Endurance training and outdoor rides

Hi all,
I have a few questions about endurance rides.
1)First, what is the point of having a 1h30min indoor endurance ride, when I can easily do a 3 or 4 hour outdoor ride with power zones line this:

or this:

2)Second, as these rides include some SS, Threshold and even Neuromuscular activity, which kind of workout should I match them with?
As I said in my other post, support recommended I match my outdoor unstructured rides with TR workouts that have similar power patterns, IF and TSS. I generally take Sweet spot or anaerobic and then associate one that has a similar duration and as close as possible but not greater values of IF and TSS.
For example, for the first ride above, I used Vogelsang

Screenshot 2023-06-15 at 09.49.10

and for the second, I had used the outdoor workotu panum, with great difficulty in maintaining the power high on downhill sections and low on uphill sections. Moreover, the workout only covered half of my ride, so I do not know if I should associate the ride with another workout, for example Mount Alice.

  1. I noticed that AT scheduled a week of only Endurance workouts before my next FTP test. I guess this is meant as a recovery week. Does it mean I should refrain from doing rides like those two above during that week?



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Im about to go into a meeting and don’t have time to expand but the point is clever training. You can blast round all the time and get strong (train like a Belgian) or train smart like a Slovenian, Smash it hard sometimes and let your body recover on these endurance rides and get super strong. Edit: When you go easy thats when most of the adaptions occur in your body. Basically when you train hard you’re muscles are ripped apart and they rebuild stronger when you rest by accommodating easier days in between you recover/rebuild/ adapt more. If you constantly go hard it gets you strong but doesn’t get you to the next level.

  1. I tend not to match unstructured rides with outdoor workouts above tempo rather keeping my self in line with my programme and not burning out, it easier for most people to go into higher zone outdoors than you can actually train at indoors. I leave it to the AIFTP to process these outdoor rides correctly. Hopefully WL2 will be launched soon and there’ll be I think no need to guess a match.

  2. If your aim is to get your best possible FTP and long term fitness, yes you should refrain from them; it relates back to the 1st point recovering to maximise physical adaptation and training wisely. If its a social thing, which is for me, still do them (its good for your mental health) but try to scale back the intensity of the rides.

  1. a 1h30mins endurance ride would normally have an IF of 0.6-0.7, A 3-4hr ride at over 80% intensity is on a whole other level.
  2. They look more like a race/fast group ride based on the power profile. An endurance ride would normally be 80% in Z2 or below. the TSS of your rise is more than double Vogelsang!
  3. I’d need a couple of days off the bike to recover from rides of that intensity. Absolutely not something I would be doing in the week before a race or FTP test.
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If you train with structure - some rides are hard, some are easy. Some will focus on increasing time in a specific zone (so 20 minutes at sweeet spot for instance). This ride is all over the place - which is fine - but shouldn’t be done all the time or in place of an endurance ride (if that is what a plan calls for).

There is nothing “wrong” with this type of ride - but it is challenging to fit into a structured plan. IT doesn’t have sustained time (maybe, I can’t see the profile) in specific zones, and is WAY too hard for an endurance ride. Some people do rides like this every time theyre on their bike. But you will plateau your fitness because they are “unstructured” - and if you do these all time time in place of endurance rides you will be too fatigued to do your hard rides at their best capacity, or will “burn out”.

I think people who do low volume plans complain of burn out because they do these rides outside of the structured TR workouts - and then you will 100% burn out.

Dave, every topic you start seems to be about “more is better”. The last topic included:

Yet when I ride outdoors I frequently encounter 3-5 minute climbs where I average 130% FTP. Is there a reason why trainerroad is not proposing me to train for such higher power efforts?

To answer half your question, there is no point in doing a 1.5 hour endurance ride if you have the time to do 3 or 4 hours outside. 1.5 hours indoors is for someone with some limitation on their time or they really love riding indoors. So a 3-4 hour endurance ride trumps a 1.5 hour endurance ride.

