How to track and plan progress in a 4DP world

With the current episodes of The Knowledge podcast focussing on the different 4DP metrics, I have some questions that may relate to that content. It is about how I can plan and track my training progress in terms of load and fatigue in the 4DP world of SYSTM.
I have been using to track my progress in the past. Lately, I came across the feature that you can insert planned workouts into your calendar. If you give the workouts a load (TSS), the app will predict your ATL and CTL and make a quite comprehensible visual forecast of your past and forecast progress.
When looking at my recorded data from the past, I can see that the overall training load of the SYSTM training plans I have been using is hardly high enough to bring up CTL in an area where the app would predict any significant progress. (For those who are familiar with that app - with the training plans, I am constantly hovering about in the so-called “grey zone.”)
However, the is based on FTP (and that is similar to WKO+ and other similar apps). Thus it may have some shortcomings in correctly predicting training progress from SYSTM training plans and workouts. Especially if you are aware of the shortcomings as explained by @Coach.Mac.C in his article on trainingpeaks. Not to mention the benefits of Yoga and Strength workouts. But as of now, we don’t have an adequate measure to work with in the 4DP world. It’s been a while that @Coach.Neal.H announced a more suitable framework.

Is there any news on that?
Moreover, I stumbled over a supposedly interesting article on measuring training load in a more suitable fashion than just FTP based.
To give a little more background to my question. I am currently trying to significantly up my training load because I really want to get to that magic 4W/kg threshold. Although I really like the SYSTM training plans, and they always helped me to peak right in time for my past events (mostly alpine Gran Fondos ~200km, ~4000 m of climbing / 125mi/>12,000ft), I never really got closer to that goal. Thus, I switched back to doing the planning on my own, using to have a tool at hand, helping me forecast ATL/CTL and weekly TSS and TSS ramp. However, that may still not be ideal because of the mentioned shortcomings.
So to actually wrap up my thoughts and rephrase it as actual questions.

  • Is there a more suitable alternative to ATL/CTL/TSS when planning training based on SYSTM workouts?
  • What should I focus on when using 4DP-based workouts to ramp up the training load significantly?
  • If I am restricted to time-crunched training, what is the preferable way to lay a solid base/foundation early in the season?

The only thing I have on offer (which admittedly is not very much) is a question and that is whether you are using the “absolute value” vs the “percentage of fitness” option in I ask this (probably naively) in that for myself, there is much less “Grey Zone” when I use percentage of fitness.

Maybe you’ll get what you’re looking for here but, I’m thinking that because of what you seek and because of your already very high level of user knowledge and experience, I’d have thought a call with a coach would be well worth the $75 fee.


Thank you @Glen.Coutts for mentioning this. I was not even aware of the option. I just changed it to percentage and that really gives a different picture. Much appreciated, and I will make use of it with my future planning.


Glad I could be of service Sir!


Sir Glen for the win!!! That was a great tidbit that I had not switched on either. This method shines a much less harsh light my meager attempts at overload…

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I was a new icu user and had the same issue, switching to Percentage made a difference too. ICU does seem to concentrate on TSS though and seems to favour long easier workouts, giving you a higher fitness level than a short HiiT workout which is mostly more demanding and stressful in the real world.

I think what you really want to do longer term is ignore the grey zone vs optimal feedback and figure out what ramp rate is correct for you. The TSS it’s based off of is a mathematical model of fitness with limitations (as with all models) and it’s context dependent: you could find that when you are slamming tempo your optimal ramp rate is X whereas when doing HIIT, the optimal rate is Y.

Just note, this is true for all trainings, any coach who uses the similar tools in training peaks will tell you that the “optimal” metrics are super individual. HIIT just brings this issue into sharper relief.

In the last couple of months, I switched the form tracker on from absolute value to percentage values. But actually, that is of very little to no help. The only thing I get from that is seeing more drastic peaks in the lower and the upper end of my form. Especially being deep in the red zone for prolonged times after relatively short periods of intense training does not correspond with my own feeling. And still, it does not address the initial question, of how to track and plan progress with a 4DP approach to training. does a decent job in predicting different fitness values when adding planned training sessions into the calendar. But still the forecasts are based on FTP only. Thus entering a valid SYSTM training plan into the calendar could literally lead to decreasing fitness predictions and that just does not seem right to me and is not what I have experienced when training on these plans.

I found that too. It seems that concentrates more on FTP/TSS than actual intensity esoecially if you do short but intense rides. Some of the Systm workouts that are high intensity but short hardly register on there as a fitness gain and your apparent fitness often shows a drop but do a long easy ride where the effort is low but the TSS is high just because of the duration then you get a jump in your fitness. Mt fitness according to icu has been steadily going down over the last week or so even though I have been sticking to the plan. Purple blue line going down well under the blue line and my form going from fresh almost to transition. Today I did a long ride on Systm(Tempo 4 x 12) which ended up being 2.5 hours long with a lot being at Zone 2 and my fitness jumped right up to where my fatique was 13 points higher than my fitness and my form was well into the green at minus 25%

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Fwiw Sir @Holger1980 , I’d come back to my initial rec of a call with a coach. It seems what you are seeking is quite unlikely to be delivered by any app or tracking program alone. Maybe one of the coaches can help you figure out the best way to use the SYSTM training plans to meet your goals and how best to track your progress using or some other method.

Before you do the call with the coach, really ask yourself what you are looking to achieve. I know you say plan progress and fitness, but to what end? E.g., to make sure your plans are leading to progressive overload? make sure you’ll get faster? to plan a taper before a big event? or just satisfaction of seeing a number that goes up?

There is not going to be one single metric that will be useful to do all of the above under every circumstance so really being crisp on the “why” will be helpful for the coach if you chat with them (and even for folks here to give a reco).

Remember, even when works, all it is showing you is your aggregated workload, as calculated by a particular methodology, then modified in certain ways by a formula. It operates on the (reasonable) assumption that this is correlated with fitness and fatigue but it is not fitness, and it is not fatigue. so even if you are doing training that makes the number go up, you’d still need to apply your judgment to the results to decide if your training is getting you where you want to go. There is no way around that.


Thank you for your reply, very much appreciated. However, before the topic turns into advertising coach calls - that’s not really what I want to achieve here. I would like it more if there was something in the making for SYSTM where I can not only track past activities but also predict some kind of training outcome (i.e. form or fitness). Just some metrics and some insightful data visualizations. Maybe, that is more of a feature request rather than training advice.


I 100% agree that it would be nice if SYSTM gave us some type of progress analysis. Like u mentioned in your OP, that Sir @Coach.Neal.H had talked about intensity/density over a year ago with a “stay tuned “ teaser. I’m not sure that’s been addressed by him or the other wahoo/SUF scientists since.


I touched on this a while ago, not sure what is happening with this so would be nice to know whether this is being pursued or shelved. Maybe the staff “lay offs” recently have had an impact?

Maybe. I don’t think any of the science team was let go though. I think that sports scientists explore and test lots of new things that don’t get fully developed for any number of reasons. But yeh, it would be nice to hear back on its development.

It presumably needs dev resource to bring to the app though. And we all know that if you ask “isn’t it just…” then it isn’t.

I’m sure we’ll get it when the time comes. And it (the improved suffering) will be glorious.

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