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Intensity vs. duration
Last Post 12/10/2013 10:15 PM by Dave Kirkpatrick. 8 Replies.
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12/10/2013 07:43 AM
After returning to riding again this past spring, I was able to make a good bit of progress and am trying to stay at that level or possibly even improve during the winter. As I don't have much time to just sit on the trainer for hours on end, I've been doing a short warm-up followed by an almost-TT level effort for the next 30 minutes. Then I'm done. I might not go full blast every day, but definitely more times than not. So considering my time constraints, will these medium-to-high intensity workouts prove move beneficial than 1 hour a day on the trainer?


12/10/2013 11:16 AM
Well, you where I stand on intensity vs. duration :-)


12/10/2013 12:40 PM
After several winters trying all sorts of different training plans, some years with months of LSD to a spring build, others with HIIT right through the winter, I've come to believe theres no magic 'right' training formula that will work for everyone, or even work for the same person year after year.. So many other factors need to come into play to determine whether a specific formula of intensity vs duration will work for you in a given year. Cold weather where you live, staying healthy through the winter, backing off if you feel a winter cold coming on, not burning yourself out mentally. What type of workouts you've been doing the last few months...the body adapts faster to changes in your exercise routine that continually doing the same type of training. I think the best training plans for most people are the ones that keep it fresh, fun and motivating for you to keep getting on the bike. If workout have become a total slog, or they don't fit into the rest of your life, it's the wrong training plan. If you focus on that, performance gains will follow.


12/10/2013 01:01 PM
3 x 20 min at or near your AT will do wonders for endurance and fat burning. Three days per week if you can get out one two long rides during the week, which should be relatively easy. If you can only get out on one long ride, then 4 days of the intervals. Why break it up to 20 min? Its just easier psychologically and does not affect the actual training effect at all to take a couple breaks.

For me, 20 min on the trainer = two hours on the road...in terms of how long it seems to take....

As you get nearer to being able to get on the road for real, put in some hardrer efforts.


12/10/2013 02:00 PM
Posted By CERV __ on 12/10/2013 12:40 PM
...I think the best training plans for most people are the ones that keep it fresh, fun and motivating for you to keep getting on the bike. If workout have become a total slog, or they don't fit into the rest of your life, it's the wrong training plan. If you focus on that, performance gains will follow.
Agreed! So I don't do much on the trainer. I commute by bike (and train, and bus..)and overall get in about 90 min a day of riding, 3 - 4 days per week that way. Even though it is something of a hassle (carrying stuff, changing clothes, and not so much fun when it is 25 deg...like today) it is FAR better for me than sitting on a trainer - especially since I get a commute AND training, while if on a trainer I have to it before or after commuting - not something I am likely to do very often.



12/10/2013 02:03 PM
Although I have no intentions on ever racing again, I've been pushing myself super hard this year. Been using Strava to measure my improvement over various climbs and am now using a power-meter to see if I can continually beat my previous best efforts. I end up pushing myself harder just about every time I hop on the trainer or tackle a local climb. At some point, you'd think I'd crack.

I kinda wish I had this kind of drive for pushing myself back when I was racing! I never could do structured internals, pyramids, on-offs, etc. Hated that stuff.


12/10/2013 03:38 PM
As other have said, just do the best you can in the time you have. The idea is to be consistent and have fun. Your program sounds fine and as long as some of the riding as at medium effort I wouldn't be concerned about burn out. What works for me is taking a bit of a break during the winter and do some hard efforts running or snowshoeing with a couple of easy 80-90 minute spins/week on the trainer or my cross or mountain bike if we get a thaw.
Cosmic Kid


12/10/2013 05:22 PM
if your time is limited, you will absolutely do more benefit by kicking up the instensity. In fact, a lot of coaches are now recommending doing shorter, more intense sessions during the off-season and then supplementing that with longer rides when the weather improves. Kinda flies in the face of what we would call "traditional periodization"....l

I think it was C2K who said 3x20' @ AT.....dunno if that is realistic, at least not at true AT. I woudl recommend a 10' warm-up, 2x20' @ FTP with 5' in between sets and then a 5' cool-down. Do that a few times a week and you'll be beast come Spring.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!


12/10/2013 10:15 PM
You can get into phenomenal shape in the time you have allotted. I'd say doing 3 x 20's at threshold is asking for trouble, and even 2 x 20s can be problematically taxing both mentally and physically. There's nothing wrong with doing a lot of tempo work, in the 75 to 90% of LT zone. It will push up your threshold without digging you a ditch of chronic fatigue, and you will be able to do it on a lot of days.

I'll often ramp up to the bottom of the tempo zone over 10', and then do pyramids. Generally my tempo zone is covered by three gears, so for 5 minutes I'll do the easiest gear, then harder for 5', then harder for 5', then back down and back up in a sine wave. Tonight I did 5' at top of range and 5' at bottom of range, 6 reps. Total workout was under 75', 1100kj, felt fresh at the end of it, the structure made the time go fast, all good. Weekends I do some more duration but lower intensity. A workout like tonight will have like a 250w average for a bit over an hour, where on the weekend I'll do maybe 2 or 2.5 hours per day at like 220 average. More TSS and more kj per weekend workout, but not double. I remember Saturday's ride this week was dead on 2.5 hours, 1850kj, 220w average with the np very close to the average. That's all based on me being able to do probably 320 for 20' without killing myself right now.  By the time I'm finished with base mode I'll be looking for a 20' number in the 340 range, which will be close to the highest that will get for the year. 

Monday and Friday are relaxed days of spinning for me, and I have been doing about 20' per day of core work, 5 to 6 days per week. My back gave me trouble in cx and mtb races last season. No more, and I have a burgeoning 6 pack which is a bit freaky. A couple of months of that and then go and really blow your hair back on a 20' climb to see where you are, I feel very confident that you will be happy with the result.

Enjoy it.
formerly dkri
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