I think I might be a perfect candidate for Zone 2 training…

Hello! A bit of a background, I’m a person who has a history of some higher level athletic activities. I’m 43 now, but the last 20-something years consisted of a variety of endeavors: in high school in college I was a competitive rower then a coach for some years after. A bit of a gap, I then became of all things a semi-professional paintball player, then a bit of a gap I took on running as a hobby (never long distance, but I’d do 3 miles a day weekdays then 7-10 mile run a weekend day). One more gap, then road cycling came I into my life about 2015. 2016 I aspired to bring my cycling to the next level and joined trainer road to get some structured workouts going (wish I could find my old account), and was doing well all the way up to 2019 where I had a big crash that took me out for the season (I made a full recovery but it took 8 months). With the year 2019 a wash, I looked forward to a great 2020 season and then, well… the world changed. During Covid, where as many people gained the time to do more riding and training, my situation was the opposite… I was restricted in my time, doing all I could to keep afloat during a an uncertain period and by the time I came out the other side almost two years had passed. I lost an incredible amount of fitness, and at the end of 2021 I’m now 3 years in to doing basically nothing, eating habits gone to the wayside, so I put my foot down and say hey, now is the time I get this back!

What I would describe the previous breakdown of my athletic abilities would be a series of peaks and valleys… I was at an exceptional fitness, became unfit, and would become fit again. Every time, my lack of fitness would get a little worse in those valleys but my muscle memory would prevail, and I’d get pretty darn fit… maybe not as fit as I previously was but still I would be happy where I was at and overall I think most people would classify me as a very fit person. This time though… it was different. I’m now hitting the age where, muscle memory won’t be there for me like it used to, especially since my valleys were getting deeper and my peaks not as high. I had more weight on my joints, my muscles were getting DOMS so bad a hard workout would take me out for most of the week, and no one I used to work out with anymore was near my level, Covid giving them the time to reach new heights and all I was doing was being the person that held everyone back. I was self conscious, I was hurting, and being a person who could remember what high level fitness felt like tried to push through, injuring myself at times and gassing myself doing things that were not even my warm up in the past. I closed up, got so discouraged that I just couldn’t try anymore as my physical and mental health declined and another couple of years would pass, the memory of what I used to be hanging over me like a shadow.

So here I am, mid 2024, worst shape of my life, 5’10” at 240lbs and I can’t even go up two flights of stairs without getting out of breath. What I do have is a yearning to try again, which I was starting doubt would ever come to pass, and if I go at this again I want to increase my chances of success, even if it means I do things slower, cautiously, as to not burn out or hurt myself so I need to be realistic. I need to increase muscle strength, make my joints stronger, I need to get diet under control, and ultimately I need to get back into my love of cycling because it’s the closest thing I ever had since rowing crew to an activity that makes me happy, mentally. All the issues I described prior still exist, and some efforts to tax my system leave me so sore and hungry that my body seems like it doesn’t know what to do or what it needs.

I think I need to build my foundation before I raise my ceiling. I know zone two can’t be the only thing I do to get to the higher level I aspire for, but I think as a base to get my heart and muscles “ready” for what will come, it actually makes the most sense. Bonus points if I can shed a few pounds doing it, both in the activity itself but also with a more consistent management of diet as I avoid the wild swings of hunger and body cravings. One day, yes, I’d like to be doing a full blown trainer road workout plan doing 8 or more hours of riding a week complete with crazy interval sessions that make me want to die, doing century rides every othet weekend and maybe even thinking of putting running and swimming into the mix but right here, right now, I just need to get my body’s various systems in a place where they are ready to be taxed, I do all the taxing and break something in mind or spirit because I tried to do it like I used to. I’m not who I used to be. Maybe I can be again, hell maybe I could even become better, but nothing is going to happen if I can’t even start.

So, from here, how do I even plan out a zone 2 workout regiment? How many rides, hours a week should I be aiming for… three, one hour long rides? Four? Two, two hour long rides? How many weeks should I aim for… as little as 4? As much as 8 or 12? How do I measure an increase in fitness to validate my success? Do I get to the end and jump right into a training plan or do I transition slowly?

The goal is to not endlessly stay in zone 2, I don’t believe in that. The goal is to get my heart not ready to explode during a light workout and my muscles not be sore for 5 days in a row from that same workout (honestly DOMS is the main issue these days). Then to my speed and distance for riding built up so I have opportunity to ride with others and be motivated to keep consistent hobby going. Soon after, to be doing strength training and other fitness activities with reduced risk of injury so every part of my body can start to benefit, therefore feeding back into cycling fitness. The weight and diet improvements ideally coming along for the ride.

Your take on all of this? And how do I integrate trainer road into all of this? Is this long, careful approach perhaps filled with cons that I cannot foresee?

Thanks all for any insight!

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Start with something like this:

establish a pattern of riding 5 days a week. Start slow and don’t worry about anything, just enjoy the ride.


Just ride your bike as much as possible


When I came back from a huge and prolonged (20 year) fitness deficit, I started with 1-hour easy rides. I also doubled those up fairly regularly with a ride morning and a ride in the afternoon.

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Let Tr do the thinking for you, and just get on with it:

Key Takeaways

  • No matter your current level of fitness, you’re ready to start a training plan. You don’t need training to train.

:-1: that sentence is wrong on several levels.


First, you are way over thinking this.

Let’s get this out of the way:

Z2 = endurance = JRA = just riding along - it’s nothing magical

Put together a schedule that you can stick to and just get out there and ride. In 3-4 weeks, with some hours under your belt, jump into a TR plan if you want. Or not, and just keep JRA.

You never have to do “crazy” soul crushing workouts. They are usually not productive. You could use TR’s Train Now and just do two workouts per week and then the rest of the days Endurance (or JRA).

Three days a week to start is probably good, then go up to four. Five or six is fantastic if your life and schedule accommodates it. A day of weight lifting is great.

The key is stop the yo-yo training. If there is a pause or lull in your training life, just go back to JRA. Don’t just stop for weeks or months at a time. Staying in shape and healthy is a life long commitment.


This is so true. Even if what you do is only, say, 75% of “optimal”, if you do it regularly you’ll get much better results than if your rides are 95% optimal but you take a month off three times a year and 6 months off every leap year.

The same goes for strength training.


Hey @David_G :slight_smile:

Welcome back to training :muscle:t2:

It sounds like you are naturally gifted in sports, and the fact that you’ve had such an extensive history should make your comeback easier. :sunglasses:

As you mentioned, our bodies are amazing at keeping muscle memory. I’ve personally stopped racing several times in my career and every time I came back (even after pregnancy, which let me tell you destroys you on so many levels) I dove head into a training plan, and it was the best thing! I personally always preferred structure training because you can measure improvement better over time and to be honest it will get you to those century rides faster :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

As @JoeX mentioned you could just dive into Plan Builder and create TR plan. I would just consider going with a Low Volume plan, or even a Low Volume Master’s plan (2 intervals and 1 endurance per week), and over time you can see about changing to a Mid/High Volume.

Alternatively, if you just want to ride your bike for a while and settle back into the feel of riding and all, as @AJS914 mentioned, you could use the TrainNow feature to recommend workouts on the days you’d like to do TR Workouts. :man_biking:t2:

It’s been a while since you trained with us; we’ve developed really cool features in the past few years like Adaptive Training, AI FTP Detection and as of recent Red Light Green Light which monitors your training to prevent long term fatigue, which becomes key when getting back into the flow of things. I know I can get carried away after a long time off :sweat_smile:

We also have a great Customer Support Team and offer onboarding calls, so we’re more than happy to get into a Zoom call to get things dialed and answer any questions you may have!

P.S.: I’ll send you a DM about your old username with us to see if we can find it!


I went thru a period of time that put me in about the same shape as you. 5’9” 235lbs… I had a back/nerve problem that lasted for a few years.
I started riding again. First 4 miles then every day I would try to repeat it. Over time I was able to increase my mileage. When I hit 25 miles I thought “ I’m on a roll.”. Over a years time I had worked up to 65 miles. Woo hoo.
Now for the weight part. I had always had will power. I’m sure my body hates me. Over a few months time I was able to get down to 160 lbs while still riding. How? Well I basically starved my self. Lots of big salads but little else. I looked pretty bad. Flabby skin, shallow face. No muscle to be seen.
I started eating again. Put on a few lbs, maybe 10 but started to regain muscle. No longer felt tired all the time. Now 100 miles, no problem. For someone in their 70’s I’m not fast but….
I won’t say anyone else should do this. Experts say go slow. That’s just not me.
However start riding. Do it every day, no matter the distance. Remember you did not get where your at in 1 day so it will take time.
Good luck with your journey.

I appreciate the feedback thus far. I think a point of emphasis must be made/clarified: I am currently hurting myself attempting to “just ride”. I can’t seem to find any way to go out riding or other type of exercise in the world that my body doesn’t overestimate its own capabilities and therefore I can accurately judge where I am at until I am, suddenly, locking up muscles, completely gassed, or getting some kind of strain in a joint that will last for a week or longer. It’s partly my own fault as far as discipline but so think there is a real sort of “imbalance” to what I observe in the moment to what is actually happening due to my athletic history that betrays my “feel” and then, when it all crashes down it crashes down hard. The training would be indoors in a controlled environment until I feel I am ready to gauge my own body and take on the “real” riding that I fell in love with. Hence why Zone 2 is so attractive… it’s a self enforced bottleneck that goes by feel, but a feel that is more steady and easy to target (to pave the way for the future). I’m not married to it of course, but I do want to emphasize the challenge that I’m facing and why I’ve entertained it as an option above more “traditional” start points.

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If you only have an indoor trainer, I wouldn’t use erg mode, at all. Use resistance mode or with a wheel on- fluid trainer just pedal and change gears as needed.
My only advice is to get some consistency for the first month or 2. Work the minutes up to hours, start 3-5 ; 30 minute rides ( I don’t know your schedule).
Always make sure you ride those days 30 minutes, that’s it. Slowly add 10-15 minutes each week to each ride for a month or 2.
If you can do that then try to (make) have your goal 5-1 hour rides a week, maybe one of them a long ride to exhaustion. Keep doing that til you have your consistency dialed and stay motivated doing so. Then maybe after a 2-3 months I would consider adding a low volume plan or even masters mid volume plan where choose your hours for each day.

I completely understand how you feel. Following an adaptive plan will help by keeping things structured and within your capabilities. The structure can help both with motivation and over exertion.

The Traditional Base plan might suit your desire for aerobic rides, and you can always change it later if you want more variety.

At the end of each workout you feedback how you felt and the next workout adapts accordingly.

Erg mode on your trainer will stop you going too hard, and if the session is feeling hard you can turn down the intensity in the TR app while you are working out.

I love how we’ve completely rebranded base/endurance training as Zone 2. Wonder what it’ll be called next?

It sounds like one of your primary problems is self control/governance. Don’t want to assume too much about your personality but in your shoes I would benefit from a strict plan (limits) and an accountability partner who will call you out when you exceed them

As such…write out a logical progression and limits on power targets and time. Start low, focus on consistency and stopping each ride while you still feel good.

Get in the habit of telling someone (briefly) about that day’s session. Hopefully you won’t want to tell them you overdid it, or missed one, and it will guide you into consistency and sticking to your limits

There are hundreds of ways to build the specifics of the plan, and many will work for you once you’ve established the habit


My take would be not to start with structured training. I’d start with as many minutes as you can manage and build from there.

Let’s say you start with 10 minutes and that feels okay. Next day try and complete 15 mins. That feels okay, next day try and complete 20 mins. If next day you try 25 mins and that seems too much, then drop back to 20 mins and hold that for a few days. Then try 25 mins again when you feel ready.

I think in the early days of rebuilding fitness it’s about building up time exercising and not worrying about targets. It’s about building that consistency and healthy habits and increasing the time at a rate that doesn’t leave you demotivated and questioning what you are doing.