Combining Long Aerobic + Intensity

Does anyone here do this or do you strictly keep endurance rides, endurance rides? If you mix the two, are you ever doing anaerobic work or do you keep it aerobic (VO2 and below) ?

I’m looking to make my training week(s) a bit more efficient and combine one of my HIT days with a couple hours of endurance riding (e.g. 5-min full gas every 30-min), but I’m not 100% it’s the most effective way to go about things.

I asked Trevor Connor of FastLabs about combining a long endurance ride with some anaerobic work and he said that he’s not a fan of it because the two can cancel each other, but admitted that the research he’s basing his POV on is very dated. He prefers to isolate high-intensity sessions and keep them separate from endurance sessions, however also said that if you’re stuck and must do them in the same session that it’s better than not doing them.

This makes sense if we’re talking mixing anaerobic work with aerobic work because the two are vastly different. However, maybe it’s totally fine so long as the HIT work remains aerobic.

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I typically do my TR workout and then right into an endurance ride. I’ve wondered a few times whether there is a risk of blunting the effect of either.

My theory is that the endurance gains should be reasonable based on entering the endurance portion carrying fatigue already.

I’ve seen quite a few people mention they do SS or Threshold efforts during their long rides which I guess is similar, though not kitchen sink, or the exact same as my method with the interval focus separate to the endurance.

I’m interested to hear more thoughts.

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I am not sure about anaerobic work but hard aerobic during endurance is great thing to improve fatigue resistance and get even more aerobic benefit (so sst and threshold during longer ride, spaced evenly during the ride).

I do not think that anaerobic has many sense in terms you want to push as much watts as you can - and it is hard when fatigued. Maybe from race specificity and mental side it has sense but I am not sure from training perspective. As far as I know everything anaerobic is best trained when rested.


Think that is actually what most pros do. For example someone just posted a workout from Alex Dowsett in the pro training thread which is exactly that, endurance with some efforts.


My specific example I asked Trever was if I front loaded a long ride with say 3-5x1 min full gas (anaerobic) efforts designed to target capacity. 1-min on, 5-min rest, repeat. Then finish the ride with say 2 hours of riding at low intensity. Would the following aerobic work blunt the potential adaptations from the anaerobic work?

Can’t see why it would. Agree with jarsson that if you want to do max anaerobic work, you want to be fresh, but I can’t see how it would harm the aerobic work after.

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I think there’s only positive benefits to the method unless you are really, really trying to optimise your training for maximal one minute power (like Kilo racing/training or something) in which case you’d probably have more rest and perhaps not the Endurance.

For specificity for your racing which will still require a high level of endurance I think that’s a fine plan.

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Tim Cusick has one of those in his plans - in third hour of endurance ride do 5x1 min attacks. Race specificity workout. I do not know how the things would cancel themselves. I am also sure you would push less watts when fresh so it would be not optimal workout to train 1min power rather accustom your body to those efforts when tired.

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Totally understand the race-specificity thing. I guess it’s clear that if your goal is to maximize building anaerobic capacity you should probably make the workout focus only on that and do your endurance either later in the day or the day following.

I’m just looking for ways to be a little bit more nimble during CX season, when I’m already killing 3 days per week between openers, racing, and recovering.

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So basically the answer is from ISM (Fast Talk episode about Race season) - treat race as a hard, HIIT workout (especially with CX) and do another hard workout during the week. Rest is endurance.

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Cancelling out seems like a funny idea. So basically you don’t get any stronger from racing?

I do all of my intensity in my two long rides (2 days per week: Tuesday and Saturday). I ride for 3-4 hrs on these rides. I will work in anaerobic (all out sprints) or high intensity aerobic (vo2 or high end tempo/ SS). I don’t mix the two tho. However, I usually throw in an all out sprint at the end of the ride.

If I was to do anaerobic, I’d prefer to front load and do it 45-90mins in. When I do the vo2 and SS I do it spaced throughout the whole ride.

