Progressive workout - any benefit for cycling?

I think I read about these kinds of workouts in Skiba’s book. Runners do progressive runs where you start slow and increase the pace until the end of the workout. I guess the goal is volume without the risk of injury, leaving the harder tempo (threshold) running for the end.

I’m just curious why you hardly ever hear about this kind of workout in cycling.

Wouldn’t progressing from warmup - Z2 - tempo - sweet spot - threshold be a decent hack for fatiguing slow twitch muscle fibers on lower volume?

40k TT plan has lot of such workouts.

Copy-paste from one of such workout description:
Progression workouts ever so gradually increase the power requirement until you are working at your highest sustainable power, all in an effort to raise your muscular endurance, grow your ability to withstand increasing physical discomfort and your increase your time to exhaustion.


I think it’s because it’s perhaps more effective to split the workouts. Keep de hard stuff hard and easy rides easy idea. But as a race specific workout I could see these progressive workouts have a place.

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Yeah it’s on the tri plans too! Piute for example

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I was more curious about any physiological benefits. One can train muscular endurance in a variety of ways.

I think it’s more specific to running because high level running races play out as negative splits typically. Whether in 5ks or marathons, you usually have the field together running tempo for the first half, then someone turns on the gas in the haflway point and whittles down the lead group. Then because running is such a static effort, even the same pace will feel much harder at the end of a race than the beginning. Some marathons have also come down to the final 500m too- Tokoyo 2 weeks ago had 4 guys within a couple seconds onto the final straight. Boston last year was a sprint for the men too. Even for amateurs, most science has shown that negative splitting is the fastest way to race at least longer distances, and progressive workouts also help from going out too fast and burning matches in long races.

Progression workouts are a lot more specific to that type of effort than for cycling, which is much more dynamic. Any group race is going to have surges and recovery periods, and often some of the hardest racing is early on to make a selection. But then the race often slows, or you recover on descents, which doesn’t happen in running. Even on ITTs, the fastest strategy is not a set power (except on a pan flat course with no wind), but to surge over rollers and out of turns. For that reason, over/unders, off/on VO2, or tempo/threshold with short surges is far more applicable to cycling than a steady progression effort.


Another benefit for running specifically is to reduce chances of overextending and risking injury. Starting slower and working into an appropriate pace is much safer than trying to start at pace but risking starting too fast and overextending the second half of the run. Going over planned effort the second half of the workout carries a high recovery toll, and with the impact of running a high injury risk. I would imagine this isn’t as big of a worry with cycling