Is Doing Indoor Threshold Intervals Out of the Saddle Cheating?

I recently took a break due to end of season and a back injury. Since coming back I’ve been mixing up intervals for the sake of my back. 8 min indoor intervals in ERG have been 4 min standing 4 min sitting. The thing is the 4 min standing feel easier than the sitting. I vaguely remember reading that you should remain seated when on the trainer. Am I cheating? Or robbing myself of the necessary gains?

Isn’t using the trainer for intervals “cheating yourself” of a head wind, road resistance and hills? :wink:

Out of the saddle for 4 minutes seems pretty tough to me! My legs would be burning.

  • Highly subjective but if you are shifting to a lower cadence and standing, it may seem “easier” due to a lower cardiovascular demand compared to what you might have in a seated position with a faster cadence.
  • Hard to say without specific context, but standing is not a problem generally speaking.
    • Standing is specifically prohibited per TR for the application of their Ramp Test, that is meant to be completed fully seated.
    • Standing and applying hard effort with lots of “body English” should be avoided unless you have a rocker plate in use. It’s more about risk to the bike and such vs a training aspect.
  • Outside of those use cases, there’s nothing explicitly “wrong” with standing on the trainer.

It depends…

  • If you are standing in ways and situations that mirror what you know you do when outside, it can be a great option. “Train like you race” as they say, so applying riding positions in ways you do outside makes perfect sense and is something I personally apply.

  • However, if you are using this position as a “crutch” or some other reason that doesn’t align with your goals, it may be less than ideal. May not be hurting your training, but doing notably different action like this might not be “best”.

I think it’s important to understand why you are standing and how it does/does not relate to your ultimate training goals.


I don’t typically get out of the saddle outdoors but have been since the back injury as it helps me break things up. I’ve since transferred this to indoor rides. But it does feel easier, and therefore feels like cheating. I think I need to sit my arse back down. lol

Thanks for the in-depth response.

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My biggest concern would be if you’re getting through intervals that you couldn’t get through seated, which will artificially bump your ftp and become a spiraling problem. Hope you heal up. Back problems suck.


Agreed. Seated moving forward. Thanks

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Yes. And if we find out, we bring Lance Armstrong to your house to publicly shame you



If I was going to do a lot of it I’d probably elevate the front wheel a fair bit so that it’s more similar to how I’d (maybe) be riding like that outdoors.

specificity specificity specificity

if you like to stand and find it easier to put out power in that way, I wouldn’t say its cheating.

however on the road you want to consider that standing is less aero than sitting, so if your rides require you to stay seated for periods of time at threshold then something you can work on.

I’ve had similar experiences and asked the same questions on the forum. When I am struggling with longish threshold or VO2max I tend to get out of the saddle.

I found that when I return to the trainer after spending the summer on the road building up my FTP I struggle for the first month working off that same road FTP when back indoors on ERG mode. Personally I continued to break up intervals by standing for short periods of 30 seconds to get some relief and finish the workouts.

For me it does feel like cheating because it is a break from sustained pedaling seated. I would try reducing that 4 mins until eventually you have just a few smalls breaks standing which is probably not a bad thing if you have back issues.

I would say brief periods standing to relieve back or saddle discomfort is not only legitimate but a good idea. Moreover, if I were (briefly) standing just to change muscle recruitment slightly during an interval, I don’t think that’s cheating; time triallists aside, that’s what many of us would do on the road, for example.

I’m not sure I agree with this completely. There are a lot of factors at play with regard to getting through intervals. Standing may play an important role in improving comfort on the trainer, which may allow you to get through longer intervals that you may otherwise bail on. Standing may help with mental games, compartmentalization, if done as a reward for getting through portions of a long interval, which can help you get through longer intervals. Standing could help you get though intervals where you are actually trying to train muscles used more out of the saddle. Standing may allow you to keep that stimulus going, even if it “helps make it feel easier” and that stimulus may be better than the alternative that would be quitting. I don’t think style points are important. It is important to understand if it’s a crutch, but otherwise, I find standing to be fine. When I’m doing a 60 or 75 minute interval, I stand every 10 minutes for a minute. I couldn’t imagine getting through it seated for 75 minutes.

I agree with everything you said. However, that’s not what the OP is talking about doing.

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I see it as cheating when I don’t get out of the saddle for some of the threshold workouts but whatever it takes to finish them but maybe I should try doing that in resistance mode sometime (I hate standing efforts in erg)

As far as I’m concerned, the watts are the watts. Get it done however necessary. I come from a power sport background, so I end up standing quite a bit.

This is really a separate topic, but it’s worth mentioning that just using an outside FTP directly inside may be a mistake. There are many different variables at plan when moving inside, onto a trainer, and especially when we add ERG mode to the mix.

It’s worth considering an FTP test unless you are certain that you have matched the conditions as closely as possible to keep power efforts similar between these locations. More often than not, people will test at a lower level inside than outside due to some of those things I mentioned and more.

Anyway, it’s a bit OT but it is worth some consideration for people making this same transition.

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Yes separate topic and I believe it was yourself @mcneese.chad who recommended shifting into the big ring when getting out of the saddle, that’s made a huge difference to my ERG experience in terms of maintaining watts close to target when getting out of the saddle and back to seated.


Shouldn’t aiftp be able to correctly detect FTP?

Sometimes (often tbh) when I feel I’m getting dragged into the spiral of death I close my eyes and hover on the virtual nose of my noseless saddle (in effect standing up whilst staying in the TT poles). I’ll do none of that in a real life TT so as I’m training for TT’s I’m refusing to accept the bump that AI FTP D is calculating. It can only be as good as the information I am feeding into it and I’m giving it garbage :joy: