Training recommendation for someone with fairly weak lt1

hey guys, so quick question on the LT1 “go slow to go fast stuff.”

I’ve been able to hold north of 300 watts for an hour recently, so i thought taht would be my “FTP” and I could safely set training zones below that using percentages based off of that number. I figured this was pretty safe bet, way more accurate than trying to take 95% of 20 minute power, which i found seemed to waaayyy overestimate FTP for me.

however when i would ride at an endurance percentage, i’d get fairly rapid heart rate drift up from 130s up to mid 150s after only an hour or two (my max HR is 205, but cycling max is more like 200 probably). So i figured that must be my LT1, because riding any slower than that seemed absurd. Well, i think you know where this is going.

Anyway, i tried Marco Altini’s HRV tracker and the results were pretty eye opening. It turns out the heart rate I need to ride at in order to be safely below LT1 is more like low to mid 130s. In terms of power, there seems to be a big range where i’m approaching the LT1 line but not quite at it, like while i’m at least close to LT1 all the way up to 210 or 220, i’m already knocking on the door by 180. So in order to be solidly, safely below it, i need to be riding at 160ish. And even riding at 160ish, i get a good amount of HR drift after only about 2 hours (i.e., from 120s up to high 130s).

So it seems safe to say that my LT1 needs work, at least in terms of endurance if not power.

How would you recommend to approach this? The mental difficulty is that two hours does not seem long enough for endurance rides, yet going beyond this will be taxing. But if i’m not doing enough, i lose ground on the higher part, right? So is maybe the answer to do two-a-days for the endurance rides as the lower end endurance catches up?

I suppose this must mean i rely heavily on anaerobic contribution. And honestly this makes sense. When riding trails around my hometown i can get KOMs without evening breathing, just punch right up those little 30 second poppers, but if i go out and try to ride again the next day, i’m toast. It’s like, I can perform well with repeat eforts when the anaerobic energy is there, but once it’s gone, i’ve got bupkis to back it up.

anyway, curious your thoughts. Thanks!

Great question and I enjoyed reading your post to see how your thought process worked through some of these different areas of the training. I’m curious what kind of racing or events you tend to excel at? Your suggestion of taking the shorter KOMs does give insight, but curious on your take.

A few thoughts of my own to your points:

  1. It sounds like when you say (in paragraph 2) riding at an endurance percentage, that’s utilizing power as a % of your ~1 hour FTP. When you’re getting that cardiovascular drift, it’s likely coming from using the power to guide you rather than HR. That’s one reason I always recommend pacing your sessions with HR first and allowing power to be a secondary guide (in most cases. I don’t want that to sound too absolute.)

  2. It does seem like your LT1 could use some work. Honestly, it’s a hard thing to train because it requires that discipline where it feels exactly like you said - “absurdly” slow at times. But it does work!

  3. Trevor has suggested a few times finding that point where you experience the cardiovascular drift and pushing around 30-45 minutes past that to help train that area of your fitness. If you are experiencing this drift in rides <2 hours, that might be one way to start. Is 2 hours enough for general endurance training when we think about longer events? Probably not, but if we think about it from the perspective of training our physiology, a 2 hour ride might be just enough if you can experience improvements in your LT1 response with a guideline like 30-45 min past the drift.

  4. I’ve been a supporter of 2-a-day workouts for a long time, especially from a time crunched perspective. If there’s no other way to get it in, then 2-a-days are much better than not riding and not adding that volume. I think that’s a smart way that you can flex your time to approach it differently.

  5. When you’re doing long easy rides like that, there will likely be time taken away from training the upper end, but that’s not to say you have to plan on big losses from the top end. Sometimes I find the added bits of recovery built in from that new training distribution actually helps people with their top end because they have good quality up there, and recovery is now improved as they lose time in that threshold area where it’s easy to over-do it. But in general, there should be a give and take in those areas of fitness. Since we can’t have it all through out the season, we have to prioritize e.g., LT1 at some point in the season, and then know that when we prioritize the top end for racing, we finish that LT1 training load close enough that the residual training adaptations won’t be completely lost on us. You maintain for a while, race, etc. and then come back to it. It’s always that give and take.

