New to TR, New to "training", not new to cycling

Male, Age - 41, Weight - 168 lbs, W/Kg - 3.11, married with 2 kids.

Background - I’ve been mountain biking for 15+ years, and I’m back to road cycling after taking 3+ years off with only 4 years total road cycling experience. I’ve got a new road bike and I’m feeling dedicated to improving my road cycling fitness, increasing my FTP and stamina on the bike. I have always lifted weights 3-4 days per week, played tennis and biking was always done for fun with occasional “training” if I had a mountain bike race coming up but have never really “trained” on the road bike.

Here’s my Question / dilemma - 7 days in a week and I’d like to lift weights 3x per week and road bike / train 3x per week (AM only, no overlap). I built a custom low volume plan that has me doing TR workouts 3x per week (M, W, Sat) and the M and W sessions are great as I do them early in the morning. I’d prefer to do a non structured ride on Saturday of my choosing rather than a TR workout because it’s fun and I want to be outdoors. I tried to do my Saturday TR workout outdoors but it wasn’t easy or fun due to terrain and difficulty of hitting the marks of the prescribed workout. Should I just plan to skip every prescribed Saturday workout and do my own ride (exception being weather and then I’d do the prescribed workout indoors)? The prescribed Saturday workouts are 1.5 hrs long and 1 hr on the trainer is about all I can stomach whereas outdoors I’m happy to ride 2 hours. I am dedicated to improving my cycling fitness but I don’t want it to be at the expense of everything else, including riding for fun. I should add that my “fun” outdoor rides tend to be at threshold as that’s what I enjoy the most.

Every now and then I want to join Tues/Thurs group rides after work but then I feel like I may be overdoing it since I’m already riding 3x per week TR prescribed workouts. Am I overthinking this whole thing? Is there a way to cap the TR workouts at 1 hr so that it doesn’t prescribe 1.5 hour workouts on Saturday and maybe I could do M, W, F TR with Saturday fun rides.

Thanks for any help you can offer to get me going in the right direction to getting faster.


@ZackeryWeimer @eddiegrinwald

Seems like a post the TR team might want to offer advice on.


There’s some flexibility in TR at the moment (via Alternates and Outside Workouts) and there’s supposed to be more coming. FWIW I follow a LV plan at the moment, working out Tues,Wed,Thu with resting M/F and adding Saturday or Sunday fun rides. Tuesday is a commuting day so I’ll usually use Alternates to select a workout I can do on my commute via Outside Workouts. Wednesday if the workout is too intense, given I ride at weekends, I’ll change it manually to an Endurance one (don’t be afraid to change things to suit you). On Thursday the plan suggests a 1.5h workout but I’d rather at the moment do a 1h workout so I again use Alternates to select one. I think the system updates will allow automatic capping rather than the use of Alternates as you have to do currently.

How to use Workout Alternates – TrainerRoad

Outside Workouts – TrainerRoad

Hey @Littlefield82,

Welcome to TrainerRoad! :partying_face:

The situation you’re describing is not uncommon, and we can definitely help you settle into a plan that works for you. You definitely made the right call by using Plan Builder to get on a Low-Volume training plan. :+1:

It sounds like you’ve got things set up really well so far, with the main concern being those Saturday workouts.

The first thing that I’ll mention is that Outside Workouts take some getting used to and, oftentimes, specific route planning to find loops that fit the type of workout you’re executing. It can be a challenge to get used to hitting the power targets when you’re used to ERG mode on the trainer (I dealt with this myself), but the truth is, it can be really important to be able to have the skill to find a specific power target and stay in that range out on the open road. Hitting the power numbers on a trainer is great and will help you build fitness, but being able to control your efforts while out riding is a great skill to have.

Once you have things figured out, though, it should be much easier to luxuriously knock out those workouts under the sun. Before long, you’ll have certain routes that you know work best for each type of workout (Endurance/Tempo, Threshold, VO2 Max, etc.) We even have a well-written blog post that describes how to select a good route! Check it out below!

If you plan on continuing to do some of your workouts outside, I’d recommend you also read this blog post about safe practices as well.

As for time spent on the trainer, similar to Outside Workouts, this gets easier over time. There can be a certain duration for some athletes where things start to get boring or uncomfortable, and this is normal. We typically like cycling for the feeling it brings on a nice ride outside, but there are ways to make these inside rides more enjoyable.

First, I want to mention that structured trainer rides are generally more efficient than rides outside, even if you’re following a workout. Keep this in your pocket as a motivator for those longer 90+ minute workouts, and know that you’re likely getting as much stimulus as a 120+ minute ride outside. Just food for thought!

