How does Strava measure fitness?

In this guide, we will talk about how Strava measures fitness, how fitness works in general terms and what it means. Also, we will discuss how it is calculated and more specifically about the measurements for Fitness and Freshness. We will see how to view the Fitness and Freshness graph and some important things to consider. 

How does Strava measure fitness?

If you wonder how Strava measures fitness, here we have an answer for you. Strava measures fitness or calculates it using your Relative Effort which is based on either your heart rate of perceived Exertion input and/or power meter data. This can become very useful so you can identify patterns in your training and see how your training or workouts are adding up over time. However, remember that the score is entirely relative to you and your workout data.

As you may know, once you have created your account in Strava, you will have access to your Fitness chart. Once you can, you can select the Training icon in the lower right-hand corner of your app and tap anywhere on the Fitness preview to open your chart data. However, you need to have at least one activity that contains either your heart rate data, perceived exertion data or power meter so the app can generate your Fitness graph. 

We get it, being fit is not an easy task whether you do it on your own or use technology to track your progress. Moreover, you will notice how training is not meant to be linear but a cycle with its peaks or valleys. Fitness may sound like a complicated concept to grasp or define since it can mean different things but now, through Strava it can be translated into a number. 

How does this work?

As many users may know already, Strava has some paid features such as Fitness & Freshness. This fitness feature is meant to use some data such as your heart rate, to determine how intense your workout or training. It then takes into consideration the duration of your workout to assign a Relative Effort score to the equation. Finally, you will see the Fitness plots that data across time to show you the accumulation of your training. 

However, we know many of us can get obsessed because we would like to see how it increases and we tend to push our boundaries to get a higher Fitness Score as many times as we can. But remember that overtraining is not a good thing and you could actually get hurt or injured if your body is not used to the training level. Take it easy and always consider taking time to recover after you have exceeded your training or workout sessions. 

Finally, if you have decided to take some downtime, you will see it reflected on your charts but seeing the valleys instead of peaks doesn’t mean you haven’t tried hard enough or workout hard enough, take things slow first and consider any warning signs your body may be giving you when exceeding your training limit. 

How are Fitness and Freshness calculated?

Well, let’s start by adding that Fitness and Freshness can help track your levels of Fitness, Fatigue and Form over time. Unfortunately for many users, the chart is available only with a Strava subscription. But, how is it calculated? 

Fitness is a complicated concept to grasp since it may be interpreted in different ways. However, we can simply understand fitness as an accumulation of training. As indicated by Strava Support, “While this type of fitness and freshness chart is popular among endurance athletes it can be difficult to understand at first. In general, the overall numbers aren’t as important as general trends.”

Moreover, having access to this information can be particularly important for some people since it can help determine your current fitness level and how you could get better. 

How can I view my Fitness and Freshness Graph?

If you would like to view your Fitness and Freshness Graph, just hover over the Training tab at the top of the Strava page and select the option ‘Fitness & Freshness’ from the drop-down menu. Here you can select the range of time presented by grape and also enable plotlines so you can easily track your Fatigue and Form. 

Moreover, click on any point in your graph and it will give you more information about that specific time interval, showing your specific Fitness, Fatigue and Form values. Below your graph, you will see important information about the activities that contributed to your Fitness values, as well as the Training Impulse. Click anywhere in the chart to ‘unfocus’.

Finally, you can see that races are marked in red to facilitate the analysis of your fitness level over longer periods of time. The fitness delta next to the score will show you how your fitness has changed over the last week. 

Additional things to consider

As indicated by the Strava Support website, “Our method for calculating Fitness, Fatigue, and Form is based on an impulse-response model first developed by Dr Eric W. Banister in 1975. It was later applied to cycling by Dr Andy Coggan. The concepts apply to any measure of training stress”.

Conceptually speaking, fatigue can be easy to understand and we all have felt it at some point when we have reached our performance limit or have depleted our overall energy levels. This is why you will notice the score goes up after a couple of days and then goes down again as you take a few days off to rest. 

Finally, consider that being in form or ‘peaking’ is not the same as being fatigued. Instead, it tends to happen when you are fit. Strava models this as the difference between your Fitness Score and your Fatigue Score. 

Why is this blog about How does Strava measure fitness important?

As we have discussed how Strava measures Fitness, we have also discussed how it can become a very subjective concept that can mean and encompass many things. However, we can conclude that Strava measures fitness or calculates it using your Relative Effort which is based on either your heart rate of perceived Exertion input and/or power meter data. This can become very useful so you can identify patterns in your training and see how your training or workouts are adding up over time. However, remember that the score is entirely relative to you and your workout data.

Finally, remember not to exceed any limits when working out just to get the best score possible whenever possible. Take your time to know when to stop and take some days off. 

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How does Strava measure fitness

What does Strava fitness score mean?

The Strava fitness score means an exponentially weighted average of your daily training load over the last six weeks or so. Even though fitness is a time-weighted average, a simple rule of thumb is that your fitness score equates to your average training load over the last month.

What is a good fitness level on Strava?

A good fitness level on Strava will depend, for instance, if you see a score of less than 50% then this would be considered an easy day while a 50-65% would be an endurance ride. However, a 65-80% would be considered a good tempo ride. 

Does Strava work in the gym?

Strava works in the Gym and it can automatically sync your indoor workouts to the app. For instance, if you are doing indoor cycling or spinning just connect your Strava account, and then ride or workout as usual. 

What does Strava form mean?

Strava ‘form’ or peaking is the score you may see that tends to go up quickly after a couple of intense or hard days. However, it also goes down quickly as you take a few days off. Being in form or peaking tends to happen when you are very fit but not fatigued. 

Are strava training plans any good?

Strava training plans are good in the sense that the workouts are designed to make you become faster or quicker for a particular segment. For instance. 3-minute hill climb, 60-minute hill climb, etc. These can be good ways to train to improve your riding, whether that’s sprinting, riding tempo or hill climbing. 



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