Is interval training any good?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
minkie
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Is interval training any good?

Postby minkie » 27 Feb 2009, 1:27pm

Santa bought me a book about interval training for cyclists, promising massive improvements in power and stamina and I’m wondering whether to give it a whirl.
I’m not going to go into formal racing but I am interested in anything that will help me ride faster and further.
At the same time, I don’t want to turn my rides into a miserable world of tightly disciplined training schedules and I don’t want to injure myself.
Have others tried interval training for cyclists?
Are the benefits big or small?
I currently cycle c.100-140 miles a week and I’m 55. Is interval training a sensible thing to start doing?

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Dave Ross
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Postby Dave Ross » 27 Feb 2009, 1:45pm

I'm an avid supporter of the curiously named 'fartlek' training.

Basically this is interval training and helps develop both aerobic and anerobic capacities - So is good for both long distance and sprints, ideally suited to racing, but will certainly benefit anyone.

Mines a pretty basic routine - using roadsigns :shock:

I tend to warm up and then go at a reasonably fast pace for approx 10 miles, then I will sprint between a set of roadsigns, have a rest until the next one, sprint again, etc.... Repeated until I can't keep it up any longer. Then simply warm down on the journey back home. i tend to do about 30 miles in total.

I've certainly noticed the improvements in my sprinting speed over the Winter with this. It's easy to adapt it to suit your needs.

Good luck with it

Dave.

dan_b
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Postby dan_b » 27 Feb 2009, 3:22pm

Yes, I've always felt that fartlek is intervals without the regimentation that sucks the fun out.

Though I don't tend to do it on roadsigns but on gradients and potential overtaking targets.

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NUKe
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Re: Is interval training any good?

Postby NUKe » 27 Feb 2009, 3:23pm

minkie wrote:Santa bought me a book about interval training for cyclists, promising massive improvements in power and stamina and I’m wondering whether to give it a whirl.
I’m not going to go into formal racing but I am interested in anything that will help me ride faster and further.
At the same time, I don’t want to turn my rides into a miserable world of tightly disciplined training schedules and I don’t want to injure myself.
Have others tried interval training for cyclists?
Are the benefits big or small?
I currently cycle c.100-140 miles a week and I’m 55. Is interval training a sensible thing to start doing?


Depends what your trying to achieve. its aimed at racing and the increases are to peak fitness stamina.

My advice would be read it See whatbits you can adapt to your own cycling style and goals. Reading it at least should give you a good idea of what is requred and won't hurt you. There are lots of useful bits to interval training whihc can be adapted into day rides/commute, which do help with fitness for mere mortals like you and me. using diffreent styles on different days and within each ride.
NUKe
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meic
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Postby meic » 27 Feb 2009, 3:38pm

Just give it a go when the time is right.
If you are doing a ride which you can finish comfortably, then occasionally do a sprint between two points and then go back to normal cycling.
When I was running I would use lamp posts as a guide.
You could use repeater speed limit signs or road junctions or whatever you like.
Hills will give you intervals naturally. :lol:
Yma o Hyd

kwackers
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Postby kwackers » 27 Feb 2009, 3:48pm

Interval training is mainly about doing something harder and faster than you would normally, how you do it doesn't really matter.

If you consider that most people don't push themselves past what they're comfortable at then you can see that interval training is a way of doing that. Eventually your body gets used to working harder/faster and you become comfortable at it, in this way you get faster for what feels like the same effort.

Benefits can be huge (depending on how fast you are now) and it needn't become diciplined although you do need to do it regularly. I'd aim to do say one session a week.

toontra
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Re: Is interval training any good?

Postby toontra » 27 Feb 2009, 3:54pm

minkie wrote:I currently cycle c.100-140 miles a week and I’m 55. Is interval training a sensible thing to start doing?


I'm 53 and have been doing power intervals on the gym training bike for just over a year and the results are truly amazing.

