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Confused about different types of training sessions

Old 08-20-19, 12:21 PM
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Confused about different types of training sessions

I'm trying to create a training plan from scratch but just when I think I've cracked it I come across more confusing jargon!

I'm reading Sir Chris Hoy's 'How to Ride a Bike' and he has a few example training plans and example sessions, but all of the sessions have different names. Some are easy to understand like threshold sessions, strength and conditioning sessions and endurance sessions and I'm fine with those. However, there are also 'micro-interval sessions' (which are on a reduced week so I think that just means a reduced-load or easy interval session), 'speed and power sessions' and 'capacity sessions'.

What are the differences between these types of sessions, please?
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Old 08-20-19, 01:59 PM
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Honestly, without reading Hoy’s book, I would need a more context to take a stab at answering the question. Are you a trackie or a roadie and at what level. Some of the concepts are probably pretty advanced.
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Old 08-20-19, 02:31 PM
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I'll try and give a little more. I'm not thinking at all about racing or at that level. I use Zwift midweek then try and get out at the weekend on a longer ride. I think the book is pitched at anything from beginner level to silly and a lot of it is a bit too much but I'm ignoring that.

I am a beginner, but I actually enjoy riding with a bit of intelligent structure. If the midweek intervals make my long weekend ride more enjoyable then I'm all for them. I don't want to bore you with my life story but I know a few numbers from Zwift: FTP 3.4w/kg and my last ride was a 75 mile sportive rode at 15mph average. Good advice at my level would probably be to just ride but as I say I like the numbers game and I actually enjoy structured training. I want to be as good as I can be on a limited time allowance of two indoor interval type sessions and a weekly endurance ride.

Hoy has a section on training for obviously track, time trials, road races and sportives (which is the one I'm using as I think that matches up nicely with my weekend rides).

Week 1 is one long steady distance session and two threshold sessions which I believe is a set amount of time at near FTP pace, sweet spot? Zwift has plenty of those.
Week 2 is one long steady distance session, one threshold and one capacity session (week 3 swaps capacity for speed and power)

In Hoy's example sessions a capacity is a session designed to move performance closer to V02 max potential. 3 minutes on (above FTP) 3 minutes rest.
Speed and Power doesn't have a description. An example workout is more bursts, 10 seconds flat out max power, 2 minutes off and repeat.

My confusion stems from me then trying to find more of these workouts to start filling out a training plan. Searching for capacity workouts is bringing up workouts like Tabata, which is listed in the book as speed and power. Similar workouts to Tabata are then listed as V02 max work which is making me more confused!
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Old 08-20-19, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Hoyista View Post
I am a beginner, but I actually enjoy riding with a bit of intelligent structure......I don't want to bore you with my life story but I know a few numbers from Zwift: FTP 3.4w/kg and my last ride was a 75 mile sportive rode at 15mph average.
I think your FTP of 3.4 w/kg is off by a lot. It took me years of dedicated hard training to get to an FTP of 3.0 w/kg (233 watts at 76 kg/168 lbs, and maybe 15% body fat), riding 5-6 days a week, 30-50 miles a day, with 80-120 mile rides on most weekends, and with tons of high intensity interval training, up to 800 watts on 10 sec sprints. At that point I was doing 100 mile rides at 19.9 mph, which is a huge difference compared to 75 miles at 15 mph, which at that speed, this online power calculator shows you have an FTP of about 1.2 w/kg https://www.omnicalculator.com/sports/cycling-wattage

If you want to crunch training numbers, like myself, it's either time to get your smart trainer calibrated correctly, and/or buy a good power meter.
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Old 08-20-19, 05:13 PM
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Speed and power sessions: The usual is "speed work" which is 30" all out, 5' rest. Power sessions are usually a type of sprint. A familiar one is "stomps" where one puts it in a huge gear, slows to maybe 10 mph, and hits it hard as possible for ~15". I don't remember the rest periods. A few minutes usually. A power workout I enjoy is 45" all-out standing hill sprints, 5' rest between. Do all these until you start to lose power, usually 6-10 reps.

Capacity sessions for me are longish hilly rides, no more than 4 hours, done to my limit, so I can hardly walk at the finish. I have to lay the bike down rather than dismounting. The idea is to increase total work capacity. The hills would be over FTP, as hard as I could go and not blow up, until I couldn't anymore, then just push as hard as possible without needing an aid car.

These wouldn't be in an easy week. It's just that you can't go all out if you're tired, so you have to be well recovered. I usually do the speed and power workouts when I'm in my last couple of months before a major ride or event. Capacity rides I do from mid-winter on, no more than one a week obviously and usually not every week either.

