Evidence that trainerroad workouts are effective

Hi there,

I have been using trainerroad for the last few weeks and have been enjoying it so far. I like that the workouts are set for me, and it takes a lot of the guesswork out of training. I’ve also noticed that each week the workouts are very similar, but a little bit different, ie a certain workout will always resemble 3x 15 minute at 90% FTP intervals, but have different variation in power across the interval. For example take a look at the “Tallac” workout, rather than setting the whole 15 minute intervals at 90% FTP, there are seemingly random fluctuations across the 15 minutes between 88-94%. Alternatively some other interval sessions like Leconte will be similar except for 30 second 105-110% spikes.

I think there is sufficient evidence (peer reviewed studies) that repeated intervals of any length/intensity are effective for improvements in different areas. With that in mind, are these differences between the workouts designed to keep users from getting bored of doing the same 3x15 minute workouts week in week out? Alternatively, do they actually lead to a more effective workout than intervals at a set %FTP? If there are studies which have been conducted to confirm this could you please share them. I am very interested in learning as much as much as possible on the topic.


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I don’t have any studies to back this up, just opinion. I think the variation is an effort to replicate an outdoor ride.

Road and weather variables will see you put out more or less effort during any period of time, not including fatigue or the type of ride itself.

Personally I’ve found the coaching notes to be extremely useful during the seasons, right down to relaxing my elbows and how I grip the bars.

You could certainly gain the same fitness by doing steady state intervals, e.g. 3x15 @ exactly 95%, but as @PusherMan says, you wouldn’t get the same adaptations or experience handling changes in pace and power which are required during real world outdoor rides, of any sort, not just a race, e.g. gust of wind, long false flat, etc.

I’m not sure about adaptation differences, but I like when the long intervals are broken into shorter 1-3 minute long intervals along the way - - it really helps break it up and let’s you just focus on that 1-3 minutes rather than 10-15 minutes or whatever. I try to do that mentally on the longer intervals that stay steady, but having that long time interval counting down always takes a little more of a toll on you when you’re suffering :joy:.


This is the main benefit for me.

Only 2 more minutes (followed by 20 further minutes) in this interval is a lot easier than staring at a countdown of 22 minutes to go.

Particularly on workouts like Tallac - your body shouldn’t be hitting its physical limits - but it is fairly common to hit your mental limit on long sweet spot rides as the pain and fatigue mount. These smaller intervals can help push that mental limit a bit further down the road


Agree with both of the above. I don’t believe that there are any physiological differences between the 3x15 at 90% or broken up between 88-94% at all…but breaking it up make a positive psychological difference.

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Any research on that sort of specific question which claimed they could give you a definitive answer would probably not be worth giving too much heed.

Check out the polarized training discussion for other types of intervals and frequency of interval training options.

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In my humble opinion the best way to look at it is this…I will use a 16km TT as an example.

Ultimately the point of us training is to get faster at our given race. The coaches have spoken at length about specificity and to me that is replicating the demands of your race as closely as possible. We aim to ride at the correct ZONES and on a trainer it is a lot easier to do this as we minimise the variables like wind, hills, downhills etc and be able to ride at a constant power. In real life this is nearly impossible so some variability will more closely match this. Both will achieve the same end in different ways.

I’ve seen massive improvements. Is it because of the specific workouts? No idea. We will see what the improvements are next year, as this is my first on TR and with structured training. Having the structured training gets me on the bike a lot more. 5 times a week as opposed to 3 (outdoor) and that has definitely made me faster. I’m committed to the plan and make sure I do every workout. I’m onto the build phase now and I’m realizing that I can’t sprint or be explosive for cumquats. Never needed to. I’m certain the vo2 max training will help with that and I can’t wait to see those results.