So what's the magic here? Are 2x20s the best interval for XC? I've got a gravel grinder out-and-back of steep hills mapped out from my house especially for these on Strava, it's fun and challenging. I am in the midst of XC season so looking to go fast and stay at peak for the next 30 days.
I can't complain, but I am used to doing either 3-4 hour rides or anaerobic intervals but am trying to train FTP, with or without power. I thought Zone 3 was the forbidden zone. What gives?
Good question. there do seen to be a lot of conflicting opinions on training intensity out there.
I think what you are doing now falls under
Does Polarized Training Improve Performance in Recreational Runners?
SIX WEEKS OF A POLARISED TRAINING INTENSITY DISTRIBUTION LEADS TO GREATER PHYSIOLOGICAL AND PERFORMANCE ADAPTATIONS THAN A THRESHOLD MODEL IN TRAINED CYCLISTS
and data like this (and there is quite a bit of it) make it seem like threshold intervals are to be avoided, especially during race season (since you get that intensity during racing). On the other hand, I can see the utility of dong some threshold interval sessions in the training period right before racing season to let the body adjust to what is coming up, especially if you don't have any B races to use for training.
But what i have come to realize is that everyone responds to training stimulus somewhat differently, and other than spending a lot of time on the bike as the main principle, there is no magical training plan that will fit everyone.
Last edited by stevemtu; 10-06-2013 at 08:25 AM.
Reason: added a second reference
Yes. I typically do threshold training for a month, before the month I want to be fast.
Originally Posted by stevemtu
Then again, riding near daily with decent volume (aerobic with some tempo) is about 90% of it. Threshold training gives me that little extra......sometimes.
I think I can contribute some insider information on the history here.
In the early 2000s, 2x20 was a staple of Andy Coggan's training as he was developing his work on power meter usage. I had the good fortune of having him ride with my road race club while he was in Maryland, and we would talk about training while on rides.
The magic I recall was this: he felt, while then training for master's racing and time trials, that he wanted about 40 or more minutes of threshold training on his work days. He also happened to do a fair bit of work on a trainer. Answering my question about the 2x20, he replied that it was easier mentally to sustain the desired effort over 2 20 minute intervals rather than try to sustain a single 40+ minute effort.
The main point was to exercise at an effort and duration that exercised the aerobic metabolism. He felt that 20 minutes was about the minimum duration necessary to exercise aerobic energy metabolism effectively.
I hope I recalled our conversations correctly, Andy.
Originally Posted by chomxxo
Like Poncharelli, longer intervals work for me before i want to go fast.
Other than that, break FTP down to it's fundamental elements.
1. The ability for your legs to do the work.
2. The ability of cardiovascular to supply resources for the workers
I leave racing and a couple of weeks before the time to push both simultaneously.
I leave the mental effort of riding hard for 20 minutes to racing.
I do 2x20mins the entire season.
However, I'll vary the intensity. Towards or during racing season, those 20min efforts will be above my 1hr threshold. I will be crosseyed at the end. I might need to sit down after the second one.
In the winter, I'll go pretty hard, but I could do another one if need be.
Threshold is the basis for everything. Recovery, and just how hard you can push for 5-10min is based on that. The higher you push your threshold, the higher your shorter duration power.
I should caveat these statements and say that I recover very, very well.
Wish i could say the same...
Originally Posted by Le Duke
It would take me two days to recover from a workout with 40 minutes above race pace (ouch).
If I read your post above correctly "I've got a gravel grinder out-and-back of steep hills mapped out" - This is a series of multiple hills? If so, this would not be the course for 2x20's in the traditional sense to increase/maintain FTP. They would be done on a flat course or trainer with steady pace. Depending on length of hills, this would probably be more of an anaerobic endurance workout
+1 on 2x20's @ L4. That is all I did last winter (along with SST these helped get me to "the next level") - just remember that they help build/maintain a "bigger engine" Hunter Allen Peaks Coaching Group: December 2010 - not simulating the power demands of a MTB race.
See Jerimiah Bishop's Mountain Bike Racing Files for 2hr race How Important is Anaerobic Energy in Cycling? Part*2 - Posts - TrainingPeaks Blog 8% of time @ L4, 8% @ L5 AND 15% @ L6.
This article is pretty good on explaining demands of MTB power
Mountain Bike Power | FasCat Coaching :: Cycling Coach for all Cyclists
This may help with zones
Sweet Spot Part Deux | FasCat Coaching :: Cycling Coach for all Cyclists
Thanks for the links everyone, I'm reading them in detail. About the gravel hills, I was wondering if someone was going to nip me on that Yes I admit I was probably simulating the demands of an XC race in a readily all-weather environment more than doing proper 2x20s.
Tell me this, are 20-minute intervals a time-crunched substitute for base, a better alternative to anaerobic intervals, or something else? I can schedule the time for up to 18 hours per week of Zone 2, and I did so over the summer, but it's go-fast time now for me until mid-November.
Originally Posted by scottz123
In my opinion, out of your three options: a time-crunched substitute for base. I do not put the hours in like you. This was my plan last winter (pretty much all on trainer during winter) - to get a bigger "engine", then fine tune intensity closer to race season, I did nothing structured, just race pace MTB rides and hill attacks. . It worked for me.
