Threshold Progression

Hope so - rough week coming up by the sound of it then :rofl:

I have been throwing down some longer tempo and mixed SST type intervals into my long outdoor rides, but nothing quite as structured as these. I’m hoping that after the initial shock the extended base and improved aerobic development will mean these intervals pay off fairly quickly. Fingers crossed.

Personally I would stick under FTP. 105% is good “primer” before competition or TT but you cannot spend enough time there as it’s very fatiguing. Going under FTP or occasionally to 100% should give you more. Really focus on TiZ and do a quite aggresive progression. After 10 minutes jump into 15 then 20. You can play with 30 min intervals. With FTP work I like to go over TTE with TiZ once a week (when you will be accustomed with intensity).


Did you see an actual FTP increase with that, or were you just looking to increase TiZ? I can’t make my mind up - on one hand I think I shouldn’t ride over FTP because the fatigue build-up will prevent proper adaption, but on the other hand I don’t know I’ll ever get a higher FTP, if I don’t ride at it.

For anyone that has raced, you’ll know that the notion of “not riding above FTP” is a straight up untruth. You will go over FTP unintentionally (or intentionally), it’s just the dynamics of racing.

There is nothing wrong with doing FTP work above FTP. For me, there are climbs that I must go hard on due to my weight, if I don’t I’m saying “bon voyage” to the group. They take me over FTP.

Here’s an idea: 4x10 with alternating intervals just below FTP and just above.

Riding below FTP will not get you accustomed to riding above. Mix it up, do some Supra-threshold work and some just below.


If I was a coach I could sell myself as a best example of this approach :wink: But I am trying to be rational and helpful (I hope so) user so I would tell - take this with a grain of salt, as I started cycling in 2019. But since I ditched TR plans and started experimenting with this approach I have seen 70W FTP increase. But with me threshold (97-100%) was improving everything - ftp and vo2 max.

Personally I do not like suprathreshold as this is a little bit undecided zone. It has its place to build resilience, durability and accustom yourself with this type of effors closer to peak, but this is not threshold nor vo2 max workout. Thinking more polarized - go easier but longer or go hard with vo2 max. SST with bursts is also great for FTP and to introduce some variety to the week, bit to mention to recruit more motor units and works for race specificity. So for me it works - would it work for you? Not a coach to have answer unfortunately.

Or simple over-unders. Wanna spice things up - 95% under and 105% over (2 min each). 2x20 - Alex Dowsett workout. It is brutal.


Over-unders, absolutely. A bread and butter.

Thanks, yes sounds like you’ve found the right approach for you!

I don’t really like over threshold intervals either. When I had them in the TR programs, I found them nearly impossible (probably also because my FTP was set too high), and they didn’t seem to help with anything.

Also physiologically, I’m not sure if that is a good approach. Supposedly you create more lactate than you clear, but then what happens? Do you just get accustomed to having a high concentration in your blood? Do you learn to clear it (ie, improve ftp) - but then over-unders give you many more chances to develop that mechanism. Hmm.

Around 95% of MLSS is sweet spot for lactate clearing (according to Fast Talk Podcast and some guest coaches there). With suprathreshold you simply create a lot of lactate and that’s it :slight_smile: you improve lactate tolerance and vo2 max (especially when you are not highly trained). But like I said it is strange zone I would leave for race prep not for threshold building.

O/U and threshold are good for that. For me, this year, the biggest improvement was introducing a lot more Z2 rides. This helped tremendously for everything that involves lactate (especially with things like vo2 max).

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Yes I agree, more z2 and over-unders both help with lactate clearance. Sitting just above threshold, can’t really see how that helps.

I need to stop thinking about it and just see what happens for a few weeks, ahaha

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Yesterday I had a long ride (4,5 Hr) and did a threshold block of 45’ around 2,5 hr into the ride. This was mainly timed because of the headwind at that point in my route.

