In a hard workout, is it better to skip intervals or lower the intensity?

On some of my recent v02 max workouts the intervals have been hard enough that I’ve decided to strategically skip some so I could finish the rest. For example:

I knew I had the whole workout in me, but I just couldn’t hang in so I’d skip an interval and tell myself after that I’d finish the rest. It allowed me to get through everything and still hit the mark on tss and intensity factor.

But I know an option is to lower the overall intensity of the workout if need be.

Is it better to skip like this or should I be lowering the intensity?

Disclaimer: no science behind what i am saying, just my logic.

If very short but high number of intervals, ie: 30 sec VO2 max at 130% x 10 and feels difficult, i would sacrifice one of those 30 secs for the quality of the rest.

If it is long sessions, i would reduce the intensity 2% and try.

It doesn’t happen to me a lot, i try feeding honest feedback to the surveys after workouts. But if it is not the day really, i reschedule the workout or replace it with the easier ride of the week etc


It depends, but in general, I would lower intensity within reason. In the session you provided, the stimulus of the repeated efforts at high power is the important component. What that power is doesn’t exactly matter–you’re effectively going for the max power you can hold for the duration of those 30/30s. Having to skip a rep would seem to indicated that you went too hard early on.

For something like a sweetspot or threshold workout, lowering the intensity by a couple of percentage points is also reasonable. Maybe for whatever reason you’re just a little off that day–sleep, nutrition, work stress, whatever. Or, you can extend the rest between reps.

I think that cutting reps makes sense if you’ve reached your limited on something like 5 min VO2 intervals. If you planned 5x5 and you’re at your limit after 4, calling it a day is fine.

When I was coaching track and field, I’d always give my workouts as ranges. For example, 6-8x200 m at 28-30 seconds per rep. It’s about a feeling. One of the issues with trainers and blue bars is that you get married to perfect numbers.


No matter which you choose, I’d change my survey response so AI can adjust for you. I think by definition that workout was not hard but “all out “ for you.


The two parts of that sentence don’t align. That is NOT a criticism of your ability or performance.

But we need to be honest with ourselves when evaluating our performances so we can improve. If you couldn’t hang, then you didn’t have the workout in you. We’ve all been there…it happens.


I’m confused. You skipped intervals in every set except the first two but you rated the survey “hard”? That would be an automatic fail for me.


I did an actual lol at you skipping intervals but still busting out a hero interval on the very last one … both times! :blush:


Think of the aim of the session and then that should guide your choice.

The aim of a vo2 session should be to keep yourself at that point of maximum oxygen uptake for as long as possible.

If you took a break halfway through a set of 30/30s (which aren’t really a vo2 workout per say but more anaerobic capacity as you get too much recovery for them to be vo2 - so lets’ assume we’re talking about a 45/15 or something like that) you would have time to catch up with the oxygen demands. As a result, the next half would take you several intervals before you reached maximum oxygen uptake. So, you’re stuffing up your workout in the worst way possible.

This is also why you can do these ‘hero intervals’ as @Helvellyn points out - you’ve turned it into an anaerobic capacity workout (because you recovered) and of course your anaerobic capacity is bigger than your power @ vo2. But you didn’t set out to do an ancap workout and none of your other intervals are of any quality.

A much better solution would be to self-pace the intervals and accept that your power will drop as you progress. So e.g. a set of 45/15’s at 400w might go 420, 410, 400, 380, 390. Even if your power drops, as long as you are staying in that “can’t get enough oxygen in” feeling, the power is much less important. This is why erg mode for vo2 is bad, because it drives people to see the workouts as pass / fail (and so skip intervals to “complete” them - aka fail them but get the PL increase).

If the aim of the sessions is different you adjust your strategy. In Vo2 you’re aiming at central adaptations, so absolute power is less important.

If you want to imagine a situation in which this is the opposite, imagine going to the gym to squat. The aim here is neuromuscular and peripheral (i.e. your legs getting stimulus). So, you take as much rest as you need to hit the numbers that create the optimum stimulus.


Thanks for all of the replies. That all makes sense. I figured I was doing it wrong, so it’s good to hear why it was wrong and how to correct it.


