Are 60-90 min Z2 Workouts a Waste of Time?

You’re doing a structured plan. You have 2-3 Intensity sessions a week with progressive overload, and fill the rest of your week with Z2 work. The Z2 intensity however, is capped, the only variable being time. Or more time to be exact. Is there any point to adding extra 60-90 min Z2 sessions in a week? Outside of calorie burn what benefits are we expected to yield, until our FTP goes up, and hence the Z2 ceiling goes up with it?

I ask as typically I have 2-3 outdoor Z2 workouts in the 3-5 hour range. With foul weather upon us I’m restricted to the trainer, which usually limits me to 90 min (motivation and discomfort). Is there any point to doing 3 of these a week as opposed to 1 or 2? Is it better just to take an extra day off?

I’d be interested in the science if anyone has any.

…so, you are asking if more volume is better?


Short answer yes. Check out this thread here.


It’s a lot of volume you’re missing. It’s about damage control at that point isn’t it? You’ll not be getting the same stimulus without increasing intensity, so while you don’t need to do three instead of two, you’ll have less of a reduction.

If it’s only a short term thing (one week as opposed to months) then the downside of putting yourself through something you’re not into may outweigh any potential fitness benefits. You may also gain a bit of freshness for the subsequent weeks.

More dose = More response.

Ideal = 3-5h outside
Compromise = 90min indoor
Not good = No ride


I agree with this. Ironically my fastest year doing cyclocross racing was the year I pretty much only did Zone 2

Also if done correctly the intensity of zone 2 DOES change when you ride by heart rate not power.


Short answer… no, 60-90 min Z2 rides are not a waste of time.


You’re already used to long Z2 rides. Shorter indoor rides at the same frequency will not add to your endurance capacity. You may maintain some capacity.

Are 2-a-days and option?


Frequency is an important factor in addition to volume and intensity. Ideally you would be training every day if fatigue wasn’t a factor.

There is an interesting discussion at about mitochondrial half life.


Can you add detail, sources, or anything else to this comment? Would like to understand better and in much more depth.

There are many sources, but if you google Dr. Stephen Seiler he can explain much better than I can. He has a YouTube Channel…also look up Dr Inigo San Millan. There are hours and hours of info there.


I’m aware of both, and painfully aware of how many hours and hours of info they offer. I’m already on board that Z2 is good for me and I should do quite a bit of it. I meant to please add a little more to the comment on how “if done correctly the intensity of zone 2 [changes] when you ride by heart rate not power”. What do you mean by “done correctly” and how does the intensity change?

I thought it’d be easy to comment further, hence the question. Perhaps I was mistaken, sorry.

Yes there is a point, aerobic endurance, and depending on the quality of your outdoor rides and other factors, you might see more benefit with less volume.

the way I do my zone 2 is by doing the following…I am time constrained in that I generally have 60-90 minutes per day. I also struggle with saddle comfort over 2 hours when riding indoors…

At the beginning of a training block I create a workout with a 10 minute warmup ramp from 50% of my ftp to 70% of my ftp. The main training segments are all 5 minutes in length at the same power. I do this so I can easily see my stats by 5 intervals in the TR software. I also do a very brief 1 minute cooldown ram to 50% at the end (tr makes it easy to extend if I want.

My personal zone 2 heartrate which I workout in is 125-135bpm (yours will vary)

I ride without changing the power unless my heartrate goes above my 135bpm cap for the first 30mins. If it looks like I won’t get to 130bpm by 30 mins I add intensity by a few % each 5 minutes until I am at my desired zone 2 bpm. Every 5 minutes I adjust if necessary (it usually isn’t as I’m fairly in touch with my personal RPE

If I am raising my intensity regularly I adjust the percent of ftp for the workout on a go forward basis. This raises the power I am riding at. Right now in my cycle, I am at 73% of my ftp while staying comfortably in zone. Once I get to around 80% or once I get to the end of a rest week, I ramp test (I actually really enjoy ramp test) It is usually the case that my ftp has changed.

I also do 1-2 intensity days per week (right now 1)

This will eventually plateau but that won’t be until closer to racing season and then I switch to TR short power build and cx plans.

Everyone is different, but I grow my ftp best doing zone 2 and it is a big focus for my training year.


Fast Talk Labs covered this topic somewhat (down to 60 minute easy rides).

I remember that their conclusion was that overall volume was more important that the length of the individual workout.

But it also appears to be an area that is not studied really well, From the podcast:


This is exactly what i was looking for. Thanks!

Well at the end, it is all about volume…the more VO or energy (TSS) the better.
so they are not a waste of time, but if you swap a 5 hour ride with an 90 min indoor, you need to compare the sessions, but i assume , there will be less VO used indoor, even junkmiles, traffic light stops do not occur indoors…some coaches in Germany have plans which say: 3 h outside or swap with 90 minutes indoor…

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Thanks for sharing. From your link, Idk if this is true, the poster does not provide references. If it is, it validates big blocks and training camps approaches

In otherwords, say you are completely sedentary, and increase your mileage from 0-20 miles the first week. By the end of that week you will gain 50% of the mitochondria you are going to get from 20 miles a week at that training intensity. If you run 20 miles the next week at that same intensity, by the end of the second week you will gain half of what you gained the first week, to bring your mitochondrial density to 75% (additional increase of 25% relative to pre-training levels) of the extra that you will gain by training 20 miles a week at that intensity. With the above cycle repeating for a few more weeks, the 3rd week will bring you to 87.5% (increase of 12.5%) the, 4th week will bring you to 93.75% (increase of 6.25%), the fifth week will bring you to 96.88% (increase of 3.125%), the 6th 98.44% (up 1.5625%) etc. (Yes the decimals are theoretical, but the relationship holds well.)

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Some references are always a good thing. Fortunately googling “mitochondrial half life” results in a lot of published articles. One article I have found interesting from a training perspective is NUTRITIONAL STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE SKELETAL MUSCLE MITOCHONDRIAL CONTENT AND FUNCTION.


Fish Oil, Beets and Fasting rides :white_check_mark: