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Mixing in a HIIT interval session into my less-structured outdoor riding life

Old 09-27-19, 09:52 AM
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MinnMan
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Mixing in a HIIT interval session into my less-structured outdoor riding life

When weather permits it, and even when the weather is more than a little hostile, I'm an outdoor rider. I do not follow a disciplined training plan, but my week is a mixture of easy and hard rides, including 3 or maybe 4 group rides in the warmer months and 1 or two in the colder times. The hard rides are usually Wednesday and Saturday. I typically take 1-2 rest days/week, normally on Monday or Tuesday and then on Thursday or Friday. If I ride on M/T/Th/F they are usually easy, though sometimes not.

Because everybody says so and because I'd like to improve, I recently added one weekly HIIT interval session on the trainer on Thursday. I am somewhat skeptical that this is going to make a difference unless I commit to a more structured plan the rest of the week (which just isn't going to happen), but well, why not try it and see?

The HIIT session is 30 seconds on/off at high intensity. Thus far I warm up and then do a set of 5 at 175% of FTP and a second set 10-15 minutes later at ~200% of FTP for as many as I can do - which so far is two. I know I should be doing more like 40 seconds/20 seconds, but my HR recovery is terrible, and I couldn't manage that. This is one of the reasons I'm trying the HIITs - to see if it might improve my HRR.

So, questions:

1. I'm wondering if others do a similar mixed approach to training (mostly outdoors and unstructured, with one disciplined session/week) and if it helps?

2. If I'm going to do this, how important is it that I take the day after (Friday) as a complete rest day? Would recovery be harmed if I do a 1-2 hour low intensity ride the day afterwards. This is in the context that on Saturday there is likely to be a hard effort (i.e., a fast group ride of 80-100 miles, where I do my share of the pulling).
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Old 09-27-19, 11:02 AM
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Rest day before hiit. Not hiit the day after. That's about it.

I'd modify your % if you can not finish two sets. It's more about finishing the workout than hitting crazy % or crazy power figures.

Look at it this way, even if you don't even spin any power between efforts.......one 30/30 set at 200% is 5min at your ftp non-stop. With spinning something, it's probably closer to 110 to 120% for 5 min. Which isn't exactly a slouch fest at all.

Try 150% for a while and try to hit three sets instead. That's my advice.

Also, if you're not doing crits/cross or something........I'd advocate to look into 2 sets of 3x3min instead. At ~120%.
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Old 09-27-19, 11:47 AM
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Design of HIIT is first about goals / strengths and weaknesses. On your group rides, where do you feel you need improvement? Then what type of rider are you? I am more of a bursty rider versus one that likes a lot of constant torque in my legs. So I am really good at 30 on 30 off and less good at let's say 5 minute VO2 work or 20 minute over / under work.

Back to 30/30... The coach I used last year loves 30on /30 off. And he considers them a threshold builder. The east Germans came up with the idea and found it to be one of the best ways to improve cycling performance. However, the protocol is 3x10' of 30sec on 30 seconds off with 5' rest between intervals and then rest 10 minutes and do another 3 sets of 10 minutes. That is 60, 30 second on intervals for the workout.

So now what is the power level for the 30 seconds on? Well, if I am going to do 60 reps, I could not do 200% FTP. I use 115% to 120% and I accelerate to the goal power versus pop it. So I may use 5 second to get up to power. This may sound too easy but one has to consider the money shot is in the second group after the 10 minute rest doing the final 20 reps of 30 seconds on.

The theory behind these things is that one overloads the system at VO2 during the on portion and there is a carry over to the rest period such that it is equivalent to riding at VO2 continuously without the muscle strain for 10 minutes. Hence, this workout is an FTP builder.

If you want to pop the 30 seconds at a much higher % of FTP, then know that it will get really hard to maintain that intensity and one may have to quit after one 10 minute set.

One can vary the interval within the 10 minute time period and use 1 minute on or 2 minutes on versus 30 seconds with an appropriate off period.

I have used a number of different coaches and I have not been prescribed 3' intervals. I have done 3' at 115% followed by 2' at 85% repeat for 20 minutes.

The key is what do you want to improve to allow you to have more enjoyment on your group rides.
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Old 09-27-19, 12:00 PM
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Also, if you're using like erg mode on the trainer for tabata style intervals, stop. Just do them at your maximum effort and the power sorts itself out quickly, and as mentioned sets is more important, they should become aerobic pretty fast
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Old 09-27-19, 12:02 PM
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Thanks for the feedback. I would consider changing the HIIT regimen. But my goals are that I'm the opposite of Hermes. I'm good at sustained hard efforts, but terrible in short bursts and sprints and once I blow up, I don't recover well. I can do stronger and longer pulls than many (though not all) of the guys I ride with, whereas most of them kick my a$$ on the sprints.

That's why I'm emphasizing hard efforts in the intervals.

At 72 kg, my 1 hour FTP based on a 20 minute test is 240 watts (3.3 W/kg) (that agrees with my best power average in a Zwift race that lasted about 50 minutes -240 W average). But I've never put out anything above 750 watts (10.9 W/kg)under any measured circumstance (I only recently got a power meter for my outdoor bike, but this includes lots of trainer efforts)

Last edited by MinnMan; 09-27-19 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 09-27-19, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post

Also, if you're not doing crits/cross or something........I'd advocate to look into 2 sets of 3x3min instead. At ~120%.
How long of a rest between intervals do you recommend for those?
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Old 09-27-19, 12:15 PM
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Therefore, I suggest something like 1 minute all out and I mean pop it from the start and then rest 3 to 5 minute and do another one and etc. Having solid 1' power is an advantage in group rides. Most of the time really hard stuff settles down within a minute. Of course that can vary. Just as I will never be a great continuous power guy, you will not be a great kilo rider. However, we can both improve.

The key point in doing HIIT is do not get injured and it is easy to injure soft tissue. My suggestion is to sneak up on the power levels and whatever interval you choose, pick a power level that seems reasonable and try it. The next week, raise it.

If you want to stay with 30/30 format, start with a 10 minute set. The next time you do it, commit to two 10 minute sets and etc. Duration is always the hard part in cycling and having power and duration at the end when it matters the most is the hardest of all aspects to get. When everyone else is tired, you have the juice.
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Old 09-27-19, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by OBoile View Post
How long of a rest between intervals do you recommend for those?
3 minutes for reps, they're a 1:1 work ratio. 6 minutes between sets. They suck. Spin maybe 100w to 150w max between reps.

Adjust the % from 120 to be able to finish or do them all. If you do them all, either up the power or attempt one set of 5x3min.

Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
Therefore, I suggest something like 1 minute all out and I mean pop it from the start and then rest 3 to 5 minute and do another one and etc. Having solid 1' power is an advantage in group rides.
QFT. That's a good suggestion. I tend to go "segment hunt" for what Hermes suggests. We have a lot of local hill sprints people battle for that are from around 30 sec to 90 seconds.

If I'm after someone's crown, ain't leaving anything on the table.

To add to that, the idea on the 1min pop in the group I ride in is how many times or how often folks can do it.
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Old 09-27-19, 12:45 PM
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Again, thanks for the input. I didn't get a direct answer to my question, but I'm going to take it as an implicit "yes" - one weekly disciplined HIIT session (albeit with suggested modifications) might produce results that I will notice on the bike. I'm not expecting a miraculous conversion to super-sprinter, just improvement.
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Old 09-27-19, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
3 minutes for reps, they're a 1:1 work ratio. 6 minutes between sets. They suck. Spin maybe 100w to 150w max between reps.

Adjust the % from 120 to be able to finish or do them all. If you do them all, either up the power or attempt one set of 5x3min.
Thanks!
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Old 09-27-19, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post

1. I'm wondering if others do a similar mixed approach to training (mostly outdoors and unstructured, with one disciplined session/week) and if it helps?
I tend to aim for one structured day per week. I do it either on the trainer or somewhere outside where I can do intervals during the summer. The rest of my rides are either commutes or group rides. I don't necessarily do HIIT, but there will be some sort of specific plan. In the winter, I aim for two interval type workouts per week.

Does it work for me? I guess. I have no idea if it is optimal (it probably isn't), but it fits my schedule. Also, "that which is measured improves". Having something specific that I can compare against previous efforts is a good way to see if I'm progressing or not. It also gives me a target to try to beat. As every group ride is different, it's much harder to see progress in those.

Adding to what others have said, I'm not sure what you're doing is best for short sprints. If you're goal is maximum power over a short period of time (say ~15 seconds), you should be doing a few all-out intervals with close to complete recovery in between (more knowledgeable people, please feel free to correct me on this). If your goal is to be good at a longer period of high intensity (perhaps you race the final couple of KMs for instance) then what you're doing (or something like what burnthesheep suggested) is more likely to help.
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Old 09-27-19, 01:26 PM
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Answer to original question...it depends. I would say that one high intensity session per week will result in adaptation. However, training is very much athlete specific.

The other aspect is duration. Duration is generally more important than absolute power. It is better to do 3x10' of 30/30 than 1x10' 30/30. It is better to ride a 10 minute interval at 95% FTP than an 8 minute at 105% FPT. Duration trumps power.