There's more info on this sort of thing in the "33", the racing forum down below this ordinary riding forum.
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Old 08-21-19, 03:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Riveting View Post
I think your FTP of 3.4 w/kg is off by a lot. It took me years of dedicated hard training to get to an FTP of 3.0 w/kg (233 watts at 76 kg/168 lbs, and maybe 15% body fat), riding 5-6 days a week, 30-50 miles a day, with 80-120 mile rides on most weekends, and with tons of high intensity interval training, up to 800 watts on 10 sec sprints. At that point I was doing 100 mile rides at 19.9 mph, which is a huge difference compared to 75 miles at 15 mph, which at that speed, this online power calculator shows you have an FTP of about 1.2 w/kg https://www.omnicalculator.com/sports/cycling-wattage

If you want to crunch training numbers, like myself, it's either time to get your smart trainer calibrated correctly, and/or buy a good power meter.
I'm not saying it's perfect but my FTP is clearly not 72 watts. It's also not really the point of the thread.

@Carbonfiberboy Still confusing but thanks! Ahh I've seen stomps before, Chris Pritchard loves them in his YouTube videos, makes sense really coming from a track background,.The speed one you describe does look a lot like the Tabata protocol in the book and also the sprint intervals so that clears that up thank you.

Back to the capacity sessions though, what would that look like if they were condensed into a 1hr indoor session? You describe them as intervals over FTP but not silly over. The book's example is 1 minute I guess 10% over FTP then straight into 2 minutes at ~25% over FTP estimating from the bar chart. 3 minutes rest then repeat those blocks another 4 times.

I think my main problem now is finding these types of workouts and getting them on Zwift, in a logical order. This is where I went wrong last year, I was following training plans and picking out workouts without looking at the bigger picture. I'll head over to the racing forum and have a browse.
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Old 08-21-19, 04:17 AM
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Having a quick look, would you consider these types of workouts to be Speed/Power:
https://whatsonzwift.com/workouts/gcn/sprints-sprint/

Then these types to be more capacity?
https://whatsonzwift.com/workouts/gc...ax-vo2-i-ouch/

Even to my untrained eye, I can see the difference there. So when it says to do 1 capacity I'll do one similar to the second. When it says to do Speed and Power I'll focus on the first. If I find a few I'll start off with the ones with the lower stress points or TSS scores towards the start of the 12-week block then slowly ramp it up?
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Old 08-21-19, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Hoyista View Post
I'm not saying it's perfect but my FTP is clearly not 72 watts. It's also not really the point of the thread.

@Carbonfiberboy Still confusing but thanks! Ahh I've seen stomps before, Chris Pritchard loves them in his YouTube videos, makes sense really coming from a track background,.The speed one you describe does look a lot like the Tabata protocol in the book and also the sprint intervals so that clears that up thank you.

Back to the capacity sessions though, what would that look like if they were condensed into a 1hr indoor session? You describe them as intervals over FTP but not silly over. The book's example is 1 minute I guess 10% over FTP then straight into 2 minutes at ~25% over FTP estimating from the bar chart. 3 minutes rest then repeat those blocks another 4 times.

I think my main problem now is finding these types of workouts and getting them on Zwift, in a logical order. This is where I went wrong last year, I was following training plans and picking out workouts without looking at the bigger picture. I'll head over to the racing forum and have a browse.
Looking back on some of my recent rides, I did a metric century with 4300', 15.5 average, 2.6 w/kg, a 90 mile 5500' ride at a 15.4 average, 2.5 w/kg, 153 mile 9400' ride at 14.9, 1.7 w/kg. Got tired that day. At 74, my watts are about .7 of what they were 15 years ago. Nothing to be done about that.

Anyway, there's no way to estimate FTP other than riding a test, preferably an hour. If all you have is an hour on the trainer, that's a good way to spend it once a month.

You can't do any of the speed or power workouts on the trainer. They depend on the acceleration of a weight and increasing wind resistance for their effect. Not duplicable on a trainer or rollers. No, speed work has nothing to do with Tabata intervals. Also can't do capacity work in an hour. There's not vaguely enough time to go through enough calories to demonstrate exercise capacity. Capacity work is all about improving long term endurance/recovery.

I guess I don't see the point in trying to turn everything into a Zwift workout, especially since you don't know your FTP. Better to do your own workouts and base your efforts on what's your personal possible. IMO. Focus on the periodization between now and next summer. Right now I'm focused on a 10-day backpack coming up in a few weeks, so I'm not on the bike at all, just walking, running, hiking, and gym. In October I'll start back with the bike, focusing on Z2 endurance work and pedaling drills, one weekend group ride for the intensity, but midweek all endurance and drills. For instance I'll work on being able to pedal continuously at a 115 cadence while staying in Z2, being able to hold steady Z2 power for an hour with little HR drift. That kind of thing. Basics. I have to relearn then every year. Plus weight work at the gym twice a week, also focusing on endurance: higher reps, 1' between sets, no fooling around, keeping the HR up the whole hour..

