If you are struggling in a workout but want to ensure you can complete it, is it better to reduce intensity or take a break in an interval?

This morning I had a super tough V02 workout. I haven’t had problems with V02 in the past but this morning was especially tough. About halfway through each 3 minute interval, I had to take a break in order to complete the three minutes. My TSS for the ride was only 2 points lower, and my IF was only .01 lower.

I am wondering if it is better to reduce FTP/intensity (10%) and complete the workout on the lowered intensity, or if it is better to take a break and finish the workout at 100% intensity. any thoughts would be great!

Personally I reduce the % as long as it is within the range where you would expect to get the training benefit. I think - from memory - that some vo2 workouts mention in the ride text to ensure you stay above 110% but the ride target is, for example, set to 120%.

The rationale for doing this over resting? From what I’ve heard on the podcast, many of the adaptations you want come in the final repetitions in a workout, having a rest may negate this.

If I cant stay in the expected range for the benefit, eg drop below 110% for vo2, I’ll stop the workout or drop into z2 and finish the duration.

Depends on length of break. For v02 then quick break of 10-15 secs then do that. Much longer then I’d stop rests and drop intensity a bit.

I’d like to tag onto this, if I could. I occasionally need to take 20-30 second backpedals during long threshold / sweetspot / VO2max work, but a) I run in ERG mode, so I can’t “drop beneath the power level”, and b) the workout automatically pauses, so I don’t lose much time to the backpedal.

I think that, as long as the average power for that interval stays in the appropriate range, I’m not damaging the intent of the workout … right?

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I always thought using backpedals sparingly was “better” than dropping intensity.

Using average power was mentioned in a recent podcast - TR don’t display average because the aim is to spend time at target power, not chase an average by riding over or under the target.

I think with the update you can view average interval power now.

If I’m doing 3 minute VO2max intervals & it’s tough to complete the intervals the first thing I do is increase the rest period. The point of the workout is to spend as much time in a VO2max condition as possible so after one interval ends I’ll spin through the first minute of the rest period (to make sure I get those precious few VO2max seconds after the interval) and then reassess. If the next interval is too intimidating I’ll get off the bike and walk around for a couple of minutes.

No VO2max interval by itself is impossible. I always tell myself, ‘Self, if you walked up to the bike fully rested no 3 minute interval at 120% is undoable.’ So, always think that with enough rest you can do another 3 minute interval. And that’s more time at VO2max.

2nd rule is never stop during an interval. Drop the intensity by a few percent or 5%, but don’t go crazy. It’s takes your heart 30s to respond so give it some time. Always remember how Bilat strung those VO2max intervals out FOREVER by just dropping the intensity little by little. I always tell myself, ‘Self, all the suffering you’ve done in the interval was just the setup to get to this point. Don’t waste it now by wussing out.’ AS SOON AS THE INTERVAL IS OVER RETURN TO 100%. Go back to rule #1 if you have to but hard start the next interval & exercise rule #2 if you have to. Remember, you want to accumulate minutes at VO2max…you don’t get that job done by resting for 3 minutes an then starting the next interval a little over FTP.

Rule #3 is never quit during the rest period. Always, always, always start the next interval. Then, if you feel like you can’t make it through, go to rule #2.


Ever since TR switched to the ramp test, I’ve learned what it really means to have nothing left in the tank.

I realized in the past I’d backpedal when I didn’t really need to.


How do you extend the rest period on a smart trainer in ERG?

  1. Use the Extend Cool Down function to set the desired time (multiple clicks on times as needed).

  2. Use the Workout Intensity adjustment and raise the Power Target wattage to your desired level.

Right - so it sounds like in between an interval if I need an extra minute, I need to adjust down the start of the next interval by 40% on the IF it to the rest, and then ramp it up to 100. There is no way to add a minute in between an interval other than the IF workaround, correct?

If you have auto-pause on just stop pedalling for a minute during the rest interval.

If you turn off auto pause you can hit the pause button and keep pedalling then unpause when you are ready to get back at it.

1 Like

I mean, if you need some more time to relax, why not just spend a minute with the workout paused and backpedal? You’ll recover very fast, and you’ll still be burning a modicum of fat. Having to cut into the next interval seems a bit wacky, to me, but I may not be understanding what you’re saying, fully.

1 Like

Yup, manual pause or auto pause can work well. Doing that is easier than shifting Workout Intensity a bunch.

Couple options.

Option the First: Just get off the trainer and walk around. Not sit around, not stand around, walk around. On my trainer, when I get back on if I just start pedalling the resistance will be enough to reverse the tides so I’ll have to backpedal 5 to 10 times. That gets the trainer to release resistance so I can get started again without the need to spin up from 2000 watts of resistance.

Option the Second: import the workout into WorkoutCreator beforehand and add some more wait time. Technically you can but then you would have to know that the workout is going to be super tough ahead of time. I usually don’t.

This article is pretty helpful, but there are a decent number of scenarios not covered. For example, my understanding is that V02max percentages are not perfect, and we don’t have to hit prescribed numbers for a benefit.

In that instance, it would be great if we were trying to hit a range for training benefit rather than an exact target. I think the same is true for threshold, albeit, less guessing, and then sweet spot even tighter.

I think the coloring on the power bar corresponds with this to some degree, as does the round circle, but I am not exactly sure how they coincide, and suspect they could be used to greater effect.

For example, I think the color bar has too much variation too it. I’d prefer to see it be green, yellow, and red, rather than such a continuous change. I’d also prefer to know (or see implemented) if the radius of the circle tracks with the right ranges needed to get the training stimulus.

Knowing that I’m in the right range for a training stimulus without having to think to much would help ease the mind while I’m doing really hard to complete workouts.