How is Spanish Needle supposed to feel?

Hey everyone,

First time doing ‘Spanish Needle’ (-3) today as part of General Build MV. Not exactly what I was expecting.
I’d describe it as tough but manageable- gasping for breath by the end of each 8 minute set and felt very fatigued by the end of the 1hr30, but not thinking of bailing or skipping any of the micro bursts at any point. I didn’t find it nearly as tough as 3x3 V02 workouts like Huffaker, or over/unders where I’m usually hanging on for dear life. Is this in line with other’s experience of the workout?

I was doing it on a smart trainer and the microbursts kicked in about 2 seconds before the 15 seconds started, and took about 2-3 seconds to get up to target power (usually with a second or two of overshooting) before the power dropped out about 2 seconds before the burst ended. Wondering if this might have affected the workout, though overall TSS is what was expected.

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Following. I did it today as well. Found it tough but quite manageable. I can feel the amount of overall work in my legs now but I didn’t suffer through it.

My trainer/app cuts the target power before the end of the interval too. Quite annoying.

muy puntiagudo


That’s the “new and improved” Spanish Needle. I guess it’s more manageable. I have it next Saturday so I guess I’ll find out. Of course it follows a ramp test and expected FTP rise :grimacing:.

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I did ok the first time I did it a few weeks ago, but it crushed me 2 days ago and I was still sore this morning when I got on my bike for vo2. It is easier standing than seated for me.

Depends on how your legs feel coming in to it I guess.

I did it two days ago. I would describe it very much like you describe it. I completed all the microbursts but did a few short backpedals during the short rests, which didn’t actually seem to make it much easier, because there is so little time to get the cadence back up, so I stopped doing that.

My trainer (Tacx Vortex) also took 2-3 seconds to ramp up the power, but at least it didn’t start ramping down before the interval was over. In fact, it also took it 2-3 seconds of the rest interval to ramp down, so even though the average power for the intervals was lower than the target, I think it was ok.

All in all, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

“How is it supposed to feel”… absolutely brutal in my case. Being the first week of GB MV coming off a 8% FTP increase and over/unders two days prior, Spanish Needle was a mental challenge that got the best of me.

I made it through the first 4 interval sets at 100%. Reduced the 5th set by 5% and needed a backpedal. The last set (wanted to quit before I even started) I reduced another 5% and needed a couple backpedals. Ugh :tired_face:. I was still mentally drained from burying myself on the previous O/U workout that I couldn’t bury myself again just 2 days later.

Looking at my Saturday workouts (MV plans) over the past 6 months I notice I tend to struggle more on that day. It being the 3rd “difficult” workout of the week, I think at 42 yrs old it’s just a little too much stress for me to “clean” the workout without some back pedals or small reductions in intensity.

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I’ve never done the 140% version of it, but the 150% version feels awful, absolutely awful


So, interesting detail I noticed a couple of weeks ago. On the website, Career, Past Rides, open any ride. On the chart, zoom in on the start or end of any interval (or any other power change). See the green line? (If not, turn on Actual in the upper right of the chart.) On my charts, it’s always 1 second ahead of Target (blue boxes). I’m pretty sure that’s what the app is commanding the trainer. I’m guessing it’s trying to anticipate trainer lag.

My other observation is that my trainer is faster to release resistance that add it. Usually, I see power stabilizing near target power 7-12 seconds after interval start or 3-5 seconds after interval end. I’m guessing that’s normal for ERG. (Got a bike fit on a different brand trainer and saw similar patterns.)

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For the power/sprint intervals, I switch to Standard Mode and start to power up 1-2 seconds before the interval start. It is much easier to keep the power on for the full interval length in Standard Mode compared to Erg Mode. For the recovery intervals, I switch back to Erg Mode.

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Not sure about he -3 but this is pretty accurate for the standard one. I’ve done the standard one twice and occasionally skip one burst here or there.

It feels like an American needle. Only a bit more spicy.


It feels remarkably similar to the Spanish Inquisition.


Ouch. I made it, but did have to reduce by. 5% for the 4th interval and 10% for the last two. I might have made it without the reductions, but I was certainly in pain. The notes indicated it was better to reduce than quit. Thanks Chad. The only thing that keep me going was the dreaming of my outdoor improvements that will come. I’m a new user just moving into. Build. I have never worked so hard. (Age 59, FTP 220, non-racer Randonneur endurance rider).

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Same goes for me. Workouts like Spanish needle are rather manageable for me but 3x3 Vo2 max are my enemy( today I did those outside, but icy rain cut the 3rd set a little short). In general I can hang for at around 90% of my ftp for hrs but when I have to go above it for more than 2 minutes I tend to really hurt. Guess I just need to suck it up and work on that.

Sorry to revive an old thread but this same question popped in my mind today.

Has anyone done Spanish Needle outside based on RPE? I just did, and totally blew up on the third set, and I have a few theories, but perhaps I should explain first.

My main bike is an XC hardtail so I train on Virtual Power on a set of resistance rollers using an old road bike. The bike works fine and fits me well but uses friction shifters, which is fine for longer intervals but a complete pain for the shorter ones. (don’t worry, I’m getting a proper bike later this year).
I did Pierce -5 a few days ago and after trying to shift in order to stay around 95-100 cadence for the valleys and the overs, I just ended up staying on one gear with too slow of a cadence for the valleys, and go way over 100 on the overs, which was doable but didn’t feel right.

So when Spanish Needle -1 came along I thought “heck, your race goals are for XCO after all, and the races are coming, so why not start using that bike more often?” And so I did. I managed around 13 sprints per set, switching between standing and sitting but didn’t have anything left after the fourth set, just complete noodles for legs.

I think I went too hard on the first set, because I took the “RPE: 10” as literal sprints, maybe not for the line but something like an all out race start. Also, historically I’ve always been better at sustained efforts, so my anaerobic engine SHOULD feel weak. On top of that, I had a stressful week and had to ride along traffic and all those lovely smells since that road ( a 4% uphill) was the best for the job.

Overall? I guess I’m not entirely surprised but would like to hear an opinion on how exactly are workouts like this approached since the differences between the training enviroments, bikes, air quality, etc vary so much in my case.

I just did Spanish Needle+2 outside, so I‘ll chime in :slightly_smiling_face:

I do ride with power, and I‘m fully woith you on RPE 10. For every single set of microbusts I‘ve done outside, the RPE on the first couple of burts is way low and I overshoot by at least 100W. And that‘s with me being aware of this and actively trying to hold down power. Last few micro-bursts of a set are the opposite, I have to purposely try to increase power to meet the target.

So if I had no power meter I‘m sure I‘d overcook my legs in the first few microbursts, and even more in the first few sets. It‘s a completely different experience outdoors vs. indoors…

About trainning environment, I‘d never do Spanish Needle in traffic as I get cross-eyed in the latter part of the last sets. Recepy for disaster… For this type of workouts I have a small local loop with very low traffic, and I just keep riding laps until I‘ve finished the hard work. Few corners and relatively stable gradient (in my case: 0,0%) is a bonus to be able to do the work uniterrupted…

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