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Suunto Expands App with TrainingPeaks Powered Training Load and Recovery Metrics

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Today Suunto has started rolling out a pretty expansive upgrade to their smartphone app, which adds in a slate of training load related metrics, all driven by TrainingPeaks terminology. We’ll get into all the details here, but what’s notable is that there’s no specific watch model requirement here, this is being done at a platform level and thus anything syncing into the Suunto App is now accounted for (in theory anyway).

Note that the rollout starts today on iOS, and tomorrow on Android. Though when exactly it’ll show up on your phone will depend a bit on app store syncing and such. Meaning, if it doesn’t show up *THIS VERY SECOND*, try going for a run or sleep, and it’ll probably be there.

This is most interesting to me for a few reasons. Sure, it’s important for Suunto to address training load and recovery at the platform level, as they’ve largely ignored it in recent years while companies like Polar, Garmin, and COROS have turned on ‘all the things’. But more interestingly, it’s the effective offloading to TrainingPeaks for the algorithms that’s notable. While many companies have shown metrics like TSS/NP before on a per activity basis, there’s decidedly few (if any?) that have fully licensed CTL/ATL/TSB (plus all the TSSx variants) specifically into their platforms while also producing hardware. Sure, companies have effectively duplicated these by other names – but less so complete licensing.

In any case, let’s dig into it.

How it works:

To begin, you’ll obviously need some sort of Suunto device, that’s connected in some way to the Suunto app. Certainly if you’ve read this far, then you’ve probably got a Suunto device (or considering getting one). What’s notable about this open-ended requirement though is that there’s no specific need for a given model. Meaning, this isn’t limited to just the Suunto 7 or just the Suunto 9.

Instead, Suunto is doing all of this processing on the platform side, rather than the watch side. That’s good news for older watch wearers that are getting free firmware updates. Though slightly less optimal in that you won’t see any of this on your own watch, even a newer one. This is purely an app and platform update. However, the benefit there is that Suunto has processed all data back to January 2021 (so the last four months’ worth). In fact, if you update the app today (or tomorrow), you’ll instantly get this entire calendar year’s worth of data. #WinningByDoingNothing

Everything here is largely first based off of your Training Stress Score (TSS, which is a thing trademarked by TrainingPeaks). Typically speaking this is calculated based on power (e.g. cycling power), pace (swimming or running), or heart rate (everything else). The harder a workout, the higher the value. You can see in my workout a few hours ago, this so-so intensity trainer ride has a TSS score of 65:

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However, typically speaking a TSS value is calculated based on your FTP (Functional Threshold Power) – for cycling anyway. Similar things exist for running and swimming, but we’ll set those aside for the moment. Except the problem is that Suunto doesn’t have any tracking of FTP in their platform, thus instead, they’re using the line between Zone 4 and Zone 5 heart rates. In Suunto-speak, the upper edge of Zone 4 should be 99% of your anaerobic threshold.

So you’ll want to set these zones within your watch, in order to get the correct TSS values. Suunto has zones for cycling and running. Here’s the quick snippet on how to do that, from their site here:

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Of course, the obvious problem here is that many people don’t know exactly what their upper Z4 value should be, even if they know their FTP. For myself, I know what my FTP is, but frankly, I have no idea off the top of my head what the upper Z4 value should be. Which will ultimately impact the accuracy here.

This doesn’t mean it’s useless or horribly wrong. Suunto devices will automatically determine these zones if you know your max HR, and that’s probably a bit easier for most people to figure out (either through a VO2Max test or an FTP test).

Suunto supports the following types of TSS load in their platform:

TSS (r) – Running Pace
TSS (hr) – Heart rate
TSS (p) – Power
TSS (s) – Swimming Pace
TSS (met) – Metabolic base
TSS – Manually entered value

So, if you were to scroll back up slightly, you’ll see my indoor trainer ride was TSS (p) because I used a power meter on my bike to calculate it.

In any case, anytime you talk training load metrics or recovery you need lots of data, many workouts worth. That’s even more so true when you’re talking about comparing CTL/ATL/TSB, as the very nature of CTL is a look at the 6-week training load. Since I don’t have that in my Suunto account, I’m going to switch over to some Suunto screenshots to illustrate it.

First up is that Suunto has actually exposed this data as a system widget you can pin on your screen – at least on Android. I don’t see it on iOS at this point, but maybe that’s in the hopper. Here’s what that looks like on Android for someone with actual data (to the right). Meanwhile, on the left side you’ll see the new ‘Progress’ section from the main page of the Suunto app, showing CTL/ATL and TSB (aka Form) data:

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Next, within the progress section of the app, you’ll see your CTL/ATL/TSB data up top, as well as a 6-week chart. You can change the chart type from 6-week to 26-week or 13-month.

