Levels of "Failing" a Workout

Let’s say we have two cyclists doing the same workout, in this example, Lamarck. If both are unable to complete the workout, is it better to take a longer break during the rest periods by back pedaling for a minute or to simply knock down the intensity say 5% for the later intervals. By taking extra time, each interval is completed at 100%. By backing off the power 5% for two of the intervals, each rest period is only as long as prescribed, keeping HR up the entire time.

This happened recently with my friend and I and we are curious as to what the best way to “fail” a workout is. We’re thinking it also depends on the type of workout, as in, don’t take longer breaks during 30/30s or don’t back down the intensity too much for VO2 Max intervals.

I’d be interested to hear what others think.

A similar discussion taking place here? Failed workouts in final week before rest - #3 by John_Hallas

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I did give that a read. Seems like the options presented are to either drop intensity or not complete an interval entirely. I would imagine both options given above are preferred over an incomplete interval

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I feel like there are levels of workout completion/failure. I kind of think of it as follows:

  1. Completed as prescribed (i.e. no drop in %)
  2. Work Intervals completed as prescribed, but with backpedal breaks/stopping for extended rest during rest intervals
  3. Backpedals during work intervals, but completed workout as prescribed with no stops
  4. Completely stopping for rest during work intervals (but still finishing workout at prescribed power)
  5. Workout completed, but with significant drop in %
  6. Not finishing workout

I really only consider Levels 5/6 to be failures…Level 3/4 it depends on the type of workout. I just made this up, so I’m sure I’m off base somewhere.

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If you’re extending the time between sets I think that is a stronger ‘finish’ of the workout than taking a break in the middle of a set.

For Lamarck this would mean taking a longer break between each interval would be a better way to complete the workout than keeping those breaks the same but taking short breaks in the middle of the intervals.

For something like Joe Devel it is the same - with the caveat that you aren’t skipping intervals or extending the 15 second rest periods - you’re extending the 7 minute between set rest periods

Just my opinion though

For me personally I feel hitting each interval is more important, however for a workout like Lamarck, I can see the benefit of keeping recovery to strickly 2 minutes in order to stress your body and force it to work with minimal recovery, even if the intensity of the subsequent intervals dropped up to 5%

All (well not all) you need to think about is being cautious of dialing down the % to a level that means you are not targeting the prescribed system.