Threshold Progression

This is a complement to the Sweet Spot Progression thread which is starting to fill with a discussion about threshold and VO2 (or all things coming after one completes an extensive aerobic phase).

When deciding how to structure my next phase of training that would come on the tails of completing an extensive aerobic block (mine was 6 weeks long) I decided that building power from the bottom up would be the next best step, followed by raising the roof (VO2 max work) which would help prep for an upcoming race.

I consulted this article by Tim Cusick to get an idea of how to structure my time @ LT2 né FTP/Threshold progression. TLDR: start with around 70% of your longest time at SS. If your longest SS session was 1x90, your first threshold session should target about 60 min of time at threshold.

That made my first threshold workout to be 4x10 @ 97-100% of FTP. It was challenging but entirely doable. Along with one steady-state threshold workout per week I’ve also included an over-under workout (that also progresses week over week) to get some time above FTP, but also continue to refine my system that buffers lactate. I also really like these workouts as a compliment to threshold workouts.

The progression would follow the same cadence as my previous SS block. 4x10 becomes 3x15 becomes 2x25 so on and so forth until I either run out of time and need to move to the next block or I’m able to perform 1x45 @ FTP*. Chances are I won’t get that far for this block, but nevertheless, the next 4 weeks should prove valuable in learning how to progress time @ FTP and prepare me for efforts that will likely be experienced in the upcoming gravel race season.

I had initially gone back and forth between a progression that favored longer intervals right at or just below (~10w) FTP or shorter intervals that were slightly above FTP (~10w), and ended up going with the longer intervals.

*As luck would have it I lost an entire week due to illness which threw a wrench into my 4-week progression. So now I’m crash-training with a big week in hopes to make up for the lost time. Ideally, I would have started my season sooner and given myself a good 6-8 weeks for a threshold build, but I’m trying to squeeze in a couple of week’s worth of high-end aerobic (VO2max) work leading into a pretty important race. (May races come too early!)

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Not to be a pedant but I think you mean complement.

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Let’s keep it on topic please

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Here is the part of my experience with threshold. There are some progressions I have used and still use.

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Fantastic contribution—should be a sticky. What you said in that thread about how threshold workouts should feel is spot on.

Honestly, not to bag on TR, but this is something that is never mentioned on the podcast, but seems to be a prevalent occurrence for newer TR users.

I think most if not all TR users experience threshold hell, which is purely a symptom of an over-tested FTP.

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I have done weekly Threshold workouts for 1.5 years now, in the beginning following this structure:
Week 1: 2* 10‘
Week 2: 3* 10‘
Week 3: 2* 15‘
Week 4: 2* 20‘
Week 5 (increase power by 5W and start at with 2*10‘ again)

Week 9: FTP test for new power target

I adjusted the durations over time to be:
3* 10’ - 2* 15’ - 2* 20’ - 2* 25’ - 2* 30’

I have come from 280W power target in late 2019 to 350W now.

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@Aeroiseverything What does the rest of the week look like?

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Basically chips and beer… :sweat_smile:

On a serious note:
I do 6 rides a week, but structure changes throughout the year. In winter I do basically base miles, threshold and weights.
The closer to racing I get, the shorter the intervals get (4*8‘ or 30/15‘‘).

A typical week atm looks like that:
Monday: rest
Tuesday: threshold or Zwift race (WTRL)
Wednesday: Over/Unders at SS
Thursday: recovery ride
Friday: Intervals (sprints/ VO2 Max etc)
Saturday: TT Intervals (currently VO2, later in the year threshold)
Sunday: 3 to 5 hour base ride

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Thanks for that.
Simple and no complicated periodisation

What length of rest periods are you folks targeting between the intervals? During my sweet spot progression I’ve been doing 3 minute rest which is optimal for me both physically and mentally, and I wonder what would be the good first approximation for threshold. 5 minutes?

For threshold work, I’m usually making my rest periods 5 minutes. I like keeping things short. 3 minutes would be a tall ask for threshold work and the extra 2 minutes of rest would be beneficial w/o affecting adaptation.

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I can probably jump in on this since I’m going through a threshold block before focusing on vo2. I started with 3x12 using byers peak (95-99%), did Darwin this week, and will do lamarck next (4×10 @ 100%). Then grey with the 2x20 @ 100%

My planned progression is slower, but im also doing a similar progression running, so most weeks will have back to back threshold workouts.

