How to build 2 minute power most time-effectively?

I’m focusing on short climbs and in the future potentially crits, my 1 minute power is OK at 846W but my 2 minute power is relatively weaker at 549W - I find myself gasping for air so seems like it’s a VO2 max/aerobic limitation more than muscle strength, legs don’t feel too fatigued.

What’s likely the most time-efficient way to improve my 2 min power?

A lot of near all out 2 or 3 minute intervals?

More threshold or sweet spot climbs at high cadence so I tax my lungs more than my legs?

More threshold or sweet spot climbs at low cadence building stronger legs and some endurance on stop? Or is a mix usually best to keep your body guessing?

:joy: :joy: :joy:

ONLY 846W? Been slacking off haven’t you?

If you couldn’t guess, I’m being sarcastic because I don’t think I’d ever get close to that. That’s good. My 1min power is 640W which puts me in the top 97% on intervals.icu. So I’d guess you’re up at 99%.

Maybe you answered your own question. I found extending the intervals out longer and longer helped me a ton. I started with 2 min, then increased by 30 sec. There’s also a good thread about hard start VO2 intervals to get your HR up quick.

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I don’t know, maybe do some 90sec max efforts with adequate rest between. Something like: 5x90sec all out with 6-8 min rest between intervals. You’re training absolute power with these and not repeatability, not sure if that’s actually what you want to do for crit racing, I think repeatability is going to pay off more than working on your max 2-min power.

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Thanks! Yeah that sounds right, longer intervals = more time at VO2 max which is what I need. Wonder if there’s a sweet spot say 3 min? When do you stop adding time lol…

I only tried a real 1 minute max effort once…think I have 900w in the bag hehe, see if I can get 1000w in a year or two.

I think I may need a new hobby, holy hell those numbers are high.

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2 min power has quite a big aerobic contribution. 1 min power is closer to 50-50 for some, so your discrepancy is probably the result of huge anaerobic power contributing to the result. So to improve 2 min power you have to improve aerobic power. VO2 max is always a good solution.

People with big anaerobic power usually have to go longer to diminish the contribution of anaerobic part. Try 4 minutes and go with hard start (around your MAP power), close the eyes and pray to survive. Repeat 5 times. And do a lot of Z2:)

BTW both 1 and 2 min are hugely impressive results.

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As @jarsson said, you probably need to go longer. I’d say get up to doing 4 or 5 minute intervals for around 20-25 minutes of total time in zone for the workout. So 5x4min or 6x4min or 5x5min. And you might not be able to just jump right in to these. Like I said, I worked up from 2min. And power is not the metric to watch. It’s about getting maximal O2 uptake, so shoot for >90% max HR.

Edit: if you’re dying a thousand deaths at the end of the interval, you’re doing it right.

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you might want to start by working on 30-second and 60-second power/capacity. Something like 6 or 8 intervals, an all-out 60-second followed by 5-10 minutes of recovery to fully recharge, and then do another one. Ten days ago I did 8x30-sec and 4x8-sec all-out efforts and it took 5 days recovery before my legs felt normal LOL. This week my legs are feeling strong.

After building capacity/power you might want to work on stamina/repeatability by doing say a couple sets of 2-min repeats (5x2-min on with 2-6 min recovery between). Separate the sets by something like 10 minutes. You want to do these at repeatable power, whatever that is for you.

And always be working on the aerobic engine, both long zone2 endurance and vo2max efforts.

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Ooouf I was afraid you’d say 4 minutes, mentally so so hard to do… but think you’re right! Now do those seated at high cadence or out of the saddle at low(er)? Twice pr week then one zone 2 ride, or would I get more from 1 added sweet spot ride?

If you’re just interested in 2 minute power I’d say the best way is to workout like a track rider.

All out 2 minute effort. Pedal around for 15 minutes at ~60% FTP. Get off the bike. Stretch your back. Hang out for a couple minutes. Do another 2 minute effort. Etc.

I think you just did not pace your 2min max effort correctly based on your power curve (it seems like maybe you sprinted and fell apart big time within the second minute - just a guess tho). You might want to try testing it specifically in some workout and purposefully lock into something like 650-750w through the whole effort, then go all out in the final 30 seconds. You could prob get a 50w+ PR with no special training (if this power curve is from recent / current fitness).

If it really is some thing that your curve does drop so sharply from physiology (rather than pacing), check out this ‘power intervals’ workout that I like:

  1. warm up
  2. work set (based on your power curve you showed above): 30sec @ 600w → 1.5min @ 200w times however many you can get (try 8 and work towards 12 reps). No break between these so you will experience cumulative fatigue towards the end of the workout (and reach vo2max like breathing faster as the workout progresses).
  3. cool down

Vo2max efforts are really just about putting you into that zone where you breathe so much you are around vo2max (ie breathing at your vo2 max). Its not so much about how long the one interval is or how many watts (tho intensity w wattage is required to achieve such intense breathing). For a rider like yourself with such high end power but quick drop off, repetitive shorter but continuous vo2 workouts might suit you.

