Training is a highly personal matter which is why load management is so important. Fortunately, the precision and repeatability of training with fixed power under controlled conditions indoors makes it possible to monitor training status with a high degree of accuracy and confidence because changes in performance are more likely to be caused by actual changes in status vs changes in terrain, conditions, etc.
Repeats are also very effective because (1) of their direct alignment with time at intensity, which is how training is organized and (2) they can help you to ensure proper stimulus and diagnose problems. For example, if you set out to perform a 4 x 4 VO2 max workout but are actually able to do 5 x 4, then you are working below VO2 max and should increase power for the next 4 x 4 session. On the flip side, if you are unable to perform a 2 x 20 workout at threshold then your threshold is overestimated, you are ill, or you are carrying much fatigue.
Manual control also helps to ensure proper stimulus and preserve workout quality through adding, extending and splitting intervals as needed.
The ability to measure and control external load indoors on a smart trainer makes the internal-to-external load ratio (I:E) an effective method of load monitoring. If I:E decreases, then fitness is improving. If it increases, then fitness is declining or fatigue is high. If RPE or cardiac drift is up but HR is down then fatigue is more likely than fitness improvement. The precision and repeatability of smart trainer workouts makes I:E more precise and sensitive than it would be outdoors where you need consistent improvement over a long period of time to be confident in improvements.
Workout progression can be "forced" or responsive based on improvements. If "forced" then load monitoring can be used to ensure the body is coping/adapting adequately.
Work can be progressed by either time or power. Most training plans I've see are simply increasing combined interval duration to a practical limit, usually available training time, and then increasing intensity. MSI, or Maximum Sustainable Intensity, is a self-regulating technique in which a fixed set of interval workouts are repeated while increasing power such that the power used is the maximum power that can be sustained for all intervals. RPE is king with MSI but can also be confirmed via average work interval heart rate and cardiac drift as discussed above.
Cardiac drift can also help to set proper endurance workout duration because there is a rule of thumb that these workouts should have a cardiac drift (the indoor equivalent of aerobic decoupling) between 5-10%. And when duration reaches target event duration (or target training duration) and cardiac drift is 5-7% then the athlete is ready for higher intensity work. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EX9R8Kh10KM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GszrIXnVgCw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFyvZXbhXqk
A training log is an essential part of training to find what works and what doesn't, identify patterns, for reference, to help those who help you, etc.
Hey, been off my bike since Whistler 70.3 due to injury.
Got a smart trainer and did my first FTP. It was 238W.
What does that mean? What do I do with this knowledge?
How do I use this to train?
I've never had a Power meter before.
Thanks for any info you can provide.
Interval Design Studio YouTube