Can 1+1 ever equal more than 2?

Evening all,

As a dad, a worker, living on a farm, etc- long rides are few and far between (I’ve done two in 5-6 weeks when the perfect storm of childcare/opportunity presents).

But getting two-ish hours is more viable, more of the time. I can do an hour on the trainer happily, but more than 60mins is a mental struggle unless the weather outside is biblical. I do find the training on the trainer higher quality

Is there a ‘best’ intensity for the 60 trainer minutes before heading outside to mimic/elicit the benefits of a longer ride? Would 60mins vo2 + 60mins z2 be equal/better/worse than 60mins sweetspot + 60mins z2(or sweetspot)? Or is it a moot point. Crit’s are the main focus at the moment, but I half a 70.3 in October. Very happy to keep building a larger base. Currently approx level 6.5-7.5 on both sweetspot and Vo2 without too much hassle. Happily beating previous power PRs from 30sec to 30min in the last 3 months

With covid etc I’m still predominantly solo :frowning:

Thinking too much, or viable option? Cheers all

Good question, and I think a lot of the answer depends on what you are training for and what volume plan you are on. Personally, I would save the intensity for the trainer and do Z2 outside. There is value in putting out those efforts outside, but I’d nail the workout indoors then enjoy the scenery with an endurance ride.

Fast Talk just did a podcast on two-a-days:

Most elite runners do two-a-days. I think cyclists have really missed out on the strategy.

I think the main benefits of two-a-days are:

hormone boost - growth hormone, maybe T - aids recovery and muscle building. If you do a second workout, even a wimpy 25 minutes of Z2, you get the boost

2nd workout is done in a reved up state - they talk about this in the podcast.

I’ve been experimenting. One day I did 90 minutes outside with some efforts and then 4-5 hours later I did 45 minutes Z2. My legs felt like I had done a 3+ hour ride the next day even though it was only 2h15 minutes. Maybe it’s a bit of a hack?


I’m actually a big fan of that strategy! Due to a combination of road conditions and training at pretty weird hours I find more intense/structured sessions to be more trouble than they’re worth outdoors, but trainer v02 sessions in the dark isn’t exactly why I ride bikes so finishing up with the sunrise or an early morning coffee spin adds a lot both fitness and enjoyment-wise.

From a purely endurance standpoint longer tempo/SS intervals followed by some z2 are a good option if you’re time-crunched, especially if you’re able to squeeze in a traditional long ride every so often. These kind of sessions are often less fatiguing than working above threshold, so you may also be able to finish with some higher-quality work and less impact on recovery time (no point in adding an extra 60 minutes if you toast yourself for the next few days!)
However, in a more general sense increasing overall volume and extending the length of your weekday rides is likely beneficial across the board, so if you’re already following a plan I think there’s more benefit to sticking with that and adding the z2 wherever you can rather than altering things to that specific end- IMO structure/specificity becomes a lot more important at lower volumes where you can’t rely on just riding a lot to drive improvements.

Well to answer your question: in politics 1+1 can equal whatever you want. In everything else, I’m afraid it does.
If your focus is crits, don’t worry about riding longer than 2hr. What matters is your ability to spike high watts for 10-30sec.

I used to do 2 hour rides where I would go up to 90-110%ftp on hills and tap out 70% otherwise. A hill as just literally any undulation.

I don’t think it matters much riding about a 3hr ride more than once a week. 1.5-2 is good and trainer is good for structured intervals and recovery riding (super easy)

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Ahh awesome, il take a listen thank you!

Anaerobic repeats (short) for me are a relative strong point, the last race was 18 laps, so 18 x 8-900w repeats for only 10-12sec then rest/threshold/rest/repeat. I much prefer that style than sitting at threshold!!

Aerobically, I would class myself as lacking. Once I hit the wall, I completely hit the wall and no amount of rest will revive me. I guess having a wider+taller base would allow me to be less taxed overall, that was my only reasoning

Ok, just listened to the podcast and it really spoke to me. Where I was thinking about jumping straight off the trainer and getting outside, leaving 4-6hrs in between probably fits better and could have a higher yield.

Thanks for the link!

If you are lacking in a strong aerobic base (and this can take years to fully develop), then rides over 2 hours are fundamental. However, they don’t need to be a weekly or semi-weekly occurrence. Fit them in where you can / want and have the majority of your training focus on higher-intensity training that better fits your racing.

But absolutely continue to work on your aerobic base…it will only help you develop as a cyclist.

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I’m 40 now, a gym rat from 16+ til 10 years ago when I broke my back and retired from heavy stuff. Nothing about me screams aerobic lol.

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All the more reason to layer in longer rides occasionally. There are huge benefits to be reaped from them from someone like you with that background!

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Exaclty, hence it being more of a priority than sharpening the sword.

I’ve been using TR for a couple of years and finding a benefit all the way. But more so since being able to weave in some longer rides

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Two seasons ago, I did 2-a-days twice per week, sweet spot then 6 hours later VO2Max.
Racing 1-2 hours I didn’t notice as much benefits as longer 100k (XC marathon, gravel sprint) where my kick was the best I’ve ever had. Reminded me of my running (younger) days :laughing: That’s not a laugh, It’s me waiting to lock up.

I’ve switched to a more traditional hard-easy-hard-easy-hard-off-easy sequence of daily workouts. I’m riding more hours, but my kick isn’t as hard.

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… it depends how you define, 1,2, and + ?

Runners do doubles because it allows elite marathon runners to run 20miles/day with less risk of injury. For cyclists it is a good idea to target multiple energy systems within a ride…e.g SS or threshold blocks in a long ride but with less risk of injury a single workout is probably better…running and cycling are not the same…that said if you have 2 short training slots in a day then clearly that’s better than one…in lockdown I did an early 3 hour zone 2 ride with a short sharp 45min TR VO2 max session in the evening.


I don’t agree with this. Crits are still very aerobic and usually it will be less about your best 10-30s power as it is your ability to recover from those spikes over 45-60 minutes. If you can’t fit 2+ hour rides into your schedule then sure, youll probably be okay in crits. But if you have the time then I would absolutely do them.


The short answer to your question is no. You cannot “mimic” the physiological benefits of a long ride with shorter rides at a higher intensity. There is some recent scientific research to support that two-a-days can be as effective as one single long ride BUT there is no shortcut for the volume i.e. 2 hour morning and 2 hour afternoon ride can elicit similar benefits to a single long ride. The TLDR conclusion is about the simulation of low glycogen that can be achieved both by long rides and two-a-days. There is no replacement for the psychology and strategy if you are, in fact, training for a longer event, but the physical adaptations can be achieved with similar volume broken into two sessions.


I agree that a crit is an aerobic event and repetitive spikes of 10-30sec are very important.

I do not agree the best way to train this is by riding 2hr+ at zone 2/3.

Specificity is key.

For example, for OP to do 30/30 reps (30s at 150% ftp → 30s v easy) within a ~1 hr workout would be more beneficial for crit performance than a 2hr+ long slow distance ride (if they had to chose to include only one of the two).

I think including both would be optimal, but not in OPs time constrained circumstance.

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That will get you quick gains but plateau within a couple weeks. At some point you have to do the aerobic work


The thing with the endurance is that you need it to recover from the repeated anaeronic spikes. The short efforts are anaerobic, but the recovery is aerobic. The better your aerobic capacity, the quicker you recover from each hard effort. However, there is obviously a balance to be had - you don’t want to work only on the aerobic side, you also need to work on the short power side. And you need to be fresh to do that effectively, which will likely put a limit on how much z2 you can pack in (in addition to normal life constraints, of course).