I started with L4, L5 and L6 intervals (do a google, it's a little technical) for an hour 3 times a week, and I've just discovered the Hour of Power, which involves keeping up a sustainable power for an hour with 15 second bursts at 130% of your FT every 3 minutes.

I'm sure this can be done on the road if you have some way of measuring your effort (otherwise it's too subjective IMO), but I find that a concentrated hour in the gym is more conducive to busting a gut without having to worry about a 30-mile ride home if I blow up.

Anyway, my average speed is up and I'm matching the 20-year-olds up the hills these days. All good!

dan_b
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Re: Is interval training any good?

Postby dan_b » 27 Feb 2009, 4:49pm

toontra wrote:
I started with L4, L5 and L6 intervals (do a google, it's a little technical) for an hour 3 times a week, and I've just discovered the Hour of Power, which involves keeping up a sustainable power for an hour with 15 second bursts at 130% of your FT every 3 minutes.

I'm guessing FT is a Threshold of some kind? What does the F stand for?

toontra
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Re: Is interval training any good?

Postby toontra » 27 Feb 2009, 4:57pm

dan_b wrote:I'm guessing FT is a Threshold of some kind? What does the F stand for?


Quite right. It stands for Functional Threshold (or FTP for Functional Threshold Power), which means the power output you can sustain with maximal effort for 1 hour (i.e. you are totally knackered afterwards!)

For most power training it's important to establish what your FT is at any particular time as intervals will usually be based on percentages of this level.

There's more info about power training, including a more detailed description of the Hour of Power, on Alex Simmons blog site here -http://alex-cycle.blogspot.com/ - and yes, the guy does have a prosthetic leg!

rogerzilla
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Postby rogerzilla » 27 Feb 2009, 5:53pm

Be careful with the classic interval training (go like hell for 30 seconds in top gear, then 2 minutes' recovery, or whatever you can cope with). After 10 reps on the turbo trainer I was shaking like a leaf. It's very hard on the nerves - all that adrenalin.

Lawrie9
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Postby Lawrie9 » 27 Feb 2009, 6:18pm

Interval training is certainly good for running. I can remember doing 20 x 200 metres on the track and became an elite runner fairly quickly.. I do quite a bit of interval work on the bike and it has helped no end. A lot of hill work and mountain biking will make you as fit as a butchers dog.

PW
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Postby PW » 27 Feb 2009, 11:38pm

The other way is to ride a route with lots of "Pedestrian Refuge" bike killer islands. You approach one, pick a gap between overtaking vehicles, accelerate onto the back of the first, "shutting the door" on the second, pedal like hell until the road widens out, move over & wave the victim past, take a breather - and repeat. :cry:
If at first you don't succeed - cheat!!

thirdcrank
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Postby thirdcrank » 28 Feb 2009, 12:26am

Donkeys' Years ago, the first I remember hearing of interval training was a reference to Percy Cerutti who trained the Australian runner, Herb Elliott. There was an article in Coureur - The Magazine for the Sporting Cyclist* about running up sand dunes and a lot more. It struck me then that bike racing - riding in a group and taking turns at the front - was also a form of interval training. I'm still to be dissuaded.

* And a newsagent who didn't know the difference between Coureur (published by Jock Wadley) and Courier (published by Unesco)

dan_b
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Postby dan_b » 28 Feb 2009, 12:52am

I expect there are many forms of interval training and some of them are better than others - certainly the usual recommendation seems to be that the interal should be balls-out effort for slightly longer than you can cope with it. Would suggest this may not really be tenable for taking turns on the front of a group simply because you want enough juice left after your turn to be able to catch the back of the group again as it comes past - don't think this is really compatible with 130% of FTP or LT or AT or PTFE

dan_b
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Postby dan_b » 28 Feb 2009, 12:53am

thirdcrank wrote:* And a newsagent who didn't know the difference between Coureur (published by Jock Wadley) and Courier (published by Unesco)

Sounds like maybe he should hav sought a different Career?