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Bike Workout: Threshold Intervals

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Everyone has “threshold” as part of their training vocabulary. But what is “threshold”? Threshold typically means “lactate threshold”: the level of effort you can sustain for about an hour. During which you are producing and tolerating a significant amount of lactate, your breathing is hard and regular, and proper mental focus is required to sustain the effort.

Other terms meaning the same thing as “threshold” include: one hour power, anaerobic threshold, CP60, and lactate balance point. As you head into the late spring and early summer, threshold intervals should form a major part of your cycling training.

The session below is just shy of 90 minutes and can be done on either an indoor power-based trainer or outside on the road. The indoor trainer allows for stricter control of and attention to your power, heart rate and cadence. Whereas outside lets you experience all the variables that come with outdoor riding (wind, hills, rough roads, etc). Both have their place in your training.

Here’s the workout for this month:

Warm Up
10:00 very easy (< Zone 1) 3:00 each: Low Zone 2 at 90 rpm, Mid Zone 2 at 95 rpm, High Zone 2 at 100 rpm, and Low Zone 2 at 90 rpm (gradually working your way through base Zone 2 effort with varied cadences) Neuromuscular/Strength 6 x (0:10 SPRINT!, 1:50 very easy) -Position your hands on the drops or the bullhorns. Starting from a Zone 2 effort and a cadence of 85 to 95 rpm, shift to one or two gears harder and then drive your cadence up as high and quickly as you can. For 10 seconds. And then back way off and take a full 1:50 to recover before the next sprint. 2:00 Low Zone 2 at 85 to 95 rpm Threshold 6:00 Zone 4* at 90 to 95 rpm, as: 2:00 Low Zone 4, 2:00 Mid Zone 4, 2:00 High Zone 4 (if you’re on the road, start at perceived low end of threshold and ever so gradually lift your effort through the interval) 3:00 Zone 1 recovery 12:00 Zone 4* as 3 x (3:30 seated at 90 to 95 rpm, 0:30 standing at 70 to 80 rpm) 8:00 Zone 1 recovery 12:00 Zone 4* as 3:00 at each cadence: 85, 90, 95, and 100 rpm *perform as much of the Zone 4 intervals in the aero bars as possible Cooling Down 3:00 each: Zone 1 at 90 rpm Zone 1 at 100 rpm Zone 1 at your choice of rpm Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 10.12.49 AM

Adam Johnston is an endurance coach and co-owner of WattsUp Cycling in Toronto. WattsUp Cycling is an indoor, power-based cycling facility serving triathletes, cyclists and general fitness enthusiasts.