Effectiveness of Outside vs Inside Intervals

I’ve just done a 3.75hr outside ride instead of a 90min SS workout and tried to match the length/intensity of the Sweet Spot Intervals to the workout. Using the analysis tool on TR I’ve found that I effectively did 6 x 9 minute intervals at SS or above as opposed to 5 x 10 minutes. So all well and good, but due to the terrain and my complete inability to hold a steady power output I only did 12minutes in the actual Sweet Spot Range, the rest being basically all over the place from zero to anaerobic. The rest of the ride was easy Z1/Z2 riding. My question is will I have got the same training stimulus from the ride as I would have done from the workout.

I have tried this before and find I do a lot more work in the zones above sweetspot…I believe you still get the training effect BUT my outside rides are a lot more strenuous so I might not be able to back it up with a proper planned ride the next day.


That’s basically what I find. It’s somehow easier for me to surge up into the anaerobic zone then drift back down before surging again. I do find it difficult to hold a steady slight sub threshold pace.

This sort of hits the nail on the head. You certainly get a training stimulus, but if it is that volatile, it is likely much more TSS than intended and will cause a disruption in your training (requiring additional recovery). It is certainly possible to do workouts while outside, but it is important to do them on very smooth and constant roads so that you can properly pace the interval. In order to stay in the Sweet Spot zone, it will likely require some steady concentration and watching your Head Unit pretty often while in the interval.

That’s not to say that they can’t be done effectively outside, but they need to be done very deliberately and in conditions that will help you achieve the goals of the interval. This includes minimizing traffic interference, changes in pitch, and changes is road surface to help keep as many variables constant as possible. That way, you can focus soley on staying in your zone :+1:

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While I agree to some extent, anyone looking to improve performance on the road can benefit from riding intervals outdoors. The key tends to be learning how your zones “feel” rather than staring at your power meter. For SS you may glance now and then but if you focus on holding a set wattage you’ll be all over the place.

If you plan on racing or even just want to maximize your performance in group rides, you should at least get comfortable with recognizing threshold. Managing efforts is critical. While there are times like a long climb or a breakaway that you may glance at power, understanding your body is an element of your training that shouldn’t be neglected.

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This is a great point :+1: .

Personally, I started out using a head unit with a good amount of smoothing as a tool to help me “understand my body”. By closing the feedback loop between power and RPE, it helps you become more intune to what a Sweet Spot zone should feel like. With a little practice, you should only have to glance at your head unit to make sure you’re still in zone.

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