Explosive power but no muscular endurance

I’m 53 and just stared SSB low volume II. I have biked a lot for commuting all my life but I have not done any structured training before. Goal: is general health and to shed some weight.

I find the workouts with short burst of power up to 1 minute very easy, maxHR after the last interval rarely hits above 85%. I have tested my cycling maxHR (183) and do not use any 220 - age formula. On the other hand longer intervals, > 8 min @95 - 99% I can only manage one interval and in the second my legs turn into concrete. My maxHR is still not that high when I bail, 85 - 90% of maxHR, I guess my lactate threshold is low. Intervals.icu classified my profile as “puncheur”. I don’t race so there is not much need for a sprint, I prefer to have better endurance for longer group rides this spring.

I have started to dial up the intensity on short intervals and dialing it down on the longer ones. My concern is that I turn the short intervals into “pure strength” if I dial them up to much (> 135%).

Should I focus on longer intervals, such as 2 x 10 a couple of times / week. Start @90% and then progress towards 100% and then go for 3 x 10 @90% and progress to 100%, and so on? until 2 x 20.

Any advice is welcome.


Did you do SSB1 before starting 2? If not then I’d do that one first as it will give you the progression you’re looking for in terms of building up interval length and duration.

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Given that the goal here is to promote general health (and probably get a bit faster on the bike in the process), I would be inclined to ignore the short power training, focusing on the longer, endurance work.

BTW - this doesn’t mean that your 1min power would decline - I would be some serious ££/$$ on it actually improving if you do some more endurance focused riding (i.e., 60-70 FTP for 120min).

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General health = lots of Z2.
Shed some weight = HIIT - calories.


When I raced in my 20s I was the same way — huuuge explosive snap w/ almost no sustained power to support it. Anaerobic > aerobic power.

Do a lot more endurance, be it long Z2 or even lower % SS (but don’t over do it!). It takes time but you’ll get there.


I jumped straight to SSB2. I bike commute 24 km/ day and I figured that I had some base already. My commute pace is endurance - low tempo pace, and on occasion I do the Strava Segment all out pace…
I’ll switch over to SSB1 instead and see how I progress. Thanks for the tip.

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1 min intervals can tend to feel easier than you expect and give the wrong impression on setting targets. Once VO2 intervals get to 90 sec plus it gets real. going back to SSBI and focusing on hitting the sustained stuff is a good plan. It is incrementally built up for sure.

Lowering intensity and work duration on the threshold stuff is ok as you work your mental and physical fitness into being able to do it. Patience and being conservative is key. Sustained small growth is much better than biting off more than you can chew and getting frustrated. I’ve gotten a little bit of PTSD from trying and failing on threshold stuff a bit too much, and sometimes start to almost panic mid-way through that the wheels are suddenly gonna come off again. Being at a manageable effort when that happens is really helpful for anchoring myself mentally and pushing on rather than bailing from frustration.


The OP might be doing 1min anaerobic/max efforts, which are much different, and much more taxing, than 1min VO2.

I did about a month of 1min power training in the fall, could only do ~10 reps/wk. :hot_face:

Maybe, but the OP said HR didn’t get very high. For some of the SSB workouts there are 1min on/off at 120%. Much easier than 120% for 2-3min on / 2-3min off. There are discussions in other threads about 1 min VO2 workouts being easier than expected. I’ve fallen into that trap myself, where I’ve been able to overshoot the targets on those and then get hit with reality a week or two later when they grow in length and power has to come down below 120% to make them.

Yes, the 1 on and 1 off I find to be easy and my HR at the last interval is 80 - 85%. If I do 3 x 10 min at 96% of FTP I get to 90% of maxHR after only one interval. I have only done about 40 session so far but there is a pattern that muscular endurance is my limiting factor. I will try to be patient and build endurance and see what happens. Thanks for tips.

Patience is what it takes… VO2max is your friend in the beginning at 30s to 1 min intervals. Once you hit build phase it quickly becomes your enemy with 3-4 minute intervals :sweat_smile: Just finished 9 x 3 minutes and it was a fight.

Muscular endurance will build through base phase and it is ok if you are not completely destroyed after each session. As far as heart rate goes…it should max out at ramp test and other prolonged VO2max efforts.

I’m in a similar boat, I’ve always enjoyed a bit of cycling and used it to build fitness for motocross but since quitting and taking up cycling as a pursuit in its own right I’ve discovered I have pretty large anaerobic power but my endurance is woeful. VO2 max intervals are really easy for my given FTP and I’m not even getting out of breath. On the positive side my endurance is improving very rapidly by finally following a proper base SS plan.

Good to hear that your SS plan is working. I’ll do the same from next week and see what happens.

sorry, i don’t mean to sidetrack this, but what is ‘muscular endurance’ and how is it different from just . . . “endurance”

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VERY generally:

“Endurance” (E) is the ability to not fatigue.

“Muscular endurance” (ME) is the ability to continue contracting a muscle, or group of muscles, against resistance.

E is kind of the whole system and how good you are at utilising fuels etc.
e.g. 2020 you could ride for 2.5hrs; 2021 you can ride for 4hrs.

ME is more about how long certain muscles can generate a specific level of power.
e.g. 2020 you could do 3x15 @ 250w; 2021 you can do 1x45 @ 260w.


So this is what i’ve heard and it makes sense intuitively but i think these distinctions are less-clear cut than people think. Like if you are fatiguing, what is that? Whether it’s glycogen depletion, muscle damage, build-up of some sort of metabolite or even cns fatigue, where the rubber meets the road is motor units contracting.

But regardless, that’s irrelevant to the question i think. Our friend here has explosive power but no sustainable power and it sounds like many things can help improve the latter.