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  1. #1
    Whoopdidydooo
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    What zone do you workout for intervals?

    Just to get a feel of what people are doing for interval training. When I do interval training I mostly train above 90% zone 5 on intervals and during the rest period I have the HR around zone 4 before I do another set. What do you do?

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    Isaias NoRacer's Avatar
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    Intervals need to be designed to provide a stimulus to a traget energy system. The workbout and the rest "interval" have an effect on the resulting stimulii.

    Google using the keywords: training intervals

    Read.


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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Depends on what you're trying to do. I stairstep my intervals. Z3 for a month or so, then Z4 for a couple months, then Z5 for a month. Of course they all get mixed together to a certain extent, and I do a lot of pedalling drills that probably qualify as various kinds of intervals. My focus is on riding in the mountains, starting in late June. I recover down to Z2. If you're only recovering to Z4, maybe your not ready for Z5 yet. My HR snaps back pretty quickly.

    If you're racing the season your approach will be totally different.

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    Senior Member donrhummy's Avatar
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    You're not doing intervals properly. Zone 5 is fine but your rest period (usually around 2 minutes or so) should be zone 2.

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    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    I do my intervals at 92-98% of max-effort to MHR. That would be beyond Z5 I'd think..
    Last edited by DannoXYZ; 03-06-07 at 06:23 PM.

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    Funny I just asked this question on the power forum the other day to refine the intervals I'm doing in preparation for an event so I'm certainly no expert! That said I try to focus on critical durations/specific intervals that I'll need in group rides or upcoming races. As I get closer to a specific event I'll try to simulate the "intervals" I'll need for that event.

    My standard intervals during a given week work different zones (FTP or one hour power, vo2 or 5 min power, AC/anaerobic or 1 minute power). I do these at roughly 90-95% of maximum power, or rate of perceived exertion RPE for the duration. A typical week would look like...

    tue - vo2 5 x 5:00
    thu - 95% of FTP 2 x 20:00
    sat - AC 6 x 1:00 + SST (88-90% of FTP) 2 x 30:00
    sun - group ride (lots of sprints, 1:00 AC bursts, etc)

    One of the variables you can play with is recovery between intervals. For vo2 intervlas I usually use a 1:1 ratio, while for AC it's 1:5. For a 20:00 FTP interval it's usualy around 5-10 mins tops.

    Hope this helps. I'm interested in what others say in response.

    gene r

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    Isaias NoRacer's Avatar
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    ^^^^^^
    95% of LT is maintenance not improvement. You need to be ~100-110% of LT

    VO2Max - if you aren't 100% of VO2Max or 5 minute power (you know, because you'll see god on these efforts) then you aren't providing a hard enough effort to improve VO2Max.
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    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Yeah, "intervals" at LT or below aren't really "intervals". They're tempo workouts for the aerobic system. Real intervals are anaerobic above LT and taxes your muscular system. Increasing muscular efficiency allows you to generate more power at LT and more power for any given oxygen-consumption. If you didn't hit 100% MHR by the end of the interval, you didn't push hard enough.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NoRacer
    ^^^^^^
    95% of LT is maintenance not improvement. You need to be ~100-110% of LT

    Maybe that's been your experience but it's not been my experience. I've seen pretty dramatic improvement in my FTP doing 20 or 30 minute intervals at 95% of FTP, as have many others. In fact there are a number of posters on the Power Forum who've seen the seen results doing FTP intervals at 88-95% of FTP.

    Maybe it depends on where you are individually on the development curve. Maybe those that are close to their genetic ceiling need to/can push harder week-in wek-out. I've adjusted my FTP upwards 4-5 times now over the past 8 months so I'm still going up the curve. I like doing these at 95% becuase they are a helluva lot easier than trying to go out and do them at 100%+ week-in, week-out.

    I'm not saying I'll never do FTP intervals at 100%. In fact as I near a target event I will go harder to simulate the event. If I do push harder, 100-100% of FTP, I'll usually shorten the duration to 12-15 minutes. Again it works for me, but may be different for others.

    VO2Max - if you aren't 100% of VO2Max or 5 minute power (you know, because you'll see god on these efforts) then you aren't providing a hard enough effort to improve VO2Max.
    Hmmm. If I'm seeing god am I not anaerobic? Coggan (Author of Training and Racing with a Power Meter) defines Vo2 as roughly 106-120% of FTP. If I'm seeing god at the 5 minite mark and at 120% of my FTP I've probably crossed into anaerobic land, and my body is about to shut down. I do however see god (she's quite a looker ) when I'm doing AC intervals. Again YMMV but that's been my experience.

