From the Coaches: Long slow duration and why it still has its place in your weekly training

I enjoy my long indoor Z2 rides. I’d do more 4+ hour indoor rides if I had the time.

But then again, I enjoy indoors more than many, it seems.


I quite like indoor rides as for 6 months of the year here in the UK it’s either cold,wet, windy, raining or all of them at once. I hate the cold and wet weather so indoor is a treat. My issue is after two hours the saddle pressure on my butt is too much to take. Tried changing position/ standing etc but that offers only a few seconds of relief. I have done a couple of 3 hours but much of it in agony

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This is an interesting video, which will explain it all

I have the same after approx 90 minutes indoors. Outdoors zero issues.


What is the difference for you between indoors and outdoors?
I do not find a difference, for better or for worse, between the two.

@Heretic Are you serious with me right now??? :rofl:

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I checked my power profile for Kitchen Sink - no interruptions. I ate and drank on the indoor bicycle.

I don’t even notice the saddle on an outside ride TBH. Inside there just seems too much pressure on my sit bones, could be the saddle I suppose as I have a different bike on the trainer. I use a solid no padding carbon saddle on my outside bike and a slightly padded one (same dimensions) on the indoor bike.

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Or it might be the bike fits you differently.

Saddle problems, can be related to the saddle itself, its position on the bike, or how you sit relative to the bike setup.

A good discussion is in Phil Burt’s Bike Fit.


There is still mitochondria growth stimulus from the higher intensities, towards maximal aerobic work. It also gets confusing with zones and intensity domains. Zone 2 is Domain 1 (up to LT1), Z3 is Domain 2 (between LT1 and CP), Z4 and up is Domain 3+ (CP and up). Even more difficulty these domains don’t have boundaries that are consistent, as fatigue can shift them, hence why HR is useful for training alongside power. But agreed, polarised and pyramidal are not much different, probably more reliant on the specific event/goal you are training for

I think some of the focus on upper Z2 for professionals is doing as high a workload (kilojoules expended) as possible without crossing the boundary above LT1, so they’ll be watching their HR:Pwr like a hawk

There is so much to try and understand with so many variables that yes, I don’t think we’ll ever understand it all fully. And yes, higher intensity and AMPK signalling of PGC1-alpha does contribute to mitochondrial growth, possibly better than Z2 training. It also produces more fatigue and cannot be maintained for the same periods of time. This is why for a professional, 30 hours of cycling a week, most of that has to be Z2 to get the most training gains from that time available. 30 hours of efforts would be impossible and fatigue would mean not many hours were able to be done a week. So not the best ‘bang for buck’, but with that time available it results in the highest overall gain. However for an amateur with a job and only 5 hours available a week, a higher percentage of interval training will likely result in the highest amount of gains for them. But, you have to remember work and life stress, as burnout is still possible with 5 hours of efforts a week if work and life creates a stress accumulation that is too much. So 3 effort sessions a week and 2 Z2 sessions may be the best option


Generally, ‘low intensity’ would be described as below the first lactate threshold, or in exercise intensity domain terms (normally 3, sometimes 4 domains), domain/level/zone 1. The problem is, like bottom brackets, there is no standard and a new one pops along quite often :stuck_out_tongue:

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I believe there is some thinking that excessive lactate presence can inhibit some of the endurance benefits, hence why above LT1 (Z3/4) can reduce these gains. The main purpose of 1 hour Z2 in my books to be honest is more as a recovery day while still getting some beneficial training in, otherwise HIIT would be my preferred session. However, the real key is to include different types of training as all have different benefits and setbacks, based on time availability, goals, and overall stress accumulation

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I’ve seen in places suggestions that 20% of rides including some HIIT, rather than total time equating to 20%, but this is useful to read as well thank you. So much interpretation of something and essentially Chinese whispers in sport science :joy:

Doing just 10sec out of the saddle every 15-20min can reduce the pressure quite a bit, but the build up of pressure and heat indoors is a very common problem. Fans, dehumidifier, and good airflow are often key things for the pain cave if possible


Isn’t it the case that as long as you are under 12h/week on the bike, any kind of cycling will be beneficial?

