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  1. #1
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Do you do any interval training?

    Intervals are good for performance reasons, but I've heard they may also help with weight loss. You burn a lot of calories, although very few of them come from stored fat, and you add muscle tissue, which helps change your metabolism over time. One study found that you might burn 36 % more fat per hour, after interval training. So, I'm wondering if this is something other Clydes and Athenas do?

    Basically, interval training means going as hard as you can for a little while, then resting for a while - either by stopping all together, or pedaling gently for a bit. After that, you go all out again, then take another rest, repeat and rinse. As hard as you can should translate to your heart beating at 80+ % of its max, so this isn't for everyone. There are no rules on how long "a while" and "a bit" are, but the idea is that if you can do five minutes of high intensity pedaling without a break, you can do twenty with judicious resting during the same workout.

    So, that's what I know about them. I'm hoping I can learn a bit more from other cyclist's experience to get the most out of my time on the bike. And to see how the stuff I do compares to the other Clydes and Athenas on the roads and trailways.

    My answer is that I do these informally. I love to take long rides and rack lots of miles up, but I also enjoy Silly Commuter Racing ... and this works the heart. I ran an errand on the ride home on Tuesday, and challenged a few roadies. The ride included 16 minutes of aerobic exercise, 16 minutes of anaerobic, and 2 mins 30 seconds of red-line. But I didn't try to punctuate short bursts of work with short rests; I rode as hard as I could. After keeping my heart at 175 bmp for a while, I'd get exhausted and it would drop to "only" 160, but then I'd push harder after "resting" and make it up to 180 bmp. This guaranteed that there was no leap-frogging in any race. Yesterday, I did 10 more minutes at a very high intensity, and today I'll probably go kayaking and work my arms.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  2. #2
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Hill repeats are a form of intervals, and I'm a big advocate of hill repeat training for long distance riding. I also do some interval sprinting on long rides, kicking the pace up for a kilometer then dropping back down for the remainder of a mile, then do another kilometer at quick pace again.
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  3. #3
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    I do them, and they've helped me prepare for everything from the Death Ride to various double centuries (I'm a clyde, but when I'm really in shape, it's borderline - I swing between about 195 and 225). THere are lots of different kinds of intervals, for different purposes. A few I use:

    30/30's: close to what you describe. Find a long, gentle grade (will help get your heart rate up quicker). After a 15 minute warmup in zone 2, go all out for 30 seconds then rest (meaning keep spinning easily, but DO NOT STOP!) for the 30 seconds. I typically do this in sets of 6, and will do 3 sets in a workout with 10 minutes of easy spinning between sets. These often make me puke - ok, I'll get off the bike briefly if that happens.

    Tempo intervals: when you are just starting out, these should be 5 minutes long each, with 5 - 10 minute long breaks. Ride at tempo (defined as a pace that you can sustain for a long time, but will leave you tired. If you use a heart rate monitor, it should be solidly into zone 3 but not so high that you risk popping past the threshold to zone 4). During the breaks, you should be cruising at an easy pace. Increase the length of these over time as your fitness improves. I currently am doing 15 minute long intervals, and looking to increase that to 20 soon. Cadence should be high both during the tempo interval and during the break. I do 3 of these, usually after doing a more intense interval workout like the 30/30's. That gives a great workout in 2 hours or less. Ideally these should be right at the lactate threshold or the threshold between zones 3 and 4 - but it takes a while to figure out a pace that lets you build up to the threshold without blowing past it, so it's best to start out aiming to maintain mid to high zone 3 effort, then fine tune it.

    Hill repeats - all out efforts up a short, steep hill. You should be able to climb the hill in 5 minutes or so. The one I use is 1/2 mile long and a 10% grade.

    SFR's: Build power for climbing. Find a long, moderate grade hill (I use Mt. Diablo - more than 10 miles long with an average 6.5% grade). Warm up well (at least 15 minutes), then select a harder gear than you usually use to climb. You want your cadence to be SLOW - between 40 and 50 rpms. Your overall speed doesn't matter during the interval - this is weight lifting on your bike. My typical workout has 8 5 minute intervals, 4 seated and 4 standing. It should work out the muscles but leave your heartrate reasonable - zone 2, maybe into zone 3. There are variations to make this more or less challenging - I started on a more gradual climb, then moved to Mt. D. when I was in my big ring for both seated and standing intervals. Another option to make it easier at the beginning is to rollback between intervals - ride back down to where you started. As you get stronger, switch to no roll back - during the rest period between intervals keep climbing, but in your easiest gear and spinning. These are hard, and should leave your leg muscles beyond sore - I'm usually shaking after the last one. Do not do these if you have knee problems! These can also be problematic for folks with bad backs. I'd highly recommend a professional bike fit before doing these - if there's anything off on your fit, doing these has the potential to turn those into medical problems. After descending the hill, spin at a fast cadence for at least 20 minutes - both to remind your legs that this is how you will normally ride and to help the muscles relax.

    These are the basic building blocks for me, but I also throw in others: power jumps (big gear, come to an almost complete stop then accelerate away as fast and hard as you can for 30 seconds, then spin for a couple of minutes and do it again - 3 sets, 6 per set); variations on pyramids (starting with short intervals, each succeeding one getting longer, then after 4 or 5 shorten them down again), one legged drills, etc. Chris Carmichael's books are very useful to figure out the different intervals and which ones might help you achieve what you want to. All the rides around here have a lot of climbing, and I'm a mediocre climber at best so I've focused on making sure that's not going to keep me from doing the rides I want to. In a typical week, I'll do one or 2 days of SFR's, one day of 30/30's with tempo, one day of easy but long ride, one day of hill repeats. I'll also mix it up with hiking/trail running - the cross training is good, but I also like to remind myself why I like riding my bike so much! Running hurts.

