Ultra-low volume base


Interesting, thanks for sharing.

At the opposite end of the spectrum

1 Like

So, they recruited 39 of them, men and women aged 50 to 68 who were sedentary but had no other major health concerns.

At first, they sprinted for four seconds, with Dr. Allen calling out a second-by-second countdown, followed by 56 seconds of rest, repeating that sequence 15 times, for a total of 60 seconds of intervals.

Sounds like repeated sprint training. I can’t imagine this would provide much aerobic stimulus for trained individuals?


Agreed…taking couch potatoes and having them do exercise increased their fitness.

Not certain this is exactly earth-shattering.

Highly doubt this is applicable to people like us…

1 Like

Pretty much. Also the article title is total clickbait, but this is also not earth-shattering for that outlet. Using that method, my 2 hour ride of Hatch today really only had 30 seconds of exercise in the opening sprints

People said the same thing about Tabata intervals, didn’t they? :man_shrugging:

I think it depends on an individual’s physiology.

I’d agree that 4 seconds is too short for a trained cyclist, and more importantly, too short to be practical on an erg trainer. TR’s sprints are 20-30 seconds, which I think is on the money.

Repeated sprints are my forte and workouts like Charing (30s sprints) and Charing-3 (20s sprints) played a role in getting me from 270w to 300w FTP less than a year ago. One very important aspect of these workouts was the low amount of mental concentration required to complete them, which led to better consistency. It didn’t matter how I felt on any particular day. I could always do them.

I stopped for awhile and did “normal” SST and VO2max workouts, but I’m back at it again with the sprints. Here’s my workout, Striped +5, from two days ago:

This one is 30X 20s sprints @ 200%. I turned up the intensity by 10% for brief period but had to turn it back down.

I backpedaled almost the entirety of the recovery valleys to preserve energy. I made it through without failing any intervals, so on my next workout, I’ll try the +6 version which is 36 sprints. If that’s successful, I’ll start bumping up the intensity and pedaling the recovery valleys.

The only other TR workouts I’m currently doing are Williamson and Pettit.

How effective is this at stimulating aerobic adaptation? Hard to say. I’m being a guinea pig in my own N=1 experiment, but I hit a 6 minute power PR today on the road, so it doesn’t seem to be hurting me:


Maybe it is???

It might be interesting to take two groups of trained recreation riders. Give one group 30 minutes of Z2 on the trainer and the other group 30 minutes of Z2 sprinkled with the 15 four second sprint intervals.

1 Like

As I understand it they still do say that - in that they’re a useful workout but some claimed benefits (such as improved VO2max) were only observed because the individuals were untrained? (Edit: or am I getting Tabata confused with something else?)

These 4 second intervals sound similar - still a useful workout, but the specific claim of improved aerobic fitness sounds like it needs verification with a trained cohort, right? That’s what I’m getting from it anyway, particularly given the title you chose for this thread.

Setting aside the whole “what is base” rabbit hole, would you do these during your base training? If so, would you consider doing only these workouts for base training?

The thread title was just meant to be humorous.

Tabata designed his interval workout for trained athletes, i.e., elite speed skaters.

I don’t really know whether doing 4 second sprints every minute would provide a significant aerobic stimulus in a trained athlete or not. I wouldn’t necessarily rule it out, however.

I have tried to locate the original paper to see if perhaps contained additional information that might help answer the question, but no success so far.

1 Like

A new study shows that repeats of 4 seconds intervals can improve fitness by 10% in otherwise sedentary middle-aged adults. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/30/well/move/can-4-seconds-of-exercise-make-a-difference.html Not really surprising when you consider it, but encouraging. Please spread the word among sedentary friends and parents, I suppose. But given this research, is there any significant downside to including some 4 second intervals in a recovery workout? My next week has Collins, Brasstown, and similar. If I include a 4 sec. interval for every minute or two, would that be positive or counter-productive? I would not include them in the final two workouts before my Ramp Test the following week.

Interesting! Just curious how the backpedaling works for you? If I start backpedaling on my Tacx Neo, my TR workout will just pause. Which means I have to push quite hard just to get back to for example 100 watts (since you come from 0) and this adds even more tiny sprints. Do I need to change something in my settings?

You can turn that off somewhere in the settings, so the timer just continues if you stop pedalling. Might be the same as the pedal to start function

Wouldn’t there be more of a (neuromuscular) benefit if you would pedal normally on the rest intervals?

Yes, as well as propping up HR and the benefits associated with that.

This week I’ll do the same workout but try to pedal 30-45 seconds of each recovery valley rather than 15. The following week I might do the same but bump up the intensity 3%. Still figuring out the progression.

1 Like

Yes, turn off “auto-pause”.

And when you start pedaling again, you should have been at 0 watts for about 5-10 seconds and it’ll start you at zero resistance.

1 Like

So basically they provide a workout of fifteen 4 second intervals with about 1 min of rest between intervals. Sounds a bit like scaled down hit HIIT. They also mention this was done on a specialized exercise bike that was not widely available?

I would think that for most healthy adults, even if you initially saw a 10% increase you would quickly adapt to that workload? I wonder how quickly that approach would fail to drive any more adaptation? It also looked like they eventually shortend the rest periods… “Over two months, though, the riders’ rest periods declined to 26 seconds and they increased their total number of sprints to 30 per session.”

Also wondered if they compared the increase to sedentary adults who did more of a 15 min steady state work out?

The paper has now appeared online as “published ahead-of-print” (contrary to the NYT story, it isn’t in the current issue, and may not appear for many months). However, the only additional information it contains that might shed even a bit of light on the above question is this.

“the rates of oxygen uptake were systematically increased over the 8 weeks from 45 to 75%
VO2peak (unpublished observation).”

1 Like

This sounds like a condensed sprint interval training (SIT) protocol? Which is definitely valid for improving VO2max and even FATmax, likely via peripheral mechanisms. Or what HIIT Science calls Repeat Sprint Training (RST). Sorry haven’t read the article or paper in case I’m missing something.