Zone 6 Intervals

Yes really.

I’m a 6-12hr race duration 49.9yo endurance athlete and I have pretty average 3-60 minute power range, and just tested pre-winter base at 3.7wkg which will increase toward race season next April. I have a relatively strong sprint in relation to that at 1300w peak, 850w over 15s, and am in the top 5% over 4-12hrs. So thats my weird “power curve”.

My coach has prescribed a workout of 6 x 2 minute intervals in Z6 (340w onwards) mixed in with my base which is designed to pull up my power and allow me to stay longer in that zone. Things is, at only a minimum 340w I can’t finish more than 3 intervals, my lungs are fine but legs in extreme pain. The last 3 are pretty much ending at 1m20s.

What causes this - genes? And how can I improve?

I am gonna be that guy

  • What does your coach say to those questions?

I would hope they have a reason for the workout prescribed, and your feedback to him should drive some level of review and maybe adjustment from them.


Beyond asking your coach… You are asking about 2-minute intervals and the only power curve info you gave was 1-sec and 15-sec power. From the description I’m guessing your FTP is about 283W (340/1.2), but FTP isn’t directly related to 2-minute efforts.

So we have a huge gap in your power curve, and understanding what your maximal 2-min efforts is would go a long way to understanding what you might be able to repeat (you might start at 90% of 2-min power, and adjust up/down as necessary for the 6x2-min efforts).


this, for bridging, passing and maxing short climbs during an MTB race:

Very close! 281w. All of my numbers - if you use something like intervals.ICU - for 1,2,3,5,20, 40, 60 mins are distinctly average if best, and verge on poor toward the shorter end until I get to a short sprint. However, my 4,6 and 12 hour power of which 12 power is 231w is very good hence my event choice.

  • That sounds more like an answer to “Why would I perform this type of workout?”.
  • I don’t see how that relates to your original questions (see below):
  • This is the set of questions I feel should be asked of your coach.
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I wouldn’t be prescribing this kind of work until 6-8 weeks out from the event (as it’s quick to build).

How long are the rest intervals (these determine if it’s a capacity or power workout)?

None of those numbers provide guidance on doing anaerobic repeats at 2-minutes (or even anaerobic capacity). For that you need to provide 2-min power.

Sorry Chad, I misunderstood. I have asked, and he’s analysed the sensations I go through and the feedback is that its muscular strength and lactic buildup which causes a pain barrier. Both things I need to train.

One minute rests at 130w/80rpm. They are intended as an alternative to the other 7hrs of Z2 I’m doing as base, and I do have some “C” winter races in January.

My 2 min PB is 382w, is that what you need?

What’s the prescribed rest period between the intervals?

Stated in the reply right above yours:

I’d like to understand this better - does short or long determine capacity or power?

Oops, I completely missed that🤦‍♂️

Well that short rest period explains why you can’t hit the watts.

Capacity: 2-min all-out max effort, followed by 6-8 minutes recovery. Then repeat 6-8 times.
Repeatable Power: 2-min % of max effort, 1-3-min recovery. Repeat 6-8 times for one set.

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90% of that is 344W, so if I was coaching myself then I would start outside or inside non-Erg with something like 6 x (2min @ 335-350W and 3-min rest). After that workout I would take the average of work intervals, and use that for next anaerobic stamina/repeatability workout. Also in the next workout I might try and reduce from 3-min rest down to 2-min. Wouldn’t drop below 1:1 ratio if the goal was working on repeatability, so doing 2-min on and 1-min off is not something I’m familiar with. All that said, I would start with increasing capacity before doing these stamina / repeatability workouts.

Growing anaerobic capacity / power is a different workout, involving an all-out efforts and enough time to recharge before doing the next all-out effort. Each effort would be between 30 seconds and 2-min.

Re: how to improve… I’m not a coach, but have one. Personally if self-coached I would start with doing some capacity work, to increase glycolytic power and total anaerobic capacity. Then work on repeatability / stamina. Growing anaerobic capacity involves really hard all-out efforts, and takes a lot out of me. But I’ve done it in the past, then used Wed night worlds to work on repeatability / stamina. It works.

AFAIK those are some classic approaches and workouts. You should really discuss with your coach.

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Yep - usual to build the capacity first (i.e., the big number) and then, in later sessions, then work on repeatability/stamina.

Yes that it, it was intended to keep a little “sharpness” for my winter C races, and an alternative workout in the week rather than my week being 8-9 of Z2 alone.

With regard to improvement I did of course mean improving my ability to complete the intervals, and on that basis WindWarrior your note is very helpful thanks; I’ve been approaching each interval as the maximum I could put out for 2 mins each time, rather than aiming for a 90%/340 watt average per interval. I’ll give that a try next week and hopefully have a little more success.

We don’t have access to all the information you do, in order to help with your questions, however I’d say your opening line gives a clue.

I have seen it said repeatedly on this forum that you become what your train (predominately) so if the majority of your past riding focus has been on longer sustained efforts then this would possibly be a part of the explanation for your perceived relative weakness in the 2 minute power bracket?

Good news is that like most things, if you focus on it a bit, you can train it to improve. :smiley::+1:t2:

Ref the actual protocol you’ve been given; I’d recommend exploring with your coach why the rest intervals between efforts are so short.

My natural initial thought is that if you are struggling so badly out of the gate then the benefit of continuing with this protocol will be somewhat stunted as you won’t get through enough of the ‘set’ to generate the adaptations you’re seeking plus it’s mentally draining and demotivating to feel you’re not even getting half the intervals done.

Might be an option to initially build in much longer rest gaps between efforts to allow you to complete the set of intervals. Then as your body adapts, bring down the length of the rest periods over time. Aka the same sort of principle that you see in some of the TR progressions.

My own 90s to 2min power is my (only) relative cycling strength and stands out like a sore thumb on my power curve, relative to the shit-show that is the rest of my lacklustre cycling ability.

I attribute this not to genetics but to my past life before cycling - 33 years of lifting weights with a rep range that meant my time under tension was around the 1 minute to 90s time frame (another example of becoming what you train and focus on?).

Best advice that’s been repeated on this thread is to talk with your coach, tell him/her how you feel, ask the right questions and get a better understanding from them of what they are seeking to achieve with the protocol you’ve been prescribed. Then between you, you’ll be better placed to decide whether to continue ‘as is’ or make some tweaks.

NB: 3.7 w/kg is a damn good place to be at this point in time with plenty of scope to bring that up towards the magic 4W/kg over the coming months :smiley:

Good luck with your training :muscle:t2::+1:t2:

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