When it comes to training and racing your best, specificity is the name of the game. With the new TrainingPeaks Workout Builder we have taken specificity to the next level allowing you—or your coach—to create structured workouts based on percentage of Functional Threshold Power (FTP), pace or heart rate, as well as percentage of max heart rate, or Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE).
By using the Workout Builder to create a structured workout using one of the above methods, your workouts become not only more specific, but custom-tailored to your individual physiology. However, in order for these workouts to be accurate and for you to receive the most benefit, you must first ensure that your thresholds (roughly considered the max effort you can maintain for around an hour) are set correctly.
Determining Your Threshold
There are several different ways to determine your threshold, and if you are a multisport athlete, you will want to do this for swimming, biking and running. On the bike one of the most common ways of determining threshold is by performing a 20-minute time trial at your best effort and subtracting 5-percent from that value. Another popular method is performing a 30-minute time trial and using the average power from the time trial as your threshold. Some other ways of determining your FTP include riding an hour as hard as you can, or using a modeling engine such as WKO4 which will provide you with a modeled FTP based on data from your uploaded rides.
A 10K race can provide a good estimate of your threshold for running, or you could try running a 30-minute solo time trial and using the average pace or heart rate for the last 20 minutes. There are also several pace calculators available online where you can plug in a recent race time and it will estimate your threshold pace for you.
A 1000-meter 1500-meter (or yard) time trial is a popular method for threshold power in swimming, or you can estimate from shorter distances using a Critical Swim Speed Calculator. Once you have completed the test and determined your thresholds be sure to update them in your TrainingPeaks account. Most coaches recommend retesting every four to six weeks.
Using Structured Workouts
Once created, structured workouts provide benefits on many levels. As mentioned before, your training becomes more specific to you. Once applied to your calendar rather than working off of vague zones, you will actually see the target pace, power, or heart rate that will have the optimal impact on your fitness. In addition, these workouts can be exported as an .erg, .fit, .mrc or .zwo file. These common file types will allow you to upload your workout to a compatible device, such as a Garmin, for real time instructions or to a training software, like Trainer Road or Zwift, to control your smart trainer. Pairing these workouts with your compatible device(s) will deliver a personalized training experience that will help you make the most of your training and racing goals.