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 Post subject: Simple micro-intervals
PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 7:33 pm 
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I'd like to add micro intervals to my "plate" (instead of SE work which is out of fashion).

Since I'd like to do the intervals on the road, I've been pondering what the most managable way would be. My thinking is along the lines of -- do 10s all-out + 10s easy, uphill on a gentle steady slope, for 4 minutes.

Would that be a good starting point, or did I get anything wrong from the countless pages and blogs I've been reading? Thanks.

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 Post subject: Simple micro-intervals
Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 7:33 pm 


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:36 am 
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you could easily go with 10min blocks if you are a bit trained (wich I think you are right?)

I'd probably go more toward 15/15, 10/20, 20/20, 20/40 and maybe 30/30


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:51 am 
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It all depends on what adaptations you are trying to ellicit.

Particular aspect of racing you are trying to improve?

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:06 am 
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Tape, it's mostly to complement my 2x20min and 3x3min efforts.

I'd like to peak (again) around end of Sept. for a hilly 140km Sportive and a mostly flat 46km TT. For the road race the goal is to stay with the front as long as possible, there's a number of short climbs, which are going to be fast. In the TT I'd like to average over 40kph (I'll be starting in the road bike class).

The goal apart from general conditioning is improving the "tempo hardness".

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Last edited by HillRPete on Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:54 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:18 am 
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devinci wrote:
you could easily go with 10min blocks if you are a bit trained (wich I think you are right?)


I sorta doubt you could pull off 30 10s all-out sprints in ten minutes, but that's why you suggest going longer.

These are difficult to get right without a pm.

I'd start with 20on 40off for maybe 6 minutes the first time, which could very soon be 8 minutes and then see how 30/30 and 40/20 go, but don't let the quality suffer, that's your job.

The tricky part is that "on" doesn't mean all out, and "off" is not barely pedaling, ideally.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:26 am 
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For what you've outlined then goal is try and get an average power output that is close to that which you would have yielded in a steady state power output.

As mentioned you cannot do 30 x 10s sprints - a true sprint, even for 10seconds, will leave you gassed for quite awhile. So they are all supra-maximal efforts.

There are then two factors which will determine how the intervals are used, the duration and intensity.

The longer and harder the interval the longer the "rest" in between and the number of intervals that can be performed.

Using 30sec ON/30sec OFF as an example you can easily do, as devinci suggested, 10mins of these if the ON phase is approx 30% higher than FTP then 30% lower, eg: if FTP is 300 watts then on phase is around 400 watts and off is 200. As the relative intensity increases then the total duration will drop, ie: if you switch to 50% higher than FTP (450watts) during the ON phase then it may only be 5mins (6 intervals) you can do.

(Please note all values are approximate).

I don't have any data on which micro intervals are more effective than others. Generally shorter hard effort/longer rest - more in the anaerobic development. Shorter midrange effort/equal rest - anaerobic/vo2max. Low effort/low recovery - vo2/aerobic. That's the quick and "dirty" version, not 100% accurate but a guide.

I have primarily used the following :-

4x [30sec ON/30 sec off], 10 mins rest. Repeat. ON approx 150-200% FTP
8x [20sec ON/10 sec off], 4 mins rest. Repeat (aka Tabata protocol). ON approx 150% FTP
9x [8sec ON/12 sec off], 4 mins rest. Repeat. ON approx 200 - 250+ FTP.
30x [10sec on/10 sec off], 20mins. Repeat. ON approx 200% FTP.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:56 am 
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Cheers, Tape. Think I'll try the 30x [10sec on/10 sec off], 20mins first, and dial that in. (I'm not using a PM, just HR)

As a rule of thumb, would you say that the average HR would/should also reflect the steady state HR of, say, a 1h TT effort?

If so, is this workout very different in effect from the 2x20 "race pace"?

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:21 am 
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HR could be a tad higher but definitely in the same ball park as a 20min effort, though the micro intervals may see the HR jump quicker than the steady build in a 20min effort.

In terms of comparison it won't be much different to a steady state effort. The longer it goes the less difference. Reasons why they could be good to do is specificity to the type of racing and for some allows better focus of effort.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:56 am 
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Tapeworm,

I've been trying these type of intervals out for some weeks now, and have mainly done 2-4x6mins with 40sec ON/20sec OFF, at approx. 120-130% of FTP while ON and hovering somewhere above 50% while OFF (depending on grade, fatigue etc.). Would you care to comment on the "quality" of this? Would I be better off doing shorter ON periods with highter intensity?

The main goal for me is twofold -- I am trying to "rebuild" my diesel engine to accept greater variance in effort while in the red, and at the same time building my vo2max. I have found anecdotally that the first part seems to work, but then again, I have been doing quite a bit of racing, too, so not easy to draw any conclusions.

Any comments appreciated, cheers.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:46 am 
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Tape, I'd really like to keep the 2x20s because they suit me very well. I seem to have an easy time with simply structured workout where I can switch the head off and just go. So there seems to be some overlap with the microintervals routine.

What sort of 10s/10s routine could I try to work on the neuromuscular/max power? I don't have any specific workout for that yet.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:14 am 
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@ jo.k nothing wrong with those efforts though the "longer" effort will take longer to recover from if your power was any higher. I personally like the 30sec efforts for working on being able to respond to attacks etc. The set of 4 30sec efforts should just nicely torch the anerobic glycolytic system completely.

