Threshold with no time at threshold?

I’m curious how workouts like Barker are meant to target threshold while literally spending no time a threshold? How does this compare to traditional threshold workouts that have 2-3 20 minute intervals at 100% FTP? I

Looks to me to be a lactate clearing workout. Or what you’d probably end up actually doing if you did 3x20 on the road.


threshold is a RANGE…so a sessions with loads of intervals a few % under and over is a threshold workout. Its not about being 100%…and its a moving target anyway as FTP changes every day due to loads of factors.


A couple % above or below, sure. But this 90%-115% with ZERO time at 100%. It’s actually 90%, 95%, 115%, and 110%. So it’s a sweet spot/VO2 combo workout with no time spent at actual threshold.

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Well, here’s the thing about threshold…if you took an incremental cycling test & took data on breathing, oxygen consumption, blood lactate, cycling power, cadence…whatever else you care to imagine…and then showed it to a bunch of different physiologists to determine your ‘threshold’ you’d get a bunch of different answers.

What’s more, even if we said your threshold was XXX on tuesday afternoon it might be XXX * 0.97 on saturday morning.

So threshold isn’t an exact number and maybe not even consistent from day to day. That’s the first point.

Second point is that there is more than one way to stimulate adaptation of power at threshold. For sure, one way is to ride at threshold. Another way is to ride a little bit above threshold. Another way is to ride a little bit below threshold. Another way is to ride a little bit above threshold briefly & then ride a little bit below threshold & then repeat.

You don’t need to be riding right at threshold to stimulate improvement in power at threshold.

BUT YOU ARE CORRECT! :smiley: That workout doesn’t fit in just one bucket. It does a lot of things…sweetspot, VO2…not specifically threshold. Your criticism is valid but I think your results will support keeping Barker in the threshold bucket.

I love these types of workouts. Robion and Heng Shan are two of my favorites. If you did nothing but these workouts and floats 2-3 times a week plus some endurance you’d develop a pretty good engine.


I would class that as working on threshold power; a mixture of just below and just over it, rather than a continuous period of it, to try and make your FTP grow. The latter, a continuous period at Threshold, is less likely to make it grow. It does give you confidence that you can hold it though :+1:

Trainerroad does define threshold as 95-105 (Understanding Power Zones – TrainerRoad)

So maybe enough time is spent at 95 that it makes sense to call it threshold…

I’d have to disagree with you there.

Taken directly from Training and Racing with a Power Meter by Allen, Cohan, & McGregor:

Threshold-level workouts are meant to focus directly on improving your FTP, and they are done right at FTP

Agreed about the zones(see my comment above). Barker has a total of 7 mins per interval at 95% and the rest at either 90% or over 110% so I guess that’s something.

I guess Chad/ TR don’t follow that idea. My old coach had similar theory to Chad/TR I believe where riding too long at threshold just wore you out rather than improving it, it’s more effective to hit harder and recover. Theres a similar theory where lots of riding at Threshold gets you strong but not optimumally strong. For me though it has its psychological/ confidence benefits riding at threshold, you know you can hold it for a period of time. But hey ho, there’s lots of theories on what is the best way to raise your FTP :+1:

All the threshold workouts in the polarized plans are more traditional. Basically 16 min intervals at 100%-102% FTP.


Cool, I am not disagreeing I’m just saying that there are lots of different theories as to the best approach. I like long threshold intervals myself, mainly for the confidence, but the coaching I’ve seen don’t preferring the over under technique :+1:

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Yeah, I actually really struggle with the longer intervals myself. I’d rather do the over under stuff because I can actually complete the intervals but I feel like I should be at least attempting the longer intervals since they seem to be a weakness.

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