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Do Apps Like TrainerRoad Work?

Can something as complex and nuanced as the human physiology really be effectively coached by online training software?

As a bespoke coaching service, you can probably guess our answer…!

We have coached numerous clients who come to us and say something like “I was using (insert generic training software here..), it worked for a few months. Then I stopped improving/ got burnt out / got bored to tears / got slower…

Outlined are some of our training software questions & concerns. Any TR fans please don’t hesitate to tell us we’re wrong!

  1. In depth Training History Review?

How can an effective training plan be set without a thorough examination of elements like:

Acute and chronic fatigue scores

Time spent above threshold in the last 30 days

CTL Ramp Rate over last 90 days

Time spent near vo2 Max in the last week or

Efficiency Factor Trends?

We have seen riders launch into a generic threshold plan when what they really needed was a week on the sofa with their feet up!

2. What do you do now!?

If you have a slight cold, should you still do your generic sweet spot session?

If your legs are burning and your HR won’t rise, should you still push on and finish the workout?

If you’ve had a late night and stressful day at work, should you drag yourself onto the indoor trainer at 7pm to get the planned session done?

These are the collective decisions that really can make or break a season. Getting them right is absolutely crucial. In our opinion, software can’t answer them!

3. Adapted to your unique physiology. As in really adapted…?

To maximise an athlete’s potential it’s imperative to build a plan that’s specifically tailored to their unique physiology. While some better known software platforms claim to do this, do they really?

Do they set intervals using Functional Threshold Power zones only, or do they use unique Watt Prime metrics to set Anaerobic Capacity efforts?

Can they immediately pinpoint inflections in your entire Power Duration Curve that may impact your performance in any given target event and adapt training accordingly?

Do they adapt sessions around your muscle fibre type?

Do they know that 30/20s are a more effective way of raising your particular aerobic capacity versus consistent 5 minute vo2 efforts?

4. Coaching is as much about psychology as it is physiology.

In order to get the best out of an athlete, you need to really understand that athlete’s psychology and plan around it accordingly.

Does the athlete get overly anxious before tests, if so should implement informal testing?

Will giving them the option to ride the effort at 90% as opposed to Maximum ease this anxiety?

How do they respond to rigid structure?

How do they respond to power targets as opposed to ranges?

Will they respond better to efforts set on rate of perceived exertion?

What excites them?

In our opinion if you want to truly realise your full potential you need the guidance of someone who really understands the complexities of your physiology, psychology and changing circumstances.

More importantly, you need someone who can make those absolutely crucial decisions at a moments’s notice, such as telling you when to get off the bike and rest.

Driven athletes rarely tell themselves that until it’s too late!

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