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QOTW: What are the differences between Strava Fitness/ Freshness and TrainingPeaks PMC

This week’s question of the week comes from Carol Gsell who asks the following question:


For those who have premium accounts in both, have you compared TP fitness & fatigue #s to those now offered in Strava Premium? Are they fairly similar or way off…?

Just wondering if the (less expensive) Strava F&F are a decent proxy for TP. Thanks!


What’s Similar


The Training Peaks Performance Management Chart and the Strava Fitness & Freshness Calculation are based off the same research. The terms used by TP such as TSS, CTL, etc are proprietary, thus similar terms are called something different by TP and other training systems like RaceDay Apollo.  What this means is, all factors being equal, a given workout will roughly equate to the same TSS/ Suffer Score/ Training Load.


But, and there are a lot of buts, there are a lot of limitations to the way Strava calculates their chart that make it more of a novelty at this time than a serious training tool. Below we explain some of the drawbacks to the way Strava calculates Training Load.



– FTP and Subsequent Calculation


With WKO and TP Premium, you pick a time period in which your FTP and zones apply. 


With Strava, when you change your FTP it calculates retroactively. 


For example, let’s say you had a light fall and then started cycling again. You did a weekend ride and averaged 150 watts and it was super challenging. Let’s say you trained and did that same 150 watt ride in May, when you were much more fit after months of regularly training. Those rides would have a vastly different physiological cost, yet Strava would treat them as equal. Conversely, in TP Premium and WKO you can set your FTP for different periods of time to make calculations more accurate .


– Heart Rate Zone Issues


One major drawback of Strava is that you can only calculate one set of zones in your profile. That means either the calculation of either your runs or your rides will be inaccurate. Furthermore, your only calculation options in strava are Custom or based off max heart rate. Since the max heart rate calculation is not likely to give you accurate zones, and because most novice athletes don’t have the knowledge to input their true ranges accurately, again the calculation is likely to be off.

– Scenarios which will not calculate


Strava doesn’t calculate swim scores and it will not calculate manual activities. Let’s say you ride at Energy Lab and know your stats but don’t save your file. It’s as if the ride never happened according to your chart .

Also, no swim scores are calculated at this time which may or may not matter. There is controversy over whether swim calculations in the regular PMC make sense or not.


– Your coach can’t use it


A practical disadvantage is it’s not really designed for someone else to analyze. Your coach would have to log into your actual account on your computer to see it.

All the above factors combined mean that you’re probably not looking at an accurate picture of your fitness.


If you’re a pure cyclist who religiously uploads all files and have your zones input accurately, your chart may reflect your fitness. All the above disadvantages are not to pick on Strava. If you’re tracking your data just for fun, their proxy of the PMC may well suffice. Also, I have to say that the way they display depict a user’s power curve / PMC proxy is more fun. It’s easier to see your best efforts over any time period AND it gives the workout titles so you can reminisce about those big training days as you scroll.

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