Threshold work - option 1 or 2?

All - any thoughts on what would be preferred:

Option 1: 5 intervals * 6min of threshold work - clean
Option 2: 5 intervals * 8 min of threshold work - less clean → say a break during one interval and perhaps some additional minutes rest during one or two recovery parts

Asking because I now and than struggle on weekdays with the tougher build workouts due to long workdays etc. Either I can stick with option 2 and complete with some struggles or decrease the interval time a bit. Any thoughts?


Some coaches say threshold work should be at least 10 minutes. Ideally longer. Perhaps worth to listen to the empirical cycling podcast for further details.

So yes, my answer would be neither.


Indeed I agree - I tend to do neither - If I want a time near threshold workout without killing myself I do intervals of 10-12 mins@96-99% e.g. Mount Baldy +2/+3 or Kaweah. Or super threshold intervals of 5-8mins@ 102-108% depending on what the aim is e.g. - Stromlo (102) Mansfield (105) or Wilhelm/Red lake (108) plus variants of the above.

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For threshold and below, my rule of thumb is that it’s always better to do longer intervals and more total time in zone at a lower power, than doing less at a higher power.

(This is of course within reason, you can’t just drop it down to tempo).

My suspicion is that your problem is only partly your weekday stress, and is mostly that your FTP is higher than your actual lactate threshold, meaning that even 100% FTP intervals or over-unders are putting you into the red too soon. And supra-threshold will be supra-supra-threshold. So I would stick with the workouts you’ve been given, but drop the intensity by 2-3% and see how you get on then.


Second to that, rather than 5x6 minutes, start at 3x10 minutes and then proceed from there.

Are you me? You basically mentioned the workouts I do most frequently. Mount Baldy, Mount Hope, Mount Hayes and Mount Goode are a great way to progress your threshold intervals.


I’ll just add Mt. Hale, Fish-2, Galena +1/+2 to the solid recommendations above. I hate all workouts like these. :grinning:

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drop the intensity 5w, and if that enables you to knock out the 5x8 then you’re goleden,
Then next week/few days try 4x10

Longer is better. If you can’t get through 5x8 @ FTP, then that’s probably not your actual FTP.


Since you put it that way…

Determine ~MAP. As an approximation use best 1 minute power from your last TR Ramp Test.

Once or twice a week warm up & ride at 75% of MAP for an hour. Observe 5 minute average heart rate.
If 5 minute average heart rate during your 75% MAP hour interval exceeds 92.5% of max HR, lower intensity by 5%.

After the first time you do this workout, re-assess. If you were 20 minutes into the workout & smashing that down arrow to reduce workout intensity…75% of MAP is not your FTP. Try 70% next time. Or if you cruised to the end of the hour at 85% or 87.5% Max HR…bump up the intensity next time.

I suspect this will not be a popular answer! :smiley: Most riders are pretty intimidated by the prospect of doing an hour at ~FTP on a regular basis. Who can blame them? But, for sure, you can do it.

Agree with above. Id never bother with intervals under 10 mins at ftp…and as others have said, if cant do (say) 3 x10 mins at ftp with few mins rest between…I’d argue you’ve overestimated ftp.


Just an example - did Mount Baldy+2 today. When I race TT I average 157-165bpm for a 25m TT and about 167-172bpm for a 10m TT. Today for the 5x10mins@96-99% I had a max of 150/154/157/157/157 for the 5 intervals…so tough but not race HR…so had to work but not grovelling like in a race! :laughing:…just a snapshot of my training v racing HR…as mentioned if you can’t knock these type of sessions out without killing yourself then your FTP is set to high!

Thanks - quite informative this forum. I mentioned threshold in my first post as that is what the description referred to, but this is about 102% - Stromlo.

Dont think though that my FTP is far off. This weekend I finished Palisade and Juneau -1, clean without back pedaling or unintended stops. Correct me if I am wrong, but doubt that I could finish Palisade with a material overstated FTP (1st interval 88% avHR, 92% max, last interval 90% avHR and 94% max)?

If my understanding is correct, it is just that I cannot bring it up mentally / physically to push my self enough during week days for some workouts. Decided to stick with option 2 (the plan) and just keep struggling a bit instead of taking the easy approach and decrease the interval time.

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Fair point - if you can finish Palisade then your FTP is in the correct ball park - unless you are REALLY good at clearing lactic acid…but even so if your FTP was wildly out you might be ok for the first few intervals but would struggle near the end when any VO2 max workout talent expires! :laughing: