Building base fitness / limits on Endurance workouts

I’ve been using TR for several years and plucked the low-hanging fruit. I’m a 51yo Late Onset Endurance Athlete, and still need to build my aerobic engine.

I used to follow TR plans, but now have a coach (for du/triathlon) and we’ve agreed that I need to do a lot more Z2 work. So I’ve switched out Sweet Spot workouts for Endurance instead.

Unless I’m particularly fatigued, I try to make each workout ‘Productive’. However, at a certain point the only way to progress in the Endurance Zone is to make them longer, and there’s only so much my arse can take being on the trainer (usually 75-90 mins).

So - a couple of questions:

  1. If I’m looking to build base aerobic fitness in 60-90 min workouts, should I just move up into Tempo, instead?
  2. Would I get nearly as much benefit just sticking to the top end of ‘Achievable’ Endurance workouts?



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You could do 2 workouts per day or just briefly go to the bathroom, stretch your legs etc. If you are stuck to the trainer


You can look at Traditional Base plans. With your time constraints, medium volume sounds suitable. TB1 starts with Z2, TB2 moves to Z2/Z3, TB3 to Z2/SS/Z4


Get a more comfortable seat and bibs. 90 mins on a trainer isn’t very long.



Cheers. I’m often already doing 2 workouts a day already.

Even if not, the question remains - if I’m time constrained, will I still get benefit from doing ‘achievable’ Endurance rides, or should I move up to Tempo?

Thanks - already have both :slight_smile:

But I still don’t have unlimited time available. Once I run out of 90 minute ‘productive’ Endurance workouts, what do I do?

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Sorry for being dumb - but are you saying that ‘yes’, I should move up from Endurance to Tempo/Sweet Spot?

If you are on some sort of polarised plan where you have 1 or 2 very hard days you probably shouldn’t because the tempo riding will make you too tired to do the hard days properly


Yeah, what @ArHu74 said: if you are on POL plans, keep easy days easy and hard days hard. But if you go with TB, increasing intensity should be ok as well but do it gradually, no point jumping too much ahead of yourself as long as you still keep progressing/developing.


Have you asked your coach those 2 questions?
If so, what are their thoughts?


I know this isn’t what you asked, but from these statements, your plan doesn’t line up with your goal. You’re even talking about moving into Z3 rather than doing more Z2. If you need to do a lot more Z2 work, then do that. Don’t focus on the TR PL, but on extending time in zone. Can you maybe move your workouts around to where you’re doing your harder workouts on the days you have low availability and then do longer easy rides on the days you have more time? For example, a lot of people will do 90 mins during the week, but then do 3-5 hour rides on the weekend.

If you don’t have the time to do that, you need to be honest with yourself and your coach and change the goal.


you didn’t really say what other workouts you were doing other than the proposed Z2. If you are already doing 2 hard rides per week, then no, I’d stick to z2 and below for the extra. z2 is for volume and for volume, it almost doesn’t matter how you do it. You just want to make sure you don’t impact your hard workouts by riding too hard in your volume workouts.


First of all - kudos to being able to do the quotes thing… I need to work out how to do that :slight_smile:

I think my question is that when I’m not able to do a 3-5 hour ride on the weekend (which hasn’t been an option recently), then will I still get benefit from sticking to ‘achievable’ Z2 rides of 60-90 mins rather than worrying about trying to do ‘Productive’ ones?

My coach is great on the bigger picture stuff (i.e. moving from doing shorter/harder stuff to longer/easier), but leaves me to pick the workouts on TR.


Yeah, again, your current plan doesn’t match your goal. If it were me, I would reassess my goal to be something more realistic. Good luck :+1:


Just ride for as long in zone 2 as possible. I’m convinced PLs should not exist for endurance rides. If you are limited by free time, then that is what it is (talk to your coach if s/he is assigning you 4-5 hours when you don’t have that kind of time).

If you are limited by being able to stay on the trainer, you can probably improve that. I thought I could never do more than 90 mins, but I got from 60-90 minutes to 2-3 hours out of necessity this summer.


You are handicapped by time availability.

You can get very fit riding shorter distances / lower volume at higher intensity. But as noted in the OP you already have done that and are working on building your base. There’s no “cramming for the exam” when it comes to volume… you just gotta do it.


Almost everyrhing is aerobic work that contributes to your base. 90 min of Z2 is great volume filler and great workout to increase the weekly volume, but as itself will not move your needle (unless you are just off the couch). You can easily add more intensity if you feel good and have time for recovery.

But not to listen some randomd dude (me) from the forum:


Already answered, just adding 2 cents.

You can switch 1, perhaps 2 endurance long rides for Sweet Spot having if not the same, very close results.

Just don’t go to far switching all your endurance for SS, and don’t go to tempo. It’s ride more, fatigue less time.

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Basically, you have 3 levers to play with:
intensity x duration x frequency

If any of those lever(s) are constrained, you have to move other one(s) to keep progressing. To improve base fitness, it is best to play with duration, keeping intensity low. But as your constraints are what they are, discuss it with your coach, what is the best way to compensate for it in your circumstances.