Please excuse me while I stand to applaud :clap: :clap::clap:


~What is erg mode? Full context thief is the first time I’ve done structured training so I’m still learning a lot of these concepts and strategies.~

Nevermind, I looked it up. I didn’t realize it was a smart trainer thing. I’m training on rollers.

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Putting on my coaching hat…

Needing to skip an interval now and then is something athletes do and coaches ask athletes to do… especially when getting into shape. Even when you are in shape and not just feeling it taking the rep off allows the athlete to reset mentally and physically. This can be and effective tool that teaches them to power through and finish. (On the other hand there are those days where you just need to tough it out and learn you can do it, but that is a different topic.)

The goal is to do as much work as possible. Obviously others feel different but I never felt like a workout was failed because they skipped an interval. Rather they did what they had to so they could get the most work in.

If you can get through the workout, don’t take an interval off… it can become a habit to give in when things get hard. But if you have to because, that’s where you are at… take it off. Adjust the next workout accordingly. No biggie.


Just covering some worthwhile bases here:

Most importantly your rating seems off (as has already been mentioned):

  1. All Out
    This ride was extremely difficult. It pushed me well beyond my abilities and took a massive amount of energy and focus to complete. You’ll feel like you barely made it to the end of this ride, and that you had to pull out every mental trick in the book to finish.

And my version that specifically mentions the Bailouts you used:

Official TR Bailouts:


“Rate it how you feel”, I think is what @Jonathan said. My understanding is AI will way up the fact that you skipped intervals and perhaps judge it the automatic failure. Hypothetically, dropping a workout intensity by a massive 50% or dropping most of the ‘on’ intervals making the workout seem easy, should I believe be rated as such (easy), AI however would judge it as an automatic failure and adapt correctly. So far though I haven’t skipped intervals and strained ‘all out’ to reach targets (which although not lowering intensity targets may actually result in lower intensity) so have responded ‘all out’ when I’ve struggled.

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  • Yes, once some amount of shortcoming or manual adjustment is reached (that we don’t know) this should trigger the “Struggle” survey. TR sees whatever it sees and thinks something is off for the rider. The Struggle survey aims to understand at least part of the issue by the user selection.

  • This is a fuzzy one to me. If the Struggle survey kicks in as I would expect, the only way you could get to “Easy” would be the option “I didn’t struggle…”, which I don’t see in the reference pic from the support doc. Perhaps it’s there in a scroll or only available in some specific situations?

  • Even if you can fudge it that badly and get to a normal rating screen, I still think anything less than 5-All Out is a mistake. The official TR wording above is a bit wishy-washy to me, but my personal text (sourced directly from TR discussion here, along with numerous podcast mentions of people using non-5 ratings when actual bailouts were used) indicates that a lower rating as seen here or your supposition seem like a bad choice IMO.

  • Either way, I don’t think the current system is advanced enough to take an “Easy” rating on a heavily underperformed workout and get the right end result. We have enough trouble with it not picking up on the fact that some people overperform at times for no “extra credit” and underperform where TR still gives full PL (while often making pending changes via AT).

All that to say that I’d treat the current implementation with some care to be as straightforward and direct as possible. Trying to push the current limits or hoping it’s doing more behind the scenes right now seems to end in disappointment in nearly all the cases I’ve seen doing so.


Related question, is it better to skip or pause (for example 10sec) and push through he repeat. I never know what is better.

Ive never done it my self as I think it would throw my pm into dynamic calibration (whatever that is) but from what I’ve heard on the podcast etc, back pedalling is recommended by TR which I think throws you into a pause.

  • That is subject to the Settings you have in the app. It can pause when set that way, but the user can set it the other way if they want.

TR App > Settings > Workout Options (heading) > Pedal to Resume/Pause (On/Off)


In general, we’d recommend lowering the intensity of your workout. Power zones “blend” into each other, so by decreasing the intensity, even though you wouldn’t be hitting the original target wattage, you’d still be in the VO2 Max range and getting the benefits you’re looking for in this workout.

We really like the advice @Power13 gave you as well – if you have to skip intervals to get the workout done, there’s nothing wrong with that – but we would encourage you to consider marking workouts like these as “All Out” so that Adaptive Training gives you an appropriately challenging workout down the line.


Awesome. Thanks for confirming :man_bowing:t5: I’ll adjust my approach.

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