Low Whoop Strain - what to do?

Would love some thoughts from anyone using Whoop and Sufferfest :slight_smile: Here’s what’s going on for me:

-Started using Sufferfest in January with my new Keiser M3i (have a mountain bike too), was my first time in a few months returning back to aerobics.

-Was riding very lightly Jan-May, less than 70 miles/month in Sufferfest, no outdoor riding.

-June I kicked into full gear, 180+ miles in Sufferfest.

-Did the 4DP at the beginning of June. I can tell I’ve improved quite a lot since then, which makes sense given all of the above.

-Started the All Purpose training, intermediate level, indoor, this week.

Ok, so with that being said, as an example, today I did the Revolver + Joyride combo and that gave me a Whoop strain of 9.7 (also my HR is often in the zone below SF’s suggestion, which I know isn’t everything…). Legs felt like they got a solid workout, but aerobically not intense. I’m feeling that way so far in the program. Then I have days off in the plan, so I really need to get more strain in more consistently but not sure the best way to do this. One, I think my 4DP numbers are probably a bit low since I’ve improved a lot in June, my guess is 5% ish too low right now. So I’m not sure whether too run that test mid program or wait until Half Monty.

If I don’t do the 4DP or Half Monty next week, I’m wondering how you all approach getting in more strain. Do you add in some addition easy free riding to the schedule to build up strain? I obviously don’t want to veer off of the program too much since I know my legs are learning a lot. But man, I need to push it a bit more aerobically :stuck_out_tongue: The workouts are great and I can tell how much I need them and how much I’m building, just feeling light on strain. I would like to have 3-4 days closer to 15, and the rest at 8-10.

Any thoughts? :slight_smile:

Thank you!

This is a bit personal choice and a bunch of us will have different view (aka standard caveat message)

If my plan had one VO2 type workout (eg Bine Hammers), one more STR focussed (eg Power Starion) and one longer ftp/sub threshold session say 90mins-2hrs the is focus heavily on the VO2 one.

So let’s say I can complete all three of those ina given week and while they feel hard I’m able to do them. I’d put Nine Hammers up by 5% (or something) - and yes all numbers - though it’s all about MAP really.

And then I’d see how that went.

I’m less fussed about TSS, or similar measures (though I do like numbers), as I find they are occasionally useful and occasionally misleading.

What I find I really need is to be worked really hard on VO2 workouts to help increase ceiling, and then make sure I build around that to get the benefits (ie not going crazy and trying to repeat that the next day)

Happy to wander in to detail on all of this if you like.

I’m not a coach though … and we have lots of those on the forum who will be well better at advising

What plan are you on and what are the next few workouts ?

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thank you this is super helpful! Makes a lot of sense. I’m doing the Road, All Purpose, Intermediate, Indoors plan. Tomorrow I have Cobbler, but I will probably sub this for a long mountain ride that is always a good hard workout for me. But next week I have The Omnium, Who Dares, G.O.A.T, Running with Wolves, and Blender.

The long rides are on Sundays for me which I’m likely to swap out for the hard mountain ride with my partner. I’m kind of wondering though if it might make sense to try and do those rides another day of the week since some of them are more specialized. I do get a good mix of 4dp on the mountain rides so might not matter.

I’m still getting familiar with each of the workouts and what they’re all about :slight_smile: I’d love any thoughts/details you’d like to share!

Jings. That’s some list for a week

Ok, assuming they’re in that order … Omnium - can you do that at 100% at the moment (if you’ve done it before)?

Might be worth upping that a bit and seeing how it goes. You’ll find out how it goes at the end for a minute of your life that you’ll look back on. Find a “one minute max”’gear for that and hit it when it comes.
You should be pretty tired aerobically and legs wise at the end.

You could always do the same with Blendrr if that is like 5 days later ….

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I could see Revolver and Joyride causing that.

My god I thought you’d injured yourself…

:joy: :rofl: :joy:

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WHOOP Strain is all about time and HR, not watts. So sprints have very little effect on your Strain Score. I have noticed with my own experience that it takes 5+ minutes of constant effort around z3 and above to generate a higher strain score. For example I race (track cycling) on Tuesday nights and the average race is about 5-12 minutes and even though I am making a steady race effort (z5+) the Strain Score is averages 6+.
So if you are trying to achieve the recommended Strain for the day you need to either ride longer (add a bonus video with time trialing efforts of 5 minutes or more) or ignore the target watts and use heart rate instead.
I hope this helps a little,

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Thanks, Scott! Yeah, I knew that Whoop isn’t going to pick up much of anything with watts/strength/etc, but I thought dang, my hr was up for a lot of the time for all the sprints, but I’m thinking you’re right about needing 5+minutes constant at z3. There seems to be some sort of equation there. I might try a little of both of what you’re suggesting, perhaps a slight bump to watts and then a little longer ride. Thanks for your help!

