3 shorter rides or 2 long hilly rides?

I’m finding that my body can just only manage 2 long (100km, usually hilly) rides per week, or 3 shorter rides per week.

Which set is likely to give me better fitness improvements?

To leading order, whatever keeps you more consistent is better.
However, “just riding” doesn’t necessarily give you a lot of fitness gains. E. g. from a practical perspective flatter routes make it easier to stay in zone 2, i. e. it is easier to do endurance rides. On the other hand, your gains from endurance rides comes from their length.

So there is no clear answer. Are those rides in addition to TR workouts? Or is that all you do?

Do you only do those two or three rides per week? Or do you do other training?

A better training schedule might be two shorter rides (intervals?) plus one longer ride for building endurance.


I’d say from experience that the 2 longer rides will do wonders for your fitness. Especially if they’re hilly 100km.

I do a couple of chainys on a Tuesday and Thursday with a longer hilly ride on a Sunday.

Nowhere near productive as structured indoor training but loads more fun in the sun.


Hi all, apologies, wasn’t very clear. This would be 2x hilly rides (100km with 1500-1800m of vertical ascent each). I find any more than this and I get run down and sick.

Edit: in September, I’ll probably go back to more structured TR sessions which will hopefully be something like 80-100km + 2 1hr training sessions, but this time. Of year, unless it’s pouring down with rain, I’d rather be outside.

Better fitness for what?

Speed, increased power.

Should add that I’m 45 and the long rides have a TSS of 300-500.

Over what duration and kind of terrain?

These are fairly hilly, more short but punchy hills than long, dragging hills. Think 100-250m ascent, rather than 600m.

100km routes are normally 4-5 hours.

I see two types of hill training assuming it’ll be outside. To be faster overall you generally need to be faster up the hills, and not to fade as the duration goes up. Uphill speed has a bigger impact on average speed than downhill or on the flat speed. You’ll often see riders shoot up the first few hills on a group ride but by the twentieth hill they’ve faded and are at the back.

There’s the longer hilly ride where you are working on your fatigue resistance. Thus can you climb the last hill as well as you managed the first one and not fade over the duration?

Then there’s the shorter hilly ride where you push a bigger gear (than you are used to) at a low cadence uphill to develop your strength endurance. The gear should never be so big that your knees or achilles gets strained. I usually aim for an hour of uphill in big gear / low cadence per session.

The ratio of these type of rides doesn’t have to be fixed. Vary it as suits, but above all do them consistently through week and gradually progress their difficulty.

I’m not a coach but have found these type of rides have helped me get better / faster at hills over longer durations

Do you eat before during and after these rides? You might burn around 3000-4000 calories on such rides. You need to fuel the rides well.

These are big rides with lots of climbing and will take some days to recover from.

It could also just be a matter of doing less until you get fit enough to do more. Like, do 50km rides with half as much climbing until you can do those without too much trouble. Next try 75km until you work up to 100km.

That’s a lot of TSS!

I do fuel before (yoghurt with raisins and grapes) then typically a mix of electrolyte drink, dates, banana, energy bakes on the route. According to the power meter, I’m burning 2-3k calories each ride.

Sounds like plenty of work but more importantly a great way to enjoy the sport/hobby. Nothing better than big old rides and you get to do it twice a week.
At our age (I’m similar) it’d take the rest of the week to recover properly so I’d say you’ve got it bang on. Smart as well to realise any more makes you ill.
Doing 3 shorter sessions would probably work just as well but maybe not be as much fun.

I barely took ok any leave last year so have a bit to use up so planning on having a Wednesday or Thursday off and doing a big solo ride for jun, July and August. I find after 3 days I’m mostly recovered so hopefully this won’t tired me out too much.

Come September, it’ll be back to the low volume trainerroad workouts…