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  1. #1
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    High Intensity Steady State vs Interval Training?

    I got a question for you training oriented folks. Let me preface it by stating that I have a pretty good long term understanding of the benefits of high intensity training and that I'm aware of most of the more recent research indicating that intensity will, in general, trump volume. But what I have difficulty finding specific info on is how does a high intensity steady state training session compare to an interval session? The research all favors intervals over steady state...but when they speak of steady state they typically mean aerobic, 70%+- sessions, etc. What I'm interested in is the comparison of the following two examples:
    A. An hour session consisting of warmup, 6 five minute intervals/recovery, and a cool down.
    B. An hour session consisting of warmup, 30 minute TT, cool down.
    Both yield 30 minutes at LT+ but is one "better?"
    I've done weekly variations of both of these for years and have always found that I perceive "A" to be "easier" even though the total time spent at 90%+ is the same. However, if "easier" is just a perception and the same benefit is yielded then, obviously, I'd rather focus on that session.
    What say you? Thanks
    PS cross posted elsewhere

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by mootsman
    I got a question for you training oriented folks. Let me preface it by stating that I have a pretty good long term understanding of the benefits of high intensity training and that I'm aware of most of the more recent research indicating that intensity will, in general, trump volume. But what I have difficulty finding specific info on is how does a high intensity steady state training session compare to an interval session? The research all favors intervals over steady state...but when they speak of steady state they typically mean aerobic, 70%+- sessions, etc. What I'm interested in is the comparison of the following two examples:
    A. An hour session consisting of warmup, 6 five minute intervals/recovery, and a cool down.
    B. An hour session consisting of warmup, 30 minute TT, cool down.
    Both yield 30 minutes at LT+ but is one "better?"
    I've done weekly variations of both of these for years and have always found that I perceive "A" to be "easier" even though the total time spent at 90%+ is the same. However, if "easier" is just a perception and the same benefit is yielded then, obviously, I'd rather focus on that session.
    What say you? Thanks
    PS cross posted elsewhere

    I don't think either one is "better". The first sounds like a VO2 max workout; you basically should be going as hard as you can for 5 minutes. This is designed to bump up the amount of power you can put out for 5-10 minutes or so.

    The second sounds like an interval designed to improve your sustainable (hour+) power.

    If A is easier then you're probably not going hard enough during the 5 minute intervals.

    Also, why 30 minutes? I don't think you need that much of a warm up/cool down for an interval at LT/FTP, so I'd try to get 40-45 minutes of solid interval time in there. I generally break it up into 2x20 or 2x25.


    I generally don't bother w/ the VO2 max workouts since I get that kind of "interval" during my MTB rides.

  3. #3
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    Test yourself with a powermeter, and find where you are weak.

    I also don't work VO2 max (3-5 minute intervals), since according to Coggan profile chart, that's where I'm strongest. Also agree that hard MTB riding works V02 max; could be why I'm strongest at that test effort.

    I specifically work long LT intervals on the road bike, 3X20 min, just because that's where I need improvement, according to the power data.

    I believe my problem is holding power from 10-15 minutes into the 20 minute interval. The interval format repeats that 10-15 minute range 3 times, therefore improving it.

    I'm holding power pretty steady and high now, relative to previous results (finally!!!).

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by mootsman
    I got a question for you training oriented folks. Let me preface it by stating that I have a pretty good long term understanding of the benefits of high intensity training and that I'm aware of most of the more recent research indicating that intensity will, in general, trump volume. But what I have difficulty finding specific info on is how does a high intensity steady state training session compare to an interval session? The research all favors intervals over steady state...but when they speak of steady state they typically mean aerobic, 70%+- sessions, etc. What I'm interested in is the comparison of the following two examples:
    A. An hour session consisting of warmup, 6 five minute intervals/recovery, and a cool down.
    B. An hour session consisting of warmup, 30 minute TT, cool down.
    Both yield 30 minutes at LT+ but is one "better?"
    I've done weekly variations of both of these for years and have always found that I perceive "A" to be "easier" even though the total time spent at 90%+ is the same. However, if "easier" is just a perception and the same benefit is yielded then, obviously, I'd rather focus on that session.
    What say you? Thanks
    PS cross posted elsewhere

    6x5min intervals will train different energy systems than a 30min TT type effort.

    You should be doing them at completely different levels of intensity. I know that I can rip off several 5min efforts at well above my threshold wattage, whereas my 20-30min intervals are done slightly below, at, or slightly above threshold.

    And, in my opinion, if you're going at 90%, you should be able to hold that for 2hrs, not just a 30min effort. Raise the intensity or increase the time.

  5. #5
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    OK, I guess what I mean, in short, is: Can 30 minutes total interval time be considered the same training as 30 minutes steady state if they are both at the same intensity?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mootsman
    OK, I guess what I mean, in short, is: Can 30 minutes total interval time be considered the same training as 30 minutes steady state if they are both at the same intensity?
    30 Minutes of CP30 = 30 Minutes of CP30

    6 Reps of CP6 (5 Min Intervals) has some rest intervals in there I'm sure. Therein, 6 Reps of CP6 is not equal to 30 Minutes of CP30 in anything except measured average wattage, possibly. TSS is a function of Normalized Power which will be higher with shorter work efforts. TSS will likely be higher in sets of five minute intervals that 30 min. steady state.

    http://www.cyclingpeakssoftware.com/...11/defined.asp

    I'll refer us all back to the chart that indicates physiological adaptations.

    http://www.cyclingpeakssoftware.com/power411/levels.asp

    I tend to stress that athletes get into the Power Zone required for the adaptations. In order to do that, 30 min. Steady State efforts can't have (IF) Intesity Factors high enough to elicit some of the more important adaptations.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mootsman
    OK, I guess what I mean, in short, is: Can 30 minutes total interval time be considered the same training as 30 minutes steady state if they are both at the same intensity?
    No.

    I can do 10x3min, 2x15min, or 30min straight, and they're all training different things. I'd be willing to bet that you're capable of going faster, on average, for a 3min effort with a 2min recovery, and repeating that many times, than you are for a straight 30min effort. Those differences in speed/power/HR should tell you what you want to know.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mootsman
    OK, I guess what I mean, in short, is: Can 30 minutes total interval time be considered the same training as 30 minutes steady state if they are both at the same intensity?
    Good question. For me, the answer is a qualified no. Additional stresses are definitely being applied in the 30 min continuous version because it is continuous and not broken up by rest. Whether or not those additional stresses are enough to create additional beneficial adaptations, probably depends on the level of the intensity (is it the max you can sustain for 30 mins?) and what else is being done during the workout (are you doing 3x30min? or 1x30min? or 9x10min or 3x10min) and your general fitness levels. Also, some individuals will react/adapt differently to different types of stresses.

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