Base inside, Build outside

I tried searching for this but couldn’t find anything.

I’d like to hear people’s experience of riding almost exclusively indoors during Sweet Spot Base (e.g. 5 indoor rides, 1 long outdoor ride) then switching to a similar ratio for Build, with the majority of rides outside.

This is what I intend to do for Sustained Power Build next month, planning to gradually reacquaint myself with the TT bike, then do the key workouts in position.

  • Which test did you do at the start of Build? 2x8’, 20’, 60’?
  • Was there a big difference in FTP, HR, RPE?
  • Any mistakes you made/things you’d do differently next time?
  • How did you cope with the transition from mostly indoor to mostly outdoor?



Outdoors is a little messy, harder to keep the power steady during intervals. Therefore I would adjust the intervals a little: Take out or shorten some of the breaks when you do long sweet sport intervals, because outside you will have micro recoveries. So instead of 2 x 15 min do 30 min instead. Unless you have climbs which are long enough to perform a fullinterval.

Also for this year I want to keep three out of five workouts per week indoors. The workout quality is better and I can do them when the fam is asleep already.

I’ve done (almost) all of my training outdoors since august. I think it is the best decision I’ve made in my training. For me, rpe is lower, and it’s easy to add time to every ride, if that’s something you’re looking to do.

One thing I do though is, I do all of my ftp tests (ramp test) on my trainer. I don’t have the perfect terrain for a ramp test. So I don’t try to make it happen outdoors. The key to successfully completing outdoor workouts is finding the correct route and terrain to complete the work. If i have a workout scheduled and I don’t have a route that will work, I do it on the trainer. I won’t sacrifice the quality of the workout, just to do it outdoors. With that being said, I don’t think I’ve ever had to do that.

I have an 8 mile loop right outside my front door. I did 3x20 on this loop (multple laps) and when I checked my workout afterwards I nailed target power and also had zero seconds of coasting on the entire workout.

If my interval is 6x6min, I have a particular climb that I’ll go to, and just do repeats.

Just be creative and find the correct uninterrupted course for your prescribed work and you will be just fine.

Make sure you set up your garmin or wahoo with the recommended workout screen from trainerroad and you won’t miss any information.


I’ll echo what @Chavis0304 said for the most part. I have also been riding outside exclusively for at least 6 months. I have been doing my FTP tests outside, however, but then analyze the data and take out any slow downs due to street crossings and whatnot. Normally, this adds a few watts. Outside, I’ve done the 20 minute test twice and 35 minutes of Kolie’s first test. I’m very familiar with my routes, and always prioritize safety over the workout, obviously.

I’m a little odd in that I use a cargo bike for 90% of my outside workouts. It’s my only bike with a power meter (weirdly enough) and the weight and size of the bike slow me down to safer speeds, since I ride almost exclusively on a bike path and I take my kids out on almost every ride. My wife is eager for me to ride every day so she can have a break. :grin:


I think the test will depend on your terrain. I have the terrain for the 8 minute test so that’s what I stick with. If I’m training inside I test inside, and I test outdoors when I have a block of outdoor workouts.

There is a difference in FTP, RPE, and HR for me, between indoors and outdoors. That’s why I like testing indoor/outdoors. Without getting into the argument that FTP shouldn’t be different, I’d rather just have a number that’s suitable for what I’m doing during that phase. I have theories beyond cooling. My RPE tends to be lower outside, and I can achieve a higher HR outdoors as well. This is why I also believe in a balance between indoor and outdoor training.

Most of my mistakes are made when I choose a route based on fun instead of the terrain needed to get the work done. I have good sustained climbs for the MTB, one decent flat road, and several long enough road climbs, even a public bike track if I need to get outside and don’t feel like dealing with cars. Next point obviously is to plan your route based on safety.

Coping with motorists if I’m training on the road, or coping with the uneven terrain for off road intervals - beyond that I’d use the term coping when describing riding indoors. :slightly_smiling_face:

Fair enough. I think I’ll do probably 1 or 2 a week indoor. Weather is usually a deciding factor…

Yep, I do this. Usually will do one long interval and take breaks when they come, like junctions, riding through busy town centre, etc.