Next, I’d recommend using your time on the trainer to double as a long-term bike fit of sorts. I find that I can get my position dialed in really well on the trainer as well as experiment and try new things from the comfort of my own home. I can have the tools that I need handy and make adjustments on the fly to ensure that I’m going to be comfortable over the long haul, both inside and out.

Lastly, try and find something to make it fun! We are fans of entertainment of all sorts over here at TR! The right music can do more than you’d expect for motivation, and some of us even like to indulge in some visual content as well when we feel the need. Find an audiobook or even a show to watch to help pass the time. I don’t feel bad about this because I’m working hard all the while. If you’re going to watch TV, exercise while you do it!

One of my go-to’s when I’m not feeling too motivated is SAFA Brian’s channel, which has some high-quality footage of some beautiful bike rides. Again, when the time is right, I’m usually outside, but I’m not afraid of doing what I can to make the trainer a good experience as well!

With all of this to consider, taking Saturdays to ride outside without following a workout is an option as well. As you mentioned, this is all supposed to be fun. If you find yourself unhappy and truly not enjoying a part of this process, stop. It’s not worth ruining your relationship with your bike.

I’d recommend giving my suggestions here a shot to see if they help out and reassess how you feel after a week or two.

The same goes for your Tuesday/Thursday group rides. Feel free to hop into those when you’d like! The weeks where you choose to do so, simply replace the most fitting of your TR workouts that week with that effort. If it was a really easy ride and you were, say, chatting for a good portion of it, I’d replace your Endurance workout that week. If it was really tough, replace one of your tougher workouts. You can drag and drop workouts around your week to make these changes. This is the best way to avoid taking on too much stress.

Just know that these rides could add more fatigue to your week depending on the duration and intensity, so don’t be afraid to skip a workout or dial down the intensity if needed later in the week. It’s always better to take an extra day off than bury yourself and need a week+ off to recover. It’s worth noting as well that these types of rides likely won’t provide the same type of training stimulus as structured workouts and won’t be as effective in terms of regularly producing consistent adaptations. The idea here is to balance these with your structured work as you see fit, depending on your goals. Make sure to have fun along the way!

Also, capping your workout times by each day of the week is something that we’re currently working on, so you’ll have that feature before long!

Let me know if this helps and if you have any other questions along the way! We’re happy to have you!


Hey @eddiegrinwald, I really appreciate the detailed response. I’ll work with the suggestions that you provided and go from there. I’m guessing that as winter approaches I’ll do less and less outdoor riding on Saturday’s and be willing to grind it out for 1.5 hrs on the trainer. Cheers!

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@Littlefield82 welcome to TR & the forums, you’re gonna love it here! 82 eh? What a great birth year! Fantastic people! :laughing:

Simple ‘How TR Works’: You set your FTP, TR sets the WOs zones off that, you complete WOs in the zones, answer the surveys, and AT then adapts future WOs to customize, based on your performance & survey response. Works tremendously well, especially for super-time restricted people such as yourself, who likely don’t need or want to spend hours each week developing a plan, or putting much thought into WOs, they just wanna jump on and ride.

I’m going on the assumption you really can only do 2 TR WOs / wk, not 3, bc you mentioned you want to do a fun ride on the weekend, not a 3rd TR WO. If you can do 3 TR WOs, happily, you could just do LV. Easy! If you can only do 2:

You’ve got three options.

But first, it’s important to note: I believe it is still the case that Adaptive Training can only adapt future WOs that were added as a full training block, not individual WOs you manually add to your calendar. So if you manually add 6 mo worth of WOs to make a custom plan, AT won’t adjust future WOs as you complete them, and do the surveys. But I gather they’re working on adding this feature. [If anyone can correct / update me on this, please jump in!]

No matter what, strongly recommend you take a look at the Base → Build → Specialty plans, and generally follow that structure, including block lengths, WO zones, all of it. It’s super effective. Skipping base is a terrible mistake that tons of us have already suffered through, so you don’t have to!! :laughing:

So, you’re 3 options are:

1 - Add whole training plan blocks, starting w LV Sweet Spot Build 1, then SSB 2, and you’ll just skip one WO per week. AT will work to adjust future WOs.

2 - Peruse the LV SSB 1 to get a feel for what a base plan looks like, and then custom build your own plan in 6 - 8 wk blocks, with only 2 WOs / wk, focusing on the 1 or 2 zones you want to. ATI don’t think will work for you, but could be wrong. Almost sounds like you can somehow save it as a “custom plan”, and then AT will work? Can anyone confirm? If AT would work, this might be the best option, as it allows you to sketch out your custom plan in 6 - 8 week blocks, focusing on the 1-2 zones you want to, and really build a plan you like, rather than having to skip WOs from an LV plan. That sorta feels like half doing a plan, eh? :slight_smile:

3 - Don’t do any pre-planning, and always just use Train Now. It looks at your Progression Levels, and suggests WOs in zones you should improve on to best get faster. Fast & easy, zero planning option. I think this would be the worst of the 3, and I believe the intent of Train Now is really for inserting EXTRA WOs INTO a plan, if you want to do an extra ride one week, rather than being intended as an ongoing strategy / replacement for a plan.

