Author Topic: Interval vs maximal training?  (Read 656 times)

Interval vs maximal training?
« on: November 21, 2020, 09:46:20 pm »
A very basic one here but something I've been thinking about since getting into indoor sessions on a smart trainer.

For a few weeks I followed a TrainerRoad programme of their interval sessions.  They were fine if slightly boring and I always felt there was too much recovery time in each session.

Since spending a couple of weeks on BigRingVR my average wattage is up by over 70w per session.  Even the hardest TR workout (e.g. Pallisade) would average 65w below FTP (taking into account the recovery intervals). 

With BigRingVR it's much more like a road ride where you are constantly pushing (I usually choose climbs without too much downhill). My most recent sessions have seen 1-hour results much closer to FTP.

I suspect I know the answer, but my question is would I not be getting more training benefit from these maximal efforts?  They aren't leaving me drained and I seem to be able to churn them out several times a week without ill effect.  Being as they simulate real routes they do have an element of "interval" work inherent in them as the gradient varies, but not the interminable recovery intervals of TR.

Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2020, 12:36:16 pm »
What are you trying to achieve with each ride? And can you post pictures of your power for the 2 different rides? It's hard to assess the effectiveness of anything without knowing both the aims and the steps taken.

I've not used Big Ring VR, so I have no idea what the typical ride is. I no longer have access to the TR catalogue (injured so account is suspended), but I have ridden Palisade a couple of times in the past - when I did it was an hour and a half of over-unders. No hour and a half ride should average anywhere near your FTP (or your FTP is definitely wrong)! Judging by the picture, it's 5 sets of over-unders - 1 minute at 95%, 2 minutes at 105%, repeat, repeat, 6 minutes "rest" at 40%. It's a workout designed to enhance your ability to recover from being above your FTP while still producing almost FTP power. I think it used to be at the end of SSB, but I don't know for sure and it may have moved. I don't think it's one of the harder TR workouts.
If you only did a few weeks of TR, and you started with Sweet Spot Base, then you weren't supposed to be killing yourself - SSB1 starts relatively easy and the cycle has a progression that builds up the intensity to the end of Build and Speciality. The hardest workouts are probably in the second half of Build. Does BigRingVR have training plans or just rides, and do they have any sort of periodization built into it?

Pedal Castro

  • so talented I can run with scissors - ouch!
    • Two beers or not two beers...
Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2020, 01:13:29 pm »
Normalised power is the method that allows you to compare the overall stress of an interval workout to a sweetspot one rather than average power. Personally although I use power to set my targets I use HR as in zonal TRIMP values to keep track of weekly work done as I rarely use a power meter on outdoor rides.

Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2020, 03:24:04 pm »
Thanks Duncan.  I suspect I'm asking the wrong question!  No doubt interval training wouldn't be so widely adopted if it didn't have proven results.  I just feel as though I've done a harder session if I've put in 90 minutes @ 5-8w below FTP than an interval session @ 70w below FTP.  I'm sure it's psychological  ;D

I've just been using BigRing for individual workouts depending on how I feel each day.  No structured progression as such.  It may have that capability (I think they do TR-type training sessions as well) but I haven't delved into that aspect yet.  It's great fun though.  The video quality is good (once you get used to the speed differential between the speed you're riding and the speed it was filmed at from a car) and there are some really nice routes. You can also pace yourself against previous rides by others or your own (or live riders, but there aren't too many of those sadly).

Bernster

  • ACME (Herts Branch)
Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2020, 08:55:31 am »
I think Duncan raises a fair point, I know that personally if I did a 90 minute session which averages 5-8w below my FTP, I'd be pretty broken, and certainly couldn't do several a week and recover fully. I'm a TrainerRoad user, and use the the sweet spot programs, as I don't have time for longer rides - although some of the rides towards the end of the program are quite taxing, the earlier ones aren't, and nothing should be so hard that you can't recover effectively. Have you re-tested FTP recently, and pushed yourself as hard as you can? You might find that an increase in FTP would make the TR workouts feel more at the right level.

Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2020, 09:39:46 am »
If I did a ride of 1 hour averaging 5W below my FTP then I would be completely and utterly empty, if I could complete it. There is no way I could do that for 90 minutes.  If your FTP is wrong, then the interval stuff is not going to feel as hard (or work as well) - when you did Palisade did you think you could have done more intervals in a set? Looking at my data, I could handle it for the first few sets, but was utterly dying by the end of the 4th and 5th sets.
Normalised is definitely the best way to compare workouts in terms of how much effort/work you are doing, but if you don't have big spikes, then average isn't going to be too far away.

Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2020, 10:00:35 am »
My tested FTP via ramp test on TrainerRoad 3 weeks ago was 225 (after an 8-week TR program).

