Z2 outdoor workouts "hard" to comply to

So i’ve been on and off trainerroad for 2-3 years now, nothing crazy serious here, just a dad who fell in love with cycling and that dabbles in triathlon to challenge himself.
I’ve started more polarization to my training (lots of z2 in my running and cycling, sprinkled with some harder threshold + efforts) after years of injuring myself by going too hard. Now temps are finally more steadily above 5-10 Celcius here so i’m starting to ride more outdoors and want to take those z2 rides outdoors while doing more interval higher intensity rides on the trainer.

My problem is i have a lot of trouble staying in z1-2 during my rides. I just got my powermeter in august last year and love it but it also shows how “all over the place” my power is.

I have raw power and avg 10s power on my HU but unless the terrain is perfectly flat, do you have any tips and tricks to stay in the lower zones?

  1. Pick routes that are as “flat” as possible within your given area. Try to avoid the steep stuff if you have the option.

  2. Use your gears, all of them. Make sure to shift into lower gears on hills. Depending on your weight, FTP and pitch of the hills, you should be able to keep reasonably close to your target and reduce spikes over that.

  3. Use your cadence, in conjunction with #2 above. Lowering your cadence, in most gears and situations will reduce the power. So pay loose attention to your power meter and/or relative effort and try to keep the pressure on the pedals within the range you have intended.

  4. I would recommend ignoring raw power. It is too volatile and will potentially lead you bouncing your own power if you watch it too closely. No mater what power data smoothing you use, try not to fixate on it.

    • You need eyes up and on the road for safety as your #1 priority outside.
    • Check in on power just for a moment or so, as a survey, to see if you are around where you need to be or make an adjustment. DO NOT fixate on it.

There are limits with certain rider weights, gear limits, and hill pitch that will potentially lead you over your limits, but make certain to use everything at your fingertips before letting that happen.




It was definitely a lot easier when i was just using HRM strap back in the day

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…and practice A LOT - it takes time to get in the groove with this, and is pretty much impossible if riding with others unless they have a pretty similar power profile AND focus as you do!

I keep 5 sec power visible and do as much of what Chad wrote above as I can - flatter routes, always pedal, use gears and one f the toughest - be OK with crawling up hill sin a small gear to keep the power down and be happy with pensioners on e-bikes overtaking you when you know you could destroy them without breaking a sweat :wink:

Be aware of your entire z2 power range and remember its a goal to stay as much as possible in the zone as possible and odnt sweat it. Avoid coasting and keep power on as much as you safely can. Then just keep practicing…it does get a LOT easier.

  1. not that many steep inclines here, but those very slight inclines are everywhere and creep up on me if i dont pay attention lol

  2. i stay in the small cog and use the 10 of the 11 speeds on the cassette lol

  3. i try to make them “higher” cadence rides if i can so its more accessible to ease into lower cadence when needed

  4. i’m wondering whether 10s might be too long of an avg and maybe use 5… then i could consider removing raw power

Thanks for the tips I guess it’s an art to keep within an approximate wattage range

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Yup, this is HUGE. And it’s one reason I either do these rides solo, or make darn sure anyone you ride with knows your plan and follows YOUR lead. Adding even one rider is a quick way to blow up a ride like this, unless you are both on the same page.

Some people need to park their ego in the garage in order to really do these properly, even though they, their gear and route are fully compatible.


Depends on your specific power meter. Pedals, especially dual sided can be super active and spiky. Single sided, especially crank arm, are less so. That all leads to the idea that there is no perfect smoothing setting for everyone or power meter. So it’s worth testing a few different setting to see what suits you and your PM best.

Yup, takes some real effort to “learn” initially, but you will find that it gets easier after you do it a few times.

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ahahah the crawling up hills isnt too hard on the bike… it’s actually way more humbling when i’m running up a hill and have to stay in z2. That classic “granpa shuffle” lol

I also usually ride very early mornings, with almost empty roads so almost no one sees me #protip

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my only other tip here is to also keep an eye on HR - I have found that keeping a good idea of the target HR range is also helpful on longer rides especially. It’s obviously much slower to respond to changes in effort but it can be helpful to make sure I dont end up a little tooooo easy and slip more into recovery ride mode.

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lot been said already, two other tips:

  • try to get in touch with your body and learn to “feel” z2 power so that you aren’t constantly looking at PM
  • be happy with “flexing” power a bit to deal with undulating roads

I’ve got a Garmin and run this as my main screen:
Default Workout Comparison z2

as it supports the flexing power mindset. Just go with the flow and keep it easy most of the time. Don’t worry or be concerned about short excursions outside of z2 (either z1 or z3+).


Might be a good idea, i’m using an edge 810 so if its a screen loaded from Connect IQ i won’t be able to get it, but i’ll dig in the menus to see whether it’s available

its the default workout screen on a 530.

For more details, for example if I notice an uptick in HR and want to see details I page up/down between the screen above and this screen:

Workout Details Power Graph z2

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Where I live I have 5% to get from my house to the road, and 8% to get to the main road, which is then up to 11% down hill (up back home). I only look at normalized power after the ride and try to keep RPE as low as possible on the steep bits.


one more tip - when reviewing the workout continue to support the flexing power mindset by clicking on the zone to get highlighting. For example here is a z2 ride in rolling terrain and you can clearly see the wide aerobic endurance zone:

Thats a good looking z2+“stuff” ride in rolling terrain, to my eyes. Just keep the excursions outside z2 short.


I had no idea you could do that … nice one :+1:

It can still be this easy. Think of it like, you are riding to HR and RPE but using the power meter to “calibrate” your RPE feelings and keep yourself steady. Back in the day, you may or may not have been riding steady, you just didn’t know it. Now you have a great tool to train yourself to do so.

And as people have said, if it spikes up and down a bit, no big deal, that’s normal.


like for example check out this ride. three sets of over unders, then high end of lt1 all the way home (I would have gone easier but i was late for work and there was a headwind such that riding easy, i’d be going nowhere lol)

You can see it’s not perfectly steady (and you see the drops where i stopped pedaling to go around a corner or for an intersection) but the parts where i’m trying to ride steady, it’s mostly centered around a range. The range is not super narrow but it’s narrow enough.


And remember that zones are descriptive not prescriptive. If you go outside z2 into tempo for couple of minutes - nothing wrong with that. For this long steady rides RPE is very good indicator - just like old days :slight_smile:


Alrighty thanks for all the suggestions, i started using my HR as my “limiter”. One other good thing (in terms of RPE) i usually know that my breathing pattern changes when i get out of z2 which is another layer of “governor”. Rides inside are definitely easier though as it takes the guesswork out of the equation