I’ve been told, and seems right, that the LV plan w 3 - 3.5 hrs / wk is the min to quickly advance your PLs. If you’re only doing 2, you def only want to focus on 1 to max 2 zones during each 6 - 8 wk block, to maximize focus & growth. Don’t be too frustrated if your PLs don’t advance much with only 2 WOs / wk. But I have a feeling you’ll get some of those delicious & legendary ‘TR noob gainz’ !! :slight_smile: And will probably also see steady growth over time, if you really stick to getting the 2 WO / wk in, and staying focused on 1-2 zones / 6-8 wk block.

Bonus Possible 4th option: I’ve also had a couple people tell me that if they only had 1 - 2 hrs / wk to ride, 2 WOs / wk, they would just do VO2 Max WOs to keep their intensity up, and then do fun outside rides. That honestly might be the best strategy… but only after you’ve been through one entire cycle of base → build → spec. Srsly, don’t skip it. It’s rly rly bad, it super sucks. Trust those who have suffered before you! LOL

Take a look at the link below. This is how to answer the survey responses. The splits are extremely clear, simple, and easy to know with 100% certainty which category you finish in.

Lastly, would strongly recommend you get at least 5 - 10 rides in each zone done on the trainer before you try to execute a WO in that zone outside. So you know exactly what the zones feel like, so you can know when you’re hitting, and when you’re missing. Actually doing TR WOs successfully outside is challenging, and kinda complicated. Learn on the easy path first, and once you’re a superstar, then try the difficult and complicated path! :slight_smile:

I had a cohesive plan here to provide some structured info, but this got quite unhinged, apologies! Hope it has helped in some way! Feel free to ask any follow-up questions! Good luck, and have fun!!!

Link: AT: Easy vs Moderate vs Hard vs ... [Pass / Success Survey Responses] - #307 by mcneese.chad

@Chris1982 really appreciate all that info. Based on what I’m reading I’m going to change things up starting on Sunday and restart my training block with TR rides on M, W, F mornings and stick to the preplanned TR block. If I want to do additional outdoor rides then I’ll mix them in as the opportunity comes up. I really do want to prioritize my cycling fitness and I can fit morning weight training on Sunday, Th, Saturday, with Tuesday being a rest/stretch only day.

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@Littlefield82 awesome dude, enjoy, have fun! Circle back to this thread in a while to let us know how it goes!

Two last things I really wish someone had told me when I started:

1 - When you first start, the system really has no clue where to put you in Progression Level for each zone. So you’ll start quite low, and work up to find your level. It only takes the system a few rides & surveys in each zone to get your PL dialed in. Super fast. BUT… equals the first couple rides might be waaaaay too easy, like not even close to actually being in the zone for you. That is totally OK, normal, and good!!! Be SUPER careful about increasing the intensity. It is extremely easy to dial it up too much, and end up in a hole where you now have to perform at your own personal 11/10, superhero, race-day personal best level every single WO day, or you fail the WO. Which of course is never going to happen; we have stronger and weaker days. And failing WOs is every time is no fun. And plus you’re then perpetually in a fatigue hole, and every day it just gets worse and worse, not better and better.

2 - On that fatigue hole thing: You didn’t mention how much experience you have doing structured = intervals training on a smart trainer. If you know already, cool. If you have near zero experience: You’re about to be more tired than you ever have before in your life. Your HR recovers incredibly fast as you let off the gas; few seconds. Rides are full of massive mini-breaks. These WOs will be pushing you to hold your body at your absolute max output level, constant, for 5, 10, 40, etc mins straight. Or VO2s for 20, 30, 60s, 2 mins, etc, Draining yourself at that level, held for that long, will force you to reach the tube to the very depths of the fuel tank, draining reserves you never knew you had!! Will feel to a new person [again…to digitally controlled structured training] like race-day efforts, but doing it multiple times a week. It can quickly become a problem.

Solution? The right perspective: In regular rides, I was killing myself on every ride, every chance I got!! Super fun!! Sprints, climbs, etc. And that was fine, bc those rides are like 15 - 45% breaks. So you recover DURING the ride, and you’re never maxing out, truly holding accurately within 1-2% of your true biological maximum possible output, for 5, 10, 45 mins, without a break. You do not want to be killing yourself every day in digitally controlled WOs, that have an infinite abyss of resistance, with sort of zero breaks.

