Whether you have an event coming up, or just want to take your workout to the next level, there’s only so much we can do by ourselves. Online workout analysis platforms provide an opportunity to see where performance is thriving - and where it falls behind. More than that, they can guide you moving forward with your training.
Training Peaks is one of the big names in the field, offering assistance across a range of sports. From cycling to swimming, triathlon to marathon, Training Peaks claims to help. But are they any good?
What is Training Peaks?
Training Peaks is a data analysis tool designed to support and encourage endurance training. When using Training Peaks you can track your performance, sign up for training plans, and even communicate with coaches. It synchronizes sports data across platforms to turn it into easily digestible information, so you can understand your performance.
The intention of Training Peaks is to help athletes and competitors train intelligently. It isn’t limited to just the professionals, instead offering motivation to anyone who wants to improve.
Training Peaks is available as both a free application and a paid plan.
An athlete can create a free Training Peaks account, or pay for a plan. The website is sleek and professional, and doesn’t bombard you with paid plans initially. In fact, Training Peaks seems eager to show you what they can do for free. They position themselves as a helper, rather than a hard-nosed coach.
Tracking and Analytics
Undoubtedly one of the major features of Training Peaks is the vast range of tracking tools. Anyone who’s attempted training themselves will understand how difficult it is to properly understand improvement. Training Peak is designed to take the place of notebooks and spreadsheets you struggled to get a grip on.
For the free user, tracking is limited. The workout summary doesn’t have the same level of detail, but it does provide speedy initial feedback.
If you pay for an account, the tracking tools step it up a gear. Now you can track your peak performance and fitness improvement, receive a weekly fitness summary, and find detailed charts for heart rate, pace, and power. This is just a few of the options offered with premium.
Training Peaks can also be synced with other powerful analytical tools such as Golden Cheetah and WKO5.
Ease of use
There’s no point getting a fancy analytical tool if you don’t understand the data. Undoubtedly, some of Training Peaks’ more in-depth charts won’t be of use to everyone. However, for the most part Training Peaks is an intuitive service that is clear in its presentation.
Perhaps one of the best features is the color coded workouts, which are used to show you how you performed each session. Green means it went well, and you achieved your goals. Red means it didn’t happen. Orange and yellow are used to show when a workout was too hard, or too easy. At a glance you have a comprehensive understanding of how you’re finding the training plan, and where to focus moving forward.
Outside this, the data is broken down using graphs and charts. The dashboard can be customized to allow the user to view the most important information at a glance. Newcomers will quickly understand the data presentation, although not everyone will find all of it useful.
Sign up is incredibly easy for access to a free account. Once you’re on board, Training Peaks is a sleek and efficient tool that presents data in an accessible manner. It works for long term and short term goals, and is displayed in a system that makes improvement obvious.
If you want to use the analysis of Training Peaks, you need to have something to track. The first option is to upload a workout from other fitness apps, and this option is available for free and premium accounts. However, you may prefer a workout more supported by Training Peaks. Luckily, they offer a massive range of training plans to suit (almost) every need.
These plans range in price from under $5 to over a thousand dollars, so there’s something for any budget. You can browse through the plans yourself, or fill in a quick questionnaire to narrow down the results. Finding the best option may take a while, but it’s impressive to see how much is available.
These plans are created by certified coaches, and before signing up there’s an extensive explanation of what the plans entail. Each plan gives you access to a free account, and synchronizes with the various tracking tools. Then it’s down to you to put the effort in.
For a free Training Peaks account, the plans are one of the greatest reasons for signing up. They offer you a structured workout that comes with feedback and motivation.
If you pay for a premium account, you’re able to set your own training. The drag and drop workout builder is easy to navigate, and gives you an opportunity to take charge. It’s a shame this option is missing from the free tool entirely.
If you find your training has stalled, then you may be looking for some outside assistance. The analytics tools of Training Peaks can help, but they can only work so far as your experience takes you. This is where the coaches come in.
Training Peaks works with a range of accredited coaches. After filling in a short questionnaire, Training Peaks will search their database to put you in contact with a coach for you. Alternatively, you can search the database yourself. The initial conversation is free, to decide if the coach is a compatible option. After speaking to the coach you can sign up for a monthly package to receive tailored feedback and guidance.
The coaches are an expensive service, with even the cheapest plan costing over $100 a month. Of course, there is no comparison for this kind of personalized service.
If you’ve been looking for a coach anyway, then doing it via Training Peaks is a good way to get all your data in one place. This is really the greatest benefit, because the prices are fairly standard. If you’re thinking of hiring an online coach, then Training Peaks offers a major platform for communication.
Outside the data analysis, Training Peaks has a few other tools that make it a versatile platform. It’s always important to remember the basics, and Training Peaks have the goal setting and workout reminders you’d expect from a fitness app. This is another area that’s more extensive in the paid plan, but even a basic account gets a nudge when a workout is expected.
There are supportive features as well, including guides, blogs, and articles. Training Peaks clearly want to be the only place you look when it comes to fitness goals. They even have podcasts, to keep you entertained during a long session.
The one thing missing is the community aspect. There isn’t the same level of competition that is offered by similar tools, so some may find Training Peaks a little lonely.
The free option at Training Peaks is fantastic, despite the limited features. By signing up for a free account you can see what exactly Training Peaks has to offer, and whether it’s right for you. They even offer a short premium trial, for a glimpse at the features you’ll be losing. This way you can see for yourself which of the tools will be helpful, and which will be wasted.
For the premium plan, the price varies depending on how you pay. The annual payment is undoubtedly the best, as it saves you 50% off a monthly subscription. Compared to the cost of everything else for training, it isn’t a bad price. Being able to build your own workouts is a huge bonus, and the extra analysis forms a better picture of where you’re at. Even small features, like notes and updates, make the premium a vastly better service to the basic.
Is Training Peaks worth it?
First of all, the basic option for Training Peaks is definitely worth it, because you can sign up for free. If you have a casual interest in fitness, or are training towards a goal but comfortable with your schedule, Training Peaks offer a place to track data and analyze performance. A free account also offers access to Training Peaks huge range of (paid) workout plans. With no cost involved, there’s little reason not to sign up and have a go.
The paid accounts are worth it if you’re enthusiastic about performance. However, not everyone will find the features justify the price. It really depends on the kind of detail you need about your performance. Still, with so many features missing from the basic option, premium offers a definite step-up.
If you want some motivation, then Training Peaks can provide it. With easy to understand data, an intuitive user interface, and multiple features, Training Peaks could be the tool that you need.