Winter is Coming – Part 3: TrainerRoad

In the third part of our “winter is coming” blog series, we look at the structured training program TrainerRoad.


hat is TrainerRoad? It is a structured training program that allows you to do interval sessions to target specific areas of your fitness. There are over 1000 workouts in their library that automatically scale to your fitness level (Function Threshold Power).

TrainerRoad is targeted at riders who are performance and numbers driven. It’s for serious, no nonsense training. Because of that, there is no fancy virtual reality environment, just a simple graph to follow. There’s nothing to distract you apart from holding that power number and disappearing into your own beautiful pain cave.

Compared to Zwift (see our previous blog here), TrainerRoad has much larger library of workouts available and more structured training plans built in that can target very specific goals, check them out here. Simply select the phase you want to start at, a volume that matches the amount of time you have available to train and a target, we would recommend completing an FTP test first (more on this later). This allows you to specify your goals and tailor your training to suit because the fitness you need for completing a 100 mile sportive is completely different to that of a 10 mile time trial. In addition to this there is a huge library of podcasts and blogs so you can educate yourself on what all these numbers mean and how to get the most out of your body.

Another area that TrainerRoad excels in is its post ride analysis. It allows you to dig down into the numbers and analyse how you performed during each and every interval. It then updates your career page with the training stress you’ve incurred allowing you to make sure that you’re not over doing it, and your power records for specific time periods. This then draws out your unique power curve and allows you to more accurately calculate a target power level for an effort. Using the power curve above, if that rider was to do a mountain climb that was going to last roughly 45 minutes, then they would know that they should aim to hit an average power figure around 198 watts. Because these numbers are continually updated after every ride, you don’t need to be doing as many tests.

TrainerRoad will also break the numbers down into more traditional power and heart rate zones as well and you’re able to filter the workouts to ones that work on these specific areas . This means that all the workouts will be adjusted to match your current fitness level. In addition, TrainerRoad will automatically sync to your ride data from Strava and TrainingPeaks so all your ride data can be analysed.

So what equipment do you need? The program is available on both Windows and Mac as well as apps for iOS and Android. There are then three ways you can access TrainerRoad:

  1. VirtualPower is the cheapest point of access. This takes the speed that your wheel is moving at on trainer and compares it to the “power curve” for that trainer to calculate how much power you’re producing. This simply requires a wireless speed and cadence sensor but isn’t as accurate as measuring the power directly as it can be affected by tire pressure and the tension of the trainer roller on the tyre.
  1. Direct power meters using strain gauges in the crank or pedal will always be more accurate than an estimated power figure and have the advantage of being consistent between riding on the trainer and on the road. However, with both this and VirtualPower, you are in control of the effort. You must adjust your resistance and effort to match the target power level.
  1. To get the most out of TrainerRoad, you need a smart trainer like the Wahoo Kickr. When using a smart trainer, the resistance is automatically adjusted to hold you at the target power level. If your target is 300 watts, it doesn’t matter what gear you’re in, what cadence you ride at, you are going to do 300 watts. Halve your rpm and the trainer will automatically double the resistance to hold you at the desired power output.

What else do you need? Your computer or phone will need a wireless ANT+ dongle for a lot of trainers/power meters/HR monitors (Wahoo will save you this and connect via bluetooth). A rubber matt for the floor will help to deaden the vibration and protect the floor against sweat. Speaking of sweat, a big fan and a towel won’t go a miss. Finally a stand for your computer or tablet makes life a lot easier.

Where to start? If you’ve never trained like this before, the first thing to do is an FTP test to establish your functional threshold power. This will allow all the workouts to be scaled to your fitness level.

NOTE, your first FTP test will take you to a dark, dark place. We’d recommend some support to cheer you on and help with it.

BUT DON’T WORRY… Throughout November we are offering a free FTP test in store with every Wahoo Kickr sold. We’ll talk you through the whole process and be there for you through your darkest 50 minutes and trust us, it’ll be worth it when you’re finished.

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