Monitoring strain and recovery during the ToS

Hi everybody,

I am wearing a Whoop band that helps me monitor the daily strain (up to 21 max) and recovery that is based on my heart rate variability, sleep efficiency, resting heart rate etc. you can find more details here*

*I’m in no way sponsored by Whoop (sadly); I think it would be interesting to see how much strain the stages take on my body and how is my recovery looking.

First some context about me:

I’m a passionate hobby cyclist, an average Joe, with the last FTP measured at 211 (2.9 W/kg), a Pursuiter type (by the 4DP test). I say this because it might influence the strain on the different stage types. I am using Direto XR smart trainer and going for the nuclear version of the tour. I try to eat healthily, not snacking candies since the 1st of February. Additionally, I am doing meditation and trying to have as much sleep as possible to face the high stress I’ll put my body through in the next week.

Some caveat:
Before the tour, I had unusual high recovery rates. In the week before the ToS, I followed the prep rides with tempering for the stages. I also did strength training, but the recovery rates were very high, almost always green. I even did a 4DP test on Thursday before the start of the tour. I also tried breathwork, which might cause elevated HRV and RHR (?).

And here you can support my efforts by donating to the DPF cause.

So let’s dive in with the first stages:

Day 1: Recovery 92%
Stage 1 strain 15.0


The rest of the 0.3 strain comes from other activities. As a rule of thumb, there is not much activity except the tour, as I have an office job and work from home. And I am too tired of doing anything else.

As I had elevated recovery rates the whole week before the tour, I was not surprised to wake up on Sunday morning with a 92% recovery. I thought to myself, “I am ready for this. Let’s keep it at least in the yellow for the next stages”. I felt pretty good during the Joy ride but suffered enough. I was doing surprisingly fine during the Cobbler*

Before the ToS, I experienced with the TrainerRoad where there is a lot of sweet spot training. I feared the Cobbler as I hate these training styles. Still, the low cadence takes out some of the heaviness from my cardiovascular system, and I do better than spinning for the same power.

I missed the more fun training rides of The sufferfest app and will keep here for now

And the impact of the ride would be seen on the following day…

Day 2: Recovery 61%
Stage 2 strain 13.9


Total day strain 14.4 with nothing special than going from the office to the kitchen and back, haha

Already the second day of the tour started with my recovery in the yellow. But not too bad, still over 60%. I felt relatively good, but during the ride, I really suffered. The longer (3 min) MAP parts of the Nine hammers really hit me hard, and especially the last minute of the ninth hammer finished me. I was mentally happy that I managed to finish it, but I felt totally exhausted after a shower and lunch. I tried to take a nap and did some breathwork, which helped me somewhat…

And then the next day…

Day 3: Recovery 49%
Stage 3 strain 13.4


At the time of writing, 0.3 additional strain from household activities…

Aaaand the downward trend is going a bit faster than expected. And worryingly so. Also, I could not get as much sleep as Whoop predicted I need for higher recovery rates.

Stage 3 was okay. I think my profile suits such a stage with high power outputs for a short time being something I can easily manage. The threshold and sweet spot intervals are okay as long as they are not longer than 15 minutes. I felt somewhat better than after stage 2, but later in the afternoon, I got the low energy feeling as the day before.

What’s next?

Now I really dread stage 4, especially Half, which is easy. The GOAT seems, again, something that I can manage as low cadence drills seem to fit me okay. I’m curious what will be my recovery tomorrow. Today I did meditation, breathwork and had Magnesium supplement.

I Will come back tomorrow or the next days with the updates, depending on my work schedule. But will update my progress with the recovery for all of the stages in the coming days.


Day 4: Recovery 49%
Stage 4a strain 9.5
Stage 4b strain 7.9


Yesterday I was in bed at 9 pm. And it showed. I had a long sleep and thus recovered better for today’s session. For the Half is Easy ride, I struggled more with coping with the smart trainer delays or errors from jumping quickly to high power and low power. I even went a bit back in the interval, feeling I didn’t do as much as needed. But my riding profile fits this kind of training style and did not struggle too much with it (while I still suffered).