    BTW there is an error in my original post. I do vo2's and AC's at the highest rate of percevied exertion for the duration (not at 95% as my post implies) and then check later to see what kind of power I'm putting out. I approach FTPs a bit differently. I do check my power meter when doing these so I'm not redlining (100% + of FTP), again so I can get through an entire set and not feel trashed.

    gene r

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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
    Yeah, "intervals" at LT or below aren't really "intervals". They're tempo workouts for the aerobic system. Real intervals are anaerobic above LT and taxes your muscular system. Increasing muscular efficiency allows you to generate more power at LT and more power for any given oxygen-consumption. If you didn't hit 100% MHR by the end of the interval, you didn't push hard enough.
    Ahhh, maybe we're using different definitions? First off they are "real" intervals whether they are at 88%, 95%, or 100% of MHR or FTP, at least in my world.

    Second, hitting 100% of MHR for an FTP interval would no longer make it an FTP interval, instead I'd be doing anaerobic work or AC intervals, and couldn't possibly hold MHR or Anaerobic power for 20 minutes. Insofar as "pushing hard enough is concerned" per my other post (in response to NoRacer's comments) IMO and others opinions you don't need to be "redlining" to see training adaptation in various energy systems.

    gene r

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    Isaias NoRacer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LT Intolerant
    Insofar as "pushing hard enough is concerned" per my other post (in response to NoRacer's comments) IMO and others opinions you don't need to be "redlining" to see training adaptation in various energy systems.

    gene r
    True enough unless you are working on VO2Max or lactate tolerance. And, if you don't do it for VO2Max or lactate tolerance, then you still may reap rewards, but the stimulus for adaptation won't be as great.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LT Intolerant
    Ahhh, maybe we're using different definitions? First off they are "real" intervals whether they are at 88%, 95%, or 100% of MHR or FTP, at least in my world.

    Second, hitting 100% of MHR for an FTP interval would no longer make it an FTP interval, instead I'd be doing anaerobic work or AC intervals, and couldn't possibly hold MHR or Anaerobic power for 20 minutes. Insofar as "pushing hard enough is concerned" per my other post (in response to NoRacer's comments) IMO and others opinions you don't need to be "redlining" to see training adaptation in various energy systems.
    Yeah, we may have different definitions, but in cycling-training terms, "intervals" are anaerobic and above LT while "tempo" is LT and below. Both have time-periods and timing, which is where the word "interval" gets mixed up.

    The "FTP interval" and 20-minute stuff you're talking about is typically referred to as aerobic tempo "intervals", although dropping "intervals" from it will make it easier to distinguish between the two types of workouts.

    On anaerobic intervals, hitting 100% MHR only occurs in the last 5-seconds or so of the interval. The idea is to hold a steady power-output, 110, 120 or 150% or whatever above FTP. Pretty difficult to hold anaerobic intervals for more than 5-8 minutes as HR will be above LT and steadily increasing, 170bpm -> 175bpm -> 180bpm -> 185bpm -> MHR at end.

    In terms of increasing lactic-acid buffering and power-output at LT, redlining gives faster results than not. One or two sets of pyramid intervals a week gives the fastest increase in TT speeds from week to week. Jump-accelerations to create or chase-down breaks as well as recovery from sprints are improved tremendously by doing anaerobic intervals to MHR. At one point, I could go all out for a prime-sprint, win it, and by the time I sat down and pulled back into the pack, I was recovered and ready to go again.
    Last edited by DannoXYZ; 03-06-07 at 10:13 PM.

  13. #13
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    I am sure I could look up some good advice in one of my cycling books but, given the origional question in this thread, of the people that have used intervals as a regular part of their training, answer a couple questions for me: (1) how long (minutes) are your intervals where you plan to achieve MHR?, (2) how long do you recover between intervals?....do you have a set recovery time or do you just pedal easy or at a certain rate until your HR returns to a certain level and then go again? (3) how many intervals do you think is optimum to do in any one training session?...The more the better?...or is there a point of diminishing returns (ignoring motivation).