If you want to do BTS's 3'x3' then commit and do the entire workout. That will generate more change than let's say doing a very hard 3' effort and then say, I am gassed and cannot do any more and quit. That has been my experience.
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Old 09-27-19, 08:05 PM
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1-2 days a week I go 100% as hard as I can for 22-25 miles solo. The other days are a mix of tempo and zone 2 at longer distances, and a rest day. Weekends are for longer fast group rides with sprints. Been working great for me so far.

My HR on a hard day
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Old 09-27-19, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post

1-2 days a week I go 100% as hard as I can for 22-25 miles solo. The other days are a mix of tempo and zone 2 at longer distances, and a rest day. Weekends are for longer fast group rides with sprints. Been working great for me so far.

My HR on a hard day

Interesting. This is an outdoor ride? If so, you are lucky to have a convenient place to ride so steadily, with no stop signs or traffic lights, it seems. And the terrain is flat? Or is this a trainer ride?

I don't know where 154-158 bpm is in terms of your HR zones, but if I were going full on for an hour, then there's no way I'd be producing such a steady HR.
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Old 09-27-19, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
1. I'm wondering if others do a similar mixed approach to training (mostly outdoors and unstructured, with one disciplined session/week) and if it helps?
I used to do HIIT once a week, on Tuesdays. I would be recovered from my weekend fun by then, and could take a light spin in Wednesdays, and ride for enjoyment the rest of the week. I did mine outdoors in hill repeats. And I saw improvement.

But I'm a natural sprinter, like Hermes. I can make big power numbers for short amounts of time, but my 2 hour numbers, well, they're not dismal, but for sure nothing to be proud of. So I dropped the HIIT in favor of longer intervals, like 3 to 20 minutes. Those longer ones give me thoughts like I could die and not have to finish.

My season ended in August with peroneal tendinitis. Doctor says I should be funny recovered a few weeks before ski season. On that note, ibuprofen works better than opiates, FYI.
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Old 09-28-19, 05:00 AM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
Interesting. This is an outdoor ride? If so, you are lucky to have a convenient place to ride so steadily, with no stop signs or traffic lights, it seems. And the terrain is flat? Or is this a trainer ride?

I don't know where 154-158 bpm is in terms of your HR zones, but if I were going full on for an hour, then there's no way I'd be producing such a steady HR.
Yes this is an outdoor ride. Terrain is flat with the exception of two slight climbs at the end. Believe it or not I have to deal with 4 way stop signs. My threshold HR is 157. Iím not training to HR though. Iím training to power. My effort is truly 100% what I can handle for that day and duration....which is why it looks so flat.
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Old 09-28-19, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
I used to do HIIT once a week, on Tuesdays. I would be recovered from my weekend fun by then, and could take a light spin in Wednesdays, and ride for enjoyment the rest of the week. I did mine outdoors in hill repeats. And I saw improvement.

But I'm a natural sprinter, like Hermes. I can make big power numbers for short amounts of time, but my 2 hour numbers, well, they're not dismal, but for sure nothing to be proud of. So I dropped the HIIT in favor of longer intervals, like 3 to 20 minutes.
Those longer ones give me thoughts like I could die and not have to finish.

My season ended in August with peroneal tendinitis. Doctor says I should be funny recovered a few weeks before ski season. On that note, ibuprofen works better than opiates, FYI.
Hope your leg gets better!

A few years ago, I was going to do my first 40k individual time trial. I was talking with a former UCI world tour pro racer who was on our team and offered some advice. He said to break it down into 4 segments and think about increasing pedal force each 10k segment. He said, know that in the last 10k no one has ever died feeling that bad and I should have the slight taste of blood in my mouth. My final 10k was more like a rabid dog frothing at mouth while pedaling squares.
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Old 09-28-19, 09:15 AM
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Here is a bike forum sticky of a list of interval workouts. This may offer up some ideas. The BikeForums.net workout recipe book
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Old 09-29-19, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
Therefore, I suggest something like 1 minute all out and I mean pop it from the start and then rest 3 to 5 minute and do another one and etc. Having solid 1' power is an advantage in group rides. Most of the time really hard stuff settles down within a minute. Of course that can vary.
Hermes. Im still thinking about this. I agree that 1 minute power improvement is a useful goal for me. So how exactly would I follow the suggestion above? If I start out truly "all out", that's my 5 second power level which I can't maintain for 60 seconds. So do I start out truly full gas and struggle through the 1 minute as my power decays, working to keep it from decaying as much as possible? Or do I aim for my estimated 60 second power and once I establish that, aim to do just a little more? Also, as I tire, I expect that the power in the later 1 minute intervals will start to diminish - so when do I call it quits?

