interval training - am i doing this right?

Ferrals Posts: 785
edited November 2014 in Health, fitness & training
Can I just check I've got the hang of interval training. My out of the saddle sprinting is poor so I'm trying to develop it and thought interval training would be the way to do it.

I'm doing it on an exercise bike in the gym, had my first go before work this morning. First of all I'm warming up with 15 minutes on a moderate 'hill' setting before starting intervals. Moving onto the intervals, I did one minute spinning at level 10 before upping it to level 16 and stand up pedalling as hard as I could for 1 minute then dropping back to level 10 for two minutes, then going back to level 16 for a minute etc etc. I did 10 1 minute intervals before warming down. I didn't always manage to stand the whole minute, and for the last few i dropped to 14/15 in the interval and 8/9 for the spinning.

Am I doing enough repetitions?
is the rest/effort time ratio of 2:1 about right?
is the resistance level difference about right?

My legs don't feel beasted, but at the time i didnt feel i could do more.

Thanks in advance! 8)


  • cyco2
    cyco2 Posts: 593
    I think you should do some reading up on interval and sprint training. There are many topics in the road section on the subject.

    If you want to be a strong rider you have to do strong things.
    However if you train like a cart horse you'll race like one.
  • Ferrals
    Ferrals Posts: 785
    Thanks, I didn't think to look in the road section. I have been trying to read up on it, but most seem to want you to have a power meter which I didn't think I had - but I discovered yesterday the excercize bike outputs power
  • Toyman
    Toyman Posts: 12
    Heart Rate Monitor is essential for proper interval training
  • njee20
    njee20 Posts: 9,613
    No it isn't, at all. In fact HR is useless for shorter intervals because of the lag. Power is ideal, so sorted if you've got that. You need to know your FTP really - so start with that. There are tests online - basically ride flat out for 20 mins and take 95% of your average power. Form is important though - don't go off too hard.

    Then you need to know what you want to achieve. You can do very short intervals (<30 seconds) to build explosive power, up to 15-20 minutes+ for increasing threshold. What are you trying to achieve?
  • Ferrals
    Ferrals Posts: 785
    The excerise bike does do heart rate and average rpm too.

    My goal is primarily to improve 1-2 minute sprints for flat start-finish sprints and short sub 2 minute climbs, where i have always struggled even when i raced regularly in youth and junior. I am starting to work on longer 5-10 minute climbs 'in the field' through hill reps, but for short sprints I thought the exercise bike would be better and also i can do it pre-work and it gives me more time flexibility even in winter (work 9-5). I also want to work on out of the saddle ability as this has severely deteriorated in my years off the bike.

    The end goal is getting back into xc racing. I may race one more this year but then have the winter to get back bike fit. Obviously given the lack of day light a lot will be gym based but i was thinking 2 sessions of 1-2min intervals, a session of hill climbs and 1 long ride a week will be do-able.
  • diy
    diy Posts: 6,473
    I agree that as long as you are going balls out you don't really need any data. If you are doing your interval training on a gym bike then you can go short Tabata style.. for the kind of explosive sprinting that you are after.

    20 seconds sprint and 10 seconds rest - sets of 8 for 3-5 rounds is pretty good.

    As it happens I just put a vid up on youtube

    Just need some decent high bpm music to go with it. But you can get apps that do similar things too.

    As a guide...
    you should be puffing away nicely by set 3 or 4 and feeling stuffed by 8. After the second round (so 16 done) you should feel like collapsing). As one of my gym instructor mates says - its ok to feel sick, but anti social if you don't clean it up after.
  • Yes I agree on the latest reply! Go al out on the intervalls to increase sprint power. However it´s hard to give advice on training ower the internet. One does not get the full picture of you and your needs. I have done some intervals and leg strength. I squat about 140 kg (full squat). That´s good for a 178 cm / 68 kg girl - at least I think soo. What really gave me the boost was core exercises. Abs and lower back. If you know how too use the core you will feel it in each pedalstroke during your intervalls - if you don´t (that was the case for me) you have a lot more to gain!

    The feelin for me was like this - sometimes I hit something and it al comes down to a moment of perfect transmitted power going trough my whole body. But I did not know how to repeat that feelin (if you know what I mean). Using core I get a that perfect feeling of being in the right spot on every pedal stroke.

