30 minute suprathreshold interval workout for the indoor trainer on ERG mode

Curious what peeps think of a 30 minute interval where your effort starts at FTP, increases for 15 minutes, then decreases for 15 minutes, per below, using the ERG setting on your indoor trainer:

Warm up 30 minutes
5 minutes FTP
4 minutes FTP + 2.5%
3 minutes FTP + 5%
2 minutes FTP + 7.5%
1 minute FTP + 10%
1 minute FTP + 10%
2 minutes FTP + 7.5%
3 minutes FTP + 5%
4 minutes FTP + 2.5%
5 minutes FTP
30 minutes easy

For the sake of keeping things simple, you can round the increments, for example, if your FTP is 300:

5 min @ 300
4 min @ 308
3 min @ 315
2 min @ 323
1 min @ 330
1 min @ 330
2 min @ 323
3 min @ 315
4 min @ 308
5 min @ 300

I think a little bit more intensity is important when targeting an increase in threshold power, so I’m not really sold on tempo or sweet spot as anything other than a bridge between a solid base of riding and threshold/VO2 efforts, or also as a fun way to ride a bike (riding is supposed to be fun on occasion, right?). 30 minutes sustained between FTP and 110% FTP is a difficult effort, but the decreasing durations of the increasingly more intense increments prevent this from becoming a VO2 max effort.

Any time I plan a workout I ask… why? What is the goal of the workout? What am I trying to achieve from that workout?

One of the hardest workouts I have ever done, introduced to me by a Swiss National runner, was to do 1k @ 10k pace, 2k @ half marathon pace… repeating without recovery for a total of 10k. All on the track. It was absolutely punishing… but the purpose was preparation for the half marathon distance (for him just over 1 hour). According to him after three of those you were ready to hit a PR.

Your threshold ladder kind of reminds me of that…. But even more painful. So I have to ask… what is the thought process behind this workout?

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Are you shure? Any effort above threshold will eventually lead to working at VO2max. On average you are at 103% of threshold for an extended time and you will most likely be at an heart rate above 90% in the second half of the workout.

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Sounds a bit like pyramidal training and thats a recognised technique.

Pyramid Training: The Ultimate Guide For Cyclists - Good Or Bad? Find Out Now! (fastfitstrong.com)

Polarized vs. Pyramidal Training — Which is Better For Your Athletes? (trainingpeaks.com)

I understand your concern regarding zones. When you learn more training theory you will understand better how things work, and why they work. It is very good that you ask questions, and experiment! Work below, at and above threshold all has its place. As @Jolyzara mentions, you should always ask yourself why you do a certain workout. If all your workout has a purpose then it is much easier to motivate yourself as well.

The workout you suggest is very very hard to complete. For my part I think the only time I would be able to complete something like that is when I am in peak race shape and tapered. Some suggestions: If you start and end a bit below FTP that would suddenly make the workout more doable. For example you can start at 95%, and increase up to 1min at 110% x1 before going down the ladder. You can also adjust the time of the steps a bit so you do two pyramids of 20min to up it to 40min total volume. Then we are talking! Doing a set like that will raise your heart rate, and since you are still working hard on the way down without any breaks you will keep your heart rate high, so you get some good time in high HR zone. At the same time you will work on your mental strength and focus as you are putting out high power with lactate in your legs. The gist of it is very good. :slight_smile: :+1:

Ragarding pyramidal training, this is not it. This is a pyramid workout. Pyramidal training is how you structure your time in zone during a week or block. The second link to Trainingpeaks explains it.

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Sorry I was getting confused, yes its a pyramid workout not a training/ plan structure but its a recognised workout so it must have benefit (that said I’m no coach), good luck :slight_smile:

A quick google of the pros and cons Pyramid training… on a bike - Kelsey Kerridge Sports Centre

A single workout does not a training intensity distribution make.

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You could try calculating the normalized power for the workout to see if it is even reasonably doable (it looks hard to me).

Given your desire to accumulate time actually above FTP, you might try 8 x 5 min @ 105%, 1 min easy in between. That’s challenging but doable, and in my experience can help you breakthrough plateaus in ways that just slugging it out at/just below FTP cannot.

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I understand. Yes, definately! Doing a pyramid continuously like the OP suggests, or one with breaks in between, is good stuff. I do the latter from time to time. For continuous efforts I prefer crisscross, or over/unders, just because it is more specific to race demands and it has some lactate buffering elements you do not get the same of when doing a pyramid.

  • Pyramid training really encourages you to work to your limits, thereby pushing your ability to train through pain to new levels.

I think this is the main reason to do a pyramid. The mental strength and focus part of it. It should not be underestimated, and is an important part in pushing progress. I might actually throw in a pyramid type interval session now just to mix things up a bit. When I build a plan I specifically try to keep the mental aspect of things in mind. It is much easier to complete a workout if you fully believe that you are capable of doing so going into it. A typical week for me at the moment is one crisscross workout, one steady workout at ftp and a longer SS workout in the weekend. My main focus point is the steady ftp workouts, the other two are there to help me complete them and progress.

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This is not correct. If you are only slightly above, or well above, maximal metabolic steady state, fatigue will intervene first. Only in a fairly narrow range* of intensities in between is there a “magic window” in which VO2 drift will take you all the way to VO2max.

*The average cyclist can sprint at 4x their FTP, which means that there is a huge range that is routinely ignored/unexplored by fans of this hypothesis.

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@Garratto if that workout motivates you to get on the bike and ride hard I think you should go ahead and attempt it.

