Workout Levels V2 update? [Unstructured Rides]

I think that when TR first brought this topic up years ago, the point was to say that doing an hour of 5x8s at 104% indoors is more efficient than doing the same workout outside (Caveat: MOST OF THE TIME).

Over time, that has evolved into “riding inside is more valuable to your cycling than riding outside”, which I don’t think was ever the intended point. It’s more EFFICIENT for doing workouts, but not necessarily more VALUABLE. They just wanted us to know that doing a 2 hour group ride where you spend 15 minutes rolling out slow and then spend 80 minutes drafting and only taking a few hard pulls isn’t nearly as efficient or specific to certain zones as doing those 5x8 in an hour. They were trying to set us up for the indoor hour maybe having the same (or far more) TiZ as the outdoor 2 hours.

It also has a lot to do with the gray area and even Erg mode. If you were supposed to do 5x8 at 104%, but went outside and you ended up doing 4 minutes within the margin of error, 2 minutes 1% below that margin and 2 minutes 1% above that margin, then Garmin (and probably TR) will tell you you only spent 4 minutes in the intended zone. I would argue that the +/- 2 watts doesn’t really matter since our bodies are not highly calibrated machines, but strictly speaking, you were outside the intended zone.

I think that was the intended point and we’ve just taken it down many rabbit holes over the months and years because that’s what we do.


Right I agree. I mean if say I have a Vo2 workout scheduled with…oh 12-18 minutes time in vo2, but I skip that, and do my wed group ride which was:
2.5 hrs
9 min in VO2
9 min in anaerobic
9 min in neuromuscular
10 min threshold
15 minutes tempo
22 minutes endurance

Can that really offer less training benefit than 12-18 minutes of VO2 and the rest soft pedaling? I just cant believe that. If we chop down and scale my 2.5 hr group ride to 60 minutes, then absolutely I think the TR company line applies.


Well, depending on your specific training goals, that MIGHT offer less benefit to your training plan for many reasons (example - it could leave you too worn out to complete your next Z4 workout), but it also MIGHT be better for your overall fitness too. You just have to look at the big picture.

This where I come in and say I raised my under 8 minute power curve simply by riding more.


100%…it is not only about that one particular workout / ride.

That applies to every workout and every training plan though. I think it helps to eliminate some variables and answer one question at a time…in this case, which has the larger training stimulus?

Ability to be consistent, recovery, etc, are related but separate metrics.

More is not always better.


It’s not only about total time in zone (or level :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:). There are also things like interval length, and length of rest intervals. Sure, you did 27 minutes at or above VO2 zone, but if that’s 2 minutes max at a time with at least 10 minutes in between, that’s a different beast than 4 minutes at a time 3 minutes apart (to make up some random numbers since I neither know what TR prescribed or what you actually did–it’s possible your outside ride has as long or longer intervals and as short or shorter rests than an actual workout–but my group rides don’t).


Which suggests that sometimes it IS :joy:

I’d be curious if people had opinions on in what circumstances more is better as a stimulus, and when less creates a larger stimulus.

There is no simple answer to that question.


Well, there was no resting…it was full gas for the middle 35 miles of the ride. So I had a few attacks/long pulls on the front of a minute or so at 400-600 watts plus a few sprints…but pulling off and settling in to ‘recover’ was still always tempo/threshold. The group stayed at 26-30mph the whole ride once we got out of the city.

Yea just out of curiosity I looked at the ride…heart rate sat at 160-195 for an hour straight.


Just to expand on what my real question is…I dont think I or anyone else is questioning whether structure itself has value…I trust that is the case. I’m wondering if anyone has something that could quantify the benefit of structure vs non structure; specifically assuming all other criteria are equivalent, and where the scale tips from 1 to the other.

For example…are we to believe that one would be faster doing 1 60 minute structured workout, vs 20 hrs a week of unstructured riding consistently? There has to be a tipping point where the expected outcome switches from one side to the other.

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I suspect that 6 × 3 minutes all out fast cadence VO2 Max intervals in an hour will do more specifically for your VO2 Max than 18 × 30 seconds (say) at VO2 Max power spread across several hours.

A lot less fun, though. :face_vomiting:


Ha yeah. I almost created a thread about that clip. And gee I wonder why users are getting burned out

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Whichever angle that question is looked at from, the answer seems to always be “it depends”

How many hours per week of structured workout would it take to replace 20 hours per week of unstructured riding?

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Yea I mean every training question CAN be looked at as “it depends.” But surely there are strong correlations and trends one could looks at to come up with a reasonable range of answers. Otherwise we should just say we dont know that structured work is more efficient than unstructured at all, if the answer to every question is “it depends.”

Faster how? Which 60 minute workout? What is your goal?

This is why the answer is “it depends”.

It seems to me that everyone seems to forget that TR has always been about the “Time Crunched Cyclist”.

Not the 20 hours to noodle about every week cyclists :smile:


Well, since we’re looking for specifics…I’ll just use my own situation lol!

Currently in SSB2, working towards CX racing in the fall. The weekday group ride replaces either the Tuesday 30/30 vo2 type workout, or the Thursday threshold type workout, both of which are 60 minutes. More often it replaces the threshold workout, because I really dislike threshold work solo :joy:

Yeah, in this case (I’m not a coach), my gut says you’re missing out by not doing those 30/30s and doing a group ride. I would think the bursts are valuable, but that depends on your CX course. For Threshold, your described group ride where you were holding what I assume is a high percentage of your HR for an hour is probably very good for your CX race, but on the other hand, doing Threshold intervals at higher power could also push up your ability to go faster for longer. It depends :-p

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