Pyramid Intervals

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by BullGod, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. BullGod

    BullGod New Member

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    I am riding the first of the spring classics here in 3 weeks, and right now I have a mammoth base (2,800km in the last month alone) but I am lacking speed, as the only intensity in my riding recently has been 4 short training races, which haven't really gone well, mainly due to the chaos of all categories from pro to junior B and Cat 5 racing together. With a huge peloton quickly breaking up into groups from the first few laps i haven't yet been able to get into a decent breakaway or get up at the front end of the peloton so I've had a frustrating time burning up all my L6 from the off bridging gaps and trying to get up front and then ending up in a group that's going too slow to bring me into form.

    As I can't rely on these training races, i thought to add one interval workout per week to my training, which is pretty much 4 x 4.5 hr L2 rides, one race, one recovery ride per week right now.

    Some intervals that appeal to me are pyramid intervals.

    At this stage of the season I was thinking of using these for L4. I want to avoid L5 and 6 in training altogether as racing should work these enough.

    My target FTP is 350, so I was wondering about 1 min 350, 1 min active recovery, 2 mins 350 / 2 mins active recovery, 3 @ 350 / 3 AR , 4/4, 5/5 and then back down again, 4/4, 3/3, 2/2, 1,1 ....

    do this twice (10 mins recovery between each set) and you get 44 mins at target FTP, without having to endure the boredom and long lasting fatigue of a 2 x 20. Motivationally, i imagine it easier to hold an uncomfortable wattage if you know it will only ever be for a few minutes.

    Not having tried this yet will it be too easy? are these way too short to get any benefits in L4?

    Was also thinking of doing this at the end of a 2hr L2 ride.

    Another "once a fortnight" option is the absolute ripper:

    1) 8-10 x 12 second flat out sprints at max poss intensity - 3 mins rest between each.

    then 10 mins recovery:

    followed by:

    2) 6-10 x 1 min intervals in L6 with 5 mins recovery between each.

    Then, the icing on the cake:

    3) 4 x 4 mins in L5 with 6 mins recovery between each.

    so you do level 7, 6 and then 5....

    How often do you thnk this should be done and when (stage of the season) should I attempt this? Obviously a rest day(s) would be needed beforehand and a recovery day afterwards.

    thoughts from anyone who is riding (or has ridden) at top level, or coached someone at this level would be appreciated.....getting a bit worried about my form right now....despite all the extra hours on the bike I don't feel much stronger than last year, and I'm riding elite now....
     
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  2. Steve_B

    Steve_B New Member

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    Like I told you before in another thread, why are in the wrong place at the wrong time? You know that the race is going to break up quickly so why are you starting the race at the back, dude? :confused: Are all the other Elites and Pros making the first group/first breakaway? If they are, why aren't you?

    Don't tell me they have been doing L6 all winter.
     
  3. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Those would fall into the "neither here nor there" category of training efforts. If you want to target your sustainable aerobic metabolism via L4 or lower efforts you need to hold those efforts continuously for at least 8 minutes with 10 minutes generally being the accepted minimum for training L4. Less than that and you won't have completely shifted to sustainable aerobic metabolism. Those minute to five minute active recovery rests are too long to simply use an average power approach to gauging intensity for L4 work.

    Either drop those recovery periods substantially (less than 30 seconds) or suck it up and hold those efforts for longer than 10 minutes if you really want to target L4.

    If boredom is the issue, how about trying some variation on Bill Black's Hour of Power microintervals? I've been playing with one that's a lot of fun, targets solid SST work and does a pretty good job of mimicking the power distribution of a crit. Settle into a Tempo to low SST pace (~75-80% of FTP or ~260 - 300 watts) add a ten to 15 second seated jump every five minutes and try to regain your steady pace as quickly as possible after each effort. If an hour feels good then try those bursts every 2.5 minutes. Your AP will be solid SST work and NP even higher.

