The Top 10 Misconceptions About Structured Training

The Top 10 Misconceptions About Structured Training


Here at TrainerRoad, we’re a little biased towards structured training. It’s at the heart of everything we do, and it’s how we’ve helped tens of thousands of athletes to Get Faster. Quite simply, it’s the most effective way to train.

Naturally, we get a little defensive when we hear some of the things people say about structure. We take it personally, because structured training is what we do and we know it can benefit any athlete. So let’s clear the air and set things straight. In the name of truth, we present the Top 10 Misconceptions About Structured Training.


10. You Need a Power Meter

Power is the only objective way to measure cycling performance, and all TrainerRoad workouts and plans are power-based. While power meters and Smart Trainers are more affordable than ever before, you don’t actually need a power meter to use TrainerRoad. All you need is an indoor trainer and a speed sensor, and VirtualPower can calculate power data and guide your training! It’s a cost-effective and easy way to experience the precision of power-based training, without expensive equipment. 

Once you take a ramp test and get a feel for training with power indoors, you can even bring your workouts outdoors without a power meter. All TrainerRoad Outside Workouts offer an RPE (rate of perceived exertion) variant, so you can complete power-based workouts outdoors by feel. It’s surprisingly accurate and amazingly effective. 

9. Structured Training is Boring

Sometimes you hear cyclists complain that training “takes the fun out of riding.” Well excuse us, but we beg to differ. Structure adds a sense of purpose to cycling; each ride has a reason, and each workout is its own challenge to overcome. You’ll feel a sense of achievement with every competed interval, and it’s fun to see yourself progress.

If you are training indoors, TrainerRoad lets you choose whatever entertainment you want to accompany your ride. Check out one of our full race videos, or listen to music while the TrainerRoad app runs in the background. If you ride outdoors, you can use Outside Workouts to add structure to your existing routine. However you go about it, structured training makes you a better cyclist, and let’s face it: it’s fun to get faster. Boring? No way.

8. Training Plans Are Only for Racers

Sure, virtually every bike racer uses some type of structured training. Athletes have used TrainerRoad to dominate all kinds of races, from local criteriums to Ironman Triathlons. But structure isn’t just for competitive athletes, it’s for any cyclist working towards a goal, and that goal might just be self-improvement.

However big or small your goals happen to be, structured training with Plan Builder will help you get there. The gains in aerobic fitness that come with training not only make you faster, but also make you a healthier human. Finish line or not, that sounds like a win.

7. Training Requires Perfect Execution

Many people wrongly think of training as a house of cards, with each workout perilously stacked on the next and the whole thing at risk of tumbling down over a single missed interval. In reality, training builds a resilient foundation of fitness over time. Perfection is almost impossible in the face of our busy real lives, but perfect isn’t necessary.

Our data shows that the vast majority of TrainerRoad athletes deal with training interruptions. The fact that most of these athletes still get faster (a lot faster, in fact) is proof that you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. If you fail a workout or skip a ride now and then, you’re not alone. Keep your eyes on the prize and you’ll see results.

6. Structured Training Requires Lots of Time

Whether it’s more miles, more intervals, or more watts, cyclists love to do the most of something and tell their friends about it afterwards. For many athletes, this simply isn’t practical. We have busy lives and our bodies have limitations, and training for long hours isn’t logistically or physically possible.

TrainerRoad is designed to be the most time-effective way to get faster. Most athletes find lower training volumes productive even for long events, and you can always add an extra workout here and there if you find yourself with extra time. Plan builder can schedule Low-, Mid-, and High-volume versions of all training plans, so structure can work with any schedule. Time is not a limitation.

5. Training Plans are Inflexible/ Inconvenient

Some athletes fear that structured training will lock them into an inflexible routine, but let’s set the record straight right now. If your training plan is forcing you to do lots of inconvenient workouts that don’t fit your schedule, then you’re on the wrong plan! Structured training can be as flexible as you need it to be.

Any time you schedule a TrainerRoad plan, you can customize your training volume as well as what days you need off each week. Our Calendar allows you to easily drag and reschedule workouts to make adjustments as you need. And if you end up missing a workout, don’t worry about it- in most cases you can just pick up where you left off. 

4. Training Plans Are Too Expensive 

Cycling has a justified reputation of being expensive. Between the cost of the equipment, event registration, and travel, costs can rapidly spiral out of control. Traditional coaching services don’t help either, often costing at least $200- $400 a month. 

Structured Training with TrainerRoad is a different story. Billed annually, TrainerRoad costs $15.75/month. That’s about the same cost as 2 burritos, or 1/13th an average cable bill. A year of TrainerRoad costs about 1/12 of the average private coach, and you could subscribe to TrainerRoad for over 10 years for the cost of a set of mid-range race wheels. Cycling can be expensive, but getting faster is amazingly affordable.

3. Structured Training is Too Hard

There’s just no way around the fact that training is hard work. If you want to improve, you need to put your body through a certain amount of discomfort to stimulate adaptation. But there’s a difference between hard and too hard. If your workouts are impossible and you’re overwhelming your ability to recover, you’re not training- you’re running yourself into the ground

Good training plans are just hard enough to push you, but build in lots of productive recovery time. TrainerRoad does just this, prescribing the minimum effective dose of hard work for you to see big results. Sweet spot workouts are manageable and efficient, and even our high-volume plans only include a few intense workouts per week. It won’t be easy, but if it’s too hard we’re doing something wrong.

2. Structured Training won’t work for me

You have your own unique strengths and weaknesses, and your scheduling limitations are specific to you and your busy life. But you’re also a human that wants to get faster at riding a bike, and that means structured training will work for you. TrainerRoad uses the Ramp Test to assess your abilities, and caters your training volume and schedule to your unique needs. Our workouts use scientifically-supported principles to make you faster, and it works. The vast majority of athletes who use TrainerRoad see a significant improvement in their abilities no matter their starting point. This applies to you!

1. Structured Training is Too Complicated

Ok, we admit, this isn’t really a misconception. Properly structured training is complicated, nurturing your existing capabilities while developing the specific skills and abilities your goal event demands. It’s a question of the right workout, at the right intensity, at just the right time. When it works, it’s an amazing thing, but the challenge is striking that perfect alchemical balance of stress and recovery. It’s a confusing thing to manage on your own.

Luckily, we take care of that complexity for you with every TrainerRoad training plan. We customize your workouts to your FTP and challenge the specific energy systems your event requires in a progressive and balanced way. You’ll get just the workouts you need, efficiently structured with no time or effort wasted. Yes, it’s complicated, but you can  leave that part to us. You’ll be too busy getting faster.


For more cycling training knowledge, listen to Ask a Cycling Coach — the only podcast dedicated to making you a faster cyclist. New episodes are released weekly.


Getting Faster with TrainerRoad

Ready to get faster? Driven by science and data, TrainerRoad provides the training, planning, and analysis tools you need to become a faster cyclist with a focused and straightforward system. Create a custom training plan with Plan Builder, complete workouts indoors, outside, or with friends, and prove that your training is working with post-ride analysis tools. You can be confident that you will become a faster cyclist, and over 1,500 stories from TrainerRoad athletes prove it. Try TrainerRoad with a 30-day, money-back guarantee.

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