Yesterday I managed this on BigRingVR. The wattage average was 223 for the first 90 minutes and only dipped in the last 10 minutes due to spinning out on a steep (virtual) descent.  It was hard but I felt fine after and think I could repeat today.  The HR stats show I was never even close to my max of 178.



You're both probably right in that I didn't push myself quite hard enough on the ramp test.  But I also think there is a motivational factor going on whereby if I'm trying hard to keep a high average wattage on a VR programme with all the visual stimulation and chasing other virtual riders then I just push that much harder than on an interval session with recovery built in.

The question remains - which type will I get the most benefit from?

(click to show/hide)

Karla

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    • Lost Byway - around the world by bike
Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2020, 10:05:25 am »
While the ability to ride at a high percentage of FTP is variable, FTP is basically your hour power so if you can sit in it for 90 minutes and then a bit more, it does sound like your FTP is wrong.  Sorry toontra, it's time for another ramp test!

Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2020, 10:08:23 am »
Sorry toontra, it's time for another ramp test!

 ::-)  ;D

Indeed.  Still interested in people's thoughts as to the relative merits of these two types of session?

Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2020, 10:41:15 am »
Your big ring VR session assuming the black line is HR isn’t maximal though is it? You’re hitting 84% max HR or something like that. If it were maximal you’d be hitting over 90% of your max HR.

I always think the biggest determinate of your fitness is the frequency and consistency of your training / workouts / rides, call it what you will.  So it’s not the individual workouts that matter as such but the pattern of exercise over the long term. If you do a few weeks of hard workouts but then stop it’s not going to achieve anything longer term.  If you are likely to be more motivated by big ring VR and keep it up, then why not do that instead? Now is an ideal time to experiment to see what works for you.

I don’t do TR but if it’s anything like other programs you’ll have something like base build speciality.  The base isn’t meant to be super hard. It’s meant to prepare your body for the hard stuff to come. If the base isn’t there you won’t be able to handle the harder stuff later.

Duncan also asked a question I don’t think you’ve answered yet. What are you trying to achieve? Fitness is a bit of a vague term covering many things. What specifically are you trying to improve?


Pedal Castro

  • so talented I can run with scissors - ouch!
    • Two beers or not two beers...
Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2020, 10:52:56 am »
I use both types, the frequency of each depends on the time of year. You can get both in the same workout as well, for example a 2h session with 2x20' followed by 10x40"/20".

Generally, this time of year I try to do one hard short interval session weekly.

Pedal Castro

  • so talented I can run with scissors - ouch!
    • Two beers or not two beers...
Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2020, 11:00:45 am »
As Phil says, consistency is key.

This presentation I wrote a few years ago might be useful, might be a bit basic though.
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1-9k4MqOb8khFoAUa0_DemqRKuC-tiJ8CnLrRTujpjxA/edit?usp=drivesdk

I also did one on interval training, again not specially answering your question but the bit comparing short and long intervals may be useful.
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1ONQMjewPpQPcr_lH-7Rp77qbpWGkvy-92X4XwZ1GNCY/edit?usp=drivesdk

fboab

  • It's a fecking serious business, riding a bike
Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2020, 11:10:10 am »
I'd say your FTP is way out.
The margin you're under, for that 90 minutes, is about the accuracy of the ramp test. So you're pretty much holding your nominal FTP for 90 minutes.
No interval session is going to feel like work if you're that far out in your numbers.

Those without power work on HR & RPE. If you hadn't had the FTP to set the intervals, you'd already have adjusted your effort (if that makes sense).

I don't think either session is either better or worse, they're just different. Your BigRingVR is basically a racing effort. There's plenty of people who raced hard once a week and filled the rest with base miles who achieved great things. One of the points of SST training is that you're supposed to get better results in a shorter time because they're repeatable efforts and you don't need so long to recover. If you think you could do that effort again tomorrow you basically are doing SST without it being formal intervals...

Just for comparison, my FTP is about 212 (from 95% of my best 20 minute effort) and a 90 minute race will average out at between 190 & 195, depending how much downhill recovery I get.


TSS is not Total Sex Score, Chris!

Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2020, 11:21:00 am »
Duncan also asked a question I don’t think you’ve answered yet. What are you trying to achieve? Fitness is a bit of a vague term covering many things. What specifically are you trying to improve?

Good point.  Audax-type endurance is my thing so not really interested in sprints/racing as such (though realise some/much of this may be transferable).

Thanks all for the informative input.  I need to retest ASAP.

I was hoping to avoid having to sign up for subs on more than one training app (;D) but that might be best way to go.  TR mid-volume for a few months with BigRing or Rouvy as a weekly "race day" if I can't get outside for a proper ride.



Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2020, 09:24:28 pm »
Tweeted by Joe Friel today

The key to success in sport is consistency. Nothing else is as important. Doing the wrong stuff consistently is better than doing the right stuff inconsistently. Take training one day at a time following a flexible plan. If you miss a workout just get back on plan the next day.

Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #15 on: November 24, 2020, 09:32:55 pm »
Sounds right.  I aim for 5 days riding indoor or out (and 5-10k runs on alternate days). 

I've just done a couple of days on Rouvy and that's good as well.  I do find the VR stuff motivational but I think TrainerRoad will the basic structure of training this winter.  I'll be able to directly compare stats with BRVR and Rouvy rides done in a few months and see what/if any improvement there's been.

LMT

Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #16 on: November 24, 2020, 09:43:41 pm »
An interval session where at the end your average power is 65w below FTP does not sound right.

Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #17 on: November 24, 2020, 09:45:14 pm »
You need to find out what type of workouts suit your temperament and allow you to find consistency week in / week out.

For me I’ve found a couple of days a week doing three sets of 30 / 15 intervals at 130% ftp with longer rides outside the rest of the time is working for me. Shortening recovery intervals means I find it keeps my HR above 90% max in the later sets.

At the moment I’m not on the turbo but plan to reintroduce the turbo intervals next month.  To compensate and keep my VO2 max power from declining I’m pushing hard on hills on one or two of my rides per week.  For instance in this past week I’ve pushed hard, on a couple of rides, reaching 93% and 95% of my max HR as I reached the top of hills.  On my low intensity days I keep at 70% max HR and below, even on hills.  In short I’m following the polarized training model.

I have also been doing at least one 100km ride a week, sometime two. I did two 100km rides last week. My 200km audax elapsed times are dropping and I’m feeling better at the finish. Some of the elapsed drop will of course be no cafe stops!

I’d put this down to consistently week in week out. I am sure following a sweet spot or similar program would achieve similar results if you can be consistent.

The one thing I’m trying to avoid this winter is taking a long break. That long break means the fitness gains leech away and you start back at a lower base when you restart.




Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #18 on: November 24, 2020, 09:45:38 pm »
An interval session where at the end your average power is 65w below FTP does not sound right.

The TrainerRoad sessions have warm-up and cool-down built in, along with the recovery intervals.  That brings the average wattage way down.

Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #19 on: November 24, 2020, 09:50:28 pm »
Pedal Castro also said  something in his slides that I agree with.  Having a workout / ride you do consistently so you have something to compare when looking at fitness gains.

Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #20 on: November 24, 2020, 09:56:47 pm »
Pedal Castro also said  something in his slides that I agree with.  Having a workout / ride you do consistently so you have something to compare when looking at fitness gains.

In Nicole Cooke’s autobiography she had a 70 odd mile hilly route near home in Wales and knew she was on form when she could get round in a certain time.

Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #21 on: November 24, 2020, 10:01:55 pm »
I've used Richmond Park 3-lap as a benchmark maximal effort many years.  I also have several longer local loops that I keep times of.

This will be the first winter of structured training (having only recently acquired a Kickr) so it will be interesting to look back come next summer.

Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #22 on: November 25, 2020, 08:57:05 am »
Which reminds me...  I now have a Power2Max power meter on the Cervelo and the recent Richmond Park 3-lap showed an average power of 262w over 61 minutes.  That was within days of the TrainerRoad ramp test of 225 (on a calibrated Kickr).

Many variables there, but I still think there may be a placebo effect of replicating a road ride when using a VR app as opposed to the "dry" experience of traditional interval sessions.

Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #23 on: November 25, 2020, 09:07:18 am »
Your ramp test FTP is flat out wrong (or there's something wrong with your equipment). And it's wrong by a long way (20% or so). Do you have enough cooling, and do you have the same bike setup on the trainer as your Cervelo? If so, and if another Ramp test gives you poor results, try a 20 minute FTP test instead. If I were in your position, I'd set my FTP to 265W and do the 20 minute test, (setting the resistance to the power needed for that FTP). If you feel there's more to give in the last 5 minutes, increase it a little, but at least it would give you a good baseline.

There are quite a lot of variables in a road route. The most precise old school method I've heard of was Obree - he used to do 30 minutes at the same resistance on a mag trainer with the tyre pressure just so, and measure how far he had gone using an old wired computer.

Re: Interval vs maximal training?
« Reply #24 on: November 25, 2020, 09:11:45 am »
Thanks Duncan.  Yes, something's clearly not right.  I'd totally forgotten about having the data from the road bike to compare (having only recently acquired it).  As you say, more testing required and probably significantly harder TR sessions to look forward to ::-) ;D

I assume it's normal to have slightly higher FTP readings outside than on a trainer, all other things being equal (or as equal as possible)?