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EPC Tips – Trainer Series: Threshold Intervals & Vo2 Max Intro

This week’s workout is Workout #11 (of 12) from the EPC Bike Trainer Series.

The 12-workout series is designed to progressively take through a strength & aerobic base, through a threshold build, and finish with some Vo2 max work to get you ready for race season; all in 6-12 weeks (depending on how many workouts per week you choose to do). In an earlier WOW we featured the first session of the series that focused on pedaling technique, strength and aerobic conditioning. This seventh session continues to work on pedaling technique, followed by increased aerobic conditioning with some tempo and sub-threshold intervals. We will continue to share some of the other workouts in this series over the coming weeks, or you can purchase the series in it’s entirety as a download from Training Peaks HERE.

Workout #11: Threshold Intervals & Vo2 Max Intro

The Exercises…

Spin-Ups: Used in this application as both a warm-up exercise and leg-speed development. These should be performed in your easiest gear with very little resistance. Your cadence will increase per instruction, your HR will rise gradually along with your cadence. HR is to not exceed your AeT HR. If your HR gets too high, lighten the resistance on your trainer or cease cadence increase until you improve your economy over the next several sessions.

9-minute Progressive Gear Intervals: These intervals are designed to increase your workload at your AeT. You will begin the interval in a moderate sized gear and ride for 3 minutes. At the end of the 3 minutes you will shift one gear higher and continue pedaling for another 3 minutes before shifting once more and completing the final 3 minutes. Your cadence is to remain constant throughout the entire 9-minute interval (If your gears skip a cog when you shift, e.g. 17 to 15 teeth, then reduce by 5 rpm when you shift). Your goal is to reach your AeT HR Zone by the end of the first 3-minute segment, then continue to build your HR right up to your AeT HR by the end of the interval. If you find your HR exceeding your AeT HR then begin the next interval in a gear lower than you started the first interval in. The more aerobically fit you are the more effort (higher perceived exertion) these intervals will require. The less aerobically fit you are the easier they will feel. Changing hand positions throughout the 3-minute segments from tops to hoods to drops will help you stay focused and make the time go by faster. Allow for three minutes of recovery (easy pedaling) between successive intervals.

5-minute LT interval: Finally you are allowed to get your HR up over your AeT for a longer period of time (although still not much). These intervals begin to touch on your anaerobic system by using a bit more carbohydrate to perform. These intervals are performed in the same gear you finished the 9-minute Progressive Gear Intervals above in. You will remain in this same gear for the entire interval, instead raising your cadence slightly each minute to achieve a gradually higher workload. Your HR objective is to reach your LT HR by the end of each interval. First adjust cadence to achieve desired HR (between 90 and 100 rpm), before selecting a different gear if necessary. Allow 3 minutes of recovery between successive intervals. As with the completion of the final surge in the Stand & Surge above, upon the completion of your final 5-minute LT Interval, stop pedaling completely and note your “peak HR”. Watch your HR fall and note how quickly it drops to below 100 bpm. Over the course of the series you should see your HR drop faster from higher peak HR indicating improved aerobic fitness.

2-minute Vo2 Intervals: In the last two sessions of the series you get to open it up even further with a few shorter intervals going beyond your LT HR. These intervals are intended to prepare you for the more intense training to come in the next phase of training called Race Prep. You will perform these intervals in one gear higher than the 5-minute LT Intervals above and again use cadence as means to increase the workload throughout the intervals. Although these intervals are short, they will get your HR up over your LT HR. The goal is not to work any harder than necessary, but to hit your cadence and gearing targets of 95-105 rpm in the gear prescribed. Your HR should not exceed more than 5-8 beats over your LT HR. Any more than that and you are working too hard for this objective requiring more recovery and lost training time. Remember these are simply in here to act as preparation for the hard work to come, they are not the hard work itself. Allow 3 minutes of recovery between successive intervals. Upon the completion of your final 2-minute Vo2 Interval, stop pedaling completely and note your “peak HR”. Watch your HR fall and note how quickly it drops to below 100 bpm. Over the course of the series you should see your HR drop faster from higher peak HR indicating improved aerobic fitness.

Steady Spin & Spin Down: Your cool-down exercise. The Steady Spins gives you a chance to spin your legs out, get some fresh blood in there and begin the recovery process. You are back in your easiest gear with minimal resistance. Hold the specific rpm listed in the workout (or slightly higher if you like) for the time prescribed. HR should maybe reach the lower limits of your AeT HR Zone. Adjust resistance (or lower cadence) as needed. After the extended time spinning, you begin to gradually bring the cadence down (along with HR) with the Spin Down. Bring your cadence back down to 80 rpm over a few minutes until you are breathing normally and no longer perspiring. Wipe the sweat off your face and body, grab your recovery drink and call your workout finished!

The Workout…

WARM-UP:

  • Spin-Up: 60 to 130 rpm. Increase 5 rpm every 60 seconds. Easiest gear. Say 39/27. HR should raise gradually with cadence.
  • Spin-Up: 70 to 150 rpm. Increase 5 rpm every 15 seconds. Easiest gear. HR should raise gradually with cadence.
  • 9-minute Progressive Gear Intervals: Perform 1 of these. 3 minutes easy recovery between intervals. Choose moderate gear, say 39×17. Cadence 90-100 rpm. Ride 3 minutes, shift to one gear harder, ride 3 more minutes, shift once more. 1.5-5.0 watts/kg. Aim for reaching the top of your aerobic HR zone by the third 3-minute segment of the interval, and nearing threshold HR by the end of the 9 minutes. Select the right gearing to achieve target HR’s. (If your gears skip a cog when you shift, e.g. 17 to 15 teeth, then reduce by 5 rpm when you shift.)

MAIN SET:

  • 5-minute LT interval: Perform 4 of these. 2 minute recoveries. Cadence 90 to 100 rpm. Same gear you ended the 9-minute Progressive Gear Interval from above in. Say 39/15. Increase cadence 2 rpm each minute. Vary hand positions drops, tops, hoods. 2.0-5.0 watts/kg. Aim for LT HR by the mid-point of each interval.
  • 2-minute Vo2 Intervals: Perform 3 of these. 2 minute recoveries. Cadence 95 to 110 rpm. Perform the first interval in same gear as you performed the 5-minute intervals above. Perform the second interval one gear harder than the first, and the third maybe one gear harder. Increase cadence 2-3 rpm every 30 seconds. 2.5-6.0 watts/kg. Aim for LT HR or slightly above by the end of the first interval, 100+% LT HR by the end of the second and third intervals.

WARM-DOWN:

  • Spin-Up: 80-120 rpm. Increase 5 rpm every 15 seconds. Easiest gear. Say 39/27. <2.0 watts/kg. Follow immediately with:
  • Steady Spin: 3 minutes. 120+ rpm. Easiest gear. Say 39/27. <2.0 watts/kg. Follow immediately with:
  • Spin-Down: 120-70 rpm. Decrease 5 rpm every 30 seconds. Easiest Gear. HR should gradually come down, reaching sub 90 rpm by the end.

The XTERRA ‘Workouts of the Week’ are brought to you by XTERRA pro, Cody WaiteYou can find this workout, and others like it for the swim, bike and run, by joining his XTERRA Group Coaching programs for 2014. Cody works with XTERRA athletes from first-timers to World Champions, through his company EPC Multisport. Don’t forget to follow EPC Multisport on Facebook!