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You’re welcome and good luck!

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Ok, first time doing Omnium and I boosted my numbers 5% - good gravy that sucked lol. That felt as hard as Full Frontal :stuck_out_tongue: I was able to do it minus the two big sprints I had trouble dialing in my watts on my dumb trainer, but other than I basically tied all my power records from 10 minutes and down (records are from the FF). And Whoop? Gave me a 10.4 lol. I couldn’t go any harder if I wanted too. I guess the only thing to do is add more time, easier pace get that strain up if I want. Going to see how the next two days go with Who Dares and G.O.A.T with the numbers boasted. See if I survive that.

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As other have said it’s HR and time. Have you checked with Whoop that your max HR is set correctly? You’ll need to contact Whoop to get it set - I think it defaults to 180+ - as you can’t set it yourself from with the app.

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Thanks, Sir Simon, I think you’re on to something. I hadn’t realized that Whoop auto sets it and doesn’t let you change it. I see it has me set to 188 which might be high for me. It’s definitely higher than the old school measurement which would put me at 177. I think I’m higher than that, just not sure it’s 188. My Garmin HR and Polar HR straps have pinged me in the 180s, but not at 188. I might be more like 181 which would make a big difference in Whoop’s calculations. Thanks for the head’s up!

You’re one week into a plan and new to structured training. My advice would be to follow your plan, be consistent, and observe. IMO the Whoop strain should be feedback, not a goal in itself, especially as you are learning to put it all together. Do a mid-plan Half Monty if you think it makes sense, but building fitness is a process, not a race to a specific metric.

When I am building back from detraining and not sure where I am relative to my last numbers, I do more workouts in Level (dumb trainer) mode than ERG so I can work to my current potential. You mention being on a dumb trainer, so unlike ERG mode where the trainer dictates your power output, you have the space to really nail the targets, especially on the AC and NM intervals. Figuring out how to hit those targets on your equipment is part of the process that will help you get a more accurate 4DP result in the future.


Thanks, Michelle :slight_smile: I actually did a 3 week block of training after my FF test, all focused on the recommended workouts for my weakness, and in doing that + the 1st week of this training, I can tell I’ve improved quite a bit (perceived effort, hr, strain, how I feel at the end of the workouts). I should have done the Half-Monty before starting the 12 weeks, but that’s built into this training in 5 weeks so that’ll be good to see where I’m at. But yeah, you have a point about the training including how to nail the targets on the dang AC and NM. I’m getting better at it, but often I’m overshooting and then dialing it down a bit. This week will be more telling than the 1st week as it’s more packed with intense workouts. We shall see how it goes :slight_smile: Oh and my Whoop definitely has the wrong max hr which should change my hr zones by 4-5 points, so I think I’ll see my strain get more in line with what’s actually happening :stuck_out_tongue:

I just read in your post that Whoop sets your max HR - I didn’t know this. I contacted their help centre tonight and apparently Whoop calculates it overtime using the data it collects. For me it’s set me at 186! This to me seems way over the top.
However, I’m 57, female, only been cycling for 2 year, FTP of 148; the last time I did a 4DP test my LTHR was 159. When I do SF all out sessions my HR reaches 171 and I have to stop.
Any thoughts?

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yeah, it’s a big insight for me to know this! And I didn’t know that they calculate max hr overtime, so thank you for letting me know. I searched through all of my data to see if some how the strap registered 188, but couldn’t find a single workout with that in it. I figured it glitched. I’m waiting to hear back from support, sent them a message last night. I do feel like they’re overestimating, but just not sure by how much. I have my Garmin hr strap for comparison, and feel pretty confident 188 is too high. If I’m more like 181 it puts my 80% hr from 150 to 144, and 70% from 131 to 127. Pretty big difference I would guess in strain tracking:P I’ll let you know when I hear back from Whoop.

Awesome job on your FTP! it’s my weakness, and overall I feel my power is bottom of the barrel in this community lol. FF gave me a 106 FTP, though I think it’s tad low. But still, I have a ways to go. I’d love to be at 150 one day.

6 x 4DP over the last year. My LTHR +/- 10 (148-159) in that year at the same age. I think it all depends on how your body is on on the day - rested/recovered etc, the FTP will increase overtime and I’ve seen that the LTHR doesn’t alter that much, some times I get a better FTP and a slightly lower LTHR and others lower FTP and higher LTHR. There is an article here that might be of use.

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Where did you see your max hr on WHOOP?

Found it!

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Having chatted with Whoop analytic staff I have got them to reduce my MHR to 171.
So it will readjust my HR zones and subsequently my day strain stats.
They say because there has been some interruption in the collection of data this could be the cause of the high HR figure. So I have repositioned the placement of my strap to prevent future interruptions.


I moved mine up to my bicep where I don’t catch it on things.

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