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Old 06-14-11, 08:25 PM   #1
wkndwarrior
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Crescendo intervals as a training method

Does anyone here do crescendo intervals? Here's an example of what I mean (and did today):

18 mph for 5 min
19 mph for 4 min
20 mph for 3 min
21 mph for 2 min

with a few minutes recovery in between. Just an example.

Basically, making each interval faster/harder than the previous one until you can't do any more. Crescendo.

I think it's a great way to find my LT threshold and pinpoint when I go anaerobic. For instance, I was able to do 18 mph for 5 min while staying under my LT threshold, and I touched my LT threshold while doing 19 mph. Went anaerobic while doing 20+ mph.

Let's see if I can increase the lengths of these intervals as my LT threshold moves up.
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Old 06-14-11, 08:29 PM   #2
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By the way, I did the above in a pretty controlled environment... a loop sheltered by lots of trees. No drafting. If I were drafting, I'd add +2 mph to those speeds (e.g. I'd hit my LT threshold if I was going 21-22 mph while drafting another rider. 19-20 mph solo).
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Old 06-15-11, 08:21 AM   #3
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Pyramid intervals are quite common. Do what you did, then go back down the same way. Ride normally for 5 minutes, than repeat the set. Do 3-4 sets or until you can't achieve the desired top speed any more. Unlikely you can determine your LT with such short intervals, but that also depends on one's definition of same. There's LT, OBLA, and MLSS. Good workout, anyway.
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Old 06-15-11, 10:25 AM   #4
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If you want to increase your threshold power you might be better off just doing 20 min intervals at or close to your threshold. They won't be as easy but they will probably be more effective.

The method you used isn't really useful for nailing down your threshold power and it appears you spent too much time riding easily. For example, if the 20mph interval was your threshold power, the 5 min 18mph interval would have been done at ~75% of threshold. I'm sure that's a comfortable pace but riding for 5 min isn't going to result in any type of improvement.

Typically, these type of shorter pyramid intervals are done over your threshold but it's not easy to do without a powermeter. You can read Pyramid Intervals % of FTP for some other perspectives from the racing forum.

The problem with doing the shorter intervals without a powermeter is it will be very difficult to measure your progress. The wind will never be the same. With a 5 mph wind, riding at 20mph would take 119 or 271 watts. If you want to do short intervals without a powermeter you're better off using a hill. That way you can track your progress with less influence from wind.
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Old 06-15-11, 12:25 PM   #5
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I'll try the 20 min intervals next time. The reason I called 19-20 mph my LT because that's when I started breathing heavily and feeling the burn in my legs. So if I were to sustain a pace for 20 minutes at or below my LT, it would probably be somewhere between 18 and 19 mph.

Right now I can't afford a power meter, but I used the park loop because it's pretty sheltered from the wind by trees, and even if there was wind, it would have approx zero net effect. A lot of other cyclists use the loop for interval work, too.

By the way, my crescendo workout pretty much wiped me out. If I had planned to work my way back down the pyramid, I wouldn't have been able to finish that. Maybe I just need to HTFU...
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Old 06-15-11, 03:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkndwarrior View Post
I'll try the 20 min intervals next time. The reason I called 19-20 mph my LT because that's when I started breathing heavily and feeling the burn in my legs. So if I were to sustain a pace for 20 minutes at or below my LT, it would probably be somewhere between 18 and 19 mph.

Right now I can't afford a power meter, but I used the park loop because it's pretty sheltered from the wind by trees, and even if there was wind, it would have approx zero net effect. A lot of other cyclists use the loop for interval work, too.

By the way, my crescendo workout pretty much wiped me out. If I had planned to work my way back down the pyramid, I wouldn't have been able to finish that. Maybe I just need to HTFU...
Mostly more base. It's supposed to be hard, BTW. Pyramid intervals are particular beasts that aid one in clearing lactate at high HR levels. One usually has considerable base and LT work before working on these, if one ever even does. They're particularly good for situations like circuit races or rolling hills where one will have to endure frequent and repeated accelerations, attempting to recover a bit between them. OTOH, one learns to ride fast by riding faster than one thinks one can, so it's all good as long as you have easy days between days of high effort.

Try three 15 minute LT intervals with 10 minutes of moderate riding between, or 3 X 15 X 10. Breathing should be deep and rapid. If you start panting, you've gone over. Try to hold the same speed/HR. Ignore the pain in your legs. Think happy thoughts. Do that twice/week for 3 weeks then a week without.

Last edited by Carbonfiberboy; 06-15-11 at 03:38 PM.
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Old 06-21-11, 10:15 AM   #7
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Thanks carbon. Yesterday, I did exactly what you suggested... 3 x 15 x 10, at 18-19 mph without drafting, and I was close to or at my LT. Was careful to not go over. Felt great. At the end, I was tired in a good way, and I feel like I could have done more (which is how the training bible says it should be).
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Old 06-21-11, 11:16 AM   #8
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Good for you. Good training like that is like candy. Be careful not to overdo it. After you do this training block, do 2 weeks where you do zone 3 intervals, 20 minutes at 100-110 cadence, 5 minutes easy spin, then another 20 minutes. Again, twice/week. That's a good change-up from the LT intervals. Then you should be ready for the harder stuff or just having fun riding your bike.
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