    Summary: to me it sounds like your might be on it. If it not happens - go for core strengt rather than more maximal weight lifting. That´s my unprofessional point of view.
  • Biggus86
    Biggus86 Posts: 385
    First post for ages.

    TheTherese has hit the nail on the head.

    Go all out on you intervals to the point where you're about to collapse for max gains. And try and tense your core whilst doing so. An easy weight free way to strengthen your core... Plank easy enough initially, but gets harder the longer you hold yourself up.

    Also, intervals improve your V02 max so any sort of intervals will do. If you have a steep hill near where you live/work, you can do shuttles up that, say sprint as hard as you can maybe 30-50m, then jog/walk back. Repeat in sets or do as many as you can.
    We get bombarded with interval this and interval that by the PTI's where I work when anyone mentions about getting fitter.

    Edit: try and join a spinning class too :)

    If it's easy, you're not doing it right/not doing enough.
  • diy
    diy Posts: 6,473
    I'll just throw this out there. But in order 4 things gave me a step change:
    1 Intermittent fasting - big change in endurance capacity
    2 Get a road bike. Really helps improve technique
    3 spinning/indoor cycling with HIIT type sessions
    4 bodypump (high rep low weight traing)
  • diy wrote:
    I'll just throw this out there. But in order 4 things gave me a step change:
    1 Intermittent fasting - big change in endurance capacity
    How if you are physically active and starving yourself of nutrients to aid repair and recovery? You fast each day when you sleep... Exercise has more of a bearing on endurance over food.
    4 bodypump (high rep low weight traing)
    No one ever developed increased power from body pump. You want to be hitting compound exercises like squats and deadlifts on a 5 rep max, 5 set scheme and Olympic based lifts using 65% of your 1 rep max using a 5 rep max, 5 set scheme.
    Bird Aeris : Trek Remedy 9.9 29er : Trek Procaliber 9.8 SL
  • diy
    diy Posts: 6,473
    Interesting questions. All I can say is what I experienced.. Maybe I need to clarify fasting.. I follow the 5:2 (occasionally 6:1) so on a "fasting day" I'm still consuming 25% of my RDA and will normally take on a min of 100kcal by one hour before if training in the evening - essentially to avoid cramps. I'll eat the rest of my 500 after exercise. So I'm not starving myself of nutrients. Its a lifestyle thing I've stuck with it for over 2 years and I couldn't do a no junk food type diet.

    All my road strava personal bests have been done on fasting days (hills and sprints) - admittedly these are within training rides of no more than 1.5hrs to 2. Above 2 and I drop off quick as you'd expect being already in a glycogen depleted state. But I've tried beating times on other days on similar rides and I just can't get output close. I have no idea why. The only symtoms I can offer is my resting HR is lower on fasting days, normally around 35bpm (+- 2bpm). Normal for me is high 30s occasionally low 40s. As a result of regular exercise in a glycogen depleted state, I'm better at running in the fat burning zone. I really noticed it on the first big endurance ride I did. Of course I also lost weight which makes a massive difference.

    I didn't recommend BodyPump for power, I found it particularly good at improving core strength, back strength and upper body stamina which for MTB events is important. Most people who do endurance events will get some sort of upper body fatigue in either the shoulders or back due to pounding the trail for a long period.

    I actually do a big weights day too - similar to your recommendation, though I follow a reverse pyramid set structure.
  • Food intake the day before usually governs the days performance more so than on the day unless your exercise is late on. Your times could be due to oxygen transportation being able to be diverted more to where it's required rather than some allocated to the stomach and gut for digestion so efficiency is increased. However as you have already pointed out this would only be for shorter periods of prolonged riding.

    Reverse pyramids are ok depending on what you are trying to achieve. If it's purely hypertrophy (muscle breakdown) then drop set or rest/pause sets are a more efficient way to do this without CNS burn out. Certain movements aren't really suited to pyramid schemes as they are more form and power based with fatigue causing more issue than benefit. Deadlift is a good example of such a lift where it should be treated purely as a power movement. If you want to extend it for endurance purposes then doing sets of 5RM followed up by a super set of jump squats for 20 reps is a good option.
    Bird Aeris : Trek Remedy 9.9 29er : Trek Procaliber 9.8 SL