Hard intervals in aero vs non-aero

Preface: I race pretty much exclusively on a TT bike. I do the ramp test in aero, and set my FTP from that position. I try to do all my ‘work’ intervals in aero, and even recover in aero when I can (unless I’m really gassed and then I’ll sit up for part of the recovery).

Question: During a really hard interval, for example a longish VO2 or a very lengthy threshold interval, I sometimes have to bail on the aero position towards the end of the interval. I can get through most of the interval in aero, but there often comes a point towards the end where I have to choose between (a) not completing the interval, (b) lowering the intensity, © a quick backpedal, or (d) sitting up and completing it upright. Up until now, I have always chosen (d). Is this the optimal approach? Does completing it out of position take precedence over staying in position? Is there another approach that is better?

In episode 176 (youtube link at the start of the question: https://youtu.be/l8WFhiddGoE?t=2669) the guys touch on exactly this question. Chad said (paraphrasing) he ‘… doesn’t plan on doing any vo2 max in the aero position, so why train there, focus on completing the interval to get the adaptation rather than completing it in the aero position.’

Lengthy threshold work is a different story potentially. If you’re racing a 40k TT or less then you probably want to be able to do lengthy threshold work in the aero position to better simulate a race event.

Some questions, are you needing to make a change in the interval work due to being sore in the position, legs failing you, or something else? I’m not a TT expert, but I would imagine in a race scenario what you would do is lower the intensity to stay in the aero position, but I’m not sure how that would relate to your training, and is, I think, more dependent on why you’re thinking about adjusting during the workout in the first place



I think your approach is ideal, from how your post reads it sounds as if you’re spending a lot of time in aero throughout most of your work. A few things to consider:

  1. Are you losing time trying to stay in aero position during a TT longer than you are comfortable with?
    If no, I wouldn’t change anything you’re doing - maximize your time in aero, and if you need to come out of aero to finish an interval then do so, but look to extend your time in position.
  2. Have you listened to all the podcasts leading up to the 40k TT the TR team completed earlier this year?
    There’s a lot of information there that they learned along the way, and also recently coach Chad mentioned in his training for another TT he would likely spend less time on training in aero position and more time just doing the work and focusing on FTP. This decision depends on your comfort level, but I think if being in aero for your races isn’t an issue for you… then just getting the work done and on target takes preference.

I’m curious - have you compared FTP in position vs. out of position?

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It’s not legs failing or a physical inability to hold the position. I would describe it more as difficulty breathing towards the end of those high intensity intervals - like I can’t get enough air into my lungs. As soon as I sit up, I’m OK. So maybe it’s the position, or adapting my breathing better in that position?

Definitely higher out of position, though the difference has narrowed since I started training more in position.

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Gonna echo @Wayne, have you done an FTP comparison? Since you have, you’re using the TT ftp correct? (stupid question but gotta ask :wink: )

You might also be able to tell with a heart rate monitor, if you’re uncomfortably close to your max heart rate, that could be a sign that you should back off the numbers a bit.

Also consider altering your position to bring you up a little bit in the front (mm’s, nothing major) and that could open up your position enough to get more air in. But I’d only do that if you can confidently say that your threshold training is indeed at threshold.

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There are no stupid questions :sweat_smile:
Yes, I use the TT FTP

I do log HR (wrist based). I’m not quite maxed out, but I do notice that it tends to drop a beat or three once I sit up.

I’d try raising your hand (arm?) position a little bit and see if that opens things up enough so you can finish your interval. Also try and focus on ‘Coach Chad’s Breathing Tips for Maximum Oxygen Uptake’ ™, really push your abs in and out. I noticed the other day on the ramp test that really pushing and trying to look like the pro’s at the top of Alpe d’Huez helped a bit.