised at a level 5 for two hours, then you would accumulate 50 TSS/hour or 100 total points. It wouldn’t matter if you were training for the Tour de France or to simply complete your first triathlon.

    (RPE = “rating of perceived effort”)

    There’s also this:


    Anonymous on #22367


    The time of my initial post was Week 8 (traditional TFTNA plan). I had worked up to a weekly volume of 10 hours. I live in relatively flat land so I had to tweak my plan to accommodate opportunities to travel to bigger mountains, build towards specific training. I’m currently on Week 17.
    Week 9 I went to NH to climb Mt. Washington (4200′ hike) in back to back days. I did so with 21 pounds in my pack; 6:54 first time (596 TSS), 7:47 second time (534 TSS). That caused a huge spike/jump in my CTL, I planned for and took 5 days rest and felt uninjured.
    I continued the plan w/ my meat and potatoes being an 8 mile 700′ gain loop in 3 hours (closest thing to my home). As “ME weeks” came into plan, I used water jug carries up a steep hill but it’s super short (250′) which means lots of laps.
    My goal climb is basically 4,500’/day x 2 days with 35 pounds.

    Nearing specific training I realized (I felt a strong emphasis on this in the book) that replicating my goal climb (+some) should take precedence. With this in mind I have seen my weekly hours overall plateau/drop (I had hit 12 but now down to 9-10) but I feel much stronger. I’m doing much more straight uphill w/ weight (kind of what I imagined I should do from day 1) but I can do it much more comfortably and w/ less rest/fatigue than I could months before. While hiking I don’t really feel faster it’s more like I’m expecting to hit a wall but I don’t. My CTL (starting from 0 1/1/2019) has climbed to 76 though lately it peaks/troughs dramatically more than before. I’m starting to trust it less but I also “don’t care” as much because I can see the real world results. Minor but real, and sustainable.

    In the next few weeks I’m continuing this trend, focusing on a 1100′ gain trail 2 hours from my house. Because of the drive and all the other factors I’m goign to build in some deliberate back to back days (just once per week) to further replicate (over replicate) my climb.

    The most amazing thing to me has been the disappearance over the past few months of minor nagging injuries (IT band and knee bursitis; mild plantar fasciitis). Some of it definitely was starting a real training plan but it’s clear a long slow progression is a good thing.

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