Building an aerobic base via commuting

Hi All,

Through the Autumn and winter I want to build on my aerobic base - which I was able to do effectively during COVID, when working from home gave more flexibility - that I can build on to get to the next level in my training in 2023.

Interested in some informed guidance for how valuable the commute would be to do this, given I commute through a city (I live in London) via a park, which has several sets of traffic lights which make it hard to keep consistent power (Regents Park for any fellow Londoners).

I have an example of a recent commute below - 1:35 total, of which c.50m is laps and the remainder going through London.

My question is:

A) If I build this up to c.2 hours (of which c.75 mins would be loops) would that be preferable to getting on a turbo in the gym but only having time for 60 mins (but better quality Z2)?

B) Is it not good enough quality and wont create the required stimulus to create aerobic gains, and will just create fatigue instead?

For context I have been training for 4 years, have an FTP of 308 at 80kgs in what has been a disrupted year, and have previously used 4-6 hour endurance rides to build what I would now consider to be a very solid base fitness (off no training roughly 285 FTP)

Honestly only you can answer that question. Personally I see better results adding volume outside, but that’s me. You’ll get plenty of opposing viewpoints.


For me it would be a benefit to your Z2 training and bike handling etc and much more stimulating than a turbore. Mixed with the odd high intensity stuff it could see an improvement in your fitness too (A polarized or 80/20 approach)

1 Like

I’ve been commuting ( as a food courier ) for 4 years and it improved my bike handling and confidence tremendously.

It also built my fitness decently as a beginner ( also doing some workouts here and there ), but I think it wouldn’t be as affective for you. I’m around 3.2 W/kg and already see the limits from commuting.

I think you’ll have to experiment a bit and see what works👍


I do zero structured intervals and 90% of my rides are 1 hour commutes each way 5 days a week. Ive gotten up to around 3.5w/kg using this with longer and harder group rides or solo sessions. Obviously not ideal but consistency and volume can do lots. You can structure your macro level work, intensity and session distribution throughout the week and season, and really learn to throttle efforts especially on hills.


Personally I’d opt for the former. Z2 is a pretty wide target and my understanding of it is it’s more influenced by time in zone vs spending however much time being right at 68% or whatever percentage. Also, more fun and as someone mentioned, bike handling practice…


I’ve gotten an incredible boost in performance since I started commuting, especially in LT1.

Also, the mental aspect of using the bike as transportation at the same time as getting your training in is immensely satisfying.

Just make sure to keep it easy z2, if you start riding tempo to work you’re gonna have a bad time.

Also don’t compare outside average watts to inside watts. With all red lights, coasting etc you’ll have lower average watts outside, just so one doesn’t aim at a specific average watt for the ride.


About six years ago I started doing some crazy commuting 2 days/week - full gas for 20 minutes in the morning (threshold and short anaerobic efforts), and then on the way home either a) some intensity on a longer ~90 minute ride, or b) 20 minutes home with one or two 1-min full gas efforts. Four months later I had extended threshold efforts out to 70 minutes. As a result I’ve never been faster than in the spring of 2017 (although almost back to that now). Perhaps a mix of early gains (season 2), two-a-days, consistency, and I was a bit younger at fifty four years old. :man_shrugging:


Did we just become best friends??!! I did the exactly the same for much of my cycling career and got the same result!

Personally I find outside intervals on my commute tricky to get my head around - I use my commute to listen to podcasts and have an easy start / decompress from the day at work. I do tend to morning rides fasted which I think really helped my long distance endurance

1 Like

The answer is A. Look at how tight that RP wattage is! Nothing wrong with that at all.

Pre-covid I was a long distance commuter into London (Paddington for a while) and it kept me in decent shape.

Yea i tried doing intervals for awhile but it became more important to dodge cars and come to stops rather than hitting prescriptions. I now use Xert for focusing my training which takes into account efforts at all levels and durations to come up with a training effect which makes training while commuting much simpler