What is TSS? TSS stands for training stress score. If you use Training Peaks or own a copy of WKO for your PC you will see a the TSS acronym with a correlating number in the summery of your workout TSS:239.04 “While exercise intensity is clearly an important factor in determining the type and magnitude of physiological adaptations to training, exercise frequency and duration - which together determine the overall training volume - are important factors as well. However, there is obviously an interaction between training intensity and volume-that is, at some point as intensity goes up volume must come down, and vice-versa, or else you will become over-trained. To quantify the overall training load and hopefully help avoid such a situation, The authors developed training stress score (TSS) for every workout, that provides a graphical summary of your recent TSS” Training and Racing with a Power Meter ~Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggen~
Physical exertion leads to training stress. The quote above talks about training stress and how it is accounted for when using a power meter. Power meters are one of the easiest ways to quantify training load and the stress that comes from said training.
Although Stress from training becomes more easily quantifiable because we can measure power, (intensity, volume, and workload) these metrics do not take into account all factors of stress, physical and mental fatigue.
When you lift weights you create physical training stress. If I lift 450 lbs 40 times I have lifted the equivalent of 18000 lbs or 9 tons. This type of workout done 2 to 3 times a week can end up averaging out to 27 tons of weight lifted in a week. This adds obvious training stress to our overall workload as an athlete. These conclusions can apply to all of the differing workouts that you do i.e. running, kettlebell, swimming, or even yoga.
It is also important to remember that there are other forms of physical exertion that would not be categorized as working out, but will cause stress. For example, have you recently done a home improvement project that involved manual labor? From 2005 to 2009, I spent part of my time working in the construction industry. On some days, I used a Jack hammer for four or more hours at a time. I would say that those days were as hard or harder than a 40k time trial or 90 minute criterium.
The final type of stress (I'll talk about) to account for is mental fatigue. It is easy to forget the stress that is created by our minds or by what are minds are working on. Especially, when correlating those mental efforts to working out.
As athletes it takes quite a bit of mental discipline to train our body’s day in and day out to achieve goals that are beyond our immediate abilities.
If you receive a promotion at your job, work on a big project, or have a deadline to meet, stress will be increased. Having a child, becoming the head of an estate, or other life change also will increase your stress. Changes like these will most likely have added and new responsibilities that can even effect sleep patterns. These new responsibilities will take more of your mental discipline and focus. These responsibilities should be considered when thinking about your training and stress.
Knowing that there are other factors of stress is important, but what do we do with that information? One of the major things you can do is account for all your stress. If you lift weights, cross-train, or don't ride with your power meter on a specific day, add your own TSS Score to your workout.
In Training Peaks Software, for your TSS score to be accurate your threshold power must be input correctly into the software . A TSS Score of 100 is considered to be one hour of all out effort or equivalent to a 40k time trial. If your threshold power is input accurately Training Peaks will tell you what your TSS is on any given ride.
One way to calculate your own TSS is to use similar duration, terrain, and fatigue as a model. When it comes to weight lifting or cross training you can judge/estimate by how you feel. For example, how did your effort without a power meter (non cycling) compare to workouts with a power meter? Are you less, equally, or more fatigued? When building an annual training program, more information is better. Your best guess, even if it is subjective, is good enough.
In conclusion, share with your coach any life changes that are effecting your training, sleep patterns, or performance. Coaches are here to help you objectively balance your training so you can accomplish peak performance.
See you on the road Coach Jesse Eisner
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