Superthreshold vs micro burst Vo2 intervals

Goals. 12 hour and 24 hour races. secondarily, Higher FTP

Plan builder doesn’t put together the greatest plans for ultra races… thinks you’re doing a 40k TT.
Anyway.

With all the races being canceled, i’ve been working on creating a sustainable ‘build’ schedule for myself, while continuing to progress.
lots of endurance time, and also 1 hard sweet spot workout each week. and 1 hard interval day.
For the intervals, i’ve been attempting and failing the super threshold progressions in SPB. Elephants, Wilhelm, Mt Hale, etc. first interval always feels easy, then i proceed to die half way through the workout.

But i can complete virtually any micro burst Vo2 interval workout, genderme, bluebell, dade. with a lower RPE, despite an equivalent IF for longer, or often an even higher IF.

So, im curious. Normally i think most of you would need to actually put out suprathreshold style power for most races, so specificity would make them essential. But for 12 and 24 hour races, i probably spend close to 0 time there. I’m doing intervals just to raise my FTP, to (hopefully) raise the power i can sustain for an endurance pace. So to get the training stimulus of a hard workout. If i can do a greater workload with bluebell, dade, gendarme, etc. Is there any reason not to work on progressing the Vo2 workouts, instead of the super threshold?

I’ve been stuck on trying to make superthreshold intervals work. Partly because when i was a runner, that was my favorite style of workout (1 mile repeats with 2-3 minute easy inbetween).

Would be curious to get your thoughts.

The past 8 weeks of failure, i’ve played around with dropping the intensity so i can complete them. Been getting plenty of sleep. Good nutrition, before/after/during workouts. rest week every 3-4 weeks.
Paradoxically. it often feels harder lowering the intensity… and i still end up failing the workout halfway through.

I hate those 108% FTP intervals - I can do Wilhelm, Red Lake etc provided I get equal ish rest - any less - real problems. Actually IMO and that of the UK tt forum they are probably not that great for you. I do mostly 25/50m tt and think I will bin them next year. 1/ They are to hard for lots of time in the threshold zone 2/ They are not hard enough for V02 max benefits. If you are doing 12/24 hr tt you need them less than me. I think next year I will include VO2 sessions - Bluebell/Mills/Dade/Spencer and their variations to boost my VO2 max. But for threshold stuff I think the intervals like Stromlo, Budawang, Sugarloaf and variants - will help more as they are @102% and don’t burn you but are longer. I would recommend the long version of Stromlo with 5x8mins@102% with some endurance after - that is bound to help long distance tt :grinning:

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Taken from the workout descriptions of Wilhelm and Elephants:

“The intent is to build greater muscular endurance and pain tolerance […]”

“The intent is to build greater muscular endurance and mental toughness by working at a high percentage of your maximal oxygen uptake with repeats that thoroughly stress your aerobic system.”

Considering your sport does evolve around long sustained efforts, I would assume that they are pretty beneficial for you. A greater extent of muscle endurance should help you big time on a long day.

To help you with your problem I took a quick look at your training schedule. It seems like you could benefit from some proper structure and progression. After all TrainerRoad doesn’t prescribe those long efforts until you have several weeks of proper base building in your legs. Over those weeks workouts progress in their intensity, style and duration.

@jdman It might just be me but what you describe doesn’t reflect my experiences. When I compare completed workouts such as Bluebell +2 and Raymond +7 with each other, I usually see close to double the time within he VO2 max zone for the Raymond workout. My experience is in line with what Seiler found out. Taken for the excerpt: 4 × 8min training induced greater overall gains in VO(2) peak, power@VO(2) peak, and power@4 mM bLa- (Mean ± 95%CI): 11.4 (8.0-14.9), vs 4.2 (0.4-8.0), 5.6 (2.1-9.1), and 5.5% (2.0-9.0) in Low, 4 × 16, and 4 × 4 min groups, respectively (P<0.02 for 4 × 8 min vs all other groups). Interval training intensity and accumulated duration interact to influence the adaptive response. Accumulating 32 min of work at 90% HR max induces greater adaptive gains than accumulating 16 min of work at ∼95% HR max despite lower RPE.