    JB

    Edit: you really should have a good base before starting intervals. By their nature they test your body's limits, but if your body hasn't made the basic adaptations to cycling and your don't have decent aerobic conditioning when you start, you'll likely either hurt yourself or get so frustrated and tired out from them that you'll stop cycling.

    Also, every 3-4 weeks, I throw in a rest week - still lots of miles, but reduce or eliminate the intervals to give the body a chance to rest and rebuild.
    Last edited by jonathanb715; 07-22-10 at 05:33 PM.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    Intervals are good for performance reasons, but I've heard they may also help with weight loss.
    I have. It works extremely well. Good link:

    http://www.exrx.net/ExInfo/HIIT.html

    Two warnings:

    - Don't try intervals unless you are sure that your heart is in good shape

    - You probably know that you need rest days between interval training sessions. Don't make the mistake of thinking that training your arms instead of your legs is "rest". Intervals are very hard on the body and it responds by producing lots of natural steroids. These help with muscle repair, but they can crash the immune system. Not resting properly will interfere with muscle growth and put you at risk of viral infection.

  5. #5
    Senior Member socalrider's Avatar
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    High Intensity Interval Training or (HIIT) for weight loss has been around for over a decade and yes it does work.. A good friend of mine who is a personal trainer was having his clients do this back in the 90's with amazing results.. There are dozens of studies out there.. Using a HR Monitor is also of benefit when doing this kind of training..

    http://www.burnthefat.com/high_inten..._training.html

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    Just added intervals to my routine... Hurts so good! LOL

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    Senior Member nancyj's Avatar
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    I am doing intervals at the gym and hill climbing intervals in the 'hood - I have a half mile long 12% grade and at the gym I am doing it on the elliptical. That is my primary mode because I can better monitor HR and when recovery rate slows down can stop the intervals.

    At the gym, my intervals are 5 minutes at 80% then sprint for 1 minute then recovery
    I have read some on going into anaerobic mode by doing a flat out 6 second but by stopping there you don't get the lactate buildup and get the benefit.
    On the hill I just ride up, coast down ride up coast down.

    I did get my doctor's blessing and she recommended I not exceed 90% max HR - That more would not really give me a lot of benefit.

  8. #8
    Wookie Fred chewybrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonathanb715 View Post
    ...After a 15 minute warmup in zone 2, go all out for 30 seconds then rest (meaning keep spinning easily, but DO NOT STOP!) for the 30 seconds. I typically do this in sets of 6, and will do 3 sets in a workout with 10 minutes of easy spinning between sets. These often make me puke - ok, I'll get off the bike briefly if that happens...
    That sounds like the real deal. I think a lot of people say, or think they are doing interval training, but...

    For weight loss only, I'd rather modify my diet. If the performance gain is important to you, then it's worth it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chewybrian View Post
    That sounds like the real deal. I think a lot of people say, or think they are doing interval training, but...

    For weight loss only, I'd rather modify my diet. If the performance gain is important to you, then it's worth it.
    LOL - I rarely lose much weight when the intensity of my training bumps up - my appetite increases right along with the intensity. These workouts are all about improving performance. For really hard rides, I'll start increasing the intensity 10 weeks out and hopefully not be the last to finish when event day rolls around......

    JB
    "Poor Reverend Hamilton! He worked so hard, got a mountain named after him and now all anyone wants to do is complain about his backside!" Overheard while climbing Mt. Hamilton

    Check out my cycling blog.

  10. #10
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Nope! No intervals here. I ride the trail, I'm too much of a ******!


    Quote Originally Posted by Pamestique View Post
    you can't expect everyone to be a "professional" rider like you. Paths are used by noobs, goobers,
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
    You probably know that you need rest days between interval training sessions. Don't make the mistake of thinking that training your arms instead of your legs is "rest". Intervals are very hard on the body and it responds by producing lots of natural steroids. These help with muscle repair, but they can crash the immune system. Not resting properly will interfere with muscle growth and put you at risk of viral infection.
    Thanks for the warning! I think I'll take a compromise, then, and float gently on the water. That'll involve some work for the arms, but not too much.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  12. #12
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    Not intentionally but I live in West Virginia and I've no choice.
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    Senior Member mtalinm's Avatar
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    I like to think of commuting as interval training. I push as hard as possible until I hit an intersection or another reason I have to stop. then I push as hard as possible when the light turns green.
    Trek Domane 4.5 (commute/distance), Specialized Roubaix (climber), Xootr Swift (winter/travel), Trek Soho (around town)

  14. #14
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    Thanks for the warning! [Re rest] I think I'll take a compromise, then, and float gently on the water. That'll involve some work for the arms, but not too much.
    You might want to read "Body By Science". It's oriented to strength training rather than what people normally think of as endurance, but interval training blurs the lines. It's excellent on metabolic issues and a very enjoyable read.

    Also: do NOT do interval training if you have a cold! A hard workout floods your body with steroids, this lowers your immune system - and your cold has suddenly become the worst flu you have ever have. It doesn't always happen, but when it does you can be sick for weeks. Interval training lets you burn fat and gain fitness faster than any other method I know, but it has to be treated with respect.

  15. #15
    Senior Member ericsday's Avatar
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    i do interval training.. one week on tue and thur i do 6 3 min 30 sec full speed intervals. the next week i do 4 intervals at 90% for 12 min. those suck so awesome!

    total on these rides come out to 40 miles. burn lots of calories. Rest of the days are spinning days.
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