@ wassertreter, NP power - it's 10sec effort, go have a nap for 5mins, repeat. The reason being is that you are trying to ellicit the maximum amount of power possible. Any sort of fatigue will be supra-maximal and hence won't be the highest neuromuscular power and won't yield improvement (for this energy system). NP power can only be improved by maximal efforts (unlike aerobic power). Another aspect of NP is ensuring muscle contractile velocity is as high as possible, this means "spinning" out in the gear you're in whilst trying to get as much power out as possible. IIRC, 130 rpm is around the ballpark mark for optimum torque/power (varies person to person).

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:00 pm 
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Ypsylon wrote:
devinci wrote:
you could easily go with 10min blocks if you are a bit trained (wich I think you are right?)


I sorta doubt you could pull off 30 10s all-out sprints in ten minutes, but that's why you suggest going longer.

These are difficult to get right without a pm.

I'd start with 20on 40off for maybe 6 minutes the first time, which could very soon be 8 minutes and then see how 30/30 and 40/20 go, but don't let the quality suffer, that's your job.

The tricky part is that "on" doesn't mean all out, and "off" is not barely pedaling, ideally.

I know people that do them for up to an hour at a time, often motorpaced. They're not supposed to be maximal all out sprints, those are Tabatas you're thinking of (20s all out, 10 off).

30/30s or 40/20s done more in the saddle and gradual in your vo2 or L6 zone would be more specific for your sportive I'd imagine since it would simulate powering over rollers. A normal microburst, to me, is like 15s@200% including an our of the saddle effort, 15s at like 50% of FTP for 10min. sets up to an hour is more for punchy races, criteriums, cross, or sometimes MTB racing.

Coggan did a QA of different microbursts and found that the devil is in the details. It doesn't matter what you do as much as how you do them. 30/30s done aggressively and out of the saddle were almost purely neuromuscular even though NP and power targets were well below L7. Rolling into them gradually, in the saddle and doing them steady state was more zone accurate. His most important point was that just because AP or NP is equal to a certain power level do not think that it counts as work at that level. For example, microburst workouts often yield an NP around FTP, but its not FTP work or SST work.

With that in mind here is what I have done and why:

30/30: On is 5min. MMP, off is 75% of FTP. 10min sets for 3 total sets. These are a variable form of L5 work. If you look at a blood lactate analysis, gas analysis, and HR analysis, the first few reps bring you closer and closer to max oxygen debt. About halfway through you basically stay there as the recovery is too short to really recover. Sure, metrics drop slightly, but they go right back up immediately. Each set yields around 4 minutes of total vo2 time, but its in a more specific way since it mimics rollers, attacks, etc. After doing these for a while I will bump the power up about 20w for the on or the off depending on what it is I think needs work- the size of the surge or recovering from it.

40/20: Same thing, but harder. These tend to still be done at the same power level, but I can bump them up 20w or so to make them more L6 oriented.

1min/20s. Lower on portion, but I treat it like I'd try to bridge up to a move or close a gap.

15/15- Out of the saddle for the first 5-8s trying to hit 300% of FTP at least, then drive in the saddle for 150%+ of FTP. With an FTP of 330 I aim for a 1000w initial kick, then drive at 500w. Off is basically 50% of FTP. These are almost entirely neuromuscular and are something I use for punchier races and trying not to suck at criteriums.

5s/10s- All out for the 5s. Designed to tax the CP system. Almost entirely L7. Very criterium/cross specific.

The length of sets varies with fitness and power profile. I can't do 15/15s longer than maybe 15min. total, but my teammate does them for an hour at the end of an endurance ride to prep for cross. His on portions are a bit lower since his event requires more consistent, lower output bursts.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:33 pm 
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jo.k wrote:
Tapeworm,

I've been trying these type of intervals out for some weeks now, and have mainly done 2-4x6mins with 40sec ON/20sec OFF, at approx. 120-130% of FTP while ON and hovering somewhere above 50% while OFF (depending on grade, fatigue etc.). Would you care to comment on the "quality" of this? Would I be better off doing shorter ON periods with highter intensity?

The main goal for me is twofold -- I am trying to "rebuild" my diesel engine to accept greater variance in effort while in the red, and at the same time building my vo2max. I have found anecdotally that the first part seems to work, but then again, I have been doing quite a bit of racing, too, so not easy to draw any conclusions.

Any comments appreciated, cheers.

I would keep the on period higher. The goal is to not let your oxygen consumption drop too much between the on efforts. I usually target 70%-75% of FTP for the off, which is still very aerobic and in layman's terms prevents you from coming down too much between sets. The 40/20 prescription I've found that works best is 40/20x6-8 min. w/5 min rest between sets. If doing straight sets I'd usually say 3x6 min. for a beginner, 2x8 from there, and 3x6 and 3x8 for someone that has been targeting these systems for slightly longer, had more experience with such workouts, or was focusing more on building up this quality. For 30/30s I've found slightly longer sets work well, such as 30/30x10min. w/5 min rest between sets for 3 sets.

Another alternative I've done, used and liked is doing maybe 2x6-8min. of 40/20 or 2x10 min. of 30/30, then doing a single set of 15min. of 15/15 after. More criterium specific, but its a great workout to use while trying to maintain during a peak/taper.

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Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:33 pm 


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