Over unders newbie question

Hi there,

I’m new to structured training and three weeks into SSB mid vol 1 I still haven’t done any of those over under sessions.

I know they’ll be hard (and that’s why I avoided them haha), but my question is: are they really skippable? I don’t race and I’m not interested in racing. By that I mean I don’t intend to “surge” or cover gaps or sprint to the line.

My main goal is to ride a century next spring, maybe a Gran Fondo. Wouldn’t endurance work be more effective in my case?

Any thoughts?


Hi there

Not sure on the training effect query but … I’m doing the same plan (I think) and just did Reinstein which had some nice over/unders…

I can see how they are building endurance - the ability to hold power at or above your FTP. In this case for 12 min blocks at either 95% or 105%. Road races - even long ones will require this - if wanting to keep up some sort of speed on inclines??


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Unless you are riding a completely flat & windless Fondo you’re probably going to encounter a good number of natural surges — hills, wind, etc.

You’ll work harder, you’ll work easier…it’s not going to all be linear power. O/U train your muscles (and mind) how to deal much better with those kind of oscillations.

They aren’t THAT horrendous of a workout, just keep reminding yourself that the unenjoyableness of O/U means you’ll get to enjoy your Fondo et al even more.


Maybe Im strange but I like over unders :smiley:

They aren’t in the training plan by accident and there will almost certainly be vo2 work in the build and speciality plans you chose so theres no point in avoiding it now.


I like them too. I think they’re in all of the training plans somewhere, so I suspect that they have value regardless of your aim. For me, I like seeing my heart rate recover even whe. I’m working really hard. From a mental toughness point of view, they can teach you to ease off rather than giving up when it gets tough.

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Learn to enjoy them. I struggle with them on the dumb trainer due to spin-up time. But the suffering really gets enjoyable later. You WILL do over/unders unless you are only on a trainer and never change anything. Hills and wind will have you doing them.


Over unders are really useful, even if you only ever plan to ride steady state efforts when outside. They help to push up your FTP, which means the level you will be able to sustain (with training) will be higher


The first time I saw O/Us on the plan, I was stressed about that training day. Then I rode it and thought, “Okay. I survived that. It wasn’t that painful.” So I plowed on through the others, even McAdie +1 in week 5. Then I got to SSB2 and saw Huffaker, took a deep breath and, an hour later, added VO2max to my list of things I could do. :slight_smile:

So I recommend doing them. Besides the physical benefit, the psychological benefit is worth it. You may want to do Reinstein instead of McAdie or Palisade for your first.

I am not a racer either, but higher FTP means higher endurance power zone means you finish that century instead of getting time cut.


I guess I was expecting these answers and maybe was just fishing for the encouraging words!


In all seriousness though, thanks for pointing out that maybe they’re not so hard as they look.

I promise I’ll try and report back.



Def keep at them!! :grin::+1:

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When I first started using TrainerRoad, I hated over unders. They were hard and I wasn’t conditioned.

Fast-forward 18 months or so, and they’re my favorite type of workout now. Once I got acclimated to over-unders (and indoor training in general), I started to love how hard they make me work.


I do not race too. But for me a complete trainings plan is parting the game. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes less. But it makes you a better cyclist. No matter what your goals are. I wouldn’t skip them.

PS: I really like it being fully exhausted at the end of a trainings session.


I live for this feeling.

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As others have said - you will absolutely benefit from over/unders regardless of whether or not you are racing. They are a great way to build your capacity both to suffer and to put down power on any rolling terrain.

One way I like to think about them is by comparing them to what my 8 minute power would be. If you’ve ever done an 8 minute test you can see what kind of numbers you’re capable of doing for 8 minutes (and if you haven’t you can reverse calculate a theoretical 8 minute number based on your FTP - FTP/0.9). This number is going to be higher than your over sections and if you can do the entire 8 minutes up at that big number you should be able to work through those overs with ease.

Not foolproof, but a little mental trick I play with myself to make sure I don’t listen to my screaming legs too much


Agree with all the comments here, OU’s lay the foundation for FTP improvement which is a rising tide that lifts all boats. I don’t race either, but I’ve discovered that the feeling that OU’s give me in a workout is similar give strong pulls on a group ride.

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As we are considering base training, the training is not intended to be anything like your actual events – was it racing or triathlon or fondo.

The important thing here to take away is that your body doesn’t work in such a way that you train only what you want to do. In other words, threshold training is not only for time trialists and fondo riders don’t only ride easy endurance pace. The central aspect here is that by increasing your FTP, you increase your ability to work in all levels. That is, if you do a fondo with power around 70% of your FTP, by raising your FTP, the 70% is faster. That is why most cyclists can just work to increase their FTP.

That is why your training can contain things that you will never see in your actual events. Actually, most interval training is something that will never happen in any event. For instance, I do road racing and I have never needed to do 10 mins at threshold – but I have trained those quite a lot. You’ll soon face the 3 min VO2Max efforts and they are also not specifically for your fondo but just to increase your FTP.

In a nutshell, during your base, don’t skip any workouts as something you don’t need. You need everything there is in the plan to get your body to become faster. Only when the time comes for your specialty phase the training becomes more like your actual fondo.


You want to get faster, they will help make you faster. Do them. Enjoy them.

They aren’t a speciality.

They 're fundamental for furthering muscular endurance, your capacity for work and ability to suffer.

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