Generally speaking, I think working on a weakness will make you a better cyclist regardless of what that happens to be. In terms of specificity, I think they’d be really helpful for 12/24hr races as the main goal of suprathreshold workouts is muscular and mental endurance. While they might not be the power you’re putting out during your event, neither are shorter v02 intervals- and I think it’s fairly well supported at this point that you should be training at a variety of intensities throughout the season.
It’s also worth noting that they’re challenging workouts and are usually included later on in plans because they take a bit of building up to. There’s also a huge aerobic component to suprathreshold work, so if you’re struggling it might indicate that you could use a bit more base conditioning.
Also I totally agree with you in regards to running. Always thought it was weird that I nail v02 workouts running, but find them way harder on the bike. :joy: :woman_shrugging:

I’m sure 108% efforts may help - I just don’t think they are that specific to the demands of a 12/24 hour tt er. If they were riding mainly 10 mile tt then certainly. I found last year that my rating on spindata improved when I started doing lots of short VO2/Anaerobic sessions with 1-2 mins repeats @120-125% FTP and since Spindata compares my performance with all the athletes I race against week in week out I’m sure that was the case. I fully agree with your comments on Raymond+7 vs Bluebell - Raymond+7 is a v tough workout before you get to the endurance bit and would really tax you. I have only done Bluebell+2 once - it is to easy for VO2 max work - it may have plenty of intervals but there is so much rest between sets that you are never going to get the time in the correct zone (my HR never got above 165bpm when I did it where as sometimes I’m up at 179 at the back end of workouts like Dade+1). I think that the Seiler intervals are useful but he was asked if people should be doing them @108-110% and he said no way - maybe 102-105%. Certainly if I did them @108% my HR would be way over 90% of max. I average over 90% for a 25m tt anyway. I would think 4x8 would be tough@105% - and for a 12/24 hour tt then maybe 5x8 or 6x8 but @102% would be more useful - like the Stromlo variations. Also I find reps@102% for 6-9 mins and shorter VO2 work sustainable…every time I have done Wilhelm, Red Lake et a a lot I have got ill. Coincidence…maybe but we all have to do what works best for us. In fact if I was riding 12/24 hour tt I would be doing no work above threshold anyway ……I’d be riding more miles :grinning:

I think it depends on what phase of the training cycle you see yourself. The whole point of those VO2max efforts is to build a roof on your base. The more you do the higher the roof and the more headspace you have for your specific efforts in the specialization phase. So they pull your power curve to the right as far as you are concerned. True the also lift it at the wrong end but the tail goes up too.

As for compliance I went to a 2:1 work rest ratio rather than 3:1. Worked for me.

Sound fair enough - in normal times I never do the speciality phase anyway. I do a lot (20+) of open tt a year and a fair few club races as well. So I just do base/build and then start racing in March…so I had one race this year! Anyhow the TSS isn’t enough though to sustain your form so I usually do a club race on a Tuesday, a VO2 max on a Thursday and an open on Sat or Sun. The rest of the days I add zone 2 bar Monday which is rest. That usually builds my form from being under cooked in March to going well by the summer. The only exception is if I have an A race (you don’t get many in tt but some are more prestigious with better fields than others) I will drop the Thursday VO2 and do something like Truuli. I did a lot of races last year but my 2 highest rated performances on Spindata were both in September so I built form during the year (and I’m a teacher so I did a lot of riding in August! :laughing:)

Thanks for you’re input, that’s helpful to hear.

haha. thats exactly what i did last year after finishing SSB. trying to change things up a little this year :stuck_out_tongue:

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Well I doubt you’ll get the chance to test it…there aren’t many 12/24 tt - at least since I only ride 10/15/25/30/50 then if there is any racing I can do some…still it does give you some time to experiment with new ideas…that is before the men in the white coats come and drag you away :laughing: I often think about doing a 100m tt but then remember what I feel like on the limit at mile 49 of a 50 and think…do I fancy being less than half way through the race? :thinking: .er NO! - anyhow good luck

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I get your point. Though I tend to more agree with what @toribath97 said. Looking at the description of the mid volume sustained power build kind of seals the deal for me. Aimed among others for century and grand fondo riders.

Well we are all an experiment of 1 so we do what works for us. When you mentioned running the same thing applies, I used to run and do tri before I did tt. My best marathon (when I was running 2:47) came off the back of upping the mileage and cutting out the speed work as it is difficult to do both as an amateur. I ran my pb on 60 miles/week with only a MP tempo run during a midweek 13miler. The fastest I managed with intervals was 2:50 when I was only running 40 miles/week. Interestingly I managed my only -ve split marathon in my last attempt at the London marathon when I had started cycling and was also doing 2 weights sessions/week - I only ran 35miles/week and did no intensity at all but felt strong from the weight training and managed 2:48:30 with the last half in 1:24 dead. So maybe in any sport I respond better to the volume than the intensity. :laughing:

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