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Explaining the Performance Manager Chart on TrainingPeaks

Blue dots, red dots, yellow lines, blue lines, pink lines, oh my! The Performance Manager Chart on TrainingPeaks is one of my favorite things to look at. I love to upload my workouts, glance at the data, and then switch to my dashboard to marvel at all the dots and lines that supposedly summarize how my body is coping with the stress of training.

performance management chart

Isn’t it mesmerizing?


The Performance Manager Chart is available to premium users of TrainingPeaks, and, in my opinion, it’s one of the best perks of upgrading your account. Let’s take a look at what all of these colorful dots and lines mean.

TSS (training stress score) is all of the red dots on the chart. This value was originally developed to quantify training load in conjunction with a power meter on a bike. Now, TrainingPeaks uses a complex set of algorithms to quantify data coming from a heart rate monitor or GPS watch. This value is typically assigned for each workout and takes into consideration both duration and intensity.

IF (intensity factor) is all of the blue dots on the chart. It represents what percentage of your maximum you worked (using the maximum effort you can sustain for one hour as a base). This value is assigned for each workout.

ATL (acute training load) is the pink line on the chart. It takes into consideration the cumulative effect of the workouts that you’ve done in the past 2 weeks, with those workouts done in the past week weighted more heavily.

CTL (chronic training load) is the blue line on the chart. The CTL represents the cumulative effect of the workouts that you’ve done in the past 6 weeks (but not more recently than 2 weeks ago). Those workouts done 6 weeks ago are weighted less heavily than those done three weeks ago. This value shows how consistent you are with your training (and consistency is SO important!). With consistent training the CTL will rise gradually, showing that you are improving your fitness over time. See how my blue line is gradually slanting up to the right? I’m being consistent with my training!

TSB (training stress balance) is the yellow line on the chart. It considers both training and rest. A positive TSB number means that your body is “fresh” and ready to perform at a high level, while a negative TSB number means that you’re likely suffering some fatigue from your training.

How to Get the Most out of your Performance Manager Chart?

1. In order for TrainingPeaks to accurately calculate all of these values for you, it needs to understand your current level of fitness. Go into your account settings, click on “zones,” and enter the data you have. If you know your Functional Threshold Power (FTP), use it. If you’ve done a lactate threshold test, enter your heart rate zones (remembering that values are difference for biking and running). Whatever data you have, enter it.

2. Consistently use your power meter (if you have one), heart rate monitor, and GPS watch. I’m particularly bad about this one. I don’t always wear my heart rate monitor on runs, so TrainingPeaks has to assign values based on my pace. I would get much more accurate information with heart rate monitor data.

3. Understand how to use your TSB for tapering. On my chart up there, the yellow TSB line keeps dipping lower and lower. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing! The lower the TSB falls, the higher it will rise during a taper. From my chart right now, I can see that it will take at least a week of tapering to get my TSB up to its highest point. Then, I’ll be ready to perform my best at my A race.

Do you use TrainingPeaks? What do you like best about it?

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