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There’s plenty of other resources to dive into all the nuances of training load (regardless of algorithm choice), so I won’t re-hash all that here. But a slide from their media brief consolidates it all quite nicely, allowing you to relatively clearly see the impact and relationship of each of these on each other:

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And then this little gallery shows the simplified explainers of what’s happening on each of these individual variants, in terms of the training load and recovery:

Now, at its core, this is a relatively simplified version of what you’d get if you were to actually sign-up for TrainingPeaks. But it’s notable that there’s *ZERO* requirement to sign-up or have a TrainingPeaks account to get this. So to the user that doesn’t know or care about TrainingPeaks, one could just as well call this SuuntoLoad™, and it’d be no different.

However, Suunto acknowledges this won’t likely be deep enough for everyone. In my call with them they noted that it’s “designed as a simple basic tool to understand this, and then if you want the deep dive, TrainingPeaks is the best service for that”.

Related, things might not match perfectly between what you see in the Suunto app, and what you’d see on TrainingPeaks. That’s because of that lack of FTP parameter (in the case of cycling), as well as the fact that in the case of running, Suunto is basing their TSS atop heart rate whereas TrainingPeaks is doing that calculation atop NGP (graded pace). Still, Suunto says that in their testing they’re seeing only a couple of units difference. For example, you might see 85 on Suunto, versus 87 on TrainingPeaks. Remember to also ensure that your TrainingPeaks FTP values align to the HR values you’re using on Suunto. Otherwise, things will still be different.

Inversely, there’s actually some areas that Suunto is handling that TrainingPeaks isn’t. For example, Suunto calculates the load for some 80 different sports in the watch, whereas TrainingPeaks doesn’t support as many sport types. Note however that while Suunto has their SuuntoPlus widget (shown below) for TrainingPeaks which shows TSS, that isn’t actually tied in here. This is all calculated on the backend.

And finally, for lack of anywhere else to mention it – in this same app update there is now the ability to export as a GPX file. Previously it was just FIT files.

Wrap-Up:

It’s good to see that Suunto is focusing back on the endurance athlete and the training associated with that. Certainly, this is just one step that’s needed, but it’s a step forward. I think many had seen the continued rise of numerous training load metrics from various competitors over the last few years and wondered whether or not Suunto was going to watch the competition run away.

Obviously, as other platforms have started to illustrate, training load and recovery is more than just the workout itself. It’s sleep – but more specifically sleep quality. And we need only roll back one week ago to Suunto adding in Firstbeat’s Sleep Quality metrics to the Suunto 7 – nearly identical to the Firstbeat metrics which Garmin also just rolled out today to the Forerunner 245/745/945 in beta. Sleep is just as important in training and recovery as doing intervals or long rides/runs. Without it, there will be no gains.

Finally – it’s interesting to see the TrainingPeaks tie-up here. I’ve gotta wonder if there’s an opportunity for TrainingPeaks to ultimately expand more into the training sciences side of the house, and offer more algorithms for sale akin to what Firstbeat does (currently TrainingPeaks largely just licenses the terms like TSS/NP/IF). Given Garmin’s acquisition of Firstbeat, I’d think that there’s probably a number of Garmin competitors that would be open to more closely aligning themselves with TrainingPeaks than a division of Garmin, for these sorts of training load and recovery metrics. I’d think it’d be much easier for a company like Wahoo, to say “Wahoo RIVAL watch with training load and recovery powered by TrainingPeaks” than to say “Wahoo RIVAL, with training load and recovery powered by Firstbeat, a division of Garmin…our rival.”

I mean, just sayin’.

With that – thanks for reading!

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29 Comments

  1. Pablo Andrés Alarcón

    Hi from Argentina Ray! Thanks for the info! One question. For us Ambit 3 users that cant configure pace zones we’ll see just tssHR right?

    • That’s roughly my understanding, but I haven’t tried it.

    • Pablo Andrés Alarcón

      Well anyways I do just trail running and paces are not really useful to try to show intensity of a session, still it would be nice if there was an option to choose between hrtss and paceTss in-app since all the calculation is done in the app, could be usefull for some road days.

  2. TomV

    Very happy with the news.But not working yet, on the trainingpeaks app, I only can connect to “sync partner: suunto movescount”, but this is the old movescount, no connection with the suunto app yet.
    Looking forward to the connection 🙂

    • In this case, it’s about updating your Suunto app, not the TrainingPeaks app. In fact, a connection to TrainingPeaks doesn’t matter at all.