Many training adaptations come from just riding, not riding at a certain intensity. So if one has they time they do a lot of low stress endurance riding because one can’t do the smashfest type of ride you posted 5 days per week.


Your ability to do a 4h+ ride at 82% intensity is something to be pleased with

What you have done so far has got your FTP to 186

If that is the number you are happy with, then well done - you have achieved it

If it isn’t the number you are happy with, maybe there is more to be gained from another approach?

Many people perform better in an FTP test with a couple of easy days in their legs before it. Not everyone. In these days of AI FTP, fewer people actually do the tests

As you undoubtedly know, there are TR users who do the 1.5 hour endurance rides that you mention AND who would end up with a higher average speed on a 105km route with <800m of climbing than you did on that ride…

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You obviously have more free time than I do :slight_smile:

Good for you

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Thank you all for your thorough replies.
I only recently acquired a power meter, so I do not know if 181 (as estimated by TR’s ramp test 3 weeks ago) or 186 as estimated by Garmin (a month ago) is the best I ever got. I used to ride a lot when I was 15-22, then again when I was 26-30, and then a little a few years back. But this is the first time I’ve started training somewhat seriously. Back then, I was just riding, like in those unstructured rides I posted. My only measure of performance is that when I was 18 ( I am now 47) I used to do 75km rides a couple times a week with 7.5km warmup 7.5km cooldown, and then a flat loop with a few overpasses at an average speed of 30-32km/h.

Now, like back then. I clearly enjoy riding outdoors a lot more than riding indoors. But unfortunately I cannot do those 4h rides that often either, some weeks I manage to do two and then some weeks 0. What I now manage to do is two 25 minute rides to go to work and come back three to four days a week, and some indoor workouts when I am working from home (thanks covid for making that a reality). In addition I am riding at lunchtime with some colleagues for 1h30. All the outdoor rides tend to have a power profile similar to the one I posted. Lots of rolling hills, with climbs that go from 10s to 3m. So it’s very challenging to do any structured workout on them. At least, I haven’t yet found a piece of a route near here that allows me to keep consistent power for long enough.

But for sure I am not happy with 181, or 186. I don’t have a specific goal, but sure I’d like to get to 250 or even 300 at some point if possible. The question is whether this is possible with a schedule like mine, and how.

Essentially, lets say I do 2 or 3 1h indoor workouts/week + those outdoor rides I mentioned (625min/week + 21h30/week + a 3-4h ride every 2 weeks). What should those workouts look like?

If I take what AT gave me, I get a mixture of SS and endurance, with occasional threshold in this phase.
So I need to decide what to get rid of from the workout AT gives me, and which workouts to match with my outdoor rides so that AT realizes that I am not doing nothing.

The other option is to ditch AT at least until it becomes able to learn from outdoor unstructured rides, and pick a low-volume plan for my 2 or 3 indoor workouts per week. But then, what plan should I choose?


*I typed this while completely distracted on a work thing so hopefully the grammar and content is good"

To be as simple as possible - a 1:30 Endurance ride will probably have 80 minutes in Z2, which is almost double the amount in your ride.

The purpose of structured training is to do specific workouts which involve specific zones to target specific “systems”. Time in zone is important with structured training. My outdoor endurance rides end up with 60-80% of the total time as Z2 and the rest of it pretty close (just over or just under). The more I’m able to focus and care about the zone, rather than just blowing off steam, the higher the percentage.

I’m riding 100% outside right now, so I get not wanting to be on the trainer, but if you are doing structured training try to get as much time in the prescribed zone as possible.

Edited to add - Counting outdoor rides as they are is the feature everyone keeps asking about, instead of having to load a workout or match it up afterwards, hopefully it will be here soon and we can just get credit for the rides we are doing.

But what is the benefit of riding in Z2? Is it recovery? Or does it bring about adaptations that would not come from recovery done by resting or doing something else. I recently read an article, I think on the TR blog, but I might be wrong, that said that recent research shows that by training with intervals, you can get the same benefits you get from base training with additional benefits coming from higher intensity. If this is true, then what is the point of Z2?