I did specifically train for a 1min max this winter and for that I did my intensity days separate in a 1 hr session. Same for a 3min max.

But I think building that fitness to be ready for typical racing, it is best to put these efforts into a long ride.

I only train 7-10hpw for reference.

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I was coached and raced CX pretty successfully. If you’re racing every weekend or every other, you ought to treat the race as a workout. We always just rode endurance or recovered during the week and did a few efforts on a Wednesday. Something like this:
M easy <50% ftp or off
T z2 1.5-2hr
W 1.25-2 z2 with some efforts
R z2 1.25-1.5hr
F easy with an ftp to 120%effort or two
S race
S race /off

We would do a proper 2-4hr long ride if I was to take a week or two off racing. A race is way more stress on the body than your typical high intensity workout so we were pretty light on structured workouts in season.

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I hope I didn’t come across as suggesting it would, I was curious IF it would, seeing as the two are vastly different systems. However, like you mentioned, a race (unless it’s some crazy long ultra event) will likely always have both. And from experience, fitness can be a great benefactor from racing.

I’m entering my 4th CX season, and am still new, as I’ve only done 18 races. Always wondered what kind of fitness benefit came from the races. I don’t have power on my CX bike so I have no idea how much time I’m spending in zones, all I know is that racing A) it hurts worse than any workout I do B) my HR is always at or above 95% max.

I reckon there has to be a good fitness benefit from racing, but I also would guess that CX is really bad for FTP. So I’m definitely looking to work in some FTP maintenance work throughout the season, but I’d also like to build FRC (currently @ ~24KJ…so not too bad)…which are at odds.

I’ve never focused on building higher anaerobic capacity, have always used racing to do that, but my understanding is that most people don’t need more than a week or two of this to get things moving.

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High volume,
moderate, continuous and frequent endurance training, are thought to negatively affect the resistance
training-induced adaptations, probably by inhibition of the Protein kinase B—mammalian target of
rapamycin pathway activation, of the adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK).
In contrast, it seems that short bouts of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or sprint interval
training (SIT) minimize the negative effects of concurrent training. This is particularly the case when
HIIT and SIT incorporated in cycling have even lower or even no negative effects, while they provide
at least the same metabolic adaptations, probably through the peroxisome proliferator-activated
receptor-coactivator (PGC-1a) pathway.

I think it is still not fully understood how much this effect is blunted but there does seem to be some ways to both combine and minimize the cancelling

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Ok, cool. What if I did a ride that looked like this:

20-min WU
1-min full gas (w/7-min recovery @ Z1) Repeated 4-5x
90-120 min Z2

Not lately, but in the past few years I did it all the time.

My Tuesday used to consist of a long ride to meet a group, doing efforts on the way depending on how I felt (Strava segments). Then after meeting the group I would do effort depending on route. Sometimes I would do repeats on the local climb we would do on the route. Or if we did a mock crit, I would do hard efforts there. Usually I was drained on the way home, but if not I might do some more efforts.

I did that for a while, and when I hired a coach not only did he like that I did it, he would schedule intervals for those nights. He trained in a similar fashion. Also, he won BWR a couple years ago.

Example (pre power meter on my old Bridgestone):

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Maybe I misunderstood the abstract and the beginning of the study, but it looked like it was comparing minimizing negative effects of combining (high volume endurance + resistance training) vs (HIIT + resistance training) vs (SIT + resistance training) which I think is different from what is being discussed.

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IMO, if my goal was to improve anaerobic capacity that is how I would do it or do those intervals by themselves. I would want to hit the anaerobic intervals with as high power as possible, which means fresh / rested legs.

If my goal was fatigue resistance I would stack them at the end or sprinkled throughout the ride, though I prefer to stack them at the end.


Yes it doesn’t directly answer the question, but the metabolic pathways that are involved that would be blunted/cancelled are the ones at the two ends of the types of training. I have never seen a study that involves the direct question OP is asking so it was the closest I could find.

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Coach Chad on the topic, worth a listen: