Overs/Unders - 120/80%?

Just been listening to a podcast where a cycling coach basically rubbished any over/under sessions done at 105/95% saying they should be pushed harder and eased off more for the intended adaptations and has his athletes doing them at around 120/80%.

Would be interesting to hear what the more experienced athletes here thought of this and wonder if anyone has had these recommended to them by a coach or through other means.

Wouldn’t that then take the overs to vo2 numbers and the unders to high endurance numbers. The goal is to work at your threshold level.

I’m no expert or coach but I think he’s talking ####.


You will find both kinds on the trainerroad workout catalogue depending on the zone energy system you are targetting. Take a look for example at Chishill.


The goal is to work on lactate clearing and pushing your body to move the threshold up. The top zone for lactate clearing occurs around 95% of FTP. My personal experience is that 90% with higher overs (around 120% for 30s or 1 min) works better for me than traditional 95%-105% - because it it also involves more muscle mass recruitment. But do what works for you.

HighNorth has a quite basic hut well explained article about goals of this type of workouts:

Can you give the details of the said ‘Coach’?

I do them similar to this coach but more like a under of 85% with variation in the over ranging from 100-150%. I’ll do them anywhere from 20-60mins at certain times of the year. The over parts are longer when lower % ftp, vice versa.
For example, 4.5min 85% → 0.5min 150% or 4min 85% → 2min 110-115%, etc.

I’ve never tried 95/105 but it sounds kind of funny to have such little variation. Why not just try to hold 100 unless the point is to make it mentally easier.

IMHO, the biggest risk with 105/95% over/under is that if you have an overstated FTP (who? me?) you’re basically doing over/over’s and its a recipe for failure. At least with 120/80% the odds are extremely good that you’re indeed “over” and “under”.

Of course, the “over” part could be waaaaay over for some folks.


Yes. 120/80 is a good place to start


Pierce is TR’s OG VO2 “float set” workout.

Sets are 5ish minutes. Simply not the same as 10+ min O/U sets at 95/105.

1 Like

105/95 is so close to being the same that you are essentially riding threshold assuming your FTP is correct. This kind of stuff relieves the mental boredom of a longer threshold interval which is fine if that is what helps one get through a trainer session.


I think AT and the expansion of the workout library addresses this issue nicely.

E.g. Katahdin -5 appears to be the easiest of this type and definitely looks a lot easier than Pierce and Mitchell. IME one is more likely to sub an easier workout than to begrudgingly lower his/her FTP.

My guess is it is good to have both 95/105 and 80/120 as in reality on the road you’ll encounter all in between.

1 Like

I could be wrong but I think it’s @brendanhousler. He’s been saying this in recent months but just really emphasized it this week.

If I’m thinking of the right podcast that OP is referencing then this was kinda his point. That 95/105 was basically just a crappy threshold interval as you are probably not doing a great job of ‘clearing’ on the unders, not producing a ton of lactate on the overs and you ultimately do them for shorter intervals than a threshold interval.


I think it would be good training for a TT, going nearly flat out but able to cope with a little variation in resistance. Some of the best TTers power seems to have only small variances.


I think that was Alex Dowsett referenced 2min@105%/2min@95% as his TT specific session. It was 2x20 and he called it one of the toughest session. Tried this and those 2min@105% really take the toll after some time.

Edit: here’s the reference: https://roadcyclinguk.com/how-to/alex-dowsetts-time-trial-tips-training-sessions.html


Yeah spot on. It was here I heard it. Been listening to him for a while now and seems a talk a lot sense and offers a slightly different outlook to training than what I’ve been use to.

[EVOQ.BIKE Cycling Podcast] Hill Climb Pacing; Use W’ / FRC WISELY!!! #evoqBikeCyclingPodcast
Hill Climb Pacing; Use W' / FRC WISELY!!!! • EVOQ.BIKE Cycling Podcast - Podcast Addict via @PodcastAddict


Have a look here at the OU Team site:

I’ll go with 2 or 3 x 20 @90/115% OU.

1 Like

Pretty much exactly how I do O/Us: 115/90.

Are these O/U designed to get you up to VO2max (or close to) and maintain it for TiZ by briefly riding below threshold?

As opposed to a 105/95% which is for floating right on threshold and train your body to deal with that level of effort and the metabolic cost of it?