Winter Training: Have I Screwed it Up?


This is my first-ever post on the forum after having lurked for a while. If I’ve posted this incorrectly then do let me know, apologies in advance.

I am currently using TrainerRoad for my winter training. Never done this before so I thought I’d just use Plan Builder, input the necessary metrics and off I go. I’m into about week 5 now, having started on 11 October.

I have two main events I am training for: one, 100-mile sportive in May 2022, followed by a 65-mile one abroad a couple weeks later in June 2022. There may also be another 100-mile sportive the week after that but I’m not 100 per cent on that yet.

Training days: Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Rest days: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday
FTP: 222
Watts/kg: 2.47
Age: 26


  1. I’ve heard how important strength training is for your winter training, but I have two problems: (1) the three workouts I do every week are already high intensity, so adding two days in the gym each week is going to burn me out quite quickly.

And (2), I want to add in one long, low intensity workout but, again, I can’t do all that in a single week. How do I correct this?

  1. Have I set my winter training up incorrectly? I’ve watched some videos which suggest doing the most high intensity work in the gym before going on longer, low intensity rides on alternate days. The current structure of my plan suggests this is not possible in the current format. What do I do?

  2. Finally, is the current structure really the best use of my time? I feel I have more time to dedicate on the bike, but I don’t know what to do on Tuesdays or Saturdays. I’m part of a cycling club that does rides on Saturdays and Sundays, but after a really intense session on a Friday, I feel I’ll be too fatigued for either - or both - of them.

Any suggestions?

Should I abandon this current plan and do something else, or continue what I’m doing? I fear I have done this wrong.

Thanks in advance.

Might be controversial, but you are 26. I don’t think you need to worry about gym work, especially as you’re preparing for longer distance events. Maybe if you were wanting to be a track sprinter.

Add a long aerobic endurance / z2 ride on Saturday. I switched to a schedule with a hard interval session on Friday and 4-4.5hr aerobic endurance ride on Saturday and it is doable. You won’t want to be sprinting up hills on Saturday but I think most people can adapt to the schedule. Riding with a little fatigue in your legs isn’t the end of the world.

for #3 - I would first look at adding (and extending) long aerobic endurance rides on the weekends. The main thing is to slowly add and build up durations while monitoring your fatigue levels and ability to recover to avoid driving yourself into the ground. Personally I find it easiest to do aerobic endurance rides alone so I can stick to my plan. I find with group rides I’m either z1 or above threshold, so they don’t do much in the way of improving aerobic endurance. When I do group rides I don’t think of them as aerobic endurance efforts, I think of them as skills sessions or unstructured interval sessions.

And if you feel tired, take a day off. Another key thing is to have priorities for your workouts. If you need to skip one or shuffle them around, knowing which are the most important to keep and which can go is useful.

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What you are doing is not unreasonable - 3 target TR workouts a week topped up with Z2/endurance work is a very sensible structure. I don’t think you’ve messed it up at all, the only question is if you want to switch up the days to allow you to do the club Saturday ride without carrying in fatigue.

Here’s how mine’s set up: TR workouts Tuesday - Thursday - Sunday, club rides Wednesday and Saturday. Fridays off. I find the 90 min Sunday after the club Saturday is OK.

The Wednesday evening club ride will probably be sacrificed for a 90 min Z2 ride (Baxter etc, or a Zwift group ride) in the winter. Plus I am racing Tuesday night Zwift with my club at the moment which messes everything up - I will probably end up dropping my Tuesday night workout while that’s on. I will often do an easy Z2 workout Monday evening as well.

This is a good model - if you are doing additional hard rides and can’t fit it all in, just sub out one of the TR workouts for it. In the weekly tips section of the plans it did used to suggest swapping the longer (90 min) weekend rides for outdoor rides. So you could sub the 90 minute ride for your Saturday club ride if needed.

If you needed to keep your Mon-Weds-Fri training days, then I would probably suggest doing an easier long ride Saturday - my club has a range of rides at different paces, including a social pace ride. I usually do intermediate group Wednesday (which is pretty steady now it’s dark) and fast group on Saturday.

Gym stuff - flexibility and core strength stuff needn’t be too fatiguing, I don’t think you would need 2 sessions lifting big every week… Although I am very lazy when it comes to that stuff so perhaps not the best person to ask :slight_smile:

Respect the recovery weeks - I find this really important.

I understand your point about strength training, but it seems to be a really important element when I read up about what I need to do. Plus, I want to maximise the potential I do have, even at 26 years old.

Do you have any tips or suggestions as to how I could add it in? I know I could do one in the week, but I’d rather do two.

Do I cut out one of the TR workouts and make one of them a much longer ride on the weekend?

Thanks, this is useful. I might drop one of the other two rides and swap in a longer ride while making it two days of strength training a week.

I just feel I need to maximise what I can get in the gym before riding four, five days a week in the new year. I don’t think I’ll be able to get that time back if I don’t do it now.

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Ideally you have the time to do both, if not, then looking at your stats in your original post, I suspect the time on the bike is going to be more beneficial to you than the time in the gym, that is if your priority is to get better at riding your bike for long distances.

If you want a six pack, then that might be another matter!

It feels like you might be at risk of missing the low hanging fruit to concentrate on the marginal gains.

If you have a particular weakness you need to work on which is stopping you from riding (back/neck etc), then priorities the strength work, if not, getting out on your bike and being fresh for the tough TR sessions, is going to give you the most bang for your buck.


Welcome to the forums :slight_smile: Your body will get used to this training :+1:

  1. Strength does not need to be Hard to be effective. It sounds like you are new to TrainerRoad and new to strength training, which is a bit of a double whammy. If you are in week 5 of SSB Low Volume as I suspect you are then you have two sweet spot (Moderate) and one threshold session (Hard). I would do light, general full body strength work on Tue and Thu not bike specific in this season. If the strength work is affecting the bike session the next day, then go easier. Your big gains are on the bike right now.

