In Part 1 of this two-part series on setting up a Performance Management Chart on TrainingPeaks for strength training I only got as far as describing why you should only have one combined chart for all sports reflecting your total fatigue. All of the other sport activities should have separate PMCs since fitness (CTL) and form (TSB) don’t significantly cross over between sports.
It isn’t really necessary to have a separate PMC for weightlifting, but knowing how focused some athletes can be on quantifying their training, I understand the request for how to do it. (It is possible to get carried away with tracking data. For example, I’ve also been asked if a stretching PMC would be informative. No, it wouldn’t.)
To have a useful PMC for strength training requires having a Training Stress Score (TSS) for every workout. This reflects how hard the workout was. For endurance sports the two components of TSS are workout intensity and workout duration. But in weightlifting, which isn’t an endurance activity, duration doesn’t play a role in the outcome. It’s strictly intensity that determines how hard the workout was. So you need to come up with a method of gauging only intensity for a weightlifting session.
That could be done simply with a rating of perceived exertion. But that’s quite subjective. Serious lifters do it by tracking “tonnage”—how much total load they lifted in a workout. Tonnage is based on the load lifted multiplied by the number of reps, times the number of sets. This is done for each exercise and then the totals are added together for a tonnage score.
An endurance athlete would do something similar—but with a new wrinkle to get TSS. After determining the tonnage for the session you’d have to decide how hard that was relative to what you normally do. If it was an average strength workout for you it could be given a TSS of 50. As the tonnage increases or decreases from the norm with each session you would assign a new TSS number either higher or lower than 50.
For example, you may find that your average weightlifting session is 3.5 tons. That would yield a TSS of 50 and would mean 14.2 TSS per ton (50 / 3.5 = 14.2). So a harder 4-ton session would be a TSS of 64. An easier 3-ton workout would have a TSS of 36.
Of course you must also realize that the fitness changes reflected in a PMC don’t say anything about what you’re fit for. If you’re a cyclist and spend all of your time running the PMC may say your fitness is quite high. But it’s doubtful that this would be reflected in your bike racing. In the same way, if you’re a runner and all you do in the gym when weightlifting is arm curls then you can’t expect to see much if any improvement in your running. Whatever you do in training, whether endurance training or weightlifting, must be specific to the sport for which you are training. But that’s a topic for another blog post.