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Benjamin Stuart


When looking at a triathletes PMC, do you break out the disciplines separately or use the combined chart to assess TSB? I'm especially curious of how you would analyze this during a taper to get an athlete to peak form.

Joe Friel

Benjamin Stuart - I'd keep 3 PMCs--obe for each sport--and peak each of them individually. I'd also keep a 3-sport PMC showing ATL ("fatigue") only. That makes 4 PMCs.

Benjamin Stuart

Thanks Joe, I did as you described for IMWI with great success this fall (KQ!). What ranges would you maintain for the 3-sport ATL chart during an A-race training block? Or maybe that's another article idea for you... Great blog!

Andrew Dolphin

Being fairly new to power training, the PMC chart was something I was trying to understand better, and this has helped a great deal. The 'zones' you have added on the graphic really help, and would be great to see on the dashboard version

Joe Friel

Benjamin Stuart - I'd primarily watch ATL trends to prevent the accumulation of "fatigue" which is too great given your past history of fatigue capacity. Can't give you an absolute number here.


Hi Joe,

Having recently bought in to training peaks and read your post above. I was wondering whether the CTL scores are relative to all athletes. Or, is CTL personalised to each athlete depending on numbers generated in TP.com

For example, if my CTL is higher than someone else i compete against, does that mean I am in better shape, assuming ATL and TSB have tapered effectively.

Many Thanks

Great Britain

Joe Friel

PE_Grant--Good question, Grant. CTL is not an absolute measure of fitness--it doesn't allow comparisons between athletes and therefore predict race outcomes. Instead, it's a marker of how you are doing compared only with a "previous" you. It's best for showing your trends in this regard. A better marker of competitiveness related to other athletes is peak power, which can also be tracked on the PMC. If your peak power, say for 20 minutes, is better than someone else's there's a high likelihood that you will when a race of around that duration. Of course, power-to-weight ratio also plays a role in this. But assuming weight is similar then peak power is a good predictor, for obvious reasons.


I can't endorse Joe's advice strongly enough. This way of viewing PMC with High Risk Zone etc is VERY helpful. I say that because as a new (10 weeks) TP and PMC user i had been delighted to see my TSB (Form) plummeting as ATL and CTL 'soared' and guess what happened only a week after i plunged into the High Risk Zone for TSB - YEP i got injured. Hopefully not too badly but a real case study of how this works. Thanks Joe


Hey Joe,

I'm playing with a PMC I created via excel using overall workout perceived exertion multiplied by workout duration in minutes. Heard about this idea from Paolo Sousa.

For people who don't have a power meter or training peaks, this seems like the next best method.

What is your opinion of the weakness(es) of this method?

Also, how does strength training fit into the PMC paradigm? Although it isn't a big cardiovascular stressor, it certainly does introduce an element of fatigue into the equation.


Joe Friel

Ericj076--Yes, that will work. Tho obviously not as precise as power. An athlete's perspective on RPE can vary considerably for the same power output with outside variables such as solo vs group ride, psychological stress, motivation, and lots more. For resistance training RPE can be used. Can also use total tonnage lifted with an assigned IF value by "zones." Duration is not very important in weight lifting.


Joe, as a triathlete should I be using individual PMCs for each sport to dictate how hard a workout should be? So for a bike workout, my current ctl is 20, a hard workout based on this would be around 80 ctl, but my overall fitness is 45ctl a hard workout based on this would be around 140ctl. In reality I'm riding with a small group of strong roadies and ctl often comes in at 200ctl, which I'm finding difficult to manage but feel that sticking with it may be beneficial, is this wise??

Joe Friel

Bringmeoblivion-- I recommend that tris have 4 PMCs--1 full PMC for each sport and one that is combined ATL (proxy for fatigue) for all 3 sports. If I understand right, your current bike CTL is 20 and you sometimes do 80 TSS workouts. Right? That's probably ok as I suspect your general fitness warrants a rather high number (relative to CTL). A TSS of 200 is extremely high for you and puts you at risk for overtraining if done frequently or in frequent combination with other high TSSs. Be cautious here.


Thanks for the advice. yeah I used "ctl" when I meant to use "tss" when referring to workouts! Thanks again.

Joe Friel

Bringmeoblivion--No prob. That's a very common error.

