Afraid of losing fitness outside

Maybe a bit of an exaggeration but am I the only one somewhat fearing moving the training outside? Just in regards of the good results I’ve had following a structured training plan inside, the outside feels too free in the regard that it’s tough targeting specific training, i.e. the risk of a lot of junk miles.

At this point I’m almost contemplating waiting as long as possible with the outside rides just because I think that without adhering to a training plan I will ultimately loose/not gain fitness. I just know that the group rides that I do enjoy will most likely not benefit my training nearly the same way the training plan does.
The season for outdoor riding is maybe 5-6 months here so I really should make the most of it but giving up on performance gains during this period is a hard thought.

A bit of rambling but how do others cope with the same dilemma?


Obviously it’s just about impossible to do the micro-wattage changes outside. No matter where I’ve lived - never in a big city - I’ve always been able to identify/find stretches of flat roads or consistent hills where I could do threshold/SS/tempo type intervals of around 20 minutes. Short hills in suburban type neighborhoods (little traffic) can be perfect for supra-threshold workouts of 1-4 minutes. Long passes, uphill stretches can also be used for whatever you need. Interval up, coast down, repeat. But definitely, mix, match, and enjoy. Tough to stick with a structured plan. So I just mix it up. Do your interval work mid-week, ride with your mates on the weekend. Have fun!

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Just go out and ride. Ride just for fun…!


That’s the thing, group rides outside are fun, gaining fitness is fun. Combing the both is ultimately what I’d like.

@awinstra maybe has the right idea, do just the weekend group rides and keep to a training plan during the weeks.

here is what I do

I train 5 days a week indoors and go out do 100K+ group ride.


Its amazing how easy it is to do forget to do that!

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From my experience, a word of caution…

During the winter before this one I had great FTP growth based on a solid few months of TR plans, with no outdoor riding at all until my first race in late March.

When I finally hit the roads, my TT results on flat courses were great (lots of PBs) but on hilly courses they were less good. The reason is that I had focused all my TR training on high cadence/high gear work, developing a fantastic cardio-vascular system but neglecting the leg strength that comes only with real hill climbing or lower cadence turbo work.

Actions I have taken to address this: this winter I’ve done more of this muscular strength work via the TR plans (sometimes just by doing the same plan but at a slightly lower cadence - in ERG mode this forces more muscular strength stress and less cardio stress) and in my infrequent road rides I have made sure I do hilly routes.

TR has been an amazing tool for me through two Scottish winters but the truth is that for hill climbing there is something about doing it for real, using your whole body to get the bike to the summit, with all the core strength and movement of the bike and body that goes with it, that cannot (quite) be replicated on the turbo trainer.


From the brainwashing i’ve gotten (reading over and over, and listening to the podcasts)
Outside easy, indoor hard.

If you’re riding alone outside, just take it slow.
Use outside rides for aerobic/endurance buildup so stay in zone1-2

And the inside rides are the ones where you go into anaerobic, vo2max, threshold, sweetspot levels obviously except for your races/rides that you want to perform at :slight_smile:


I was contemplating this yesterday as the forecast was 35F and sunny. Decided to take my ride outside, giving up the potential gains from my 90 minute trainer ride. I hadn’t ridden outside in almost 3 months. Turns out I can hold the same speed with 20 less HR bpm. Not to mention how much more fun it was. Get outside at least once a week to see all those gains in action.


Same goes for mountain biking. You can’t replicate the strain trail riding puts on your upper body–tri’s, shoulders, chest, back–riding solely on the trainer. TR has done wonders for my leg strength and stamina, but I have to supplement those workouts with weekly upper body strength and core training otherwise I’ll pay for it (and I have) during mountain bike events.


So 3 months of riding made you that much more efficient, that’s awesome! Did your ftp increase? If so by how much approximately %-wise?

Depends on your main cycling focus I think, as primarily a MTB’r I do my structured training indoors all season long and use outside rides for:

  • skills work
  • aerobic rides - often I’ll train indoors and then an easy group ride on trails
  • long slow distance on weekends
  • races obviously

In the fall I take a short break from structure and just ride outside, and my FTP does drop - though I hate “losing” fitness, I’d burn out otherwise anyway.


Yes, it’s been a huge improvement. Although I can also attribute it to swim and run training as I’m prepping for some triathlons this summer. I’m on the bike 3x a week about 3-4 hours total. I had no experience with structured training before I picked up my trainer in late November. FTP increased from 200<240<256 as of three weeks ago, so almost a 30% increase . I’ve also lost about 3kg in the process.

The following happened to me this weekend. I’ve been riding indoors for about 2.5 months, following SSB I and II, making some good progress, feeling better and better every week. Yesterday, it was sunny outside and the temperature went up to 15C, which inevitably pulled me to ride outside. I felt like I’ve done nothing in the last months, I finished a 3h ride but my feelings weren’t the best: tired legs, high HR, breathing harder than usual, you name it. In general, I felt like I am not as fit as I thought I was, and of course that’s discouraging.

I want to believe it was due to starting the workout on tired legs after two back to back hard sessions. I did Jepson on Friday and Carpathian Peak+2 on Saturday, or is it normal to have such a shocking first session outdoors after being working out indoors for a lengthy period?

I’ve had mild feelings along the same line.

The current plan is to continue with low volume plans, and as the weather is getting nicer, make sure I get 2, hopefully all 3 of the weekly trainer rides done on the trainer, and then ride normally outside as I would. I may adjust slightly by taking it easier than normal on commutes to not stress myself too much, and make sure I get at least 1 day a week off the bike.

Dont worry too much, my first outside rides of the year are very hard work and I always I think that my training has gone down hill. It is just a matter of using a few different muscles and climbing out of the saddle more than you do indoors.

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Inspiring! Similar boat but with a lower volume. Started end of december. And i’m new as well
2x swim
2x bike
2x calisthenics
1x run

FTP from 174 to 192 to 196. And i’m not retesting FTP till april. Hopefully i get to see a nice juicy jump since i was sick in the build phase (192 to 196).

But some time in April i’m going to start cyclocommuting again so i’ll have to watch that TSS. Hopefully by then my 25k time will have gone under an hour constantly in z2.

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Great progress! It’s hard to balance time over all the disciplines. I find myself expecting way too much of myself instead of just enjoying the journey. I’m envious of your ability to commute on bike. The roads are not friendly enough around me.

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I truly lucked out with my work location and my house purchase. Half on the road w/ cars, other half on a multi-use cycle lane so it’s a godsend really.

I hear you the juggling act is part of what makes it ‘exciting’… i suck at swimming so i try to make those sessions real high quality ones and first priority. I don’t know how well running is gonna fit in the schedule once i start getting on the bike almost daily. I think i might have to sub with some skip rope some days to make sure i get SOME work on the feet and legs.

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You can train outside! You just need 2 things - first and foremost, you need the discipline to do actual workouts. It’s simple - Write down your intervals and targets for the day on a piece of white tape, stick it on your stem, find the lap button on your computer and do the workout of the day. Second, find some go to routes that fit with particular types of workouts. That might mean doing the same 2 mile loop 15 times in one ride but, again, discipline is all it takes.