Do you use that FTP for outdoor workouts? As I’ll be doing the majority outdoor in TT position, I will do a 2x8’ or 1x20’ in position on a local TT course.

Did you notice a big difference between indoor FTP and outdoor when you switched to exclusive outdoor riding?

Funny you should say that, I was recently thinking about how you could use a rusty old MTB for hill repeats with PM pedals. When the weather isn’t great (like now: we have lots of snow/ice here) I could just go up and down a hill and it’d take me at least twice as long than on the road bike.

Yes, this is my thinking.

Yeah, it’s a means to an end. I’ve done 20 minutes @ 110% within days of my ramp test FTP. I don’t care what my FTP is, as long as my zones are accurate. I know there will be a drop off when I next test as it’ll be in the TT position and I haven’t ridden in position much recently.


Re: Testing

I do lots of workouts outdoors, but still test indoors (ramp). Outdoors I use the power target as a general guide but focus more on RPE, and my numbers usually end up 2-3% higher than the target. So within the margin of error and still stressing the intended system.

This is a great call. On MTB especially it can be hard to translate power targets, the micro-undulations make longer intervals incredibly tough even if the training is more specific.

Exactly. And even if the intervals themselves are slightly less than optimal, I believe I come out ahead because 1) I enjoy riding my bike outside 2) volume goes up because I’m more likely to add extra Z2 and 3) more time outside = better bike handling skills


That’s so reassuring. My inner critic had a field day because I took to long to realize I needed to drop my targets :joy:

I do build indoors; SS and FTP focus with touches of VO2.

Then in March in the PNW I switch to Z2 commutes 6-8 hours a week and 1 maybe 2 VO2 workouts a week but most intensity comes from races or hard efforts on climb segments, etc. It’s more “base” miles.

Previously I did very few indoor workouts once Spring hits but I want to at least do 1 a week this year.


Honestly, I only noticed an increase due to getting on the bike and completing workouts with more consistency once I transitioned to outside workouts.

One other thing: I do the workouts on the local bike trail and have really gotten used to the spacing between street crossings, turn-arounds, and other obstacles, so I can really build my workout. It is a little monotonous sometimes…marginally less than riding inside. But it still beats riding inside for me. And it gives my wife a break from the kids, which is a huge plus to me getting in the miles. She literally wants me to go on my daily training ride and is bummed when it’s an off day. On the weekends (at least one day), I take the road bike (no power meter) and just go exploring. Sometimes I incorporate workouts based on RPE, but the weekends for me are about having fun. Cargo bike still sees service on the weekend because it rocks.




@sam.fuller1, I do use the same ftp. I’ve checked all of my power sources on my Tacx neo 2t. And they are all within 5 watts.

For TT I’d do 20 minute test, outdoors, in TT position.

Personally I find for any given power output that RPE is lower but HR is higher when outdoors. My TT FTP is similar to my road bike FTP once I’ve adapted to the TT position. But my above threshold power is lower - VO2 and anaerobic efforts in TT position are really hard, I think partly because it’s harder to recruit as many muscles (especially upper body), partly because breathing is a bit restricted in that position. Which is another reason I wouldn’t use ramp test to estimate TT FTP. YMMV.

Main thing I find moving outdoors is the need to pick good routes and times of day to train. Especially for longer intervals it can be really hard to find places and times where you can put out steady power without being interrupted by traffic, lights, having to shift for gradients, easing up through corners, etc. Though the latter 2 points at least are also critical things to train and improve for racing. I think there’s a balance to be struck between the specificity of outdoor training (particularly for TT) vs the quality and efficiency of indoor training. For me that balance is closer to 50:50 (in number of sessions, maybe not in mileage) even when the weather is good.