As it is, in the 30/30 intervals I've been doing, I can't maintain my target power in that second 200% interval. It decays as the 30 seconds passes. I have figured that working to improve that would be a useful goal.

Thanks
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Old 09-30-19, 09:54 AM
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There are many ways to do 1 minute efforts. First over arching goal in not to get injured which is easy to do for masters athletes doing this type of effort. The next decision is more about how your group dynamics are. Do you feel like you go hard and then slow down or are there periods where there are numerous accelerations in a row?

One protocol is a criss cross format where you apply 1' power and spin for 1' (z1/z2) then 1' power again z1z2 again for a total of 10 minutes. That is the end of the workout. I am a negative split type of guy and prefer to have my last intervals be my best. I find this correlates with actual group riding / race conditions. It is always better to have power and endurance at the end. Pick a power lever that you know you can raise each time for the 10 minute duration of the session. If you go all out on the first couple there is a good chance that you will injure yourself and quit before you do five. I would suggest being conservative and do not do 200% FTP. Maybe 130% and see how that goes. And increase it over the session to 140% for the last one. If that is too easy. The next week raise the power target appropriately but keep in mind that muscles get stronger fast but other soft tissue lags behind. So there is that.

The other format is do 5x!' intervals with more rest in between intervals. In this case the goal is the same to increase the power with each interval and since there is more rest, you can start with a higher power number but not too much.

The other variable is do you stand and pop in 200% FTP and settle into 130% or do you accelerate to 130%? It should be obvious that punching 200% takes a lot out of you and will be quite easy for the first one but become really hard for the later ones.

You have to decide what approach you want to take. You know yourself. I think duration is more important than absolute power so I would suggest doing 5 reps and a power level you know you can do for the 5 reps and maintain it or increase it over the session. Good luck.

Last edited by Hermes; 09-30-19 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 10-02-19, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
There are many ways to do 1 minute efforts. First over arching goal in not to get injured which is easy to do for masters athletes doing this type of effort. The next decision is more about how your group dynamics are. Do you feel like you go hard and then slow down or are there periods where there are numerous accelerations in a row?

One protocol is a criss cross format where you apply 1' power and spin for 1' (z1/z2) then 1' power again z1z2 again for a total of 10 minutes. That is the end of the workout. I am a negative split type of guy and prefer to have my last intervals be my best. I find this correlates with actual group riding / race conditions. It is always better to have power and endurance at the end. Pick a power lever that you know you can raise each time for the 10 minute duration of the session. If you go all out on the first couple there is a good chance that you will injure yourself and quit before you do five. I would suggest being conservative and do not do 200% FTP. Maybe 130% and see how that goes. And increase it over the session to 140% for the last one. If that is too easy. The next week raise the power target appropriately but keep in mind that muscles get stronger fast but other soft tissue lags behind. So there is that.

The other format is do 5x!' intervals with more rest in between intervals. In this case the goal is the same to increase the power with each interval and since there is more rest, you can start with a higher power number but not too much.

The other variable is do you stand and pop in 200% FTP and settle into 130% or do you accelerate to 130%? It should be obvious that punching 200% takes a lot out of you and will be quite easy for the first one but become really hard for the later ones.

You have to decide what approach you want to take. You know yourself. I think duration is more important than absolute power so I would suggest doing 5 reps and a power level you know you can do for the 5 reps and maintain it or increase it over the session. Good luck.
Thanks again. I'll try for two or three (if I can) sets of 5 1'/1' reps at 130%, aiming for steady power but a little better on the last rep of each set, if I can. the big question for me is that I don't expect enough HR recovery during the 1' z1/z2 portion of the reps, so these could get hard toward the end of the 10 minutes. I guess I'll find out....
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Old 10-03-19, 02:25 PM
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I don't want to turn this thread into my personal training log, with the very helpful Hermes as my (very underpaid) coach. So I'll just add one report and let the thread die unless others want to discuss the more general issue of a small amount of HIIT mixed with unstructured riding.

I tried the 3 X 5 1'/1' intervals last night (heavy rain canceled my usual Wednesday ride). They went fine, but 130% FTP is probably not hard enough. For the last interval of the middle set and the last 3 intervals of the last set, I did 150% FTP, and that was too hard to do for the whole set. So I'll readjust.

The unanswered question is whether this session, just once a week, will have any effect on my riding out on the road, or whether i will see progress in my ability to do these intervals. Time will tell.

Thanks again all (especially Hermes) for all the input.
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Old 10-03-19, 07:23 PM
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Hermes
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Congrats on doing the session. I was delighted to help.
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