1hr Z2 rides: what's the point?

Hi all,

I’ve been doing structured workout on and off for the last 3 years. Since November 2023 I’ve been taking it more seriously planning to ride the marmot grand Fondo solo in the summer.
I’ve upped my FTP from 242 to 296 so I’m pretty happy about the progress.

This week I’m ending my base program doing around 10-12hr/week.
Ready to start some vo2max training and looking forward to the progress.

My question: I’m wondering what’s the point of the 1hr Z2 workouts like bald, whorl, pettit,…
I love them when fatigue is building up, I look at them as active recovery workouts. But sometimes, oftentimes, they are in the program when I’m feeling fresh, ready to go, and then I’m really feeling like I’m waisting good training time.
Wouldn’t it be better on those days to up the intensity? Can’t up the duration given personal life.
Would a threshold training like Kingsbury, Garfield, Jefferson ,… Give me more bang for my buck on days that I’m really feeling fresh?
Knowing I’m doing my Z2 in the Weekend for +4hr?

Very interested in the physical differences between the 1hr Z2 vs 1hr threshold training in between hard interval days, when still feeling pretty fresh (maybe the vo2max intervals aren’t hard enough if I’m still feeling good the next day?)

I have 1 hour Z2 workouts on Wed and Fri. VO2Max Tue, Tempo Thur and Threshold Sat.

If I started replacing the Z2 with 1 hour threshold workouts in would be in a bodybag.

Huge difference between Z2 and threshold for me. A hard threshold workout will leave me tired for at least 24 hours.

Maybe your FTP is too low or you are young and have fantastic recovery powers. Eitherway I wouldn’t be doing 3 hard interval days in a row.


They speak about this very question is one of the last few podcasts. It’s about % of time in intensity vs overall volume. Volume builds up either through time or intensity. Everyone has a limit as to how much of either they can handle. The Z2 rides are to keep the volume up but not send you over the edge.


If you’re feeling good try to increase the intensity bit, just a bit. 75% power would be the feeling of endurance, try 80% or even mix a couple of sprints during those 1hr z2 rides.

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You could just go longer. Try a two hour Z2 ride, or three hours.


They said they couldn’t do that, hence the question I guess.

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Just up it to low to mid tempo. See how you get along. I agree with @AlexMartins

Watch out for fatigue sneaking up on you, as opposed to it being sore legs or definitive overall fatigue the next day, etc. Tempo can make you tired, just not right away. If it is interfering with the quality work, then back down to endurance. Also, it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing mindset. Sometimes a little tempo, sometimes really easy endurance. Sometimes just see how you feel after 20 mins.


Don’t be a slave to your plan. If you feel fresh and ready to go, change it up and go harder. Just make sure you do the same and go easier on days that are scheduled to be hard when you’re not feeling up to the intensity. I’m a huge believer in the “make your hard days hard and your easy days easy” way of thinking, but that doesn’t mean you always have to do one or the other on a specific day.

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You could change the PL of the 1 hr rides to be higher in your endurance zone. That way, you’re not going over that zone but riding more near the top vs just spinning low zone 2.

Gains peter out past 2-3 intensity sessions per week, hence the default limit on intensity to Tue/Thu/Sat for TR plans. Some say even the 3rd workout is too much.

And it’s not about whether you feel fresh on Wednesday for the Z2 workout. It’s about whether you feel fresh on Thursday for the 2nd intensity workout… if you don’t, then you’ve screwed the pooch.

Your best bet is to lengthen the Tuesday workout to 90 min if you’re currently doing 60. Then you won’t feel so fresh on Wednesday.


Maybe threshold is a bit ambitious, but a 4x5’ sweet spot instead of 1hr Z2, or Z2 with 10x 10" sprints?
It won’t be that much harder given the rest in between. But would it be more beneficial?

What they do, at least mathematically, is keep your CTL from declining without adding in extra fatigue. In most research >3 intensity days doesn’t add extra benefit or is sometimes even counterproductive but you could be an exception most of the research data is based on small trial, so try and see what happens to you


It just occurred to me that you said in the beginning that your goal is to “do some VO2 Max training”. If your focus is on VO2 work, make your hard days very hard and your easy days very easy. Instead of doing your VO2 intervals at some set wattage in a workout, do them at the max watts you can sustain through all the intervals. If you’re doing that on a regular basis, you’ll be begging for those easy days instead of trying to add Load by making your easy days harder.


Lots of great input above. I’d just add one thing: No matter what, make sure you LOVE your rides & WOs!!! :slight_smile: If your plan starts cramming rides down your throat that just plain suck, don’t do them, period! The best training plan is the one you can follow w as close to 100% compliance as possible. The negative impact of any variation in the WOs from a “perfectly ideal plan” pales in comparison to starting to hate your plan, and skip WOs, or even just feel a little more “grey” towards riding, instead of jacked-to-the-sky, every day!! Whatever it takes to maintain and bring that high energy, consistently, to the bike, and your enjoyment of it, DO IT!!! :slight_smile:

After all, we do this to keep fit and have fun. Make sure it stays a wonderful part of your day that you look forward to, not dread / even “not so excited about today’s ride; sorta sucks”.

You aren’t the first person who simply can’t fathom staring at a wall on a trainer in Z2 for 45+ mins. [Outside; totally different, tons of fun!]

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Hey @Boesj!

In short, workouts like Bald, Whorl, Pettit reinforce consistency, add to your aerobic conditioning, and build beneficial volume on top of your scheduled intensity. Completing them regularly can help make you a faster, more well-rounded cyclist.

There’s a great blog post we did with lots of good info about what’s the point of relatively easy, hour-long endurance spins between harder days here:

The physiological effects on your body from high- and low-intensity training aren’t exactly the same, but studies show that when used strategically the two approaches can lead to comparable results for your real-world performance. This is why low-volume training plans include lots of intense workouts, which maximize the impact of less training time. Mid- and high-volume plans have more time to work with, but since your body can only tolerate so much hard training, that additional time is mostly occupied with the type of low-intensity endurance workouts this article is above focused on.

I see you’re in a High Volume plan, which has 3 HIIT days with 3 Endurance days in between. Quite a bit of volume already. :hot_face:

While you may feel fresh to perform a Threshold workout on an Endurance day, if done consistently, over time you may build up unnecessary fatigue and potentially shift your training into an unproductive zone. However, if you are doing this every once in a while and consider it’s OK, then by all means go for it! Just be mindful of how this will affect future scheduled workouts and adjust if needed.

There’s a great feature we release a bit ago that’s called Red Light Green Light that you may find very helpful for these type of scenarios. This new feature will track your training fatigue, show you when you’re overdoing it, and offer smart adaptations to your training plan to prevent long-term fatigue.