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Yeah, 20 minutes in TT is my preferred. We’re moving in a couple of weeks to about ~6 miles from a flat TT course. There are a few RABs on the course, but you rarely have to stop, so it’s a pretty race-specific effort.

In the past, I’ve ridden ~45 minutes to get to the aforementioned TT course and done efforts on there. I’ll probably keep using it, and the surrounding flat roads on the TT bike unless the weather is pants, or I’ve got an easy ride planned and I prefer riding the road bike.

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I posted this on the Sweet Spot Progression thread, then remembered I created this thread, so I’ll put this here and update with how my transition to an outside Build phase goes.

I’ve pretty much completed SSBHV1&2 and, as the weather is improved, I’ll be riding outdoors a lot more now, and on the TT bike. Next up is Build – a 4-week threshold block.

My mFTP is 352 (based on a 20’ max effort at 363w), though my ramp test a few days later came out as 330, which felt about right for the SS work. FTP now is 335-340 based off of feel.

Taking TTE minus 15-20mins gives me 361-365w. 95% of that is ~345w. I’m planning the following progression over three weeks:
3x10’ @ 345
3x12’ @ 345
3x14’ @ 345
2x20’ @ 345
2x22’ @ 345
2x24’ @ 345

That will take me from 100% TTE to 150% TTE.

Proposed schedule:
M - off
T - 30-48’ @ 345 as above (TT, figures dependent on test)
W - 1.5hr z2 (RB)
T - 30-48’ @ 345 as above (TT, figures dependent on test)
F - 1.5hr z2 (RB)
S - 30-40’ of SS with bursts e.g. 2x20 of 2’ 90%, 30s 110% (TT)
S - 4hr z2 (RB)

TT tempo tomorrow and long z2 on the road bike Sunday then it’s a rest week to finish SSB.

I will complete a 30-40 minute max effort TT towards the end of next week, then re-test 4 weeks later.

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Penultimate hard ride of SSBHV2 today — did 2 x 10m TT on my local course at SS effort. Managed 295-300, so I think TT threshold is around 320 — 15-20w below road bike.

5 hours z2 tomorrow then a few more TT adaption rides during recovery week before a TT TTE test.

I slightly hit the breaks and continue to pedal against the breaks while continuing to hit the prescribed power

  • through corners
  • when I see the stop light turning red
  • on descending terrain

Additionally I might make myself bigger for more wind resistance and/or go against the wind if it helps to “stretch the road” for an interval.

I’ve played with this some, but not with a rigid structure like you’re suggesting. Anecdotally what I’ve found:

  • I do a long FTP test, usually 40-60min regardless of base or build, I also regularly “test” all around my power curve informally.
  • I do most of my sustained effort interval training indoors in standard mode (really anything beyond a six-minute interval)
  • I do all my sprint work outdoors, no exceptions.
  • I prefer to do my VO2max workouts outdoors as I can bury myself better outside than on the trainer. This is borne out in my power files comparing my indoor and outdoor VO2max workouts of similar construct.
  • My long rides, I split: I do some indoors and some outdoors, up to 4 hours on the trainer non-stop pedaling. I kinda just choose what I’m going to do based on whether I want the social aspect, or if I need to really keep it easy. Former: I go outside; Latter: I stick to the trainer.
  • Easy/recovery rides I do outside if the weather is nice on a completely flat course.
  • And then time matters - in the winter, I often have to ride after work, and it gets dark early, so I do more indoors. Plus indoor riding is way more time-efficient so if I don’t have a lot of spare time, I’ll stick to the trainer.

I have a great location for riding for living in a large city. Literally if I turn right when I turn west after leaving the house, I can ride completely flat. When I turn east, it’s gonna be a throwdown.

That said, I live on the outside of the urban area, so stoplights and traffic still abound. I have a great sustained hill that I can ride for about 7 min at VO2max efforts, but even that hill has two stoplights that infrequently interrupt the intervals. Hence why I like doing sustained stuff on the trainer (in standard mode - I don’t really use erg mode much anymore except for recovery/zone out rides.)