    I did an hour of these last night using the CompuTrainer in drafting mode with a pacer and I was shocked how closely the summary stats including AP, NP, peak power and 20 second peak power resemble crits I rode last season. The big difference is that I coast in crits but never get below Tempo during these trainer workouts and the jumps come more frequently in most crits. Still it's training that is actually fairly fun, still targets core aerobic fitness but adds a dynamic element. It's also an efficient way to build CTL, I racked up over 100 TSS in an hour long effort plus WU and CD. The CT in drafting mode helps because you get a big burst during the effort and second smaller one as you accelerate back into the draft(kinda realistic that way...) but you can still do this on the KK or other trainer or out on the road.

    -Dave
    P.S. Here's a WKO+ screenshot of the power curve for that effort.
     
  4. Ade Merckx

    Ade Merckx New Member

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    Hi Bulldog 've never ridden at Elite level neither am I a coach but here's some observations:

    1. Your current FT is 340watt so you're only 10watts away from your target

    2. Have you tried the 8mins on 1 min off intervals at target threshold

    3. What about L5 efforts at 115-117%

    4. How about shortening those level 2 efforts an adding some SST/L4

    5. Or, don't sweat it, you'll get that extra 10 watts via racing soon enough
     
  5. BullGod

    BullGod New Member

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    Dave, this sounds great:

    2 questions:

    1 - can i do this after an endurance training? say 2 hr L2 ride and then this? or if not can I? but - is this smart?

    2 - What % of FTP should I aim for on the "jump"?
     
  6. BullGod

    BullGod New Member

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    I wish man.....most of these guys have been racing for decades.....I'm pretty fit, but only took up cycling at 25....so I'm learning all the time about tactics and bunch positioning. It's infuriating but I still get anxious when it "bunches up" during the slower moments, and I seem to prefer moving up the back during the faster stretches as there is more space and I have the speed. However, I'll move up 10 places on a fast strait, only to have 20 weaker riders swamping past me the moment it goes slow.

    Basically my bike handling and confidence moving around the bunch suck. I notice this especially in the preseason races with all the lower cat riders, as some of them, especially the juniors, are just plain dangerous and I find myself easing towards the back of the bunch when it goets hectic only to find myself doing nothing else but closing big gaps once the speed gets turned on. I sa w plenty of other elites mocing effortlessly through the bunch but I try the same only to get blocked off by some guy who won't give up his place for anything......
     
  7. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Well, it's basically the same as high SST or L4 work, it might take a bit longer to recover from because of the bursts but it's fairly interchangeable with those workouts. With your deep training base you may very well be able to do this after a few hours of L2, just ask yourself whether you would do a high SST or L4 effort after the same amount of L2. If that fits your schedule in terms of training and recovery then go for it.
    That depends on how frequently you'll jump and how long you hold each jump. I wasn't really focusing on a power level in that workout but it seemed I regularly hit 200% of FTP or more during the jumps but then I was allowing nearly 5 minutes of recovery at Tempo between jumps.

    The peak power will have to drop if you; try to hold a higher base pace, try to jump more often or try to hold the jumps much longer. Basically you'll still be limited by the AP you can hold for the entire length. If you burst too hard or too often or you try to hold a higher base pace you might exceed your sustainable AP for the duration and have to back off or quit. Just feel your way into it and see what feels right and is sustainable, especially if it's following a couple of hours of L2 riding.

    Good luck,
    -Dave
     
  8. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

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    Have a look at Bill Black's recent Hour of Power thread for some more ideas.
     
  9. BullGod

    BullGod New Member

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    Thanks. That looks good.

    Will try a HOP to,morrow. First 2 hours L2 outside, then an hour on the trainer wholding 270 - 306w with a 1 2 second seated surge every 2.5mins at 200% FTP.

    I'll see how that feels.

    Bearing in mind I ghave training races sat and sun how soon is "safe" to do this before a race? I am not working at the moment so am only either training or resting.....lucky me :)

    apart from 4 short races this will be my first intensity work of the year........
     
  10. grahamspringett

    grahamspringett New Member

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    Bullgod, your figures show you're at least a V6, if not the V8 you might need to be. I am only probably a triple at the moment, but I have found that an hour of power is just the job for simulating paceline efforts.

    My numbers would be much lower than yours but the effort we both make would be comparable. I find the 30 seconds of real hard effort with SST recovery (on my trainer) is actually harder than doing a paceline with some pretty strong guys.

    I'm sure you know what you're doing as you don't get a FTP of 350 by messing around!

    As for positioning, get up the front and stay there. Don't be intimidated by more experienced riders, don't be elbowed out. It's a race, you are allowed to be aggressive. Don't act stupid, you've all got to stay upright, but from what you're saying it sounds like you're being beaten before the flag drops.

    You've got the power, you just need to psych up to kick butt!
     
  11. Steve_B

    Steve_B New Member

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    Yeah, no kidding!:)
     
  12. Steve_B

    Steve_B New Member

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    It probably won't feel good. ;) :p

    Seriously, I do things like this (ride 2 hours immediately before doing a training race) to simulate the fatigue at the end of a long road race. It will make the race (or, in your case, the L4 session) harder but that's not a totally undesirable outcome.
     
  13. Steve_B

    Steve_B New Member

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    OK, you have confirmed my suspicions. You have the difficult position of being thrown into the deep end of the swimming pool with weights attached to you and being forced to swim, in a manner of speaking. The general expectation is that you learn a lot of this stuff in the beginner categories and it is nothing new by the time you reach your level. The bunching and swarming that you describe sounds like a typical lower category race and this is where a rider typically learns to deal with this type of scenario. You can’t teach all the important things in a few forum posts but basically:

    • The best thing you can do – start the race at the front of the group. You’re in the Netherlands so I assume that you are familiar with cyclocross (veldrijden). The reason why riders would give their left testicle to have a high starting place is because it will break up quickly at the first obstacle and you don’t want to be caught behind. After that, all that is left is closing gaps constantly and that will use up all your energy.
    • You have to learn to anticipate when the swarming will happen and move to a place where you can take advantage of it while it is happening. It’s not always easy to do but practice makes perfect.
    • Keep in mind that zooming up the side of the group (especially while the group is moving fast) uses a lot of energy. Instead, move up gradually, hopefully in the shelter of the group, one space at a time. Just keep doing it over and over. Remember: if you are not moving up, you are moving backwards.
    • You have to be a bit more aggressive in moving up. This is an acquired skill and takes some confidence. The first thing you have to do is put your handlebars in front (i.e., closer to the lead rider) of the other guy’s bars. Then, you move over on them slightly to take the space. They will back off. Trust me. Racing in Europe is more aggressive than it is here, so I’m told, but the other guy doesn’t want to crash any more than you do.
    Good luck.
     
  14. BullGod

    BullGod New Member

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    Thanks for the tips oin bunch riding. It is a weak point for me. I waste way too much energy either being near the back through corners or moving up at the wrong times only to get passed again when it slows. This weekend I am lining up at the front and going hard from the off. When things break up I intend to be right up in the running.

    I tried the HOP workout, but I got too into it in the first 10 minutes and saw I was sitting on or above 350 for the SST bits......rather than ease off I decided to tuen the interval into a 20 miniute FTP test and I got 357.......pretty happy with this.

    2 more races coming up this weekend so no more intensive training for a while....jut some easy miles and recovery. after 780km last week I need that :)
     
  15. acoggan

    acoggan Member

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    I'm sure that this won't seem helpful at all, but I can't help but say that a few of your comments really jumped out at me:

    Anyway, the "pyramid" interval workout that you describe doesn't sound particularly challenging to me, although it might serve as a transition to the higher intensity stuff that you so clearly need...
     
  16. BullGod

    BullGod New Member

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    Andy,

    why do so many top riders do so little intensive trainiung this time of year?

    I know some guys who train with a couple of guys from Rabobank and Shimano and all they're doing is 6 hr base rides, even now. Tjalliungi from Shimano apparently doesn't go above 140 on his HR when training until spring.