TR is “infamous” for doing a ton of sweet spot, whether that’s accurate or not, which is great for time-crunched athletes that can’t spend +10 hours a week on the bike. The more time you spend on the bike the more fatiguing that becomes which makes it more difficult for you to do the harder workouts (vo2 max).

I am not someone that thinks that we should only be doing zone 2, but for base fitness and aerobic gains without piling on too much fatigue it’s great.

Is your schedule consistent? I.e., commutes on the same days, do long rides on x day, group rides on certain days, etc? I do all the same sorts of stuff you’re describing, but it’s hard to figure out your schedule.

I try to do 2-3 “hard” days, 3-4 “easy” days, and one rest day per week. Starting back up next week, that looks something like:
Monday: intervals (vo2 or threshold)
Tuesday: rest or endurance (if rest on Sunday)
Wednesday: 1-2.5 hours endurance (commute(s)) – optional a.m. hard group ride
Thursday: 2 hours endurance (commute) + threshold intervals if no group ride wednesday
Friday: 2 hours endurance (commutes)
Saturday: 3.5-6 hours hard group ride
Sunday: rest or long endurance

I currently do this using TR’s mid-volume polarized build phase. That gives me 2 days of intervals (monday and wednesday) and 2 endurance rides that I set as “outdoor” on days that I already do endurance/commutes outside. I don’t associate either group ride with a TR workout because they aren’t structured enough to count toward any PL advancement. I consider them skills/strategy training, not power building.

[jlsazart], my schedule is fairly consistent. I normally ride to work and back on Mondays Tuesdays and Fridays. On Mondays and Fridays I try to do a group lunch ride if time allows, and then I work from home on Wed and Thursday. I occasionally switch days and go to work on Wed and work from home on Fri.
Long outdoor rides are usually on Saturday or Sunday.
I could actually try something like you are doing. Do you use AT at all?

[jiffylush] So essentially it makes sense to do Z2 instead of completely resting right?
For example, for the next three weeks, AT is giving me the following.

So I understand the endurance ride on June 21 is there to make me rest between two consecutive SS workouts, then Sat 24 is harder and Sunday 25 is a bit easier.

Then the week before the ramp test is completely endurance. Is this necessary? Does it mean I should not do any high intensity outdoor rides the week before a ramp test?

Ask professional road racers … it’s probably more than 80% of what they do.

(Almost) all the adaptations you get from FTP work, sweetspot and tempo you can get from Z2 work. They come at a slower rate, of course. The big difference is you can do a ton of Z2.


if you have tons of time you can do a ton of Z2. If you are like many of us here working a full time job and have a family, you can’t really do tons of Z2, because in general your volume is much lower than that of a pro racer.

Well, yes.

I was just trying to answer your question about what Z2 is.

You seemed to think it was recovery, or a method of intensity-prevention.

It’s neither of those things, really.

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Yes. I mentioned above, I’m doing the polarized mid-volume plan. That way I get AT to adapt my vo2 and threshold workouts as I do them. I don’t pay attention to endurance PLs and don’t understand the point of them. The more endurance the better, so I always do as much as possible as often as possible (though often at 50-60%).

Yes, you should do rest weeks every so often. This is not because of the ramp test, but rather because it will help reset you before the next set of hard work. (I still do my weekend group ride on those weeks, though–pretty sure resting the 6 days between one saturday and another is a sufficient break for me, YMMV.)

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Well is it neither of those, or is it more than those?
I mean, if I understand things, you can do Z2 to generate adaptations without getting too tired.
With rest you do not generate adaptations but you get rid of fatigue.
So the question is: What is better between 4h of SS + 4h of Rest and 4h of Z2 + 4h of Z2?

There is no simple answer to that question…too many factors come into play - training history, natural ability, recent training load to name just a few.

The answer as to which is “best” for you is also likely not “best” for another rider.

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Luckily, we don’t have to make that sort of binary choice.

Also luckily, no one is making me do 4 hours of sweetspot in one sitting.