Can you do TR wrong?

Can you do it wrong? This is a genuine question. I’m not the most disciplined trainer, I train hard and regularly but I’m not super fussy, I don’t use a fan, I ride outside if it’s nice, I don’t fuel for TR indoors and I don’t stress too much if I backpedal or stop now and again on recoveries but I work really hard on the hard bits To make sure I complete them. I read so much on here and on the FB page from people who are so disciplined and particular to the greatest detail. I can’t be you. I race and ride a lot. I skipped base, sustained build etc and just went straight to high volume crit plan to get ready for this year. I wanted to suffer and to be able to keep my mind clear and have confidence to burn some matches. I did one good ramp test first time I tried and have ignored every test since (all lower). This year I felt ready to race but everything then stopped so I unplugged the trainer and went back outside. I’m 54, 77kg and 3.7w/kg. Is my approach valid?

Anything that gets you on the bike regularly is valid. Is your approach “optimal”? Probably not. The question is: do you care about optimal? If no, ride on, man.


Your attitude is good. You are probably missing out by skipping base miles, and muscular endurance work but you are your own n=1 experiment so in the end you just have to figure out what works for you.

The intention of TR is consistency and getting your workouts to get faster.

Sounds like you just intend to use it intermittently as another way to suffer.

That’s fine but like someone said above you probably aren’t doing the optimal thing if you’re looking for power improvements. Of course, that may just come with the riding you’re doing, but technically it is against the TR “structure”

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That’s Really my question. Is the TR Structure the be all and end all for successfully using TR. Without the diligence to structure is it worth using sub optimally. Does lack of structure give me no gains because discipline is so fundamental to the TR method.

To steal a phrase from the weightlifting side of fitness, ‘don’t major in the minors.’

Put another way, people often spend a disproportionate amount of time obsessing over every last little optimization, where really, just lifting heavy a lot will get you strong.

I like TR quite a lot, for a wide variety of reasons, but I don’t think TR is the only way to get strong. I think of TR plans as a collection of optimizations with some good scheduling and structure included. It saves me from having to think.

I also think that if I had a cheapo fluid trainer, a HRM, and some good motivation, I could get on the trainer for 60-180min/day 4-6x/week and see some really big gains too.

Put another way: We’re all just trying to get as close to maximal output with the inputs we have. Doing half the workouts is worse than all of them and better than none of them. Almost all of us could do more or improve some other way. At the end of the day, it’s just whether or not you’re satisfied with the outcomes.


@Bdevlin this. You might get stronger doing it your way. Try it. Why not? TrainerRoad workouts probably won’t hurt. Getting on the bike is, of course, better than not getting on the bike.

If you’re happy with how you’re performing with that, then great. End of story.

I think at some point you’re going to hit a wall in terms of improvement with your current plan, and if you want something more, then you’ll have to change your approach. Not saying that is TR or riding more, or something else. But SOMETHING has to change if you aren’t happy with your progress.

Just be ready for that. Good luck!

Probably the only true way you can ‘do TR wrong’ is if there’s something wrong with your setup or you ignore the prescribed work in a workout (e.g. massively lowering intensity, not meeting the power target).

If your setup is off, you won’t get an accurate test result and your zones will be set wrong. Same goes for setting your FTP manually and it being incorrect.

My opinion is that you can do too much TR and that can wear you out, which then affects your motivation, etc.

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You are the coach, how do you feel about it? The only thing you can do wrong is to ignore the coach (you).


Every structured workout you do is probably going to serve you better than the ones you don’t. So, if you’re doing a Crit plan and doing two workouts a week, you’re getting value out of those workouts. Whether that’s worth the $12 a month is your call. There’s a balance between all your time indoors and enjoying riding. Seems like you’re striking it well for yourself.

I think this makes your question difficult to answer.

If the race season had continued and you placed well in your events, you and ‘we’ would have a tangible to work with. You felt good, which is great but, how would you have stacked up against the rest of the field? How many races would you have felt good for? Unfortunately we’ll never know.

As has already been said, I don’t think your approach is optimal but if it works for you, brilliant. If I jumped straight into Specialty I think I’d die!

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I don’t necessarily agree, who says that doing all the prescribed TR cookie cutter workouts in a plan is better than doing half and the rest something else?

If you’re riding lots and riding hard, mixing with outdoor riding etc this could very well be optimal for you. Who’s to say?

Can TR publish data showing trained athletes who follow a plan to the T vs trained athletes who semi follow a plan and supplement with other riding? What’s the difference with each respective groups gains? I would bet that it isn’t much either way so long as you are comparing One group of motivated athlete’s with another group of motivated athletes, just doing things slightly differently.

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Well it’s all about your goals and expectations.

If your goal is to make the best out of your training time in order to get stronger, you are doing it wrong. The base, build, and speciality cycle is there for a reason. Also, factors like consistency, fueling, cooling, and testing are important and should be somewhat considered.

On the other hand, if your goal is to maintain some fitness and make yourself suffer every now and then you are doing it right.

What often puzzles me is the agony that riding an hour on the turbo seems creates for some. I mean you paid lots of money for the device, you pay a monthly subscription to a training platform and then you don’t want to get on the damn thing and do the work? For what it’s worth it’s the polar opposite for me. I love those indoor trainer rides. They make me healthier, faster and keep me sane. Riding outdoors is then the icing on the cake. Pure fun.


Yeah, I don’t know. I have suspicions and (hopefully) reasonable inferences, but no data.

I doubt it’s marginal. Unless one is very specific with their outdoor riding they won’t get a similar training stimulus.

I mean you can’t replicate the stimulus of build workouts with endurance riding. Also you 10 hours of sweet spot don’t match 10 hours of endurance riding.

I think you already know the answer to the question “so what happens if i put crap inputs into a system?”.

I definitely get stronger from not following a tr-plan. That being said, i do follow some of the principles from base-build periods. I ride more when i don’t follow a tr-plan, simple as that. I now ride 5-8 hrs split on two days a week as opposed to 3,5hrs following a low volume plan.

I think we could remove TR altogether from your question.
TR is a tool to implement structured training.
The methodology TR is implemeting is not a TR exclusive, it is pretty wide-spread knowledge that you can find in any self-coaching litterature (with a few extras on top, obviously)
TR just makes it easier to implement that methodology and adapt it to your level and the constraints your environment puts on you (abilty to ride outdoors, time available, etc)
You are obviously not interested in that aspect of TR.
It seems that you are not even interested in training indoors for that matter, or leveraging TR to add some structure to your outdoors training.
However, I fail to grasp the question.
Is it “can the little use I make of TR hurt my progress?” or “is there any point in using TR if I’m not going to adhere to it 100%?”


I’m willing to bet that someone riding 5-8hours unstructured outside won’t get as fast as someone riding 3.5-4 hours structured indoors.