2021 U of T Training Study, p/b TrainerRoad (2022 update: results posted!)

[2022 EDIT] See results posted below!

Hi everyone, I’m happy to announce that TrainerRoad will be hosting an academic study through the University of Toronto investigating the effects of different high intensity interval training (HIIT) protocol on cycling performance.

We are looking for participants between the ages of 18 and 45 to follow a structured 6-week polarized training plan from the comfort of your own home.

All you need is your bike, a heart rate monitor, and a smart trainer with power data. You will be assigned a free anonymous TrainerRoad account to use for the duration of the study. Unfortunately because of privacy requirements we can’t use our own existing accounts.

Timeline for Testing and Training

Baseline testing in the first two weeks will include an incremental exercise test and two time-trials. You will then be prescribed two high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts each week at an individualized power target, which can be done on your own schedule. The interval workouts are simple and shown to be effective at improving performance. The final week will be a re-test of the incremental exercise test and time trial.

Recommended Weekly Exercise Structure

Incremental exercise test (IET), time-trial (TT), high-intensity interval training (HIIT), low-intensity continuous training (LICT)

You will be able to perform as much or as little low intensity training as you prefer. However all of your cycling training will need to be performed on the trainer and recorded in the associated TrainerRoad account. This is necessary for monitoring training load during the study period. Perfect structure for winter (or unfortunately, lockdown) base training.

If you are interested in participating and want more information, please go to http://www.evidencebasedcoaching.ca/training-study.html

I’m happy to answer any questions about the study on this thread, or feel free to message me privately.
We now have an FAQ for the more common questions


Just wanted to add that I’m very excited for the possibilities here. It took a lot of convincing on the academic side for us to be able to use a public platform like TrainerRoad for a formal academic study. On the other hand, the TrainerRoad team immediately saw the potential and opened their software to us!

Huge thanks to @Nate_Pearson , @Corey, and the rest of the team who have been helping us set this up.

Allowing remote participation will hopefully give us an incredible new data stream to tap into, and capture a more relevant real-world segment of the cycling community. If this study design works, this may be a game-changer for sport science research. And the information we gather will help improve best-practice training recommendations and TrainerRoad’s own training plans.

We hope we can entice a few of you to participate in this study through the winter! Before continuing with one of @Chad’s official TrainerRoad programmes.


Industry leading, TR, industry leading.

Hopefully there are a lot of folks interested in participating. COME ON, EVERYBODY, LET’S MAKE ‘N’ BIG. :smiley:


checks calendar… and current age… :cry: (46 > 47 in 3 weeks)

Will be awesome to see where this goes though, so I hope you get lots of people :smiley:


:joy: :cry:

Arbitrary age cut-offs are just one of the many pleasures of appeasing the ethics committee gods.


A question from a triathlete: would we be able to participate in this and still swim & run if we kept those workouts low intensity?

And would HR measured at the wrist from a watch be okay?

1 Like

Oh age restrictions - now that’s not right (says the 55yr old :wink:)


Unfortunately no. We want to control the training load throughout the study to be strictly cycling recorded on TrainerRoad. This is to avoid any crossover effect from different training modalities and unrecorded training load on the outcome measures of the study.

However, the other side of that coin is that cycling will have a crossover effect on your running and swim fitness, meaning it’s not like you’ll be moving backward during the study period. Consider it a non-specific pre-base training phase!

I’m 86% 100% confident that’s a yes. Training indoors means we avoid most of the issues with wrist-based HR data.

I guess us 50 Somethings are not good enough to participate. I am calling age discrimination :rofl: :joy:. I may have missed it but will the results of this study be made public? Will be interested in where this goes.


I know, I know… Ethics thinks that anyone with a grey hair is liable to explode at any second and should be bubble wrapped at all times for their own protection. What are you doing enjoying exercise and getting fit and healthy at your fragile age?! :scream: :joy:

Definitely! We’re hoping to be able to look at a bunch of different subgroups (age, sex, training history, etc.) so we can give more specific training advice. Which means the more participants we get, the more widely applicable the results will be!

Is strength training still permitted during the study?

Strength training is still allowed. I lied. Unfortunately strength training is not allowed during the study period. Put down those dumbbells for a few weeks!


We’ve come a long way since the days of Little Arthur and Millgram Conformity. :smiley:

But hey, there is good news. Any level of training experience seems to be ok? Also, don’t have to be 60+ VO2max. But, also, CAN BE 60+ VO2max. Male is ok. Female is ok. Any BMI, I guess.

A lot of ppl should qualify. I’m aged out but if I weren’t it would be super cool to read a paper and know one of those dots was me. Later on when people talk about the study I could say, ‘Well, I participated in that study and let me tell you blahblahblah.’ :wink:


@SpareCycles when is the limit to start the plan?

1 Like

I suppose racing during the study period isn’t quite what’s meant with LIT? I’m still living in hope that some cross racing will happen this winter…

And oh, congrats for getting this of the ground, great work!

1 Like

This study will be running through the winter and you will be able to start at least into Jan 2021. So bookmark this link and come back after CX season and a bit of a rest over the holidays :+1:


You clearly haven’t seen me swim :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I’m out but will share on my socials so people see.


Great to see a research study using the TR platform! Two questions:

Just to clarify - what is the duration of these workouts?

I presume this means we can do any Endurance workout (60-70%) in the TR catalogue, correct? Can we drift into the low Tempo range (70-80%)?

1 Like

The HIIT workouts are all around 60min, ± 10min with warm-up & cool-down

Actually no, unfortunately. We have some super basic low intensity workouts in the training plan you would be assigned. It gets a bit interesting because the ‘FTP’ we will be using will not be the same as your typical TrainerRoad FTP. So the existing workout library won’t be at the appropriate intensity. You will have a (much, much smaller) catalogue of workouts appropriate for the study design that exist separate to the rest of the TR ecosystem, for the duration of the study.

We know when following a polarized plan that volume of low intensity is more important than intensity of low intensity. So we’re hedging lower for the low-intensity training.


I’m assuming the vast majority of people on this forum are well above average in cycling fitness already. Will there be a group of “off the street” so to speak (noobs) who will complete the same training?

I knew this was only a matter of time before the mass amounts of data and power of online training platforms would be leveraged. Very exciting stuff.

As someone who started reading your blog in 2017 (and asking stupid noob questions to boot) I’m glad that you are getting to run this experiment.

Good luck on this one and I can’t wait to see the research findings. And kudos to TR for partnering with the academy as well.

1 Like

Ugh, the website isn’t HTTPS.

Anyway, I’m actually interested in this and I have all the requirements.

However, I’d like a clarification on “Training consistently as a cyclist for the last 6-months”.
Personally I haven’t trained much in the last couple of months and I’ve just started my off-season training, so not much riding and more focus on strength training. Is there a minimum quantifiable cycling fitness required for the study?