    The reason I ask is that I just started racing last year and so just discovered the critical importance of intervals. This winter I have been training, including intervals for the first time. So far, I have just finished putting in my base miles and started doing intervals about 2 weeks ago. My plan has been to do 5 one minute intervals with a three minute rest in between twice per week. But, it occurs to me that perhaps I should guage when to begin the next interval based on HR rather than just time. RIght now, I also try to keep up a fairly aggressive pace during my 3 minute recovery period to simulate race conditions but tha does not let my HR drop off the MHR by more than about 15 beats or so. SO, what do you guys do? does it work? ANy critique of what I am doing?
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbaronzzi
    (1) how long (minutes) are your intervals where you plan to achieve MHR?, (2) how long do you recover between intervals?....do you have a set recovery time or do you just pedal easy or at a certain rate until your HR returns to a certain level and then go again? (3) how many intervals do you think is optimum to do in any one training session?...The more the better?...or is there a point of diminishing returns (ignoring motivation).

    My plan has been to do 5 one minute intervals with a three minute rest in between twice per week. But, it occurs to me that perhaps I should guage when to begin the next interval based on HR rather than just time. Right now, I also try to keep up a fairly aggressive pace during my 3 minute recovery period to simulate race conditions but tha does not let my HR drop off the MHR by more than about 15 beats or so. SO, what do you guys do? does it work? ANy critique of what I am doing?

    My question would be what event are you preparing for?

    The only intervals I do where I achieve MHR are anaerobic intervals (ACs), that are typically 1:30-3 mins in length. You can do longer intervals achieivng MHR at the end of the interval (e.g., 5-10 min or more) but you are now doing some kind of Over/Under intervals and crossing energy system (FTP or LT to Vo2 to AC).

    I typically (there's that word again) allow for a 1:5 (work:recovery) ratio for AC intervals and go for full recovery, but I'll customize this based on the event I'm training for. If I have an event where I won't have full recovery time (e.g., short course Crit with a hill) I'll shorten the time to recover to prepare for the demands of the event. It seems like you are doing this already.

    The # of intervals is so personal. I will usually do 6-8 AC intervals in a session before I say "no mas". I usually will pack it in when I "feel" a significant drop in power/quality. What's interesting is when I go back and analyze the power data there isn't the kind of drop off I would expect based on how I felt on my 6th, 7th, or 8th interval. That is I probably felt like throwing up on #s 6-8, but my power output is still within 5% of intervals 1-5. I asked Hunter Allen (Cycling Peaks Founder) about this a couple of weeks ago and his response was that most cyclists can handle more than they think they can and you should push through that initial pain and desire to shut it down when doing ACs. So I've become better about not packing it in after interval # 5 or 6 since I started training with power.

    It sounds like you are on track with your program when it comes to working your AC & Vo2 energy systems. You sure as hell are mentally tough if you only let your HR drop 15 beats from max during recovery and you can complete 5 quality ACs! In fact you are in a way doing a vo2/AC over/under interval that is 4 minutes in duration x 5. What a killer workout! Ouch.

    gene r

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    LT Intolerant:

    My typical races are crits with a loop of about 1.5 miles and a couple hills thrown in...so they can get pretty intense.

    As for me "only letting my HR drop 15 beats from max during recovery," it is not a conscious choice...it is just that my 3 minute recovery period is up and it is time to go again. I was hoping that within the next few weeks I would see my heart begin to recover more quickly and fully before the end of the three minutes. That is, after all, one of my main objectives in doing intervals. As for "5 quality ACs" I admit that the last couple aren't as good as the first couple but I am encouraged to hear your observation about wattage comparisons from the first intervals to the last. I don't have a power meter so I don't know.

    Do you think I should lengthen my intervals to at least 1.5 minutes? I noticed you said you do intervals of b/w 1.5 and 3 minutes.

    Intervals are a killer but I only do them twice per week and getting beat in a race feels worse than the pain of intervals. That is my motivation. Plus, I know that somewhere those other racers are probably doing intervals right now.
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    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Personally I wouldn't do more than one interval workout day a week. For crits, do one day of sprints and another day of intervals. Pyramid sets are great, 1-2-3-2-1 minutes. You're overdoing it if your HR only recovers 15 bpm from max in 3-minutes. Give yourself some longer breaks and get down to 50-60% MHR. This will allow you to push harder on each interval and get more benefits of improved muscular-efficiency.

    Work out your aerobic system separately on differnet days. Like with tempo and hill-climbs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
    Yeah, we may have different definitions, but in cycling-training terms, "intervals" are anaerobic and above LT while "tempo" is LT and below.
    According to this guy, as presented at the USCF Cycling Summit, intervals extend down to 95% of threshold power and can go for as long as 30 minutes. They are used to increase power at LT. I trust him.
    http://www.peakscoachinggroup.com/co...h_stephen.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by cbaronzzi
    LT Intolerant:

    My typical races are crits with a loop of about 1.5 miles and a couple hills thrown in...so they can get pretty intense.