Greg Bowerman

Hi Joe, I've very much enjoy analyzing my PMC and one thing I've noticed is my TSB score often falls within the grey zone given my training schedule of two days a week with intense efforts. If I push it into the green zone very far, I'm feeling too fatigued and can't achieve solid high-intensity efforts. I'm 60-years of age. I generally get the impression your zone recommendations are tailored to younger riders. I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents in making the point for us older riders that for adequate recovery, what is the green zone for some can become the red zone for others! I can easily overtrain if not careful. My point is TSB zones need to be somewhat age based or depict greater overlap. We each need to focus more on how we feel than perhaps what our PMC might be indicating. Then we can define our individual colors on the TSB scale. Cheers

Joe Friel

Greg Bowerman--TSB is already normalized for the individual athlete in terms of age, gender, etc. FTP is the basic metric for determining it and it's personalized. If you find it hard to train at -10 to -30 then if I was coaching you the first thing we'd look at is your FTP. The only issue here that is age-related is how long can you stay in that optimal range before you need to back off. If you find values above -10 are adequate to build performance-related fitness then there is something wrong. Probably FTP.

Greg Bowerman

Thank you for the explanation regarding metrics, Joe. My FTP for most of the last several months has been around 265 watts. (I've entered a value of 265 for the threshold value under the TrainingPeaks settings.) In addition to a static FTP, new PRs on Strava were becoming a thing of the past. Throughout much of this period, my TSB had been in the Optimal training zone between -10 and -20. I came to believe my fatigue was greater than that indicated by the PMC, and began taking more recovery. With the increased rest, much of my training has continued with a TSB in the Freshness zone. Since then, over the past three weeks, I have begun achieving new PRs and my latest FTP test measured improvement at 272. Perhaps I'm mistaken in what I make of this experience, but it seems to reason that the PMC is not telling the entire story when it comes to TSB values and true levels of fatigue for all individuals. Are metrics infallible when it comes to measuring fitness and fatigue in everybody? Could I not be an exception and the "something wrong" is within the algorithm itself? Thank you

Joe Friel

Greg Bowerman--It's possible. Just not likely. Making performance gains with a TSB of > -10 is extremely unusual. Of course, I don't even know what your sport is. For very short, high intensity races (like track racing) the PMC as designed now isn't very effective. That's why the current discussion on Chronic Intensity Load to replace CTL.

Greg Bowerman

Thank you, Joe. For the record, I'm mostly training for hill climbing events, some as short as 12 to 13 miles with around 4000-plus feet in elevation. Maybe that is high enough intensity and short enough duration to skew the PMC? On a weekly basis, I average between 150 to 200 miles with an elevation gain of ~15,000 feet. I feel enough fatigue when a training session includes a .95 IF-one-hour-climbing segment to require two days of rest. I'll take one on-the-bike recovery day and one off the bike. My TSS will range close to 200 on these more intense days. The PMC TSB do not jibe with perception.

Joe Friel

Greg Bowerman--Yes, fairly short events. That probably explains it. You are a possible candidate for CIL instead of CTL.

Greg Bowerman

That's good, now I feel more comfortable with my perception. Is CIL going to be incorporated into the PMC at some point in the future as an alternative option? Thanks

Joe Friel

Greg Bowerman - I really can't say. It's a brand new concept that is still being developed.

Greg Bowerman

Keep us posted. Thank you for the blog site. It's been very helpful.


Thank you Joe! I have 3 of your books plus the paleo book which has really improved my eating/lifestyle (all in e and now hard copy cause I need to mark them up!) This is a timely blog for me. In "Training and racing with a power meter;Allen&Coggan they talk about TSS/day, CTL/Day and ATL/Day. This blog here is easy and I will start to use it by watching when my TSB goes red but I am wondering about the above and "ramp rate"? Watching these might be the "intensity" CIL you are talking about. Where can I learn about the daily CTL and ATL TSS and do you think that is important? Hope this makes sense and thanks for all your information and hard work at putting it out there!--Greg (eg: "CTL rate of 3-7 TSS per day per week" "ATL avg of 70 TSS per day within a 7 day period" ? p154-155

Joe Friel

Hi GregW--I've posted blogs here on how to use CTL as a standard against which to judge workout TSS. I've also written about ramp rate here, if you use the search function on the blog home page (www.joefrielsblog.com) yo can find these. Good luck!

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