Is AT worth it if you don't have a PM

So I train on a smart trainer (Tacx Neo) and a road bike (with Garmin PM) … but love riding my MTB outside and it has no powermeter. I would like to ride both, inside on smart-trainer and outside on MTB, so would AT trianing work for me? I mean, I did a 3 hr MTB yesterday, and I’m not sure how AT would calculate my efforts (HR alone would not do the data justice with hills that I climbed)… (sorry if this has already been addressed, I googled it and did not find anything)

There is a TSS estimation tool embedded into any ride that doesn’t have power data. Far from perfect but I argue that TSS is only moderately useful for MTB rides in the first place. There is an RPE based estimation tool and a HR based tool, use RPE for your MTB rides.

For workouts on your MTB sans PM RPE is actually pretty effective for most workouts, if you have suitable sustained terrain. Obviously there’s no substitution for a PM but RPE can get you pretty close. The hardest part about using RPE is that you’ll likely be going over any virtual power zones in the beginning of your first intervals, but it’s a lot better than relying on HR which is nearly useless outside of long very steady-state work. If you’re doing VO2 Max work, I’ve even read some coaches prefer using RPE over power data so in some cases not having power can be potentially advantageous.

Yeah … so paying the $$ for Adaptive Training, without a PM, is not worth it. That’s what I thought. Oh well.

Yes, AT is worth it if you have a smart trainer but no PM.

AT currently doesn’t analyze unstructured outdoor rides. A lot of people have been complaining about this and TR has been hard at work on this feature.

However, I am of the opinion that people are going to be sorely disappointed when AT is finally capable of analyzing these rides, and people’s AT levels remain largely unchanged.

Think about it this way. When was the last time you did a few unstructured rides and then because of it, the next structured workout felt really easy? Never in my experience. Unstructured outdoor rides are great for a lot of things, including piling on volume (which prepares you to take on high volume intervals) and maintaining fitness, but what really moves the needle is the intervals.


Spot on! This is my take too.

I ride LV Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and do 4 hour MTB rides on Sundays. AT works spectacularly for me. :slight_smile:

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AT is just TrainerRoad. It’s not extra $ or anything. So the question is would TrainerRoad work for you with the way you like to train. Same question as always.

If I were in your shoes I’d do workouts by power if indoors or on your road bike, and by RPE if on your MTB. Only structured rides will affect your AT training levels, so for that to happen with your MTB rides you’d load the ride onto your head unit and do the workout by RPE. Answer the question about how the ride felt afterwards and your training plan will adapt (or not) based on that.

I agree with others who mention that unstructured rides aren’t likely to change your plan once they are able to be analysed. All the spiky efforts on a MTB count as training of course, but that’s up to you as a self-coach to determine whether you should modify future workouts based on your unstructured efforts. If anything, I’ll move or tone down a planned workout if I’ve done hard unstructured riding before hand.

How to Use Outside Workouts with Adaptive Training


Power meter on road bike inside during winter and outside in summer plus MTB with RPE (and HR data) all year round is my current setup and it works well, I’ll get AT adaptations. The roads here in the UK are pretty minging in winter and are a hotch potch of tarmac, potholes, greasy leaves and occasionally icy patches. Really not very pleasant!

As @jwellford says, AT is just part of the standard (only) TR package so you get it from day one, providing you enable it in your profile.

Unless you live somewhere really flat then the power profile of an outdoor ride is much more variable than indoors so you sort of accept that you aren’t going to get ideal Z2 rides, etc. but so long as you don’t have extended VO2max segments then all’s good. Use something like or WKO to analyse your rides, it’s not hard to work out that a ride with your HR in Z1 for the duration was likely to have been pretty easy. Not sure about WKO but also puts your HR into 5bpm range “buckets” which further splits things down: the top end of my HR Z1 is 133bpm so a ride with 50% in the 115-120bpm bucket is a bit different to one with 50% in 130-135bpm even though both are technically Z1.

The other advantage to riding outdoors is improving riding skills especially with MTB. Indoor training lets you be precise with targeting efforts in a way that is hard but not impossible outdoors.

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As mentioned already, it’s not about AT being worth it, it’s about TR being worth it, or not. I put a value on the workout library, the function of outdoor workouts and the calendar. I’ve only used AT for a couple months and it was cool but not a reason for me by itself. I feel the same about PB. But… I have used off the shelf TR plans and I did learn what does and doesn’t work for me. So, if you’re new to structure, any plan is better than no plan.

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There are likely a lot of people in a similar situation as you are describing, and for sure it is worth it.

I do low volume plans with a tues, thurs, and sat workout inside on my trainer. I also do a lot of fatbiking during the week on single track and don’t even bother trying to factor those fatbike rides in for AT. I just make sure I’m not digging myself a hole and ensure I’m rested enough to do my TR workouts. I’ve been adapting well, and my fitness is improving as expected.