Outdoor workouts best and worst

Just bought a power meter for the road bike so excited to start getting the extra data on my outdoor rides as well as doing trainerroad workouts outside.

What’s peoples favourite workout or workout type to do outside on roads? And which type or workout should be avoided?

Roads near me are all climbing and rolling with no flat sections so some workouts will be unsuitable because of this…

I live in a pretty hilly area and have had pretty good success with all kinds of outdoor workouts. Look at the big picture, not second to second power.

I do pause if I’m at a larger descent but otherwise, you’ll probably closer to the prescribed NP, TSS and IF than you think. I keep my Wahoo on 5 second average power.


I live in a flat to rolling area (SE Michigan) and I’ve done every type of workout outside without issue. It simply requires a lot of learned discipline to keep the power in check going up and then keeping on the gas going down. There are obviously some workouts that work better in different terrain than others but that doesn’t take much time to figure out.

1 Like

get ready for the steep learning curve of riding with power outside… Take a little time to think about which metrics you see on the bike computer, get used to using power as a guide etc.

Obviously very short intervals like 15/15’s etc are a real challenge and complex sessions with multiple and continual changes in power are pretty much impossible to follow. If its all rolling and climbing terrain then you’ll simply have to ride based on the terrain you have and adapt accordingly.

1 Like

I find shorter intervals are easier - anywhere from 30s to 2mins. Longer ones are harder because there’s often something - a downhill, a stop sign, something - that gets in the way. But then again I do my workouts in a pretty urban (suburban in fact) area, so your mileage may vary. I also realized I shift a lot more than normally, to reduce power going up, increase it going down, and so on.

1 Like

I live in a flat region so things like over-unders or short but high power repeats are hard to nail because there’s isn’t constant resistance like there would be on a climb. Therefore sustained power intervals that are the easiest for me.

It definitely takes some experimentation and trial and error. Don’t be let down if your power isn’t (it won’t be) as smooth as it is indoors, while not 100% optimal you’ll still be getting quality work done. And intervals outdoors are so much better mentally than indoors.



The outdoor versions of a lot of the recovery or zone 2 ones (Pettit etc) are pretty easy to follow outside - it’s just warm up then X number of minutes in Zone 2 or endurance.

TR outside instructions for Pettit:
Warm Up:
- Ride for 5 minutes, gradually raising your power from 138 to 165.

Main Set:
- 51 minutes in between 165-192 watts.

- 4 minutes easy.

So yeah that’s Ok to follow. Obviously you’ll likely hit some junctions etc in the 51 mins but it’s pretty easy to keep within the band while you’re moving, as they are quite wide. I much prefer doing these type of workouts outside in fact.

1 Like

Pick two 30 minutes workouts, one with short under 2-3 min intervals and one with longer intervals. Schedule both for the same day. Go out and ride them doing an easy z2 ride and don’t try to hit the power numbers but watch and learn how each type is started and stopped. You will see that some require you to hit the lap button to start the next and some (the short ones) don’t. Once you get an understanding of when you need to interact with you bike computer makes it much easier. Also learning how to keep the power up on downhills or tail winds is a valuable skill for time trailing or breakaways.

1 Like

I used strava to help me find 2-5 mins climbs in the area. And I just vary the repeats for my Vo2 efforts.

For everything else find something flat if you can unless you have 10-20 min climbs near you.

I’ve got a good 10 mile out and back unfortunately has a couple lights in it.

There’s nothing wrong with having a longer than ideal break between sets.

I find it’s 20 mins to the first hill which is a 3 min hill. Then the loop back is like 3 mins. X 3 bike back closer to home 15-20 mins until next hill. 2 mins x 5

If I’m doing ss I’ll use the flat route. Just get comfortable using the same segments.

1 Like

Workouts with constant power over shorter periods are easiest to make work. Ie. 7 x 7min 102% or 9 x 2min at 120%

Workouts with a lot of fluctuations are the hardest. Ie…over/under intervals where the target power is almost always changing. Workouts with 30+ min at a constant power (tempo/sweet spot) are harder too because you inevitably run into a stop sign or signal or roundabout or downhill or something.

1 Like

I do all my workouts outdoors. The biggest thing for me was a mindset change; rather than looking at doing intervals within a longer loop or out and back, I’ve thought about sections on which I can do repeats. Sometimes the rest period doesn’t let me get back to the original start point, so I end up inching up the road during the series. But when I think ahead about grades/intersections etc I can usually get a good consistent effort across multiple intervals.

1 Like

Depends on the terrain IMO, and I think there’s a lot to be said for utilizing what’s available around you :slight_smile:

I go between coastal Australia and rural Canada fairly frequently. The former is dead flat and somewhat more cycling-friendly so longer intervals on the TT are loads of fun. In Canada it’s unlikely that I’ll make it that long without a big downhill, but it works perfectly for hammering hill reps as a v02 session.

1 Like

For outdoor workouts you need suitable roads. Factors like length/duration without traffic lights and/or major intersections, traffic situation, etc. are major concerns in my mind. You don’t want to do an all-out effort on a busy road where just sticking to your power target needs 90 % of your mental focus.

The easiest to accommodate are Z2 workouts, because you don’t need to be super precise and if you have to stop at a traffic light, that’s fine. The second easiest to accommodate are short VO2max intervals. I have a few hills and a few flats where I can do those if I wanted to. Longer sweet spot intervals are essentially impossible for me to do, I would have to ride 25 km to get to a suitable piece of road. I should also add that riding according to power can feel very unnatural. On the road most people would try to keep their speeds roughly constant. So when the wind changes direction, you are riding across undulating roads or you are temporarily in the draft of a truck, your power numbers can fluctuate quite significantly. That’s another thing to consider.

What has worked for me is to do either Z2 workouts outdoors or do workouts that do not necessarily fit into power-based training. For example, I sometimes practice pacing at a certain RPE. Here, power keeps me in check. Yesterday, I chose to do mostly Z2 work with a few sharp efforts peppered in where I rode in the FTP to VO2max power range. But I only let my power go above Z2 on a few select segments. The end result is that my legs feel great and I spent roughly the same time above Z2 as in the scheduled workout. The added Z2 will add to my base.

In my experience, this is super critical: if I don’t set myself specific goals, it is super easy for me to thrash my legs, which negatively impacts the next few workouts. With a goal and some modicum of discipline (you are not riding slow, because you can’t go faster, it is part of your plan to become faster!) this gives purpose to outdoor workouts and they complement indoor workouts. The power meter will help you with your discipline, e. g. to not go over a critical power number for extended periods.


One of the main reasons for wanting a power meter to use outside was to gather the effort data on my rides mainly just to ensure in not going too hard. The hills around me make it impossible to stay in z2 so will be interested in the effort level required to get up them which I have no doubt will be well avouve vo2max. Id like most outdoor rides to be z2 or sweet spot at the most just from an enjoyment point of view and maybe leave the harder intervals for the trainer.

1 Like

I guess it’s just suck it and see at first but having this data I know will add a dimension to my training and will only supplement and improve my riding if used correctly.
I have moderate long climbs that could be used for threshold and steep ones that j guess could be used for above threshold.

Yeah, that’s one example where route choice is crucial. If I still had close to 1-to-1 gearing, I couldn’t ride in the mountains here. And even if I could, it often takes a lot of the fun out of it. Luckily, I can just choose routes along the coastline instead.