Originally Posted by chomxxo
Preparing for first MTB race of the season
Hunter Allen prescribes SST work in the offseason
As far as your race season, Joe Friel says "The closer you get to the day of your A-priority race the more like the race your training should become. This seems obvious but itís easy to lose sight of the purpose of your training and focus your limited energy and time on stuff that is unimportant. The biggest mistake made by athletes before peaking is putting too much of their time and energy into training volume."
Joe Friel's Blog: Volume vs. Race Specificity
2x20 is usually done just below threshold, not above race pace. In fact, you should be able to do a third interval, if you have the time and motivation.
Originally Posted by stevemtu
20 minute MTB intervals at around the same perceived exertion as a just below threshold road effort is also a worthwhile workout to use in your program.
I should further clarify: In the early part of the season, I can, and often do, do another interval. I'll move from 2x20min to 3x20min or 2x25-30min, as the winter goes on.
Originally Posted by mudge
What do you take for rest on something like this? Just finished my first season of racing so although I could hazard guesses, it is my first off-season where I actually have an idea of what races demand and first off-season of focused training as a result.
Good question. I'm doing ten minute rest periods for 2x20 and 3x20 sets now.
Originally Posted by AVann6
One more comprehensive review training intensity distribution
I thought this was relevant to the discussion
Originally Posted by stevemtu
I thought page 45 about non-responders and page 46 about recreational athletes were particularly pertinent
+1 to the No One Size Fits All coment
there are many ways to induce some aerobic adaptations when training. Polarized, threshold, etc are all different ways to skin the cat.
One needs to choose an approach wisely according to goals, time available, history, constraints, etc.
For those of us stuck on the trainer 4-5 months a year, a higher intensity training regime might be good.
I personnaly prefer a high intensity approach to a threshold approach. I seem to plateau quickly with threshold workouts days in days out. They are also hard to recover from compared to higher intensity/lower work volume workouts. A mix of both is also interesting and should be considered
Do you use this high intensity approach during the non-competitive season on trainer? If so, what are some example workouts?
Originally Posted by Devincicx
Stevemtu: have you tried Hammer Nutrition Recoverite? I bought a package to try after a long hard race a few months ago, it was the longest ride (not to mention race) with the most climbing I'd done in a long time (3 laps, 7.5m 1600' vert per lap), all of my other recent races and training had been a bit shorter. I don't travel to train, and the longest hill near me is about 8min.
I was actually surprised how good (relatively) I felt in the days after. I've been using that after races, and cyclocross counts as a really hard 40min+ (there is no 'above race pace'). I will continue to use those after races because I believe I feel noticeably better the next day than otherwise (I do not sell Hammer), and $3 a package is cheap if it helps me get some work done on Monday.
If you haven't tried it, I would recommend giving it a try after your next race or super-hard workout.
That seems to long to me. I generally do 5 min between 2X20 or 2X30. I think the rest interval on these are more for a mental break than a desired recovery. The idea in these intervals is to go as hard as you could go for an hour (threshold), not as hard as you can go for 20 mins then recover and do it again. Ideally you shouldnt need any recovery between sets and getting to much kindof defeats the purpose.
Originally Posted by chomxxo
If you can't find time to ride 12 to 16 hours per week I've found nothing better than 2x20s to increase my threshold. I do mine on the trainer and like to have the entire workout completed in 1 hours. I warm up for 10 minutes, 20 minute threshold interval, 5 minute recovery, 20 minute threshold interval, and 5 minute cool down. I like to do my 20 minute intervals around 90 to 95 % of my functional threshold.
I recently started doing the 20 minute intervals again and increased my FTP by 40 watts in 2 months. It works for me but everybody responds differently to training.
+1 That is pretty much my non-competitive season on the trainer.
Originally Posted by Stonerider
How many times a week would you do that workout?
I do use the HIIT approach during winter time. There is a purpose to each of my workouts, they target different qualities and energy systems. I do not exclude the good old 2x20 during winter but I am far from living on a steady diet of those.
I can do high end aerobic work: 2 x 4 x 30s @ 175-2005 FTP / 30s easy or any other kind of micro intervals really. I might do longer blocks at lower wattage too.
I also include a dedicated L5 period during winter, where I build up work time at L5 with efforts lasting 4 or 5 minutes. I prefer those durations because they seem effective at stimulating max O2 consumption in relation to intensity. If doing 2 or 3 minutes, I need to bump the intensity quite a bit and it becomes a very gueling mental challenge.
Whilst im not saying 2x20 are not effectives at inducing adaptations, I do think people tend to stick to the sweet spot dogma too much and forget to explore other alternatives which could only be benefical to their form, especially if they have been living on a strict threshold diet for some time.
Yes, I'm just not personally a fan of threshold work. I can do long rides day in, day out, and have the faith to do them because I know they'll increase endurance. I can feel it in my legs this season, no cramps on the third lap or even after the race.
I can go for killer tabata sessions, even 2-a-days because I know they'll increase VO2 max. This mid-level stuff seems like a good tool to have when time is limited, and my schedule like most non-pros is not always convenient to training.
Somebody please convince me that something other than long rides or <5 minute intervals helps increase FTP.