    If I mention "intervals" to my teammates they look at me as if i just suggested turning up for the next race riding wheel barrows or something.....the consenus seems to be ride 20hrs a week on the inner chainring and race on the weekend.

    A doctor of sports medicine a teammate of mine is trained by says we should ride no more thn one race a week for feb and march and do nothing more intensive in training than a few sprints on the inner chainring.

    what is your response to this kind of opinion that is so prevalent in these parts?
     
  17. postal_bag

    postal_bag New Member

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    Did you get in another 40-60' SST afterwards?

    Not to be negative, but have you considered the possibility that some people are not being honest about their training? Especially if they see you as some sort of "threat". Also, there is that old saying, something like "maybe they are 'champions' despite their training, not because of it".

    I have a similar FTP to yours, but I have been training only 8-10 hrs a week. I have not done any L5 or L6 training to this point. Some of my workouts since January are as follows:

    3x30' @ 315 w

    20' @ 345 w, followed by 35' @ 318 w

    30' @ 315 w (2' over/2' under), followed by 30' @ 327 w (2' over/2' under) followed by 15' @ 320 w

    30' @ 327 w (1' over/1' under), followed by 30' @ 322 w, followed by 20' @ 347 w, followed by 20' @ 313 w

    30' @ 338 w (3' over/2' under), followed by 30' @ 325 w, followed by 20' @ 325 w (1' over/1' under), followed by 10' @ 312 w

    120' @ 288 w, followed by 20' @ 329 w (1' over/1' under)

    30' @ 332 w, followed by 30' @ 338 w (3' over, 2' under), followed by 30' @ 313 w

    4x40' @ 285-295 w with spin-ups & "sprints"

    20' HOP @ 344 w, followed by 20' @ 345 w (3' over/2' under), followed by 20' HOP @ 325 w

    3x40' @ 317-320 w

    20' @ 351 w, followed by 20' @ 354 w (1' over/1' under), followed by 30' @ 330 w, followed by 13' @ 326 w (gave-up on this one)

    2x40' @ 319 w, followed by 30' @ 311 w

    I don't consider this "high intensity" training. I have really only done a total of about 1.5 hrs @ FTP in the past 4 months. I think my SST volume, speaks volumes about my base.

    I am looking forward to spring, when I will add a 5-6 hr L2-3 ride, mostly for the joy of riding outdoors (and the ~350 TSS, of course.)
     
  18. Jono L

    Jono L Well-Known Member

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    I would say it's bullshit and do what you want. Some of the aussie pro's have been out smashing it since december.

    With the bunch work, stick your elbows out when gaps open beside you to try and discourage anyone from taking them. Also, don't be afraid to lean on or even gently push people to open up gaps. You won't crash. they'll let you in or tell you fuck off before you get anywhere near crashing.
     
  19. whoawhoa

    whoawhoa New Member

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    Probably for the same reason some tell you not to eat any tomato sauce the day before racing.
     
  20. BullGod

    BullGod New Member

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    Something of interest is that after3 months of BASE training my FTP is actually slightly higher than it was when I tested in November, juyst after season end.

    Also, significant parts of my base rides have been SST - when you have a massive headwind and you're miles from home it's easy to get a more intense ride than you planned.

    I figure with the base I have when it's tme to start the intense training my FTP should hopefully risesome, and I'm hoping it will rise faster asnd more than if I had spend the winter on the trainer doing 2 x 20's.

    I will now add one dedicated L4 training session per week to my schedule. with weekly races of 2hr duration I should get plenty of intensity. I don't think I will add any L5 until FTP stagnates. L6 and 7 are covered by these races, believe me - they're fast.

    I'm sort of tornm between different impulses at the moment: build enduranmce for races of up to 200km distamnce / keep gas in the tank for racing / recover / build speed.

    Getting the balance right is tough, especially as I fcuked up last year by doing way too much intense training in the winter. I was good in early season, but made no improvements.
     
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