I say this in contrast to some 3-5min intervals at 105-120% of your estimated ftp classic suggestions. They are legit, but you are a more powerful rider and might be better suited to use that with shorter burst, short recover to get the breathing up.

Interestingly, while your numbers are way stronger than mine at basically all intervals I think I fall off at a much lower rate than you as the minutes tick up. Curious what you kg is?

Mines

  • 5 second = 1172
  • 30 second = 794
  • 60 second = 554
  • 2 minutes = 461
  • 5 minutes = 365

@ 62-63 kg….

It’s interesting that my 60 second is basically laughable compared to yours, but my 2 minute is much more comparable even if yours is still higher.

I left out weight as it is a bit misleading, I do more calisthenics than cycling so my upper body is relatively more developed than my legs, hence I’m heavy around 85 kg (…reckon I could drop to 80 kg and keep the cycling power if I shrunk my upper body).

Wondering if first doing 30-60s low cadence high power intervalls to work muscular strength, then finishing the workout with high cadence 3-5 min VO2 max intervals could be a good idea to work both leg strength and lungs in one workout. Then do this twice a week and throw in a longer ride.

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Very interesting topic. When comparing 1 min vs 2 min efforts in cycling, I immediately think of 400m vs 800m events in track and field.

According to Google, “What makes a good 800m runner”:

A great 800 runner should be able to run at least 46 (seconds) or faster for the 400. A great 800 runner should be able to run at least 4:05 or faster for the mile.”

Blistering times in both, without a bias of one over the other.

Also, according to one website (Comparing 400m vs 800 meter Training):

The proportion of anaerobic to aerobic requirement for 400m runners is typically about 75%/25%

The proportion of anaerobic to aerobic requirement for 800m runners is typically about 60%/40%.

So it sounds like it’s as “simple” (not really) as improving your aerobic fitness by every means possible: traditional VO2max intervals 3-8 minutes, VO2max on/offs, anaerobic repeats, etc. Also a healthy dose of sweet spot, tempo, and endurance to maintain a strong base so that your body has the capacity to do those VO2 workouts.

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My guess would be that you have a heavy anaerobic contribution for that first minute. When you enter the second minute you are much more dependent on your aerobic contribution which isn’t as well developed.

Longer intervals in the 2-8 minute area would be my recommendation

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FWIW this is my current ESTIMATE of aerobic/anaerobic contributions at 1-minute and 2-minutes, from WKO modeling:

my 1-minute all-out effort is roughly 55% Glycolytic / 45% Aerobic:

my 2-minute all-out effort is roughly 36% Glycolytic / 64% Aerobic:

Looking at my data across seasons those % are pretty consistent AFTER I’ve built up some anaerobic/glycolytic capacity.

Before building anaerobic/glycolytic capacity via 60-second and shorter intervals, for example coming out of TR sweet spot base of my 2018-2019 season I’ve seen those estimates as low as 20% glycolytic / 80% aerobic (and 25% / 75% for the season). On the road that worked out to 2-minute hard/max efforts at 315W coming out of base for '18-'19 (and 329W for the full season), versus my current 90-day power best of 378W. Subjectively I can feel the difference as well.

Hence the reason for my first post above, suggesting the idea of building anaerobic/glycolytic capacity first. If you currently have a strong anaerobic/glycolytic engine and don’t expect to see any improvements, then I can see first going for more max aerobic power intervals in the 2-8 minute range.

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Yeah, I will try to primarily work on my 3-5 min power damn it’s going to suck. Another (semi-scientific) chart. Wonder if it makes sense to breathe harder at the beginning of 2 min effort to front load the aerobic system ;p

Hey man, sorry if this is a bit much but i am fascinated by this because your physiology is so different than mine. It is a level of snap and pop that i’ve never had and certainly never will (so i need to just rely on crackle, which is of course fine too).

are you basically able to easily win any bike where you’re at the finish with the lead group? About how much does that top-end sprint power drop if you’ve been riding hard for three or four hours? Do you find your max spring power goes up or down when you do more endurance training? how often do you work the sprint / other super high-end power?

sorry i’m just very curious. Thanks!

I came from a bit of very amateur weightlifting into cycling, my numbers are not good for someone my weight focusing on sprints with fresh legs like for example a kilo track rider - I don’t race (yet). How you increase your 2 min power depends on where your weakness lies, for a lot of very explosive guys that’s in lung capacity/aerobic fitness and they gain a lot by doing longer rides and VO2 intervals.

I just heard of a guy who’s probably around my weight who can do 1074w 1 minute 760w 2 min - he’s a real weightlifter and does e.g. 25 x 100 kg squat sets to help build crazy peak and 2 min power, reminds me I should get back to squatting…

ah okay.

Well FWIW, track racing is pretty darn fun . . .