G.O.A.T is one of my favourite training in The Sufferfest app. The music is great, the scenery exceptional and cultural input awesome. Also, low cadence at above and below threshold seems to suit me as I said before. I had a relatively low heart rate compared to the legs’ pain, which whoop can not translate into strain levels. (the same as in the case of weight lifting, and whoop explains on their website about interpreting data in this kind of exercises).

My total cycling strain was about 12, lower than the previous two days with 1-hour stages. But I am not getting fooled. Tomorrow is the new Norway stage. I’m looking forward to experience life in the pro peloton, but I am afraid of the profile. It looks like constant pressure with little to no space for recovery. So hopefully I can get some more sleep.

I think that by the end of the day I will have a strain around 13 with the other household chores I planned for today.

I will be back tomorrow with the effects of my sleep and the strain of Norway.

Day 5: Recovery 62%
Stage 5 strain 12
0.4 additional daily strain


Today I woked up very stiff. My shoulders and neck were very stiff because of the low cadence of the G.O.A.T, I think. I should have done a stress release yoga after yesterday’s session but didn’t have time because of the work. I went straight to a shoulder, neck and upper back yoga from

Although my recovery was similar to yesterday, I felt way more tired. But around the planned time for the stage, I felt okay and very curious about the Norway ride. I totally loved it and find it not too difficult with the exception of slightly longer efforts and high peaks. My total strain was 12, similar to the day before.

But I feel more tired and for recovery, I’m planning to log in more sleep and had a recovery protein shake after the ride.

Day 6: Recovery 53%
Stage 6a strain 11.5
Stage 6b strain 7.4


I think that whoop comes to a limitation here. My recovery is not great, but not disastrous considering the expectations. My heart rate is not reaching the levels I’m used ot for the same trainings and efforts. So Whoop would ocnsider less strain than I actualy felt I had.

Today, althougha long sleep, I felt very tired throughout the day. I did the stages still on nuclear and pushed over the suffering, but I was not in the mood at all. I think Norway also ruined the ‘normal’ stages for me.

Tomorrow I plan to sleep long and do the stage when I feel good during the day. two more hours of suffering…We can do it!

Day 7: Recovery 67%
Stage 6a strain 11.1
Stage 6b strain 12.8


Well, well, well… in the green on the last day

I think the Whoop has some limitations in this type of multi-day event. As the fatigue is accumulating, my HR levels are lower than normal. So Whoop thinks that I get less strain. Would be interesting to have this fatigue taking into account in the algorithm.

The defender is not suited for my cyclist profile and I was suffering especially on the two minutes MAP efforts. On the attacker, I did better as the efforts were shorter, even if the recoveries were as well shorter. Also knowing its the last one gives a mental kick to finish it hard. I remember doing attacker before and not standing up in the last sprints. But now I went up every time. Just to finish up the tour on a high.

Total tour strain

I think finally the tour was fairly balanced. In the image it looks like a nice curve, having lower strains in the middle and higher in the longer stages. In the end, I think this tour suited me quite well. I felt more exhausted at the end of the last tour. Then I did it get me through it and now, nuclear. But having finished a tour before also helps me mentally to get courageous that I can do it again.

I think monitoring strain and recovery throughout this week was a nice experience. And I will continue to check my recovery in the coming days…

Let me know what you think and what are your strategies for improving recovery.
Do you think I should dial down if I get in the red in the next days and can’t get out of it?

As a similar interesting read, Whoop monitored the strain and recovery of world tour cyclist during Tour of France. You can read more here.


Great write up. I think on something like a 7 day event (nuclear at that) I wouldn’t worry too much about whoops recovery status, you already know you are going to deplete yourself. Listen to your body and continue making smart decisions. I think the analysis is great, but using whoop as a driver would be my focus on longer term training, not events, which I consider this week to be.

Empty the tank and use a mental toughness session or two if you need a positive booster.

That would be my approach. Keep up the good work! Can’t wait to see the rest of the week.