TrainingPeaks has a year's training plan feature. It will describe the types of workouts appropriate for the week, but not specify what they are. You put in your start date and your A ride date, TP does the rest. You flesh it out with appropriate workouts, which you create and save in your workout Library. I usually set up workouts a couple weeks in advance, paying attention to CTL and TSB, then modifying them as I go, now paying attention to HR and HRV markers.
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Old 08-21-19, 10:52 AM
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In 2007, I wanted to do time trials on a local course for fun and get into the best shape I could be. I read some of the classic books on training and quite frankly found them confusing or at least too many variables and inconsistent terms to link the workouts together in a meaningful way. However, I was highly motivated.

I hired a coach and had a lot of fun learning how to train and race and I have been using a coach ever since. Typically, I workout on the bike 4 to 5 times per week and in the gym almost daily but the gym work is the equivalent of two solid strength sessions spread over a week with a lot of recovery / stretching ideas making up the rest of the time.

My current workouts are put together in weekly blocks and divided into endurance, threshold and power. As competition approaches, the focus is speed.

So an endurance block will contain 2 to 3 hour rides with maybe some jumps or accelerations. Threshold will feature a couple of days of either 30 minute blocks at threshold or a 2 sets of 3x10(30"on30"off). Power is about sprints, jumps and variations of the 30on30off work that is higher in force but less duration.

Speed work is about motor pacing. It is about going faster than one is used to going at race power. It is as much a mental thing as physical. I am going to race next week, I want to ride fast but also, I do not want to tire myself out. A way to simulate a motor pace session is to ride slightly downhill or have a moderate wind at your back.

I do not know if you have read Hoy's other books. Hoy was a puker. IMO, when he talks about capacity efforts, those are puke intervals. The goal is to build anaerobic capacity. Below is a video of one of my friends on a Wattbike doing a capacity effort - build anaerobic capacity. Note after the effort one of the guys brought over a bucket just in case. And one can define capacity in a number of ways.


I have done all the workouts either on the road, on the trainer or at the track. However, the road is the easiest with the trainer being the hardest and the track somewhere in between. The Wattbike is brutal. A Wattbike workout is extremely fatiguing.

My advice is to find a coach or a program that is geared to the time you have available that has defined terms and follow it. In general, rookies cannot take a lot of capacity training such as Nate is doing.
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Old 08-21-19, 12:04 PM
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@Hermes @Carbonfiberboy

What I've got so far:

T: 1hr Gym
Th: 1hr Indoor
S: 1hr Indoor
Su: 3hr+ Outdoor

I have a smart trainer and a Zwift subscription which I've had for a good 2 years. On this I have done numerous FTp tests in the 2 years. Yes, it might be saying my numbers are a bit high I've read from reviews from people like DCRainmaker that my model over shoots power by around 5%. This doesn't affect me because even though they're a bit high I'm still working to those numbers and seeing those numbers go up. Apart from the weekend ride I can't do anything other than train indoors on the trainer or sit on my rear and I want to workout and get better.

Every single bit of research I've done so far states that along side a weekly endurance ride staying around zone 2, two midweek interval sessions are optimal for improvements. That's from Hoy, Dylan Johnson, Tom Bell, Chris Pritchard and others. I just want to know what intervals are going to be beneficial. Maybe it has to be a coach to tell me that.

I've wrote out a 12 week block following Hoy's plan for sportive training. I have my gym session. I have my endurance session. I have my threshold session. But over the 12 weeks there are 2 capacity sessions and 2 speed and power sessions. So all I need is to understand 4 sessions out of 48 and I'm away.
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Old 08-21-19, 01:53 PM
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FWIW, 3x3's are designed to build the aerobic engine in the 2nd set. You're depleting in the first set to force your body to utilize a different energy source for the 2nd half. This is why the first few reps always feel fine and the last few damn near impossible. Enabling you to do higher power threshold intervals later since your body will have built up some more capacity.

Anaerobic or real VO2 would have more solid rest interval and maybe even only up to 2min per rep.

I do nearly all my "interval" based training indoors on a trainer. Anything from 1x60min SS down to 1min on 1min off sets. Until the power surge or demand on the trainer would make it useless to do indoors. So sprints and under a minute I go outdoors. I just really don't like the idea of an outdoors influence screwing up a 3x8 or 3x3 set due to having to soft pedal for a second for some BS car or roller or something.