Have you been able to add 5W every fifth week without any failed sessions?

That’s really awesome and great progress in your fitness.

When you did the FTP test, were you jumping similar amounts?

Great work!

Thanks.
I have failed sessions and over the course of a full year, there always a few hindrances here and there, that deter from a linear progress.
Minor injuries, sickness and other responsibilities outside of work and cycling have created a few set backs. Also, the two races I have had meant a few weeks of tapering, which didn’t help my progress on the threshold front either.
That’s why my real one hour power has increased by “only” 65 watts (280 to 345) over the past 18 months. My 20 minute best has increase by almost 75 watts, so quite a bit more.
So “no”, i wasn’t able to always push through perfectly, and I had bad FTP tests along the way, but in general, my Progression has been extremely good.

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Raw watts, ah, to be young again… With focused and progressive threshold training I’ve seen one hour power go from 220 to 270 between December 2016 and April 2017. Also pushed 2 hour power out to 88% FTP.

That 23% increase on 1-hour power mirrors your 23% increase from 280 to 345. Next year is the big six-zero and I can’t help but wonder what my 1-hour raw power could have been thirty years ago at the doorstep of 30s. With the help of a coach I have finally built a stronger and consistent foundation, restarting at 220 again and seeing where it can go before taking a season break and then trying to repeat the success of '16-'17 season.

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This has caught my attention again now. I have my target GF for the early season in 7 weeks, and it looks like my week long trip to ride the Dolomites will be happening 4 weeks after that…

I did my SST progression up to the new year, getting out to 100 mins, then felt a little burned out and switched to a little threshold and vo2 work before a BIG block of z2 work - several months of 15-20hrs p/w. Thats really helped build my aerobic ‘base’ and my power at z2 HR is up about 15w but I’m feeling like I’ve lost some capability riding around FTP.

While a big part of me wants to keep riding outdoors I’m thinking I should really invest in 2x week indoors again to focus on some quality threshold development. So my question is how best to structure this given my first goal event is 100 miles with quite a few steep 10-15min climbs, and then the mountain week is obviously days of longer tempo/SST climbing?

Target those 10-15min intervals. I like to start with 3x15 @ around 97% for my threshold work and progress from there. Some start at 2x20, that’s good too… for some reason the 15 min intervals with a bit longer TiZ seems more manageable for me, YMMV. I like working in that 97-99% range rather than right at or above threshold because the RPE is just a shade less but the stimulus is practically the same.

You might start at 3x10 and go 4x10 - 3x15, etc. Since 10-15 min climbs are race-specific, train for them.

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I think I would target 10-15 minute efforts at threshold and then push power. It depends on how you plan on riding those climbs. At, under or above threshold. A simple progression could be:

TiZ:
3x12 @ 97%
3x15 @ 97%
3x20 @ 97%

Power A:
3x10 @ 102%
3x12 @ 102%
3x15 @ 102%

Power B:
3x12 @ 100%
3x12 @ 102%
3x12 @ 105%

Or something like that.

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Thanks - I appreciate the detailed suggestions and ideas. I’m starting tomorrow with some 10min efforts at whatever feels achieveable and will then see which of these feels like the best progression. I was wondering about building to 1 day at around 95-97% and maybe another doing work at 105% ish, or whether to just stick to <FTP work and maximise TiZ?

Its not a race and I’ll be riding in a small group. Challenge is most of the others will have a slightly better w/kg than me on these climbs so I’ll ride just them 95% or so apart from the serious steep >20% gradients where it will simply be whatever I need to get over it!

I’m not sure if all the recent z2 work has reduced my threshold or just the lack of time spent there means I am less used to it. I’m hoping 4-5 weeks of quality work will reintroduce me to the feelings of repeated threshold efforts and hopefully improve repeatability as well. It’s going to be a tough day out on the moor!

I find that any system (above tempo) requires a reintroduction if I haven’t trained it specifically in some time. The first couple VO2 focused workouts suck really bad, and then there’s some adaptation that occurs with how those efforts feel. Same with the first couple of threshold workouts after coming off a long bout of sweet spot work. I think you’ll find that the body will adjust quickly in 1-2 workouts and you’ll feel like your old self.

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