"Normal" intervals vs all-out efforts

Let me start by saying maybe these other kinds of workouts are in TR and I just haven’t seen them. Also, I’m not saying people need them - in fact I’m asking if we do.

Before I started a formal training plan, I just messed around with hard efforts. One thing I’d do is find locations on my routes that supported an effort of a particular length of time. A place I could ride all out safely and rarely if ever get interrupted. I’d create a segment so that I’d start and end in the same place every time and I’d ride all-out. Conditions change so I was never interested in best avg speed or lowest time. I was only interested in improving my avg power over that section of road. During this time, I made big improvements to my entire power curve. Doing 3 to 4 max 45-60 sec efforts on 2 of my rides each week not only made improvements to my 20, 30, and 60 second power, it also made hitting big power on short hills much easier.

One thing rides like that miss out on is repeatability. “Normal” intervals improve your ability to recover under load and to make repeat efforts. They also improve your muscle endurance in ways I was missing. I’m sure there are other things I was missing out on too.

This may be the wrong word but when I say peak power, I mean peak avg over a given time. My question is, do the normal intervals (eg, 30 sec intervals at 120% - which allow for much shorter recoveries) also help your peak 30 second power which is well over 120% but requires much longer recoveries in between? Or if you want to work on peak power, do you need to fit in some all-out intervals somewhere in your schedule?

They’re different efforts. 30/30’s become an aerobic effort pretty quickly.

A (mostly) pure anaerobic workout is something like 20-60 second max effort followed by many minutes of getting off the bike and laying down. I didn’t see anything like that it in TR catalog (probably with good reason, that’d be really boring). I did such a workout at the track (RIP :sob: ) once and decided that I didn’t care about match sprints enough.

I would like a workout that was similar but instead of laying down, riding easy btwn efforts. And while I could just do my own workout like that (I’ve done it outside many times, wouldn’t be hard to do it inside), my main question is would it benefit me?

To put a finer point on it…

  1. do the TR intervals improve your max power you can hold for 60 seconds?
  2. if not, is it just that nobody thinks it’s a worth while thing to work on?

BTW, one thing I found by doing them regularly is that the pain gets more comfortable. The obvious thing is your W will get higher over time. But what’s less obvious is that riding that amount of time at your new and improved max becomes more comfortable than it was riding at your old max.

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Just do “Bays +1” etc but hang on to your sprint for an extra 40seconds maybe?

I think there’s definitely value in those workouts, though I wouldn’t base my entire plan on them personally (I very much need sustained work).

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If you are following a TR plan then none of this applies.

If you are designing your own training blocks, the first thing to understand is that 30-90 second max efforts rely on what coaches call “anaerobic capacity” and it is trainable.

Read this:

for a relatively easy to understand explanation.

And this:

if you want a little more science.


me too.

Thanks! I’m going to read these after work.

So I’m still curious if there’s a way to incorporate them into my schedule without messing up my progress in my TR plan. Or maybe the right way to go is to finish the plan and then divide my time btwn maintaining that progress and building anaerobic fitness.

Right now, I’m doing the LV base. I feel like I could probably add some Anaerobic work on Sundays and still be recovered for my Tuesday workouts. Another option might be to wait until I’m ready for a specialty phase and try to fit some in then. Maybe one of the specialties incorporates them.

Do the max efforts automatically switch you from Erg to Sim mode for the sprints or do you just do the whole workout in Sim?

Here’s the deal. Coach Chad worked out how to progress your fitness across 28 weeks of base, build, and specialty. What I think I’m reading in your posts - you aren’t clear on the big picture, and are thinking of randomly throwing anaerobic workouts into the mix without understanding how that may impact your plan. Sounds like an, umm, interesting approach, but not one that TR would recommend. The alternative is to do what a good coach would do, assess your strengths and weakness, look at key events and required fitness, and come up with a plan designed for you specifically.

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No, they do not switch automatically.

With all anaerobic work if you are talking about going max, like 5x1 min max etc you want to be as fresh as possible, otherwise you leave a lot and do not maximise your capacity.

If you want very simple and short explanation of this kind of training:

If you want to nerd out:

Worth reading / rereading this blog post:

While there are other science backed approaches (“more than one way to get fast”), if you are following a TR plan then see it through and if you aren’t happy with results at the end then try a different plan.


I don’t use erg mode. I don’t think that there is any sort of automatic switch. Best practice, I believe, is to switch to normal mode before you get to the sprints. Then switch back.

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For Win/Mac users, the ‘T’ keyboard short is a great trick.

Sadly, it is a bit more work on mobile. You have to open the devices from the lower screen icon, open the trainer, switch modes, then step back to the workout. Not ideal, so anyone doing sprint work on mobile might be best to swap to Res or Std and deal with that for the full duration.


Thanks. Zwift has the ability to switch but doesn’t always use it.

eg, if you’re doing a zwift workout, there are times where it will say “we recommend you turn off Erg mode for this next effort”

If you create your own workout in Zwift, one of the effort types is “free ride” which you can insert X amount of time of free ride. When you do that, the trainer switches automatically from Erg to Sim and back to Erg. I have no idea why they don’t do the auto switch in their own workouts.

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  • Quite simply because not everyone likes to do them the same thing. Some like to switch modes, while others stick in ERG.

  • TR does have the ability to swap modes, and applies it in their 20-minute and 8-minute FTP tests. So they have the technical ability, but have not employed it in other workouts.

If the workout is “do exactly this W for this time” and then “go as hard as you can for this time” etc, they should auto-switch.

It would be pretty weird to complain the “hard as you can section” is not in Erg mode.

I can see how some people would want to do the whole thing in Res mode. The pseudo code to accomondate both groups would look something like this:

begin sprint (){
if res == yes;
if res = no;
res = yes