If the sessions indoors are only 1h, would it make sense to push some of them into Z3 instead of only doing Z2 + intervals? (so just above LT1). Since we’re not riding 30h/week recovering from 1h of Z3 shouldn’t be a big deal.

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The issue is that Z3 generate fatigue metabolites whereas Z2 doesn’t, and the benefits of Z3 above Z2 are limited for many people, so better to do the Z2 hour, and then the next day be able to better perform a HIIT session. I personally don’t think that less than 12hr/week doesn’t need specificity as most of the people I coach do below that, and almost always find that tailoring the training and doing specific efforts alongside Z2 work is the best for them. It’s also why we have adjusted the SYSTM plans to account for the knew knowledge presented to us in research and also feedback from our many users


To add my unscientific slant on the situation and to act as a control sample for the Wahoo Systm/Sffrfst approach of low volume high intensity.

When time is limited it appears for me, going hard works!!

At the moment I am the time crunched rider to the nth degree, Last two weeks I have been squeezing in 2 or 3 half hour sessions on Tues/Wed/Thurs, (Half is easy/Cure/NPLH etc) working half of Saturday and trying to fit in a another 30 minute session and a little longer for Sunday where possible. Family situation has meant Family Comes First (sorry Sean Kelly) but I have squeezed in what I can when I can whilst ensuring Family Come First.

Today I did a usual route I have been trying to crack 2hr 30mins for a while and today I smashed it.
Usually 2:35 to 2:40 but averaging ±28.5 kmh, today I did it in 2:24 at 30.5 kmh average.

For quite some time, I have been doing this as my daughter has had Covid 2x this year already and my son has been sick on and off for 5 weeks as well as my wife undertaking a masters whilst working full time and a busy demanding job.

These short sessions have helped me get through and helped with my sanity in such times as well as helped with my performance.

Whilst I may have enjoyed some Polarized training and Zone 2, it was just not going to fit. 2hrs of intervals and about 2hours steady on the road was all that I could fit in, so a 50:50 training plan!!

Just 4 hours a week with 2 hours hard MAP/FTP/AC intervals with 2 hours just enjoying being on the road and enjoying doing whatever has resulted in a PR for me on a regular route.

So, what can I take from this? I just don’t know.

I discovered Sufferfest at the start of 2021 wanting to get fit again. I followed a 3:1 plan religiously on Road Advanced. I made big gains on 4DP figures and used the high volume.

Feb 2022 I got Omincron which screwed things up and this year is my time crunched start to the year. I experimented with 2:1 high volume.

It appears to me that when you are super time crunched just half an hour 2/3/4 times a week doings a real hard session like The Cure, Half, Idol etc will give tremendous benefits. I was also surprised how even towards the end of the ride, I could still push hard on the pedals despite not having done anything so long and hard it quite a while.

However, I don’t know what the last 3 years of consistent training may have contributed to building a base that the last couple of months of short hard sessions have built upon, nor my racing from the 20s to my mid 40s. (I’m now 54).

What I am sure about is that the last couple of months of time crunched riding has proved beneficial to my performance and not detrimental.

Whether I am ever in a position to try out the 80:20 method or anywhere near close, I doubt!!

My aim is now are to be fit enough to get round the local Race Pace (chaingang we used to call it) without getting dropped on the first hill. Don’t know whether I will achieve this, but feel a step closer to it. And to train with my son when he is recovered without getting my ass completely kicked.


@FatSprinter Those are good questions that I have asked myself as well. I had a similar situation last year with a combination of COVID, work and family stress. Surprisingly despite an FTP drop my race numbers continued to be great. I will be curious to see whether it works for you longer term and whether you make any adjustments.

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