In order to maximise gains through training you might train using Zones. Training Zones are specific percentages of many different measures including Functional Threshold Power (FTP – set by a 20 minute sustained effort then take 95% of average power – can be used to set the HR equivalent, FTHR), Maximum Minute Power (MMP – set by a 3 minute all out effort) or Maximum Heart Rate (MHR – can be an all out effort as well). The most efficient way to train is with power and therefore setting your zones as such. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t use power, just use heart rate instead.
Once you’ve established your training zones all that’s left is to train in them! For best results when using zones, you should train indoors where you can fully track your progress during your session and ensure that you remain within the zones you’ve decided to train in. However, you can still train outside using zones if you have the correct equipment, power meter, heart rate monitor and a unit to display the info are necessary. You shouldn’t totally replace outdoor training with indoor but with careful monitoring you can get the best out of both.
I feel your recovery rides should almost always be done inside. The only way to ensure you are only in the recovery zone is to train in an environment that you can fully control. If you go outside, you should be riding so slow old ladies are riding past you!
Zones 1 and 2 are very easily achieved outdoors on long club rides where saddle time is important over intensity. I wouldn’t recommend spending long hours indoors and once you get past a certain duration zones become less important due to fatigue. Just getting long steady rides done is what Zone 1 and 2 are about!
Rest of the zones are achievable in both environments depending on what your goals are. For monitoring purposes indoors will probably trump out every time, but I’d always factor in conditions when setting a client’s training, an interval session can be done outside on a beautiful, hot day. The athlete will enjoy it more and be more inclined to follow the plan. With some sessions, in particular sprint training in supra-maximal zone outdoors will provide a technical boost too.
As standard with all my Coaching Packages and Training Plans, you get specific power or heart rate targets to work towards, you can upload each session to your Garmin (or similar) device and even systems such as Zwift or Trainer Road. All the coaches here use the TrainingPeaks workout builder, making the process of training very user-friendly.
Above are tables that describe each zone, the parameters and why training in that zone is important and what adaptations you are looking for. Ensuring you get a good mix of each zone is important to boost your overall cycling ability. Factor in the time you have available and always consider what the goal is of the session. What will a one-hour Zone 1 ride achieve you? Is it not worth maximizing that time a little better?