    As for me "only letting my HR drop 15 beats from max during recovery," it is not a conscious choice...it is just that my 3 minute recovery period is up and it is time to go again. I was hoping that within the next few weeks I would see my heart begin to recover more quickly and fully before the end of the three minutes. That is, after all, one of my main objectives in doing intervals. As for "5 quality ACs" I admit that the last couple aren't as good as the first couple but I am encouraged to hear your observation about wattage comparisons from the first intervals to the last. I don't have a power meter so I don't know.

    Do you think I should lengthen my intervals to at least 1.5 minutes? I noticed you said you do intervals of b/w 1.5 and 3 minutes.

    Intervals are a killer but I only do them twice per week and getting beat in a race feels worse than the pain of intervals. That is my motivation. Plus, I know that somewhere those other racers are probably doing intervals right now.
    - If your typical event is as you stated you've got a prety good formula for AC intervals. Once you are able to complete 5 solid AC intervals at 1:00 per interval then you might extend the time, or as Danno suggests start to do some pyramids. You should build to 3:00 over time but again the question is what does your event demand? If you go on the attack and are off the front for 3 mins or even 5 mins you should build your 3 & 5 min power. If it's nothing more than 1:00 or 45 second efforts then build that power range. I did AC intervals for years without tying them back to a specific event. Once I did I saw better results and psychologically felt better prepared.

    - I'd extend your recovery period to 1 min of work and 5 mins recovery. If you start to recover more quickly (inside 5 mins) that's great, then you can shorten to facilitate additional adaptation. Hunter Allen says that it takes about 6 weeks to see real adaptation, so stay with it.

    - I do ACs 1x per week "in season". Doing them twice per week would be tough, and if you do a fast group ride you'll get some AC from that obviating the need to do a second day of structured AC intervlas. What I mean by "in season" is I don't do structured AC intervals during Base period (see Joe Friel's stuff) or in the off-season. I get my AC through group rides (we have a very fast Sunday ride in S Barbara) during base and off-seasosn which helps me maintain my AC power.

    Hope that helps.

    gene r

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    good advice. Thanks.
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    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by asgelle
    According to this guy, as presented at the USCF Cycling Summit, intervals extend down to 95% of threshold power and can go for as long as 30 minutes. They are used to increase power at LT. I trust him.
    http://www.peakscoachinggroup.com/co...h_stephen.html
    Same as before, we're nit-picking on terminology. Stephen doesn't distinguish between intervals above and below LT with different terms. He doesn't use "tempo" anywhere on his site. However, he does show that there are different types of workouts that he calls "intervals":

    "In this, I mean that certain intervals can be used to specifically target adaptations resulting in improved VO2max, whereas others may be more likely to elicit adaptations to the lactate threshold. Moreover, certain intervals are effective at raising one’s anaerobic capacity or neuromuscular fitness. As we all should be aware, the long term goals of most competitive cyclists should be to raise their VO2max, LT power, and for some disciplines, anaerobic capacity and neuromuscular fitness. "

    For clarity in discussion, I find it easier to separate "intervals" into two terms 1) Anaerobic Intervals (AC) for anaerobic capacity, LT power and neuromuscular fitness and 2) Aerobic Tempo for VO2max. Both have a place in everyone's training programme.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
    For clarity in discussion, I find it easier to separate "intervals" into two terms 1) Anaerobic Intervals (AC) for anaerobic capacity, LT power and neuromuscular fitness and 2) Aerobic Tempo for VO2max. Both have a place in everyone's training programme.
    Do what you like, but to state categorically, as you did, that the term "intervals" does not apply to aerobic work is contradicted by experts in the field. What you call nit-picking, I see as avoiding sloppy and misleading language, or as Dr. Coggan puts it ,"Or, to put it another way: the precise communication of precise ideas requires the precise use of precise terminology." http://forum.slowtwitch.com/gforum.c...ecise;#1197877

    But now I'm really confused. I don't see how an interval can be intense enough to train LT and neuromuscular power, but not VO2max (assuming you believe the same effort can train both NP and LT, which I don't). Similarly, how an effort low enough not to be considered anaerobic, can train VO2max and not LT. See, for example table 2, http://www.cyclingpeakssoftware.com/power411/levels.asp

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    One confusion I see in this discussion is specificity again. What are the intervals for? If he's racing a crit where there's a big acceleration out of every corner, maybe he needs to do lactate tolerance intervals, which means not recovering any more than he is now. If he's trying to increase VO2max, maybe he needs to recover down to z2 between intervals so they can be more intense. Or probably the VO2max intervals first, then moving into the lactate tolerance ones later.