But I also think it’s not too different than just plain old supra-threshold intervals…and I also think the workout you propose will be very challenging…if you are able to complete it you should re-assess your FTP. The training stimulus will be nothing special compared to regular suprathreshold work.

However, I do understand that sometimes patience with just regular, sane work wears thin and an athlete needs something big to keep their focus on training. So, go ahead! Accept the challenge and take on a hero workout. Epic workouts are ok once in a great while but just remember that consistency is what really pays the bills.

It’s like a hardcore version of the first half of this:

I’d be tempted to split it into two 2 × 15 intervals the first time I did it, just to see how do-able it is at current combination of FTP and preparedness.

Yeah, definitely the workout you linked starts with 6 minutes of sweetspot work, then 30 seconds of 110% sandwiched in between two 1-minute intervals at 103%. That’s a lot more achievable for an athlete with correctly updated FTP. Stringing three of those together would definitely be a challenging workout.

I did it a few weeks ago. Good fun. Wouldn’t fancy adding 20 watts to every interval, though.

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Thanks for the comments.

The purpose of the workout is to increase threshold and train a cyclist to be able to maintain tension and produce power for an extended period of time (from both a physical and mental perspective), thus a full 30 minutes rather than 8-10 minute repeats with rest in between. If you’ve broken away in a race trying to stay ahead of riders chasing you, or you’re time trialing, you don’t get rest periods for easy pedaling between harder efforts – once you have a gap you need to stay at, or ideally above, FTP to have a chance of staying away.

Certainly, one can begin the initial 5 minute effort at FTP -2.5% or FTP -5%, so just slightly under, thus the top of the ladder would be 105% or 107.5%, but ideally you would be able to push up the initial starting point over time as you become accustomed to the effort.

Additionally, not finishing the full 30 minutes doesn’t mean you fail the workout - rather, it means you know your current limit, so you incrementally, over time, extend that limit. Say you make it all the way up the ladder and are able to complete the first, second, and third increments on the way down (i.e. 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes), so your effort is 21 minutes in total rather than 30 minutes. Not a problem, that’s a great workout and you will be able to, incrementally over time, extend it. Make 21 minutes your goal for a couple more workouts, then after you’ve done a few make the goal 25 minutes. When you eventually complete the full 25 minutes stick with it a few times then make the goal the full 30 minutes. Eventually you will be able to complete the full 30 minute effort.

Anyway, this effort is based on ladder efforts I used to do in the 1990s using an adjustable magnetic resistance trainer. The gaps in the power requirements were much larger than the options we have today since we can change power by as little as +/- one watt rather than shifting a gear up or down, so it’s cool to have so much more flexibility.

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I did a pyramid session yesterday, as I said I might do earlier in the thread. Without intention, it was actually the very same workout @Helvellyn linked to. I had it saved in my custom workout Zwift library, but never tried it out before. 3x15m, but I intentionally didn’t do the 5x1min at the end as it didn’t fit in with where I am at right now.

I am in the middle of threshold focus, and I feel pretty strong at and around threshold at the moment. Already done Alpe/40min continuous threshold and some other strong sessions like 4x10min at 370w (FTP set at 360w at the moment from experience, no testing. It is somewhere between 360-370). My top end is certainly not great at the moment, but I’ve done some over/unders into suprathreshold and slightly above, so the top of the pyramid was not untouched territory. I was not super fresh as I did 4x12min with hard start and end on monday, and two long (20 and 15m) efforts around threshold on Tuesday, but I had a complete rest day on Wednesday so I felt pretty good and ready.

For those inclined:
https://www.strava.com/athletes/19195914

Summary of the pyramid workout:
It was absolutely killer. I had no issues going up the pyramid, but on the way down on the first one I knew this was going to be hard. Heart rate was going down a bit, but not much. Was still breathing pretty hard at the last 4 min on 335 ish watts. Second set was just about managable. Third I made it to the top, but had to take a breather. I was not capable of going down.

I can’t remember the last time I did a continuous pyramid workout like this, but this was exactly what happened. And it was actually way harder than I thought it would be from looking at the “Kirizuma” workout numbers before start. With this experience fresh in memory I correct my statement that your suggested workout would be very very hard to complete, even when in peak shape and fresh. It would not be possible (for me and my strengths at least). I was touching 110%+ for 30s. Holding that for 2 minutes, then go down to 107,5% for 2 mins etc. would be absolute hell. :sweat_smile:

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My Kirizuma ride:

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@Lanken, good job. Like I said, if you are able to complete that workout, you should re-evaluate your FTP!

If you were my athlete, I’d tell you, ‘Ok, now you’ve got that out of your system. Let’s get back to sane training.’ If you want the upward trajectory of your fitness to go on for years it’s better to avoid hero workouts like this.

But just the same it’s fun to see your success with this workout.

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Good going! Even with the 5x1mins! I said I didn’t plan on doing them, but I would not have been able to do them with quality after 4 min break anyway considering how hard this was for me. How would you rate it? I gave it a 10/10 RPE :laughing:

I ran out of breath. My legs held it together. If I would guess going into it, it would be the other way around, so I don’t blame the work leading up to it either. My HR if fresh would have wandered into z5. Rest day today.

Thank you, even though it was painful I enjoyed it. It doesn’t happen to be your workout? If so, what is the intended purpose of it? With regards to how my body responded to the pyramids, and the 5x1mins in the end, this seems like a nice workout as a final season prep or even for overreaching.