Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Indoor Intervals

Someone asked me today what intervals could be done on an indoor trainer or treadmill to alleviate some of the boredom. Of course, what you do in training is more closely tied to your periodization, i.e., time until your first A-priority race of the season, than to your level of boredom. For example, some athletes, I know, are doing the Valley of the Sun bike stage race next month in Phoenix. If that’s an A race for you then higher intensity efforts are appropriate. But if your A race isn’t for a few months then lower intensity efforts are appropriate. Assuming you know what you should be working on in training right now, here are some workouts that may be done indoors – or outdoors for that matter, also. (If unsure of what you should be doing consult my Training Bible books – Chapter 6.)

Before each of the sessions described below warm-up by gradually increasing the intensity. The more intense the intervals, the longer the warm-up. Cool down after each interval session.

The intensity of these intervals is based on the following. Pick the one that suits you best…

• Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) on a 1 (low) to 10 (high) scale
• Heart Rate (HR) using the system found in my Training Bible books and Total Heart Rate Training book.
• Power zones are from Coggan’s system (Training and Racing With a Power Meter)
• Pace zones for running are found in my Triathlete’s Training Bible book

Note that the number of intervals and the duration of the intervals is not carved in stone. These may be changed either way to accommodate an athlete who is highly experienced or a novice. They are a starting point for someone who is moderately fit for this time of year.

Aerobic endurance intervals
Purpose: Improve cardiovascular system
RPE: 4-5
HR Zone: 2
Power Zone: 2
Pace Zone: 2
Workout: 3 x 20 minutes with 5 minute easy recoveries
Comments: Keep cadence comfortably high

Tempo intervals
Purpose: Improve muscular endurance
RPE: 6
HR Zone: 3
Power Zone: 3
Pace Zone: 3
Workout: 3 x 10 minutes with 3 minute easy recoveries
Comments: Cadence slightly lower than normal or 2% uphill on a treadmill

Threshold intervals
Purpose: Improve ability to process and remove acid build up and lift lactate threshold as a percentage of aerobic capacity
RPE: 7
HR Zone: 4-5a
Power Zone: 4
Pace Zone: 4-5a
Workout: 3 x 6 minutes with 2 minute easy recoveries
Comments: Cadence at comfortable level. May be done on a ‘hill.’

Anaerobic endurance intervals
Purpose: Improve aerobic capacity
RPE: 8-9
HR Zone: 5b
Power Zone: 5-6
Pace Zone: 5b
Workout: 5 x3 minutes with 3 minute easy recoveries
Comments: Keep cadence comfortably high, focus on technique

Speed skills intervals
Purpose: Improve economy
RPE: 8-9
HR Zone: not applicable
Power Zone: not applicable
Pace Zone: not applicable
Workout: 6-8 x 20 seconds with 90 seconds of easy spin/walk recoveries between intervals
Comments: Focus is entirely on one single aspect of technique such as run foot strike or pedaling through 12 o’clock position. Movement is fast at high cadence.

Anaerobic capacity intervals
Purpose: Improve power
RPE: 10
HR Zone: not applicable
Power Zone: 7
Pace Zone: 5c
Workout: 3 sets of 3 x 12 revolutions (count right foot 12 times) with 3 minute easy recoveries between intervals and 6 minutes between sets
Comments: These are essentially sprints. Form must be perfect or injury is possible.

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At January 20, 2010 12:50 AM , Blogger Denis Oakley said...

Hi Joe,

Thinking about the anaerobic capacity intervals. How do you actually do this in practice. Off treadmill it's easy to accelerate to a sprint. On treadmill you have a lag whilst it gets up to speed. Do you count your steps from the time your target speed starts? or from when you start accelerating?



At January 20, 2010 4:22 AM , Blogger jerome said...

Hello Joe,
At first, thanks for your articles, and your books. About the levels, something has been confusing me a bit. I read in your book that your Aerobic (level 2) range is 82-88% LTHR.I find it quite hard. Moreover, the corresponding Coggan level is 69-83 %. It seems that I indeed do Coggan tempo intervals, when exercising in your level 2. This is confirmed by the powermeter. In fact, the HR level 2 dont quite overlap, for each system.
Best greets, Jerome

At January 20, 2010 8:04 AM , Blogger fittorrent said...

Awesome! Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I am a self-coached triathlete and use both your Triathlete's Training Bible and Training Peaks to help me program. and administer my training.

Again, many thanks for making your experience and wisdom available for the rest of us.

At January 20, 2010 8:42 AM , Blogger aham23 said...

great stuff joe. perfect timing as a lot of us midwesterners have been inside for months and need a change up or fresh ideas.

At January 20, 2010 9:41 AM , Blogger Scotty said...

Thanks, I can never have enough variety in my intervals.

At January 20, 2010 10:09 AM , Blogger James said...

Great list of workouts, a few of them are new to me. I've read your 3rd ed. Cyclist's Training Bible. I'm still in BASE period right now but thinking ahead:
If my limiters are basic endurance and climbing what kind of intervals would be prescribed?

At January 20, 2010 12:27 PM , Blogger gwpos said...

I have been noticing that you refer to power zones based on Cogans book, but on TP all of the workouts are based on CP. Is that going to change to Cogans in the future?

At January 20, 2010 1:35 PM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

Denis O--Wait until it gets to speed.

At January 20, 2010 2:36 PM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

James--They're all important when it comes to climbing in a road race.

At January 20, 2010 2:37 PM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

gwpos--Yes. Some already have.

At January 21, 2010 2:19 AM , Blogger Bahzob said...

Sorry to disagree with you Joe but I can't see how you can get any training benefit from doing turbo work at level 3 and below (bearing in this L3 is what you should be able to sustain for 2 hours or so). 20 mins at this pacewont put any stress on the body so no benefit. (Exception - speed skill work where may use low resistance/high cadence)

I think its much easier to say all turbo work should be done at sweetspot level or above. (sweetsport 4x10>2x20-30 min ints aiming to build to full hour is a great use of turbo time).

(Sure you know but for others. Sweetspot is is 85-95% of FTP and is a good training zone as it puts a high degree of stress per minute but is sub-threshold so easy to recover from. For longer endurance events its also the zone where you may well spend most critical time e.g. long climbs are best paced in this zone.

More simply its the pace where you have to keep panting quite heavily through your mouth to keep going but your breathing is steady and under control.

It's also 2-4 bpm under HR threshold but HR is not a very good measure on turbos as it can be very different indoors than out.)

At January 23, 2010 11:57 AM , Blogger Sérgio said...

Bahzob -> Read Joe`s note before describing the workouts.

At February 22, 2010 12:42 PM , Blogger vujaracing said...

Hi Mr. Friel

Thanks for all these workouts descriptions.

I just had one question for you. Can you describe a specific warm-up on home-trainer?

Best regards

Lionel Vujasin

At February 22, 2010 2:15 PM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

Lionel--There are lots of things you could do. How about 10 minutes in small ring increasing cadence and power gradually followed by 5-10 minutes in big ring.


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