Find a New Peak by Adding Some Intensity in Your Training

After a long winter many cyclist and triathletes will look back at the hours of tapping out a steady rhythm on the pedals for hours at a time accumulating base miles.  With the warmer weather approaching in many regions in the U.S.  there will be races and events for each and everyone to participate in if you haven’t already.  The one thing that has been neglected for months, if not longer for some, is our high end intensity.  VO2 work is not the most pleasant thing to do and I think that is probably why many of you have been avoiding it for so long, however, the gains that you can see from it is often very eye opening to many! I have had many of my athletes log in to look at their schedules and see a solid block of VO2 work and the next thing that usually happens is my phone starts ringing.  First they tend to start off with a half serious question of, “Are you trying to kill me?!” which is then followed with, “My event doesn’t have me doing this sort of intensity, so I don’t need to do this.”  Yep, you may be right… In your century, or Ironman you probably won’t spend a great deal of time at VO2 but that does not mean that you can not see added benefits from these workouts.  Not only can you see increases in lactate threshold through these workouts but you are also raising the ceiling of your ability level both physically and mentally!  So, consider upping the intensity and increasing your power on the bike. When doing VO2 work there are several things to consider:

  1. Achieve the greatest benefit for the time you are putting in.  A perceived exertion of 10/10 achieves the greatest effort (peak and fade) as opposed to maintaining a consistently high power (plateau).
  2. Be sure to get enough time in of interval work:  15minutes of VO²max training has been shown in research to be the minimum amount of time to achieve significant results.
  3. Don’t stretch out the recovery:  Whether you are measuring on distance traveled or power don’t increase recovery when you see the numbers start to become less and less.  Keep up the maximal effort and finish strong.  1:1 recovery is optimal
  4. Don’t go off of your heart rate:  Heart rate has a lag time to it because it is your bodies response to the work being done so if you are shooting for a maximal heart rate you will more than likely not reach it.

Sample workout:

  • 10-20 minute warmup (dependent upon what you need to feel ready for a maximal effort)
  • 5x3min VO2 intervals
    • 3minutes rest between intervals
  • Cool down

Resources:Poole D.C., Gaesser G.A.Response of ventilatory and lactate thresholds to continuous and interval training, J Appl Physiol, 581985, 1115–1121 Free Full Text  Tabata I.,Nishimura K., Kouzaki M., Hirai Y., Ogita F., Miyachi M., et al.Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max, Med Sci Sports Exerc, 281996, 1327–1330 Medline

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