Are anaerobic/burst intervals useful for a non-racer?

I originally began with climbing road race low volume for a year, mainly because my typical outdoor rides do feature a decent amount of climbing. Then I switched to rolling road race this year after I realized my routes are more rolling (shorter climbs). But this has me doing anaerobic intervals and those micro-bursts (haven’t actually done that yet but it’s coming up), which I get for racing, but do these benefit me at all in general if I’m not racing?

On the hills I usually encounter, I go up slowly, and I’ve been trying to maintain a certain power/HR on them rather than going up as fast as I can. I do like to hammer on flats sometimes. But I don’t ever have moments in my ride where I’m trying to explode up a hill or anything like that. So should I be doing something else?

This year I don’t have the same aerobic base that I usually get from running (a really awful plantar wart has made running almost impossible). So given that, and given my typical outdoor rides (30ish miles, 2k feet climbing but no climb more than 1 mile or so), and my general goal of just getting faster, what’s the best kind of plan going forward?


Depends on the specifics of the workouts.

If they’re, say, 3 sets of 13 30/15s with the efforts at 125% of FTP then that’s anaerobic efforts but the intent is also very much on stressing your aerobic system to increase your VO2 Max.

If they’re 10 seconds on 50 seconds off with the sprints nominally at 250% of FTP then that’s very much anaerobic capacity work.

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Yes… they will be beneficial.

depending on the type they train the neuromuscular system or increase buffering capacity, so it seems like a good thing for everyone


But is it really?

My layman understanding is that with anaerobic intervals we teach body to burn faster through high-energy stores in muscles i.e. get more powerful kick but it is expensive. Whether it is useful or not, depends on your specificity.

As long-distance rider, I myself am quite stingy when it comes to energy expenditure. Still, I do those workout from time to time to freshen up during indoor season, when long SS/Z4 intervals are becoming overly numbing. But very rarely, maybe 4-8 workouts in total, spread over periods between blocks/phases.

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I just tried Olancha today, my first micro burst workout, and wow it was a lot harder than I anticipated. 18 15/15s is quite a lot, by the time I was halfway my legs were already burning. Had to extend one of the recovery valleys to even get through the first set of intervals. I didn’t go until failure but there was no way I could’ve completed 4 sets of these.

Is this common when doing this for the first time? I can see it’s the most time I’ve spent at this power level so I guess that makes sense. Again, I’m wondering if there’s value in doing these, for me personally, given my riding style.

Powerful burst might be useful for non-racers as well: accelerating after stopping at traffic lights, escaping chasing dogs, getting out of ditch, navigating over tree roots, etc. As said, it is down to specificity – how often do you get into such situations?

Do not get stuck into names of specialty plans, just look what kinds of workouts these plans prescribe and choose whatever you like. For example, I plan to hit specialty twice over this season, first Gran Fondo for long northern summer day rides and next 40k TT to extend TTE over autumn.

Regarding finding microburst workouts being hard: I think it is down to your common muscle fiber types (keywords to search: slow/fast twitch, type I, IIa, IIx). I find such workouts easy, not because having much power (I don’t) but because can activate muscles quickly a la go in ~2sec 80rpm → 140rpm and gifted riders go way above that (200rpm+). Thanks to this, my anaerobic workouts base level starts with PL7+ and in couple weeks can go PL9+.

@svens nailed it. Some people can come from nothing, train for 3 months and have a 5wkg FTP but still can’t hit 800 watts.

Other people can get off the couch and bust out a 1500w sprint but can’t hold 200 watts for 45 minutes.

Most of us are thrashing around somewhere in the middle.


In my local Wednesday nighter group rides, even in the “easy” group, there are always riders who go for KOMs on hills, dragging the group along with them. Despite this, many people remain silent. Additionally, some riders, including the organizer himself (lol), consistently push 4.5-5.0w/kg or even go anaerobic on hills, despite the ride being labeled as “easy.”

Moreover, there are individuals I refer to as “alpha males” on these rides. They disregard the pace and prefer to push hard on climbs, dropping others in the process. As a result, I must be prepared to respond to these surges, closing gaps to keep up with the group. Therefore, training my peak aerobic capacity and having the ability to exceed my VO2 max is essential in these situations! I don’t want to get dropped 40-50 km from the start and finish the ride solo. I have been there before and it feels quite frustrating and lonely!