It’s interesting how different riders are strained differently by different workouts. I’m also a Pursuiter. I can handle the 1 minute MAP efforts in Revolver and the shorter AC efforts in Half is Easy. Even when I was extremely fatigued I could push myself through Revolver or Violator and hit every power target. Fight Club is hard, but those attacks are just short enough that I can hit every single one of them. But, when lengthening out those efforts like in NH, I am destroyed. If the MAP and recovery efforts in NH were broken up and spaced out more in the same amount of overall time, I would be able to complete them. I can even easily handle the long sweet spot sections of Cobbler. But multiple 3 minute MAP hammers is too much for my poor legs.

Love seeing your analysis, here. Interesting to see how your body will cope with the rest of the week. Likely you’re going to be very fatigued and depleted. And I second everything @Jason_Rule5 said.


An interesting read - thanks for taking the time to post.

Normally I try to be on the snacks front (especially with working from home for a year now). However, with picking the Nuclear option for the tour this year I’m not being shy around the pantry. Gotta fuel that recovery!

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About the Strain. As a long time whoop-user i found that whoop (just as any other optical HR sensor) is pretty adequate recording even longterm activity, but cant properly recognise short spikes caused by interval/sprint training. So Strain is not very reliable with the SUF-sessions so far.
For Recovery i realised just the other day that some easy slow stretching in the evening helped me to relax and increased recovery score a lot. In general it always helps to have good consistent long enough sleep. At the Moment i found it especialy important to calm down early to get to bed early and relaxed. Meditation and breathwork helps also a lot to relax calm down and increase HRV. Not eating a few hours before bed also helped me. Carb loading can help (no, not a pound of donuts and pasta for dinner, more like some extra “iso-drink” through the day or a big bowl cereals with fruits for breakfast)
As the folks from whoop say themself, its totally normal to also have red days in hard training phases. Its more an indicator to pay extra attention to revovery-measures e.g. the above mentioned. Also if you are training with some ambition it would be a bad sign to be always in the green. This would mean your traing is to easy :wink:
For the Tour i wouldnt change too much when having a red day. Maybe when 2 or 3 in a row even due to increased recovery-measures, but that would be already after the ToS. And then you have a lot time to recover.


Not using whoop, but from a TSS standpoint I’m headed into ‘the red’ for the latter half of the tour. My understanding is that putting this kind of high stress on your body is something that would likely result in injury or overtraining if done continuously for multiple weeks/months, but that the sharp stimulus is okay (or even beneficial!) in small doses.

I do monitor my resting heart rate though, and if I saw something like a 5-10 bpm jump I might consider dialing down the intensity of the upcoming stage, depending on how I felt more generally.


Yep, I have the estimated TSS entered as well and I dip WELL into the red:


That rest day on Sunday will be nice, then going into the post-ToS recovery program.


Just fyi:
You cant really compare Whoop Strain to TSS as they are measured differently and Whoop Recovery is something completely else than Form (which is just calculated from short and long term TSS). Even so there might occur some correlations.
eg you can have a high strain and/or low recovery score even when not having trained at all for some time and vice versa.

And something to think about TSS: If you ride for 1 hour at 100% FTP its 100 TSS. If you ride for 2 hours at 70% FTP its 98 TSS.


I know they are completely different – but both can be used as different measures of the pressures you’re putting the body under.

More precisely, TSS (its issues notwithstanding) can help measure the stress on the body, and Whoop / other HR measures can help measure the resulting strain.

I find Seiler’s video a useful resource in this regard and am eager to read/learn more: Load, Stress, Strain: Understanding the difference can make you fitter and faster! - YouTube

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I find Relaxing to Recover from the Mental Training Program very useful. It helps me refocus.

Normally, I do it once a week as recommended.
This week I have been doing it after every stage.


I agree, but I was in the middle of a training plan, so tracking the TSS is important because I am dealing with long term stress. I have been using it long enough that I know when I am headed for trouble.

While TSS does not track HIT very well, I do find it sets an upper bound.