I hope that helps!


Thanks for the question @BikerBocker and great response from Ryan! I only have a few things to add:

  1. First, I fully agree that LT1 endurance rides should be done by heart rate not power. Anaerobic threshold heart rate and aerobic threshold heart rate tend to move with one another, so I’d base it on a percentage of your threshold heart rate not max heart rate. But from your description, somewhere around 130 does seem right.

  2. Unless you have great aerobic fitness, LT1 power is going to be low. Ninety percent of the athletes I work with argue pretty hard with me when I tell them what power their aerobic threshold is at. I get the “I’d fall over riding that slow” comment. But that’s how slow you should go. My endurance is one of my strengths and at the start of the season, my LT1 power was around 180 watts.

  3. If you have the time to do long rides, I do think to build this side of your endurance, you need longer rides. Yes, it is taxing even at LT1 power if you do it right. In fact, I just wrote about my own experience with that on my N:1 blog. You can see how I approached it - basically I spent the winter doing long rides very steady at LT1 and really challenged myself.

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After my INSCYD debrief yesterday I went out and rode in the LT1 region, which I now know with some degree of precision. I can confirm that it is so slow that it feels ridiculous! For me, it’s like “rolling around in the parking lot” slow! I’m going to have to improve my aerodynamics to avoid going too hard when it’s windy! :rofl:

My solution to getting the time in will be to do these rides in a block-pattern during my commutes to work, which will require actually getting up early enough to not be in a rush!


Thanks coaches Trevor and @ryan for your helpful insights and thanks @SteveHerman for chiming in with your experience too.

And Trevor, it’s not that i don’t have time to do long rides, it’s rather that they are actually pretty taxing and i’m tired before the ride gets “long” (at least as far as you guys would view it :)). That’s why i was thinking, maybe do two-a-days until i get my endurance up. This is reasoning by analogy to how my old high school track coach used to train 800 meter runners. She grouped us into two buckets, 400 meter runners who were extending, and 1600+ meter runners who were dropping down. We had the same goal but trained differently. The shorter (presumably mroe anaerobic focused) would would do endurance “interval style” (e.g., do 3 by 15 mins at endurance pace) whereas the longer would just go run. I think the idea was, you try to achieve the same thing, but for some of the dudes, they needed accommodation to the fact that it was more taxing. (We similarly used to do endurance interval style when i was a rower in college).

And yeah, it was hard to get my head around heart rate because (i) there IS a level of unavoidable subjectivity in the talk test, plus (ii) i think FTP testing often would overestimate my threshold heart rate as well as FTP. Like if I were to use average HR for a 20 minute test (especially at times of year where i’m strong), i get something like 187 or 188 bpm and i think this is just too high. My max ever for one hour was during a long mountain bike race and it was more like 181, so this is probably closer to reality.

And @ryan, i’ve never been “great” at anything, but anything that i’ve been decent at (like i used to run high 15s 5K in high school, and did high mid-6s for 2K as a lightweight rower in college) has been on the shorter side. I didn’t really realize this because like, i have sometimes been successful in longer races, but usually when they are selective around a 5 to 20 minute “crux”. Sprinting i’m not good at all, being exposed out in the wind for a long time i’m definitely not good, but give me somewhere between 10 and 30 minutes to go all out and i’m not bad. But the predominate factor in whether i’m good is how overreached i am. I get super fast doing threshold intervals but i also get tired waaaaaaayyy faster (it seems) than most endurance athletes.

I think Sebastian Weber would say i’m moderate vo2max (clearly not terrible, but also not amazing), high VlaMax, but somewhat weak ATP/CP power. 10 to 30 mins is sweetest spot.

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Hey Ryan, thanks again for the great advice. I have one more question about interpretation here.

So, based on the FTP tests, I thought that i had a relatively higher FTP (it’s all relative of course :)) of around 300ish with a lower TTE. However, when i worked at an “endurance percentage” based on power, as we’ve been discussing it was not really “endurance” at all but was more grey zone.