Does anyone know if this has advantages to do such kind of blocks after a few hours of low Z2?

Learns you how to perform threshold when fatigued. From adaptations I do not know any.

I can’t quantify an adaptation on a physiological level, but I would feel confident saying it helps with building fatigue resistance. A good thing if you race or do fondos where you might have a final climb that requires you go deep.

Actually, you might get some work out of those Type II fibers.

Seiler’s (whether you love or hate him) 4x8 are around 105% FTP. Lots of scientific evidence to support that.

Yeah, don’t want to side-track this thread, but I’ve switched from short, high power VO2max intervals to long, suprathreshold intervals like those for VO2max work. For me its more time with HR in target zone, better recovery, good for mental fortitude, less time questioning my life choices. :rofl:


Seiler’s 4x8 approach is not intended as threshold progression training. It’s better discussed as a method to raise VO2max, IMO, because it’s not a prescription of 4x8 at 105% on 2 min rest. It’s 4x8 maximal effort on two minutes rest, intending to spend as much time as possible above 90% HRmax - there is no prescribed power target. Essentially, it belongs in the discussion with hard-start/high-cadence VO2max intervals and the Kolie Moore protocol that we’ve talked about at length in other places.

I’m sure you can see improvements to FTP from doing a block of Seiler’s 4x8 intervals, just like I and others have seen improvements in FTP from a block of VO2max intervals from other prescriptions. Properly executed, they raise the ceiling, but I think that discussion is separate from threshold training.

My $0.02 is that I don’t see much practical utility in doing a bunch of work at 105%. Over-unders have tremendous utility for race prep and there a few different ways to achieve that lactate shuttle, and those should make up the bulk of your time spent in that zone just above threshold. But training at 105% to lift FTP? I think there are better ways to achieve the adaptations you’re looking for without incurring as much fatigue.


Some reading on threshold training by Jem Arnold by Spare Cycles. Most of his blog revolves around VO2max content, and he doesn’t talk much about “threshold training”, but when he does he doesn’t seem to be a big fan of training at or really close to FTP, but prefers Sweet Spot or VO2max work.


Splitting hairs, but it just depends on what your definition of riding “at threshold” is. Sweet Spot is close to threshold, and 94% is closer than 90%. Most people consider threshold to be 95%+ of threshold, but is there a difference between riding at 267W vs 270W with a 285W threshold? Not really.

I can get onboard with people saying “ride at sweet spot, then save your hard work for VO2max”. But what do they define as VO2max training? If it’s “ride at 105% of FTP”, I don’t agree with that. If it’s “ride really hard for long-ish intervals to achieve a high % of HR” then I would agree with that.

The point of my post was that 4x8 @ 105% is not threshold training and not what Seiler recommended. He prescribed, essentially, 4x8 “max effort” on 2 min rest in order to achieve a high % of max HR (specifically 90%) for a long time. That’s VO2max training, not threshold training.

There are a lot of ways to raise FTP. But if someone’s in this thread looking to be able to ride higher power for longer (notionally at threshold), then sustained riding at 105% isn’t what I would prescribe to them… YMMV.


I tend to not look at the exact prescription of %FTP. I just ride on zwift and if I want to ride at FTP for a certain amount of time (total), I know when it is FTP and when it is sweetspot. You definitely feel the difference. Someday it is 97% and someday it is 102 or even more. Not everyday is the same. Sometimes i divide the blocks in 15’ chunks And sometimes in 24’ chunks or just 1 block. It depends on the legs, sleep, nutrition, mental fortitude,…

Edit: sweetspot and tempo is easier to have an exact prescription in my opinion

This thread was inspired by the SS progression thread, which largely centered around training principles laid out by Coach Tim Cusick.If you agreed with that thread, then go pull up “Building FTP, TTE and Stamina WKO5” and watch it along with the earlier WKO4 ones (“Building FTP, TTE, …” and “Building Fatigue Resistance WKO4.”

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