Workout Instructions - do others think they can be improved?

The Workout Instructions are very useful, but they are also a useful distraction from the suffering :blush:. However, I wonder if they can be improved.

To set the scene, I find that immediately after the intense part of the interval, I am busy, eg, gear changing, sometimes both chain wheel and cassette, grabbing a drink, moping my brow. So, my attention in those first few seconds is no longer on the screen, rather on me and my bike.

However, it is often, but not always, that first few seconds is when the actual instruction is displayed, but only for a few seconds. What follows is often interesting and useful explanation but lacks meaning without the instruction that presumably preceded it. It feels to me like the type of thing a coach would be talking about while the trainees are doing those things, rather than written instructions requiring the trainee’s attention on the screen. The solution, which I have built to my own custom workouts is to, either have a 5-10 second pause at the beginning of the rest, or display that first instruction for longer.

The second point is setting up your gearing for what is to follow. It seems to me the best time to do that is during the warm up. Definitely not during the intervals and rest breaks. As an example, I did ‘Kingsbury’, a 1-hour threshold workout of 5 sets of 5min at threshold with 4min rest. In the 4th set, we are recommended to raise our cadence, to test how that feels at threshold, the explanation being that for many high cadence is less fatiguing at threshold. I tried to do just that, but it involved a lot of fiddling with gear changing, ie, both chain wheel and cassette, only to revert back to the previous setting, by which time I was way of target and getting increasingly pissed off, and that effectively ruined the remainder of the workout. The extra cadence recommendation was vague, was the target shifting from 90 to 94, 100, 110? I couldn’t find a small say 5% ratio change. The solution is using the warmup which is often 10 minutes with changing intensity, use that to forewarn the rider of what will come during the session and the need, in this case, to increase cadence to a target at threshold, hence figuring out the gearing well in advance.

Do others have ideas about improving the instructions?

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Can’t comment on the comments (sic) but from your description it sounds like you are on a “dumb” trainer. We used to have one of those and like you say, the warm up is useful for working out the gearing. We now have a “smart” trainer and in ERG mode you just pedal at whatever cadence you want and the trainer works out the resistance to give you the desired power output. Increase cadence for a pedalling drill and the resistance drops to compensate.

With the dumb trainer I’d find a setting that would let me pedal at a reasonable cadence range, say 80-90rpm and use that. Interval type workouts weren’t too bad, big ring for the interval, small ring for the recovery valleys. The tricky ones were those Sweet Spot intervals that had varying power targets especially if my preferred cadence meant gear changes. 5% is within the range of most single gear ratios on a cassette, the steps on Shimano road cassettes is in the order of 8-10%.

Usually the cadence recommendations are simply “pedal quickly, ideally above 90rpm” or similar and pedalling faster means something 5-10rpm above your self-selected cadence. No hard and fast rule, do the best that your kit allows.