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Yeah that’s my experience too. One thing I’ve started tracking that may help me understand the stress of HIIT better is kJ>FTP.

Notably last week, which for me was stage 1 and a bunch of recovery/endurance stuff, this was at 495, but this week between stage 2 and 3 it’s already at 600 and obviously will go much higher. Looking back at my historical numbers – I’m pretty sure I’m going to easily set an alltime weekly high here.

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How are you modeling kj>FTP? Are you using Xert?

@Radu thanks for the details. I’ve been using Whoop for the past 4-5 months and I have learned that the recovery score seems to have very little to do with how I will perform in the short term. I’ve had red days where I feel very strong, and green ones where I am worthless. I have noticed though that my resting HR overnight is an excellent indicator of how I am doing, and the average HR for the day tends to be helpful for watching my overall strain.

Interestingly my HRV as measured by Whoop tends to drop considerably if I take more than one day off.

I have been solidly red for the past few days, and I’m using this week as a bit of an experiment to see how my data change.

I have also been using HRV4TRAINING for the past several weeks, taking morning measurements, so that I can compare the results. So far, the results have not correlated well, but I am interested to see how it looks over time


I’m tracking kJ>FTP with, along with time in zone.

To get slightly back on topic, HR measures definitely help me understand the strain on my body regardless of source. A few weeks ago when I followed up a long outdoor ride (where I probably worked too hard on certain climbs) with 14 Vise Grips and felt like :poop: the next morning, sure enough my RHR was also elevated by about 5 beats. I was also recovering from a fever a few months ago and my RHR spiked up by about 15-20 beats, which removed any notion that a short ride would do me any good.

I also track sleep stats with my Polar device but have a harder time interpreting the information.


Thanks for sharing this! Looking forward to a full post-ToS run down of your numbers!
I’m finishing a write-up (which I’ll be posting at the end of the week) on fatigue and how it impacts various metrics, so this is a very well-timed post! The impact correlation between rider type and activity stress/strain is a really fascinating subject and is the rationale behind our Rider Profile-based training plans.
And to any SUF users who are tracking HRV, using SUF for the majority of your cycling workouts (or are tracking all cycling activities with a power meter), and are willing to share your data (in the name of Science!) please shoot me a direct message to discuss further!


I tracked HRV for a while, but I stopped.

It did not tell me anything I really did not know, and if it told me something that conflicted with how I felt, I went with how I felt.


Thanks, everybody for joining the conversation! I will add the next days’ strains and recoveries on the original post by editing it so anybody could read it at one glance. Looking forward to todays’ stage as I had a long sleep and bounced back to almost in the green recovery haha. Will log in the data later.

Whoop also has a weekly digest which I will add next week. Besides these metrics, it shows my exercise and sleeps patterns compared with my past weeks’ average. I think would be interesting to see.

I have to agree with the things said here. The metrics will not influence how I ride or where my headspace will be, but it’s fun to monitor them as I have this opportunity to satisfy my curiosity.

Generally, for cyclists, whoop, will always give high strain scores for more than 2 hours ride, even if it didn’t feel as strenuous.

I have learnt that my resting heart rate is a pretty good metric in line with how I feel. But anyhow, it is an excellent sleep monitoring device. And logging in more sleep has a huge impact on my recovery. Nothing can beat a good restful sleep.

Other things I saw really improve my scores are not eating late (3-4 hours before bedtime I have my last meal), being satisfied with the day (mood), stress, etc.


We’re all going to deplete ourselves this week. Some light stretching is doing wonders for me, and I’m already booked for a sports massage on Monday to loosen up everything that I know will be shut tight!

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I use the free app welltory start of tour my productivity was 80% energy 57% and stress 41% before bed after 3rd stage it showed prod. 34% energy 13% and stress 85% .I do feel I am keeping my recovery in check, but I am not sleeping very well and so this level of recovery is probably not sustainable. I wake up hungry during the night, and wake up to urinate a few times too. This often happens when I increase protein intake but other than a post ride recovery drink, I am not taking additional Protein