Is TR right for me or should I just ride?

I got my first road bike around 9 months ago (after never really riding a bike regularly before. I have always been in reasonably good shape but not particularly active) and did between 50-100km a week over spring and summer (UK). I then got myself a Kickr Core which I have been using for the last few months with varying degrees of consistency.

I’ve mostly been doing a mix of group rides and solo routes on Zwift during that time, but don’t feel ready to tackle the likes of the Alpe du Zwift yet. I did the 20 min FTP test fairly early on but Zwift has since increased it after a climb I did and I do feel as though I’ve improved a fair bit since my riding out on the roads in the summer but it is hard to tell with it being such a different experience on the trainer. I definitely feel as though I am riding at a better cadence etc now. My FTP is currently 201 and I weigh 78kg.

I’m keen to improve as much as possible before hitting the roads again in spring, and I want to tackle some longer rides than I did this year. I’m a couple of days into the Build Me Up plan on Zwift but have been considering switching to Trainer Road instead. My only doubt is whether it is necessary or whether I still have lots of beginner gains to get just by riding the routes on Zwift? I don’t plan on doing any races or events, I just want to get faster and cycle for longer. When looking at designing the training plan on the website, it does seem geared towards training for events or the more advanced rider.

If your goal is to get faster TrainerRoad is a fine way to do it. You don’t have to be ‘good enough’ for TrainerRoad.


I suppose what I’m getting at is trying to figure out if I am still in the bracket of beginners who will find it more beneficial to just put in the hours in the saddle and gradually build endurance etc rather than taking on structured training straight away? This is just what I’ve read online so feel free to correct me if that is not true.

Anyone will improve with structure, even beginners

Basically, as a new cyclist you’ll likely improve with or without a structured training plan and progression. You will likely improve more quickly if you follow a structured plan, but you will still improve without one

From a long-term view, the sooner you can start loving structure and following it consistently the better you’ll be


Everyone can get faster if they rode more. Even pros would get faster if they just rode more. They push up against there not being enough hours in the day or not being able to recover from all their race days. They do structure to make the most of their enormous time.

You are riding more than you have in the past (going from 0 to some). You can’t really do too much more volume without risking injury. To make the most of your limited time you can introduce structure.

If you want to get faster… structure helps. Don’t let the structure ruin your enjoyment of riding a bike though. Getting fast is a long journey.


The structure is what will keep you accountable. You said it yourself that you have various levels of consistency. I’m like you, no real events or race goals, just trying to get stronger. I’ve been doing Trainerroad for 2 years now after floundering with Zwift workouts and I think Trainerroad is a great combination of simplicity and effectiveness.


I think if your focus is on this point then TR is perfect for you. You also said you doubt whether it’s necessary. I don’t think it’s necessary, but it will serve you well. A structured plan will also help with keeping consistent. Just make sure when it does come time to get out on the roads in Spring/Summer that you do that - don’t lose sight of doing what you enjoy. Putting in consistent structure will just help you enjoy it even more :slight_smile:


You could probably achieve a lot by reading some books about training and then sketching out a basic 5 day per week training plan with intervals on tues/thurs and a long slow endurance rides on the weekend.

TrainerRoad though will make it a lot easier for you. And you can try TR for free if you get a referral code from someone here.

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Don’t shoot me for saying this but as beginner I’d say get out and enjoy your bike. You’ll make those initial gains like most of us did when we first started and enjoy it.

I love Trainerroad and couldn’t be without it now. But i do find it demanding mentally and physically, really having to dial down the small details to try and approach workouts the best way i can to get through them. I’d just be a little conscious of this this as it may take away the some of fun factor of cycling for a beginner… everyone is different however. But TR does make you faster, more so than any other platform I’ve used.


I’m a novice rider with an FTP lower than yours and I’m finding TrainerRoad to be very beneficial (and challenging). I’m a numbers kind of guy, so the user interface appealed to me after using Zwift for a few months (including the Build Me Up plan). If you’d like to try it for a month I have a code that I can send to you - just message me.

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TR is my first structured training. I was “free-riding” before and its fun, gives you confidence with traffic and bike handling and other skills like how to ride in a bunch and the list goes on…
But if you’re getting serious about cycling and /or you want to improve whatever weakness you have (Im particularly hill-challenged), then structured training is the way to go.
It’s demanding? Sure it is. And painful. But you will get better…as a plus there is a nice TR community keen to help and share

It’s winter in the UK and most of the country is in varying levels of lock down. What a perfect time to get a free trial month and try a base phase to see if it is for you. Maybe pick out a low volume plan so you have some capacity to get some outdoor riding done for sanity sake.

Between random Zwift miles and TR, the later is more likely to give you summer smiles.

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I do as many trainer-road workouts as possible outdoors, by loading them into my Garmin. That’s one very real advantage TR has over zwift.


i think its simple

TR consists ONLY of workouts. That will make you better rider with regards to power/cadence/endurace. “Just riding” won’t necessarily do that to the same extent, whether inside or on Zwift.

And there’s nothing wrong with the latter. I love Zwift, I love riding outside, but if I’m training for something, I’ll go to TR.

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For me, using TR as a beginner is really valuable…learning about Intervals, getting you used to the “pain” on the bike, will set you up for future success. I wasted years just going for a ride outdoors… without any great structure and certainly without pushing myself consistently hard enough. I basically did my recover rides to hard and my hard rides to soft !


When i use TrainerRoad i get faster. When i “just ride around” or ride on Zwift i get slower.
Seriously - do TR plans: get a decent Spotify playlist, good fans, and learn to love pushing the pedals and becoming a faster, more awesome you and next summer you’ll be nailing it.
If you’re having fun with 200W now, just think how much more fun 300W will be.

This is a great point. Learning the fundamental early on is a very good idea.

You’re not alone holding this opinion, I’ve read it a lot, but I don’t really understand it. TR workouts are fun for me, they’ve always been fun, and when I was a beginner (arguably I still am) I hopped directly into TR plans indoors and had a blast pushing myself harder than I ever had outside. I do love riding outside, but when I started it was February in Norway. I’ve tried just riding around on Zwift and it is legit the most boring way to ride a bike I have ever experienced. I don’t understand how people can hop on a trainer and spin aimlessly for an hour and hop off. (I’m glad it’s fun for them though! Anything that keeps you riding is :100:!)

It makes me wonder if the “beginners shouldn’t start with structure” principle is more rooted in the well-intentioned semi-elitism that comes with distance from our own beginner experiences than anything else. Whether structure clicks for you is going to be more about your own personality and proclivities than about how much riding you’ve done before you start.


To me cycling is all about fun and training is just a means to expand my fun (ride further and faster with new people). For new cyclists I usually say skip the structure and enjoy the ride for a little while. There is a lot about being a new cyclist that you will miss out on IMO if you just jump on the trainer right away. There are hills I smash now that I still remember walking, there are lots of D/C/B riders I met from my time as a newbie that I still stay in touch with.

A friend of mine earlier this year got a bike. He was always trying to do what I did, and wanted to get a trainer and “get fast” too, and I told him to just take it easy and enjoy the ride to start. A few months ago he suddenly passed away, and I’m glad I was able to talk him out of training right away and he was able to enjoy the beauty of cycling at least for a little while. Life is too short to focus on the finish line and goals all the time, IMO.

You will enjoy it more and progress more if you are fit and that is a product of training. Nothing valuable in life is really learned through mere osmosis

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