Ideally, all of your WOs should be Easy to Hard, hitting one VH every 1 - 6 weeks, depending on how great you are at recovering. You should not be pushing yourself to VH twice a week. Probably not even every week, unless you’re super-recovery guy. And again; this is extra, super important, bc while we’re all fighting to get a 1 - 5% gain over 1 - 12 months, your FTP bounces up and down daily 1 - 5% easily, and if you’re sick, didn’t sleep well, ate poorly, even a mild hangover, this can be 10 - 40%… like… you’re not gonna finish 1/4 of the WO. SO, this means: Having your FTP set a touch too low in TR, you’ll continue to crush WOs, have fun, make progress, etc. Having it set a touch too high, you’ll routinely fail WOs, often be mashing the VH or even AO buttons in tears, and just generally have a miserable time!!! :laughing:

But, if you don’t increase the intensity manually, and just follow the system and answer the surveys, this will all just happen naturally, and you’ll never end up in a hole!!

If you get antsy, decide you’re bored, and bump up the first few WOs a lot, and push yourself to what is truly a Very Hard RPE level, but then lie to the system and say it was Easy or Moderate, your next WO will be even harder, and the black hole has started to open, and you’re falling in, and you’re new, so you don’t even know it until it’s too late.

And aaaaapparently, some TR users have been so stupid that they end up messing up the system so much, they get their PLs so out of whack that they need to have support entirely wipe their account after a couple weeks and start entirely fresh. I’ve just heard about this happening to people who are that stupid, it definitely didn’t happen to me!!! :laughing: :roll_eyes: :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

Happily, the danger zone is clearly marked, even for newbies!! You just need to know what sign to look for, and it’s this: If you hit >1 VH in a week, or even one AO, something is wrong. You are headed into a hole, if the course doesn’t correct. Best thing at that point is probably to just bump your FTP down 5 - 10% and let the system reset to match you. [There is no way to manually adjust your PLs.] It will just take a few WOs in each zone & surveys and you’ll be right as rain again.

Honestly, I’m tempted to say DON’T, under any circumstances increase the intensity. But if the first WO is really really low, like you get 25% of the way through, and you can definitely tell it’s below 50% of where the difficulty should be, maybe axe it, and pick a Stretch alternative. Breakthrough maaaaybe, but again… risky, be careful!

Hi there, and welcome to the forums :slight_smile:

You’ve had some lengthy responses so I’ll try to be succinct!

Training is different from exercising - Racing is not training - And harder does not mean better.

Why stop doing something that’s fun? Carry on. But it’s not training.

Training needs structure, consistency and progressive overload…and results. I suspect you will struggle on one of these aspects at least until the weather gets worse, so evaluate your training and training plan in the spring not while you have a lot of other stuff going on.

Enjoy! :slight_smile:

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@Chris1982 glad you mentioned that I need to reign it in b/c I’m the type of person who could dig myself into a hole if I get a few workouts that are too easy and start self medicating with increased doses of digital FTP increases (manually upping the setting). I’ve ridden on my Kickr Core for probably 30 hours total over the past few years, but it’s been all over the place with no training goal in mind. I’m going to take a ramp test on Saturday and use the results going into Monday when I start the Low Volume I, 6 week block. Then onto Low Volume II, etc… My goal is to be a stronger rider headed into Spring 2024 than I am right now and I don’t see how that can’t happen if I stick to 3x per week WO’s following the TR prescribed plans. I’m pretty lean right now but if I could lose 3-4lbs of fat over the winter that would be an added bonus. Just knowing that my alarm goes off at 5:45am and I’m headed to my office to knock those workouts out is motivation enough to lay off the holiday treats and diet coke (my nemesis).

@Littlefield82 right on dude! :slight_smile: Ya, that’s exactly why I mentioned it! A lot of us around here are cut from the same cloth. You’d think we’d learn from those who went before us, but there’s like this infinite marching line of new users that just tromps along the same path, as lambs to the slaughter, has a terrible first 1 - 24 months it seems, then goes “Oh, wait. OK, now I get it.” I was def one of them!!! Now I’m having a stellar time, and TR is amazing.

Check back in here anytime, or another thread, if you have any questions. This community is amazing, super helpful. I always tell people that TR is pretty great, but the people in the forums are the real reason I’m still here, and so far 15% faster than I was just 12 mo ago. [FTP Nov 28 2022 to today 180 → 207] And that’s 100% true, I never would have found my way without the help of the wonderful forum people. Would have sunk into the hole and washed out.