Annual Training Plan Methodologies

You can periodize your training for important Events with the Annual Training Plan (ATP). TrainingPeaks offers three different ways to periodize your training: duration, average TSS, and Event CTL.

Annual Training Plan (ATP) Methodologies


To date planning by duration has been the most common way to plan your annual training year and has been trusted by coaches and athletes for decades. When planning by duration you will be provided with a weekly training hour goal which you will then use to determine the duration of each of the week’s daily workouts. Since duration only takes one aspect of the workout into account, how long the workout is, it is the least precise method of planning.

Experience Level: Beginner


TSS (Training Stress Score)

By entering a weekly average TSS the ATP will automatically calculate and give you weekly TSS targets and will model future Fitness, Fatigue, and Form in the Performance Management Chart so that you can see what your fitness will likely be on race day. Since TSS represents the workload of a training session and takes both duration and intensity into account, it is a more precise way of planning than duration alone.

Experience Level: Intermediate

Fitness (CTL)

If you know the Fitness (CTL) that you would like to achieve on race day (based on past experience or our recommended guidelines), you can enter that target and the ATP will automatically back-calculate the required weekly TSS in order arrive at that goal. Since Fitness (CTL) is calculated from TSS it is a more precise way of planning than duration alone.

Experience Level: Advanced 

Annual Training Plan Rules

The ATP wizard periodizes your season toward Events according to the following rules.


Date Range

The ATP counts weeks starting on a Monday, which is the last week on the Sunday after the start date selected in the dropdown.

ATP date range(minimum to maximum) : 9 months (39 weeks) - 18 months (78 weeks).  

Please Note:

  • The minimum required length of an ATP is 9 months. You can, however, prompt the ATP to periodize your training to Peak for an A priority ('B' and 'C' races, by default, will not prompt the ATP to Peak your training) race scheduled earlier in that date range by adding the A event earlier in that date range.
  • The minimum/maximum range promotes planning an entire season while lending flexibility to the definition of a season.

Automatic vs Manual

  1. Automatic Periodization creates an ATP based on Joe Friel's methodology.
  2. Manual periodization creates a blank ATP with a specified number of weeks provided. The coach or athlete may then build a custom ATP with their own methodology.
  3. Manual mode with TSS (Event Fitness (CTL)) creates a linear progression to the specified Event CTL goal.

Current Fitness (Strong vs Weak)

Strong Fitness = large endurance background e.g. trained as an endurance athlete for many years

Weak Fitness = limited endurance background e.g. new to endurance training or haven't trained consistently for years

The more you've trained, the faster you can recover between races. Conversely, the less you've trained, the more recovery you'll need between races.

In practice, selecting 'Weak' will add base periods between races.  The strong option will not.  

Recovery Cycle

  1. 4-week cycle - The ATP periodizes your training with 4 week builds.  Recommended for experienced athletes or younger athletes (under 40).
  2. 3-week cycle - The ATP periodizes your training with 3 week builds.  Recommended for inexperienced athletes or older athletes (over 40).

Training Volume/TSS

We need to determine how many annual hours you will train for. The weekly average hours is the amount on average you will train in a week. The table below is an approximate guide for determining annual training volume based on the expected duration of your longest race in the season and your goal for the event.

Longest Race Duration Suggest Annual Hours/TSS Range for a Goal of 'Finish the Race'. Suggested Annual Hours/TSS Range for a goal of 'High Performance'.
Up to 3 hours

300-400 hrs/yr (15,000-17,500 TSS/yr)

Average Weekly Hours/TSS: 7.5-10 hrs/wk; 350-500 TSS/wk

400-800 hrs/yr (20,000-40,000 TSS/yr)

Average Weekly Hours/TSS: 10-20 hrs/wk; 500-1000 TSS/wk
3-8 hours

400-500 hrs/yr (17,500-22,500 TSS/yr)

Average Weekly Hours/TSS: 10-12.5 hrs; 500-640 TSS/wk

600-1000 hrs/yr (30,000-50,000 TSS/yr)

Average Weekly Hours/TSS: 15-25 hrs/wk; 725-1250 TSS/wk
More than 8 hours

500-700 hrs/yr (22,500-30,000 TSS/yr)

Average Weekly Hours/TSS: 12.5-17.5 hrs/wk; 640-890 TSS/wk

800-1200 hrs/yr (40,000-60,000 TSS/yr)

Average Weekly Hours/TSS: 20-30 hrs/wk; 1000-1500 TSS/wk



Requirements: When using auto calculation you must have at least one 'A' race.  'A' races must be within 32 weeks (4.5 months) of each other and within 48 weeks of the start of the ATP

If you have chosen the TSS Event Fitness (CTL) methodology, you are required to enter a CTL value on one or more of your A or B priority races.


Annual Training Plan-Periods

The ATP uses Joe Friel's descriptions on how to select periods.  What follows are the Periods and the suggested period lengths:

  1. Transition: 1-6 weeks
  2. Preparation: 3-4 weeks
  3. Base: 8-12 weeks
  4. Build: 6-8 weeks
  5. Peak: 1-2 weeks
  6. Race 1-3 weeks

TrainingPeaks uses a lookup table to determine what periods to apply.  The lookup table uses the following considerations to determine the appropriate Period:

  1. Where you are between A priority races
  2. Whether you chose Strong vs Weak in the ATP wizard
  3. Whether you chose a 3 or 4 weeks recovery cycle in the ATP wizard
  4. Week to your A event.


Limiters are goal-specific weaknesses that decrease the chances of accomplishing a seasonal goal. Please note that not all your weaknesses are goal limiting. e.g. if your weakness is climbing hills but your goal is placing well in a criterium, then your weakness is not a limiter.

How do you know what your limiter is? You have a limiter when your weakness matches up with the demands of a race. e.g. you have poor sprinting ability and you want to excel at a criterium.

Once you know your limiters, pick workout types, based on abilities (not your ability) required to progress.


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