Threshold Intervals vs Over-Unders


Like many of us (as I’ve read on other posts) I have problems surviving Over/Unders intervals, so I want to train them. I’m currently on a MV plan on a Base Phase, on Thursdays I should do Threshold Intervals (Crater, then Fernow, then Byers Peak -2), after that I have a rest week and then another Build Phase with Over and Unders once a week.

I was thinking about replacing those threshold intervals workouts with progressive Over and Unders workouts, so I can reach that Build Phase better prepared for those Over and Unders.

But then I wondered, if from a physiological point of view both exercises target the threshold zone, will there be any advantage in doing that or is it just as effective to maintain threshold exercises proposed by the plan?

What do you think? what do you recommend?

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if you’re going to get to them in the Build phase anyway then I’d stick with threshold first and build up your ability to sustain that work before pushing even harder.

Its the Base phase anyway so don’t rush it - it will get hard enough quickly enough anyway!

I say go for it. Replace the constant power threshold workouts with some over/unders. Both styles of workouts are under the ‘threshold’ category of workout. Your mitochondria/mct1/mct4 aren’t going to know the difference, probably.

Looking at the workouts mentioned they all have sub threshold intervals (95-99% FTP) and these being quite short. As such on Base phase they are likely to prep for harder/longer intervals in Build and replacing them with O/U early might seem tempting but perhaps just start with intervals on or slightly over (100-102%) rather than a early dive into the deep end of the pool.

OTOH, there are plenty of O/U variants to “ease in” to the uncomfortable world of sustained intervals managing lactate levels. Either changing the ratio (like 1O/3U → 2O/2U → 3O/1U) and/or longer intervals (8/10/12/14/16 min) and/or shorter rest etc etc. You can use the workout alternates to adjust the plan both in the late stage of Base and in early stage of Build given you’re knowledge and experience about your own performance.

However, this O/U concept assumes a well estimated FTP, watch HR and check if it is undulating as you overload and “recover” (and if you really want to tune things, use the workout +/- to see where the U part in a 2O/2U doesn’t results in a lower HR.

Then, when you feel confident/cocky in your abilities to endure, just keep on over-undering :upside_down_face:



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In base phase personally I’d keep to doing threshold in region just below FTP (say 95-98%) but work on doing longer intervals (3x20mins, 2x30mins etc). Last base season I worked on long sweetspot workouts at 90 FTP (2 X 40 mins, 1x75mins etc) and it really boosted my endurance and enabled me to build quicker stuff from much firmer foundation.


Z2. it is counterintuitive but it worked wonders for me in this department. And of course threshold setup from long ftp test not a ramp test, to avoid over-overs. And for this steady state o/u i would not jump into 2 min overs. 2 minutes are WAY harder than 1 min. 2x20 (2min/2min 95%/105%) is easily comparable to 3x20 (2/1) in terms of RPE.


As @NLC mentioned, make sure your FTP is well estimated. This forum has many corners with discussions of over estimating FTP on a ramp test leading to threshold workouts actually bringing riders into their vo2max energy systems.

I’ve run into the same Over/Under wall, especially when they first arise, and have found if I dial down the intensity a few clicks, I can manage a win. I’d rather drop it down 2-5% points and complete the whole workout, than cook myself and have to bail.

I call these my “Barely Overs and Way Unders.”

A few weeks into build, I seem better able to handle them without fiddling with intensity.

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