So, does that mean that i actually maybe have a lower FTP with longer TTE, just with decent ability to use anaerobic energy to pop up above it? I just did 3x20 at closer to 285/290 and that felt good, but even then, holding 75% of it afterwards would have been doable but also would certainly have been in grey zone.

Maybe this is totally irrelevant (since we use heart rate and RPE to execute the lower intensity workouts) but i am just curious.

@SteveHerman Sounds like you’re training at the right pace now! It takes some getting used to. The one positive - if you stay dedicated and build that energy system, the rides will get faster. I’m working with an athlete now who’s been at it for a few years. First few rides, he made similar comments about how slow it is. Last weekend he did a four hour ride solo in his LT1 region and averaged 20 mph/32.2 kph!


@BikerBocker full get it! Though I’ll throw a thought at you as another way to look at this. The purpose of training is to produce a training stress. If you’re getting tired, then you’re producing that stress. And the fact that it doesn’t take that long for you sounds great to me. I personally have to do a 6-7 hour ride at in my zone 1 (on a three zone model) to get tired. You can produce the same training adaptation and still have time left in your day!

There are no set rules on how long an LSD ride needs to be, though for most people, over two hours is probably a minimum. But there’s nothing saying they have to be 6 hours. The right length is what it takes to produce the necessary stress.


Thanks Trevor, this is helpful. I will follow this advice about length (even if it means two hour rides whereas other riders would do longer) and just leave the ego at the door. I guess that’s what we always say, right?

That said, I may also experiment with short two-a-days and see if it helps me progress faster. After all, I could almost view the ability to do endurance two-a-days as a luxury that i have that you don’t (i’m assuming you don’t have 12+ hours to ride plus the amount of eating that would require would be insane).

Yes, potentially that’s the case. At least that’s what I’ve experienced in the past with a number of athletes. 3x20 at 285-290 with a 300w FTP is pretty solid. Keep in mind that even if you’re set at 300 watts FTP, 285-290 is a pretty high % of it. You might still do threshold workouts at 265-270 watts on days when you’re not feeling it. As @trevor said, it’s all about that overload, so as long as you’re getting fatigued, you’re producing the overload. It takes him 7 hours to do that, but it might only take the rest of us 3-4 hours or less. Totally fine, as long as we’re finding that balance between overload and recovery.

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I can “second” on the numbers you gave as someone who “calculates” to an FTP in the 300 range. I do find I can do the 285-290w workouts on days when I can feeling good and rested but still with a day or two of rest and/or easy days before getting back to pushing anything decent on a ride. I do find the 260-270 range perfect for getting in good repeatable threshold sets that allows for decent performance in rides sooner.


I’d love some LSD periodization training advice @trevor, @ryan. I’m 8 weeks from my goal race (6 MTB stage race). I’ve been doing regular LSD rides since last fall but I know I can still improve my aerobic endurance. My LSD rides in the spring were 4-5 hours in length and I ride 10-12 hrs/wk except recovery weeks. I’m now focusing on some more intense intervals (“VO2”/MAP) and race pace MTB rides. I was thinking about doing one LSD every 10 days (versus every week) and keeping them a bit easier (HR 120 versus 130) and shorter (4 hr vs 5hr). I was also planning on keeping the LSD rides on the road as the MTB LSD rides are more tiring. I’m hoping that all of this will still allow some adaptation from the LSD rides but leave more energy for my high intensity days. How long should my LSD rides be at this stage of my season?

@robertehall1, I think that moving your LSD rides to the road is smart to reduce the fatigue generated from the MTB rides. Particularly considering that you have your specific MTB days planned out in your taper now and those will be of high quality. Going a little easier on the HR target is never a bad idea, so I would support aiming for 120 rather than 130 beats to leave more energy for the high intensity days. If you’re reducing your LSD ride frequency and bringing the intensity down, I would personally keep them toward the 5 hour mark vs. 4 if the goal is to still get some adaptation.

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Thanks so much for the input. I’m really hoping my consistent LSD work for the last 10 months shows up in my stage race!