Fatigue Dependent Training Plan Design

Fatigue dependent training plan design is a method of prescribing workouts and designing training plans to match an athlete’s expected fatigue in order to optimize training.  The hardest workout with the highest wattage occurs first in a block when the athlete is the most recovered followed by a less difficult workout requiring lower wattages when the athlete carries more fatigue and less recovery.

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For example:


Sweet Spot > Tempo > Zone 2

The idea is that an athlete is the freshest and able to push the highest watts on the first day of the block but then carries some fatigue into the second day of training, therefore the workout only calls for tempo watts – to match the expected fatigue.  Then on the third day of the block with two previous days of training the athlete is even more tired and therefore the training plan design and workout prescription calls for zone 2 training requiring less wattage.


Example 2 week Fatigue Dependent Training Plan Design:

In this 2-week training plan example the athlete rides sweet spot when they are coming off a rest day and are able to generate higher watts easier. Then as fatigue builds thru the training block the wattage is lessened finally defaulting to zone 2 on Thursdays and Sundays.  You’ll notice the second weeks follows the same pattern (Sweet Spot on Tuesdays and Saturday, Zone 2 on Thursdays and Sundays) but there is a gradual progression of more sweet spot in week 2.

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Athletes see a similar pattern in week 3 (more advanced endurance work) followed by a regeneration week in week 4.  This is the first mesocycle (a 4 week block of training). THEN in the 2nd mesocycle, athletes will see a greater progression of sweet spot training.

Example 2 weeks of the 2nd mesocycle using Fatigue Dependent Training Plan Design

In the second mesocycle the athlete is stronger from training adaptations and a regeneration week; therefore is able to perform TWO sweet spot workouts on consecutive days (Tuesday & Wednesday).  Because the athlete is stronger, the Tuesday sweet spot workout does not generate enough fatigue to warrant a tempo workout on day 2 like the first mesocycle.  This is quintessential fatigue dependent training plan design (FDTPD) progression from the first to second mesocycle because the training plan matches the athlete’s expected fatigue.

On the weekend, the athlete continues to ride longer on Saturdays working his or her way up from a 2.5 hour sweet spot group ride to a 3.5 and 4 hour sweet spot group ride.  In the third mesocycle the athlete will progress up to a 4.5 and 5 hour sweet spot group rides on Saturdays.

Intervals and Fatigue Dependent Training Plan Design

Raising an athlete’s training load (CTL) is not the only way to utilize fatigue dependent training plan design. Interval training plan design benefits immensely from matching an athlete’s wattage to their fatigue. The idea and design is to prescribe the highest wattage interval workout on day 1 of the block following a rest day and then a lessor wattage interval workout on day 2. For example:

Zone 6 > Zone 5 > Threshold or Sweet Spot

The athlete is the freshest and able to push the highest watts on day 1 but not as high on day 2. Therefore the training plan matches the athlete’s fatigue and the fatigue dependent design has them perform full gas intervals at 150% of their FTP on day 1 but “only” 112% of their FTP on Day 2.  This methodology optimizes the athlete’s training by enabling them to complete each workout every day and follow the training plan every week.   Successfully following the plan day to day, week to week and month after month produces a greater results than the sum of the individual workouts.

Week 3 of the interval training plan above illustrates another way to prescribe intervals using the same principle: 

Zone 5 > Zone 4 > Sweet Spot 

There are all sorts of combinations when using fatigue dependent training plan design to prescribe intervals as long as the first day of the block asks for the highest wattage followed by lessor wattages on day 2 and even day 3.

Fatigue Dependent Training Plan Designed Plans:

All of the training plans we offer use fatigue dependent methodology.  From a sport psychology and ‘ease to accomplish’  standpoint, these plans are easier for athletes to complete.  This does not mean the training is easy by any means; on the contrary its quite hard. However, a fatigue dependent designed training plan goes with the grain of an athlete’s fatigue and that’s a much better plan for improvement when balancing out work, family and whatever else life throws at us ontop of being dedicated to following a training plan.

You can check out all our Interval or Sweet Spot Training Plans that use Fatigue Dependent Training Plan Design described in this training tip.

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About Frank Overton

Frank founded FasCat Coaching in 2002 and has been a full time cycling coach since 2004. His educational background includes a Masters degree in Physiology from North Carolina State University, pre-med from Hampden-Sydney College. Frank raced at a professional level on the road and mountain bike and currently competes as a "masters" level gravel and cyclocrosser. Professionally Frank comes from medical school spinal cord research and molecular biotechnology. However, to this day it is a dream come true for Frank to be able to help cyclists as a coach.

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