      But yes, you do need the new Suunto App, not the Movescount one.

  3. Robbie

    I had to “request” this update from the Apple App Store manually. This new version is “2.3.0” (replacing v2.2.8)—works fine with iOS 14.5.

    Still no VO2 nor Max Cadence (displayed on the ultra minimalist Sports-tracker site).

    Personally, I *much* prefer to see these metrics on a proper website without endless swiping, clicking, zooming. Our group laments the bricking of their beloved Movescount experience without having to duck into Stava. Sad, that.

    Nonetheless, many thanks Ray for pointing out these updates.

  4. giorgitd

    Super interesting. This is one way to bring new capabilities to older hardware without writing code for legacy devices or being compromised by technical limitations. I do wonder about the longer game here. Integration between training platforms and wearable hardware seems to be on the horizon and, potentially, a game changer. Why would Garmin/Polar/Suunto/Coros want to even operate a data platform?

  5. Stef

    Worst watch ever made. Horrible, horrible display and the customer service, I mean lack thereof, because there isn’t any is pathetic. Waste of money.

  6. Francois

    I do not understand the choice of having FTP at the top of Zone 4. My training program is based on time spent in the different Z1-Z5 as defined by my coach. My FTP is within my Z4 and I do not want to change my zones. Why is Suunto not giving the possibility to enter FTP as a single value independently of the zones? I have the impression that Suunto likes to select the non-obvious route, as a consequence, I use Training Peaks and ignore Suunto’s FTP.

    • Rui Pereira

      Yes zones are a messy thing, everyone likes their definition better and there’s really no standard, so there should be a way of setting it manually if you are so inclined. For me FTP is the end of my zone 3, more than that I’m in realm of something I can’t sustain for that long (zone 4+).

  7. Man – you are on top of things today! Please continue to push Suunto to allow the 7 to link to a chest strap. Great and detailed wrap up. Fantastic work.

  8. Monica Muller

    Does Suunto have a fitness and diving comp in one device, like Garmin?

  9. Remco van der Laan

    Nice post Ray ! Still waiting for the update of the Suunto app in Android….. is it available for everyone or only betatesters ?

  10. mato

    Btw, Sports Tracker app , that has the same owner as Suunto, was updated recently and I noticed TSS among data fields there too. Just saying.

  11. Ro

    I feel like there continues to be a gap in UX between the watch and the app. What you see on the app is not entirely in sync with the watch: case in point is if you have both the Suunto 7 and 9 and switch between the two, your training metrics would wary between the watches but probably more up-to-date on the app. Highly annoying! Ray, any idea if this is something that is on Suunto’s radar in the near future?

  12. Rob_NZ

    I don’t appear to have received the update yet, though I do have TSS(p) and NGP showing up on the app for activities. No Progress screens or widgets

    My watch gets the power reading from my Stryd footpod and I set the power zones on the watch using Stryd zone data from Power Center

    Still on version 4.38.1 release 4038001

  13. Rob_NZ

    TBH though, I don’t care a lot about Suunto App – it’s just a mechanism to get my runs synced from my S9 into Training Peaks.

    If you don’t want to pay for a TP Premium subscription, have a look at Final Surge.

    All features are free for athletes and there’s a lot of metrics. At present there is no direct integration with the Suunto App so you have to link it through Strava, but apparently they expect to have that fixed in a few weeks.

    What I would really like though is the capability to sync structured workouts from TP or FS to the watch.
    Really miss them from A3P and Movesount App.

  14. Frederic

    Ray,

    do you know if that means that the files (FIT format) exported from the Suunto App will contain all that training stress score data ?

  15. Rob_nz

    Still no sign of the update in NZ.

  16. Sean K.

    In light of Wahoo’s plans to support structured workouts on the ELEMNT Rival with Training Peaks, I wonder if Wahoo would look to license this also for training load and recovery?

  17. Tomek

    Awesome again, thank you.
    I have been patiently watching the App Store and the app, and still no update as of May 11.
    My Google fu is not helping, and so I presume this has not yet been released in Australia.
    I do fear, that I am missing something and I need to trigger the update. Any ideas?

  18. Rob_NZ

    Ok so I have the update now.
    On the face of it it’s a good uplift to the data in the app.
    However…
    I run with a Stryd Footpod and I have set the running power Zones in the watch to match those in Stryd Power Center and Training Peaks. That’s all good and in the app the TSS(p) value is displayed for an activity, so it should be calculated using power but it is nothing like the value in TP for TSS. If anything it looks more like TP’s HrTSS value than either rTSS or TSS