How do I get better at 1-3min power in the middle of threshold/sweetspot/tempo, aka avoid getting dropped on zwift race climbs?

TL;DR How do i get more powerful for mid race zwift climbs?

This is something I should have been working on for the last 3 months, but here we are anyway. Back to doing 1 or 2 zwift races per week, and remembering how much I really enjoy them. For whatever reason I can push myself WAY harder in these than a TR threshold workout and every year I set new power PRs for 20-70 minutes doing these. Thats great, i do low volume and slot these in as a 4th day and make great progress.

The problem, I frequently cant hold the lead group in the series I am in up some climbs. The lead pack is going tempo-ish before this. I am nowhere near threshold, have plenty to give. If i can keep up they drop back down to SS or below and I can recover, but the way zwift physics work if you get dropped you are never catching that lead pack no matter what you do (unless you have team with you).

Example from this week. Hour long race, 5 min hill in the middle of the loop for 2 laps. Race going along at 2.35wkg (C low race) or less to stay in pack for most of the flats. Do 5min at 250 and a 1min at 300 for the climb. Just manage to hold on during climb first lap but not second lap. Hold second group but first group gets away and wins 7k later with 20 seconds on us. I have 1 min PRs in the high 400 but obviously not in the middle of a bigger effort like this. (here is the race in question and my profile is public)

How do I get better at these? I finish the race with something left in the tank and often win the reduced group sprint from the 2nd group. I can do the KJs, i just need to sharpen the blade for that 1 deciding point.

Long term I know raise ftp everything gets easier… Working on it.

What about shorter term, 6-8 weeks?

Do i do something race specific, extreme over unders? 130% → 85% which sortof matches the race? Seems plausible but they are so hard to recover from they seem to derail other training. Probably hard to actually push myself as hard as in the races anyway.

Swap short interval vo2 workouts for longer stuff? Right now AT is giving me a lot of 50-90 second vo2 stuff. Do i hunt down some 3 min versions and swap them in and work up to 5min?

Can i get some bang from anaerobic capacity work? Will spending some more time at 400 watts not make it feel so crazy and maybe help me do it when the competition lets me push myself? AT is giving me a bunch of anaerobic stuff right now but it seems pretty weak. Stuff like Mendel +1 "Mendel +1 is 4 sets of ‘descending intervals’ from 120% FTP for 90 seconds to 150% FTP for 30 seconds. " which feels like a less hard vo2 workout more than anaerobic.

1 Like

Cat down. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


What makes these “extreme”, exactly? Do your over/unders at 5 min mean max power/tempo, start with a 1:4 ratio and lengthen the over or shorten the under to progress. That’s how I program over/unders, usually starting at 45s/3min in a 2x20 format.

Just because TR programs over-unders a certain way doesn’t make that the only way to do them… or even necessarily the right way.

But this is exactly how I would train for those in the near term. You could also do a focused VO2max block. See the hard start VO2max interval thread.

1 Like

One “trick” that is used in the settings is sliding down the level of resistance when going up the climbs. This will though in return mean you will have to pedal more on the downhill but it can help prevent the grinding halt when going up.

Are you training for anything specific for the upcoming year? If you are, then I’d just let AT do its thing and try and grit the teeth when it comes to those sections. If you’re just wanting to train and have fun now, then check out a short power build block to help with that.

  • Considering a typical definition of Over-Unders is related to Threshold levels, 105% Over and 95% Under, the proposed 130% well exceeds Threshold and even VO2 depending on the individual, duration and such.
1 Like

That’s a typical definition that TR uses, yes. It’s not some universal prescription. The intervals being discussed shouldn’t be viewed as “extreme” in any way, IMO.

I don’t care one way or another. I was just taking a guess as the reason behind the OP’s word choice that you questioned, nothing more or less.

1 Like

You can train this in. I had the same problem with a weekly road race series a couple of years back. I did a load of those TR workouts that is basically sweetspot with serious uplifts at the start/end of the intervals. (Huxley or Bondcliff)

Train yourself to be able to dig waaay deeper when you’re already on tired legs. It all came right in about a month and i was able to hang in there.

some good info here: Criss-Cross Intervals – FasCat Coaching

yesterday I did 1 minute at 120% and 7 minutes at 90%. All sorts of ways to program these, my coach does a lot of way over/under like 85% and 110-130%.


And another one on over-under variants:


Seems contradictory but my power in those ranges always improves with Z2 and also capacity to do multiple types of shorter efforts. The other thing are already mentioned o/u. The 30s hard bursts and back to high tempo work very well for that - for me way better than steady ones just above threshold.


I was going to make exactly this recommendation to OP. I did more or less the same throughout base. I kept the ratios the same at 4:1, but increased power a little, then increased block duration. I started at 2x20 @ 80/125% and the last few were:
1x75 @ 85/125%, 1x90 @ 80/125% and 1x60 @ 90/125%


I guess I did mean them in relation to how TR tends to program them. A little bit over, a little bit under. I was thinking a more extreme in terms of the difference between peaks and valleys.

So you are suggesting 2x20 with 3min at 85%, 45s at 130% and adjust the ratio spent rather than the power to advance? I like that, it sounds hard but doable with clear progression.

1 Like

I do know about the trainer slider, but I think in this case it is just that I cant generate the power to stay with the lead group and not that the torque required is getting out of hand. I am not running out of gearing.

1 Like

My tip (stolen from the guy who told me it) is go a gear too hard, and muscle the gear…then just don’t give up. It’s unofficially called ‘The Thrall’ by our team, it might sound stupid but it’s successful!


This is the most well meaning, polite HTFU i have received in a while. :smiley:


Look at the HighNorth and FasCat links for ideas. FWIW this is the business end of intervals yesterday

Because I was feeling strong, and traffic patterns ahead (which I got unlucky and you can see the dropouts), and I was doing well on a 20-25 minute Strava segment, I only took 30 seconds of recovery between 2nd and 3rd set. Could have easily done another one or two intervals. Target on those were 235W and 305W. My heart rate was super stable, and per the comments above I do a lot of 3:1 ratios so 1 minute significantly over, and 3 minutes mid to upper tempo (80-90%). IMHO the 5+ hours/week dedicated endurance work really helps make those easy, and keep the heart rate under control. It took over a minute at 130+% to bring HR up to threshold on that last interval.

Well, there is that… But fighting a massive gear seems to make it easier not to give up. You either stamp or the next pedal rev or come to a complete stop, there’s no backing off a bit and watching the wheel ride away! It may also help as when things flatten out and the resistance drops, you naturally increase to a more normal cadence which keeps the power on - others that are spinning at say 90 on the climb will either spin out or have to shift, the other choice being ‘have a bit of a rest’ which a few will take…

Interesting. I misunderstood and didnt put rest between the intervals within the 20 min block. TR says it would be a 7.3 without the rests: which is probably to much for me. This version with 90 seconds between reps is 4.3 which is probably to easy but I like it as a starting point and then I can cut the rests and push the ratio of over to under closer to 2:1.

1 Like

Why don’t you program some 3:1 ratio, or 5:1, or 7:1, and go out and try it? Rather than psyching yourself out? From the plans, TR doesn’t appear to think endurance matters much. However in my experience laying down an endurance foundation has pushed my actual short power much higher than doing so many repeats. Everyone responds differently so YMMV.