Base Training exclusively inside

Due to some recent medical issues I am no longer able to ride outside for at least another month, perhaps longer. I’m 100% ok at this point, but this is more of a precautionary measure.

As my title indicates, my issue is how to effectively base train indoors. 3 winters ago I canceled my Zwift subscription, loaded up on winter gear, and decided to never ride inside again. So, clearly this is a major blow and a hard pill to swallow.

The main issue I’m trying to figure out is how to modify my current “plan” so that it works indoors. Below is a quick summary of what I had planned to do and what I am trading I for.

My target events are a 40k TT in June and August

In January I was going to do three 12 hour weeks following a polarized model. Twice a week I would do two 1 to 1.5hr threshold sessions. The other 10ish hours are split into a few 2 hour rides and one 3 hour ride. Right now, I just can’t see following this plan riding exclusively indoors.

Initially I had the following thoughts:

Split sessions on the weekends - Doing either a pair of 1 or 1.5hr endurance rides. This would still leave me doing 1hr endurance rides once or twice during the week, but still getting some volume in.

Reduce the volume and do more off the bike work (strength/yoga) - Keep my threshold sessions and maybe one solid endurance ride on the weekend. Then throw in more off the bike work to supplement the training.

I’m looking for some thoughts and brainstorming. I ended up taking a mini break the past two weeks after starting my base the last week of November. So, I’m ready to figure this out and see if I can get motivated to ride indoors. If this is a case where I should do a consultation with the coaches, I’d be happy to do that as well.

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Good news! Our next Pathway will focus on indoor cycling. We are aiming to release the Indoor Cycling Pathway in about a week, just as we enter North America’s coldest month.


Is there any reason to not just get zwift again and do your exact plan as it existed for outdoor riding? Adjust trainer difficulty and course to mirror the work you wanted to do outside. It’s not the same, but I’ve been doing 3-4.5 hour long rides on zwift to get my endurance time.

This really depends on your mental abilities and how they may change over time for motivation.

Many of the clients I work with aren’t able to go outside due to weather for months at a time but are training for an early spring stage race.

If they didn’t train like their outdoor plan they just wouldn’t be able to podium at these races year after year.

However, not all of them are capable of the volume on a trainer, so we use this spring race to get ready for another goal stage race a little later where they will be at their best.

I would say that having a good setup indoors, including some sort of ability for your bike to move forwards and back (like a saris mp1 platform). This will be better for your pedal stroke and your body for long rides for sure.

The other is inside ride roller (with the attachment to use with zwift).

I have seen indoor overuse injuries with people who do a lot of volume without one of the above devices.

This is a very personal thing and should be monitored - mood - motivation over longer periods of time.


I can’t imagine doing my base training outdoors… It’s just too hard to get consistent resistance without going above or below.

My preference. Do a DFA1 test. Get your VT1 threshold, set erg to just below it (I alternate 10w up/down every 2min so I don’t get stale) and watch a movie, tv, catch up on podcast / audio books. Or go route hunting on Zwift :slight_smile:

If you can’t handle longer sessions, consider the two-a-day strategies covered earlier this year. Since your goal is TT, you could make your 2days more effective by lowering cadence or doing a strength/interval session first to really force you to use up all the muscle fibers to finish the “easy” session… My personal experience is that has the same l feel as having done longer rides with less time/volume.

Thanks to mother earth’s surface, that is absolutely true.
However, does it actually matter?

If you assign an intensity to a session, you run into that problem of ‘intensity discipline’/consistent resistance. But if you try to polarise (or pyramid of whatever) your total time without thinking about individual sessions, the problem fades away.

As far as I know there is no research investigating the effect of ‘per session intensity’ versus ‘per time unit intensity’.
Dr. Seiler told me that the ‘per session approach’ was mainly chosen by athletes and coaches because it is easier to manage, and not because somebody tried the alternative and performed less.
My COPID case study revealed great progress when combining high and low intensity into each training session, while managing a 90/10 TID. There was no base period or other form of periodisation, just ‘tuning of intensity distribution’ to keep going day by day, 6x 1 hour a week.

Short periods of high-intensity do stimulate strength development (targeting type 2 fibers) without the damage that requires >24h recovery. So they can be easily mixed it into ‘low intensity sessions’ on a daily basis.

A ‘long slow ride’ which includes a few hills where you shortly run into HR zone 4/5 and/or power zones 5+, will not ruin your aerobic development, especially if your deplete your glycogen stores (+90 minutes).

Based on the COPID study, I even think that you may develop better when including high intensity, then just low intensity, during your base period.

Thanks for the conversation and the insights.

I’ve been exploring what Zwift has to offer over the past few weeks to figure out what works. I’m working on my mental toughness, but slaying away at a 3hr Z1 ride still is a little much for me.

I did the Medio Fondo over the weekend which was a nice way to get in 2.5hrs. However, while my power was in Z1 in a polarized mode my average HR was well above that. Obviously racing every day is not the best idea, but I have noticed the same thing. While my power may be in the endurance zone, my HR keeps creeping up and up. I’m sure a lot of this has to do with the fact that I’m indoors.

One interesting thing I played around with is the pacers. If I ride with the D guy (Diesel), my HR stays well inside Z1. Having that group to ride with is semi motivating.

Overall I think I’m on the right track. While in reality my volume has to come down, I can still get in some decent time on the bike. I wish these group rides would allow me to keep me HR in Z1, but I’m still trying to figure that out.

I’m also studying the courses to see where I can go for those threshold efforts as I settle back into a structured plan. Although it is kind of fun to be the 40min group/race ride hero…sorry @trevor :rofl:

I think you’re confusing what I’m saying. I’m not saying all I’m doing is low intensity (although I admitted to making that mistake last season in another of my posts). I’m not saying the average session distribution isn’t a valid way of measuring your rides (especially when longer).

I’m saying for me, I cannot imagine trying to get in short quality training outdoors (anything less than 90min). Where I live, it takes me 20min (1 direction) of city street or trail riding to get to any road where I can settle into any kind of rhythm. So unless I have more than 3 hours, I prefer to ride inside where I can get consistent resistance to really make my little bit of training count (either low or high intensity).

I even program short harder efforts into all my indoor easy rides. I’ve been currently playing around with two to three @2min high torque at 95%… Sometimes if my legs are bad, I’ll skip them, but otherwise I’ve been loving the feel of having them in

That’s a great point. Try to keep with a pace bot for an hour is actually really hard. Lose your focus for a bit and you’re off the front/back and you’ve reset your drop gainz! It’s actually one of the most engaging things in the game IMO except big organized rides like TDZ

You’re, i was assuming.

This. I’ve been using the bots for my endurance rides a lot recently and just trying not to get too far ahead or behind makes the time fly by.


The Indoor Cycling Pathway is now scheduled to release on Thursday, January 20th.