Shorter endurance rides

It’s my understanding that both intensity & duration are important in achieving desired adaptations for the higher zones. For example, 8+ minutes for Threshold, 3 to 8 minutes for VO2max, 30 seconds to 3 minutes for Anaerobic.

However, I’m not sure what the minimum length of an endurance ride (Coggan classic zone 2, or Polarized zone 1) needs to be. I have seen many opinions stated, such as “you need to ride at least 2 hours”, etc., but I have yet to see a single study on this topic.

I have a simple training philosophy - get 2 to 3 hard interval sessions in per week, and try and get the rest of my training below ventilatory threshold 1 (VT1) which is basically Coggan Zone 2 i.e. a Polarized training plan. It’s not always easy to carve out 2 to 4 hours for an endurance ride, so I’m wondering if accumulating multiple shorter rides may have a similar benefit. For example, are two 90-minute endurance rides about as beneficial as one 180-minute endurance ride?

Please resist the temptation to provide yet another opinion :slight_smile: If anyone knows of a research study, or if you’ve done an experiment on yourself (i.e. an N=1 experiment), that would be great.


I ended up tweeting Stephen Seiler, and he replied with:

Definitely not wasting time in 60-90 min range, but extending your endurance will require extended stimuli with reasonable frequency.

So accumulating TSS in polarized zone 1 (below aerobic threshold) in 60 to 90 minute workouts is beneficial, but it’s still important to get in regular long rides.

One of the main benefits of doing longer, lower intensity, endurance rides is to promote fat metabolism. In this study, they found that for the first two hours of endurance exercise (at 57% VO2max), the primary fuel source used was carbs, whereas in the 2nd two hours, the primary fuel source used was fat. So to train your body to better use fat as a fuel, longer rides are helpful.



Good info on carbs vs fat utilzatiion.

Any endurance zone info about <2hr rides vs >2hr rides on mitochondrial changes?

I don’t know. That’s beyond my level of curiosity for tonight :slight_smile:

1 Like

Great info - thanks Dave