    Someone asked what sort of an interval it takes to achieve MHR. For me, I have to climb for a long time, then bring it up to about 7 beats below MHR for about 10 minutes, then break into a full sprint at the summit. That's the only thing that does it for me. Ordinary intervals never get closer than 5 beats for me. My legs run out of gas before my HR can come all the way up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
    One confusion I see in this discussion is specificity again. What are the intervals for? If he's racing a crit where there's a big acceleration out of every corner, maybe he needs to do lactate tolerance intervals, which means not recovering any more than he is now. If he's trying to increase VO2max, maybe he needs to recover down to z2 between intervals so they can be more intense. Or probably the VO2max intervals first, then moving into the lactate tolerance ones later.

    Someone asked what sort of an interval it takes to achieve MHR. For me, I have to climb for a long time, then bring it up to about 7 beats below MHR for about 10 minutes, then break into a full sprint at the summit. That's the only thing that does it for me. Ordinary intervals never get closer than 5 beats for me. My legs run out of gas before my HR can come all the way up.
    One of the issues we have on these forums is terminology. Coggan's levels are different than Carmichael's zones which are different than Friel's zones. So I apologize in advance for not "getting it" at times. Can you define "lactate tolerance intervals" based on your definition? I go by Coggan's schemes because he and Hunter Allen "wrote the book" on training with power and that's what guides/shapes my training. So an LT/FTP interval is a certain % of FTP, and a vo2 or AC is another % of FTP.

    In regards to your observation about the OP recovering to z2 so he can do vo2 work, if the OP is doing work in the vo2 "power band" he is doing vo2 work regardless of whether he's fully or only partially recovered, no? I think if he allows for full recovery he will be able to do more work in the vo2 range without feeling as trashed (my interpretation) as he feels today.

    Insofar as training for a crit is concerned crits require bursty efforts (lots of sprinting/neuromuscular work), and really work vo2 and AC with constant attacking, bridging, and recovery efforts. LT/FTP is more applicable to RRs and medium (20 mins) to long (35+ min) climbs in my experience.

    I think it's important to have as high an FTP as is genetically possible to be able to withstand a goodly amount of work at FTP so you can be as fresh as possible when the attacks come, but to really excel at crits you've got to have that bursty, 5 second, 30 second, 1 minute power, again in my experience.

    Last, when I do AC intervals I have no problem reaching maximum RPE (no longer use a HRM). 1.5-3 minutes all out up an 8% grade or into a stiff wind on the flats has me seeing god (as NoRacer puts it), even if I start from a fully recovered state. This may be due to where I am on the developmental curve as a cyclist (racing off and on since '88) and YMMV.

    gene r

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    Just wanted to say thanks for the quality discussion so far, it's been a great read.

    For the sake of some input on my part (i don't want to get into my interval routine), the closest i've come to my MHR was while doing repeat sprints on my second try. I did a 15 sec sprint with 20 second rest and my return sprint into the wind got me to 199 for almost 10 seconds. The only other time I broke into the 190s was when I did a FTP (functional threshold power) test on a CompuTrainer. My avg HR was 185 and for the final 2 min I did a max effort sprint. My HR for the last 15 seconds was 191, not even my max.

    Coggan has a nice neuromuscular workout in his power training book which consisted of something like 15x15sec standing sprints at 250-300% FTP. That was the hardest workout of my life...try it sometime.

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Yes, thanks so much for the quality discussion. I started training with an HRM back when that was bleeding edge and thought I was totally geeky with my downloading 720i. I see I've not kept up with the technology. OTOH, I'm not going to spend my tire money on a power meter though I can certainly see its utility. One of the problems I see now is that if one has a lot of base and experience, one's HR lags so far behind one's effort that the whole Friel zone thing is fairly meaningless. Which is one of the reasons I've not had much luck with intervals based on HR.

    I suppose it would be possible and even a good idea to get a reading on one's FTP simply by noting cog and cadence on a convenient long steady climb at LT. Then one could dial in the various power zones simply by calculating gear-inches and cadence. One wouldn't need a power meter at all if one did one's intervals on the same convenient hill. I think I'll try that.

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