What to do with 6-8 hours a week?

Howdy All -

From now until the spring I’m limited to roughly 6-8 hours a week, which in my experience doesn’t lend itself to endurance paced (under AT1) rides. I can get a 4 hour ride maybe 2 times over the next 4 months. So my question really is around is there any benefit to doing a 2 hour endurance ride, or would that time be better spent at sweet spot or such? During the week I’ll typically do some form of interval work T & Th evenings.

A bit of background - I’m a 51 Yr old 62 kg Cat 3/Masters road racer (no crits or TT’s). Been doing 5,000+ miles for at least the last 10 years, been racing for around 20 years. Best FTP was a few years ago @ 4 W/kg. My racing MO is hide in the group and either go long or try & hurt people on climbs, and have found that 1-5 minute efforts are needed for me to hang in


Hi @thom2544, and welcome to the team!

Reading your post and learning about your availability, I’ll be the first to say that I completely understand where you’re coming from. In all my time coaching, I’ve found that a huge number of athletes over the years work within that kind of time range and have been able to find success there.

To your main question, I’ll say an emphatic ‘yes’ that you can generate some excellent benefits with 2 hour endurance rides. Of course, there is always a caveat. In this case, you’ve started down that path by suggesting adding sweet spot, etc. to achieve your overload and adaptation.

During these 4 months of lower volume riding, 2 hour endurance rides can be valuable. One question I have is, if we’re looking at 6-8 hours per week and 2 days of some kind of interval training (60-90 minutes maybe per session?), that leaves us roughly 5 hours to play with - what can you do with those remaining 5 hours? Maybe one option is 2 hour weekend ride + 3 days (M, W, F) of consistent 1 hour zone 2 rides. On your Wed/Fri rides you might find these are more zone 1 due to the interval sessions, but that consistency of pedaling will gradually keep those adaptations coming.

Bringing in some zone 3 and working into sweet spot can be an excellent way to progressively overload the body through those 4 months. One important consideration is once you achieve your volume limit, the next logical step is intensity. So it’s a progressive give and take - as you peak at 6-8 hours per week and feel like those rides are too easy, it’s time to move onto something else.

Also, don’t forget testing/benchmarking your progress. You can do this roughly monthly with a variety of options to see if you are making progress in the expected areas and then adjust or keep moving from there. And you might do a more involved test at the beginning and end of that 4 month block to look for bigger changes.

All this to say that you have a lot of potential ways to make the best of those 6-8 hours. Let’s keep the discussion going - what are your initial thoughts on how you were planning to lay out your first month or so of your riding?

Coach Ryan

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Thanks Ryan, I appreciate the feedback. Obviously 8 hours isn’t hard and fast, but I live in Buffalo NY, and do enjoy winter sports like downhill skiing and snowshoeing, plus I want to try & get more gym work in. Oh, and I have a job & family!

Regarding initial thoughts:

2 days a week will be gym “leg days”. Kettlebell squats, lunges, side lunges, leg press, ham curls, various plyometrics. (2 other days will be core/upper body).

On “leg day” I plan on using a couple of the podcast workout tips; eg Tuesday would be neuro work with low wattage cadance pyramids and (12) 30 second on 90 sec off standing starts.

Thursday would be Trevor’s 5x5x1 or 8x4x2 low RPM Threshold work or maybe 4 sets of over unders 95%/105% such as 4x9 1O/2U 3 min RBI

Sat/Sun I’ll usually do Zwift group rides where I go down a group so It’s not a race! eg do a D group so even when it kicks it’s still endurance paced, or do C so it’s sweet spot

Tom, great thoughts! I hear you on the job and family, so maximizing your time is crucial.

I’m glad to see that focus on strength training, and you’re hitting all of the major muscle groups. Be sure to prioritize your workouts to hit your primary focus. So if you’re doing gym work + plyos, keep an eye on how the legs feel for neuromuscular work on the bike if done on the same day.

Great call on the Zwift rides and going down a couple groups. That’s a smart way to keep your effort in check with the typical race-pace starts, even with group rides. That’s a great opportunity to ride with some other folks and play the role of sweeper or just help keep the group together if there are splits along the way.

Coach Ryan