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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:22 am 
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Just planning out my 2013 training program and wondering what would the best way to do these type of intervals as I would like to incorporate a few of these efforts into the later build periods of my program, for info I train exclusively for mtb marathon races/events and a large portion of my training schedule involves a lot of SST, tempo, LSD and threshold efforts i.e. 2x20 under overs etc. Intervals are usually done indoors on a trainer and I plan to only schedule these type of intervals x1 per week following a recovery/rest day. I train using HR and RPE. I aim to start with 3min intervals and build up to 5mins over the course of the build period.

Do you do the 3-5min intervals all out from the off and try to hold it for the duration of the interval whilst inevitably fading towards the end or do you gradually build up the power and hold it till the end?

What about recovery between intervals 1:1 recovery or longer, does the length alter the physiological dynamics of the workout? I understand why a typical Vo2 max type interval should at least be 3mins in length as it takes a while to reach Vo2 max but am I correct in presuming that a shorter recovery between intervals would increase the amount of time at Vo2 max.

Thanks for reading :)


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 7:30 am 
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From my experience (not a specialist) an ideal 3 min interval begins steady and only in the last min or so you go full blast. This allows you to keep the power relatively steady. By V02 you mean around 105-120%FTP, right? If you've warmed up you should be able to hit your V02 zone straight from the start.

For a 1min interval then I think its best to go full gas all the way but in this type your not in the v02 zone anymore, you will most likely be working above that at Anaerobic Capacity. This wont help your v02 type efforts as much.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:03 am 
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For efforts in the this range I prescribe the efforts as following:-

[3mins effort/3mins rest] x3. Intervals starts decently hard (think over-zealous TT start) and then its a matter of just holding on for dear life and keeping power at FTP or above. Have a bucket handy.

[5mins effort/5min+ rest]x4-6. Intervals done at above FTP, steady pacing throughout.

[5mins effort/1min rest]x4-6. Intervals done at FTP, steady pacing throughout.

[4min effort/4min+ rest]x4. Intervals done above FTP. Steady pacing throughout.

[4min effort/1:30sec rest]x4. Intervals done a fraction over FTP, start hard.



There is an almost infinite number of combinations of effort/rest that can be done. At the end of the day you have to look at the reason a given interval and the rest is being used and what adaptation you are trying to elicit. For particular intervals like the 4min effort/1.5min effort and the Tabata style there are studies which show that they do indeed improve things. Though there is no comparison for a 3min interval being "superior" to a 4mins, or a 4min to a 5min etc. Beyond that it is largely a matter of trial and error to see which is working (hence the need for regular testing!).

I have found the above to be very effective, especially when used in a cyclical block. Boring maybe, but very effective.

A simple way to look at it is:- work the 3min power which helps the 5min power which helps the 10min power which helps the 20min power etc etc.

One other point is that for the intervals requiring you to go over FTP is that they are unpleasant. Really unpleasant. For some reason the 3mins especially so. An unwillingness to really put yourself into the red will limit the effectiveness of these particular types of interval. If you don't feel like you need a bucket nearby or a mattress to fall onto you are not going hard enough.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 12:05 pm 
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I will second this: the 3min intervals are very,very,very unpleasant. My mind always try to find some way to avoid them.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:47 pm 
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Thats strange but true! 1min and 5mins intervals seem mentally easier to complete! 1min intervals are hard but you know they are short so you just get them over with but those 3min dam intervals are so mentally draining and difficult to complete x3/4 times. They seem to drag on forever! I find my self usually doing one (then bucket!) then giving up on the rest and just doing FTP work for the rest of the session. Im not an example to be followed :lol: Time to hit the pub! :thumbup:

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:52 pm 
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I prefer the 3min ones. Hard, yes, but it's just 3 repeats, so they are over quickly. Did them for the first time this season following Tape's advice, and with good results. What's very nice about them is they can fairly consistently be done without a PM.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:58 pm 
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^ I found that without a pm I wasnt doing my 3min intervals properly. Started them too hard and ended bellow target power zone. Exertion wise they felt hard though.

With a pm I learnt to dose the effort correctly until the end. Like tapeworm says to do a proper 3min interval (at correct power) you almost feel sick at the end. Its not easy to do without a powermeter in my opinion but guess we are all different.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 2:05 pm 
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I'm doing 3 runs of the same, steady uphill slope. After 2 sessions I knew which speed I could go, so I would get 3 fairly consistent takes at the top of my possibilities. (I did lots of similar workout back in the day when track running, maybe that helps a bit too)

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 3:52 pm 
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@ Tapeworm - When you say over zealous TT start what percentage of FTP should this be done at and then fade to ftp?


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 5:59 pm 
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3 minute intervals are my "favorite" just because it feels like the proper length to increase my weaknesses.

If I try to "ramp up" I usually start too weakly. If I go "all out" I invariably go too hard and die at about 1:30

So what I do is try to ramp up to the target power quite rapidly, but then don't get overzealous and exceed it, because early on I feel like I can exceed it quite easily. But then try to hold that power the full 3 min, which becomes very difficult.

My target power is not based on FTP, but merely based on what is the maximum 3 min power I have ever been able to sustain....plus a little more. So, yes, I am gasping, dizzy, and ready to puke as soon as it is over.

I am not claiming this is "right" or "best". It is just what I do. It hasn't really been all that successful at increasing my 3 min power, so I have recently been trying the same philosophy, but with slightly shorter intervals, like 1:30 to 2 min.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:20 pm 
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Jersland wrote:
@ Tapeworm - When you say over zealous TT start what percentage of FTP should this be done at and then fade to ftp?

Ballpark would be 2x FTP.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:38 pm 
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I have done 8 x 3min interval sessions before. That was anything but pretty :unbelievable:


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 11:42 am 
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I did 4 x 3 min Vo2 intervals this morning indoor on my watt bike and they seemed moderate so i'm guessing my base FTP has increased so I may need to re test my FTP or jump up what numbers i should be hitting for Vo2.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:52 pm 
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i wouldnt do them based on numbers vo2 max numbers. do them steady state at whatever you think you can just about hold for the 3 minutes (probably well into your anaerobic zone) or hit them hard then hold on till the end like Tape worm says.

I love these type of intervals.

I did 4 x 30 seconds on 30 seconds off (x2 sets) yesterday and found these a whole lot tougher than 3 minute intervals, possibly my new favourite session!


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 5:37 pm 
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Some great replies and lots to think about but would the rest between intervals alter the physiological effect of the work out i.e 3x3 with 3min> RBI or RBI as apposed to 3x3 with 1min< RBI


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Posted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 5:37 pm 


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