(2) Club rides are tricky. Almost always they are too intense, inconsistent and interfere with training - I don’t do them for this reason. For optimal training, move the threshold session to mid week and the relatively easy Sweet Spot session on Friday, then move down a group with your club for a less stressful ride and see how you go.

  1. You can do this on Mid Volume SSB which is 5 workouts per week which looks like your plan for the new year

  2. Yes. You feel you have more time, but also feel you can’t handle the training load - this is just because structured training is harder than normal riding and delivers more benefit in much less time in the saddle. Club rides wear people out almost always because they are too hard and riding at other peoples optimal paces, indoor training succeeds because it works only at your pace.

A few other notes;

  • It sounds like sometimes the workouts are too much, let adaptive training know by marking the session feedback as Hard or All Out

  • If you feel under recovered before a workout don’t be afraid of switching it to an easier alternative

  • Consistent training over months is the big winner here, completing every planned workout exactly as pre-planned is not


This should be the number one thought in your head when you are coming up with a training plan. It might be awesome on paper and give you amazing results at the end of 8 weeks but if it causes you to burn out and not touch the bike for 2 months after then it isn’t worth it.

For that reason, and because it will give you amazing fitness returns, it is almost never a bad thing to lean toward more Z2 riding.

What are those rides like? Are they all out hammer fests or are they reliably easy endurance rides? If they’re the latter then I wouldn’t worry too much about being fatigued for them. I would do the Saturday one then go a bit easier on Sunday so you are ready for your Monday workout. If they’re all out hard rides then I would maybe do that in place of your Friday ride and just go out for an easy endurance ride on Friday.

Are you tied to the MWF training days? If not, I might consider this schedule:

M - off or recovery
T - Hard ride
W - Heavy lift
T - off or recovery
F - Endurance/tempo (or hard ride if Saturday is easy)
S - hard group ride (or easy group ride depending on what is offered)
Su - Lift (or endurance in the morning and lift later if possible)

TR plans are great if they are done on their own or with some additional Z2 riding. But once you start to add heavy lifting or fast group rides it quickly becomes too much intensity so you have to tweak the plan. There are 1000 ways to do it and it may take time to figure out what works for your schedule, goals, and social outlets (group rides).

It can be hard to give specific advice without knowing what those group rides look like since some group rides will leave you bleeding from your eyes and crawling home, while others are super chill, conversational rides with a coffee stop in the middle and both would be implemented into a plan differently.

I’m going to be brutally honest with you…that is too much rest and not enough training. The best training effect comes from consistency, not volume. You are better off training the same amount of time (say 5-7 hours) over 5 days than training 5-7 hours over 3 days.

Now, if that is all your schedule allows, then there is not much you can do about it. But since you are asking about adding strength training on other days, then you can find the time to get more saddle time.

You will end up being a much stronger rider by riding than by strength training…especially as someone new to the sport.

Riding a 60+ mile group ride with better riders than you will be the best training of the week. If you’re new to cycling this will help you develop skills and experience you can’t get in the garage. For the record I’m a big proponent of indoor training.

Could you squeeze that in as well as your mid week rides? I wouldn’t worry about strength training until you plateau at a much higher level in the future.

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Haha, this brutal honesty is fine. I’m happy to ride more, and my schedule allows for it, but I want to do it effectively.

I’m new(ish) to the sport. I started more seriously in August 2020 when I got my first road bike, and then upgraded to something better in April this year. I’ve been using TrainerRoad for about a year now.

My feedback - 5 days a week and how you organize the training depends on what you are doing on the group rides. Other coaches and coaching companies actively integrate group rides into the training plan.

I could add in those rides very easily, but how come strength training is less of a priority? Could I not maximise what I’m already trying to build by adding strength?

Especially when recovering from injuries better and increasing endurance.

Cycling is an aerobic sport, not a strength sport. As someone who is new to it, the best focus for you is on building your aerobic engine…which means more time in the saddle.

The additional volume does not need to be high intensity, structured workouts, either…Z2 work will help build your aerobic engine, while still leaving your fresh for your structured workouts.

If you want to make the most of your cycling capabilities, ride more…strength training will get you very little bang for the buck in comparison.

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You seem very focussed on the specific need for strength training. I’m interested to know what’s informing that view?
(FWIW I’m closer to 50 than 40 and starting to do more strength work just to be a more robust human, especially as I spend too much time sitting at a laptop …I can’t really say if it’s improving my cycling)

FWIW today we have yet another article on the subject:

The benefits are well established.


There is no doubt that strength training helps in terms of injury prevention, overall health, etc…cycling performance is very much an unanswered question. For every study that shows performance benefits, I can find one that says the opposite.

That said, in the OP’s case (given his age and lack of aerobic experience), I stand by the assertion that riding more is the most beneficial change he can make to his training regimen.

From where I sit there are more studies showing performance gains. Not sure if there is a meta review. These aren’t huge gains, but they are gains that matter to my key events.

Just spent the last year focused on my aerobic engine, primarily focused on average riding of 7-8 hours/week and 5 days a week. However it was possible to combine that with strength training. I’m more than 30 years older than OP.

Improved core strength, better resistance to injury, generally rounding myself out as well. I feel like purely focusing on cycling might create some disadvantages for me.

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Neural drive is the reason I’m lifting - the ability to recruit more motor units and improve efficiency. Well that’s the hope. Nobody’s saying never lift, but if you’re time limited, then cycling has to be the priority. If you’re new to cycling, your biggest gains will be building a decent aerobic foundation like @Power13 said by cycling a lot.

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