FWIW, a beginner shouldn't try to formulate their own plan. Just adopt an existing plan to your lifestyle or find one that fits your needs. There's a lot that goes into it. Or get a coach.

Also, you say sportive. It's fine to do some hiit to save time when life gets in the way, but that's a rough cornerstone use if sportive is your thing. I'd get in hours and miles and maybe once in a while do something saucy or more difficult. Nobody doing a sportive "needs" to do intervals that might make you want to puke. You need to be able to so some sweetspot intervals in the middle of a longer endurance ride, that'd be useful for sportive. A sportive rider isn't likely going to be able to climb at threshold multiple times like a pro can.
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Old 08-22-19, 04:01 AM
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I thought that I could put one together with the help of the book and my other reading material... I've realised that I was wrong! I've found a few training plans from British Cycling that look to be very close to what I was trying to make but couldn't.

This is still a very exciting time and I can't wait to see how far I can push myself while I'm still in my twenties.
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Old 08-22-19, 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
FWIW, 3x3's are designed to build the aerobic engine in the 2nd set. You're depleting in the first set to force your body to utilize a different energy source for the 2nd half. This is why the first few reps always feel fine and the last few damn near impossible. Enabling you to do higher power threshold intervals later since your body will have built up some more capacity.

Anaerobic or real VO2 would have more solid rest interval and maybe even only up to 2min per rep.

I do nearly all my "interval" based training indoors on a trainer. Anything from 1x60min SS down to 1min on 1min off sets. Until the power surge or demand on the trainer would make it useless to do indoors. So sprints and under a minute I go outdoors. I just really don't like the idea of an outdoors influence screwing up a 3x8 or 3x3 set due to having to soft pedal for a second for some BS car or roller or something.

FWIW, a beginner shouldn't try to formulate their own plan. Just adopt an existing plan to your lifestyle or find one that fits your needs. There's a lot that goes into it. Or get a coach.

Also, you say sportive. It's fine to do some hiit to save time when life gets in the way, but that's a rough cornerstone use if sportive is your thing. I'd get in hours and miles and maybe once in a while do something saucy or more difficult. Nobody doing a sportive "needs" to do intervals that might make you want to puke. You need to be able to so some sweetspot intervals in the middle of a longer endurance ride, that'd be useful for sportive. A sportive rider isn't likely going to be able to climb at threshold multiple times like a pro can.
Yeah, I wasted a couple years thinking that Friel's Training Bible would enable me to create a good training plan. Well, not really wasted. I learned a lot from doing it wrong. As the song goes, "there's no success like failure". I finally happened upon a piece of software which created a day-by-day self-modifying training plan of any length, based on the user's characteristics. That software's long gone, but I still use my copy as a general guide. Do you or anyone reading know of anything similar on the market today?

OP: TrainingPeaks Premium will show you a folder full of training plans from which to choose.
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Old 08-27-19, 02:10 PM
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I've had my short holiday after the sportive, I've got my British cycling training plan and now it's time to go again.

Rather disappointed with my new FTP test but I hadn't done one since spring (after training hard since Jan) - down 36 watts from 3.3w/kg to 2.8 w/kg. Retesting during a heatwave probably isn't the best time but that is still quite a drastic slump. 3 months of training plus Zwift racing season until I find another pursuit to occupy myself until next spring.
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Old 08-27-19, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Hoyista View Post
I've had my short holiday after the sportive, I've got my British cycling training plan and now it's time to go again.

Rather disappointed with my new FTP test but I hadn't done one since spring (after training hard since Jan) - down 36 watts from 3.3w/kg to 2.8 w/kg. Retesting during a heatwave probably isn't the best time but that is still quite a drastic slump. 3 months of training plus Zwift racing season until I find another pursuit to occupy myself until next spring.
Welcome to the club. We're all disappointed with our FTP tests.
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Old 08-28-19, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Hoyista View Post
@Hermes @Carbonfiberboy

What I've got so far:

T: 1hr Gym
Th: 1hr Indoor
S: 1hr Indoor
Su: 3hr+ Outdoor

I have a smart trainer and a Zwift subscription which I've had for a good 2 years. On this I have done numerous FTp tests in the 2 years. Yes, it might be saying my numbers are a bit high I've read from reviews from people like DCRainmaker that my model over shoots power by around 5%. This doesn't affect me because even though they're a bit high I'm still working to those numbers and seeing those numbers go up. Apart from the weekend ride I can't do anything other than train indoors on the trainer or sit on my rear and I want to workout and get better.

Every single bit of research I've done so far states that along side a weekly endurance ride staying around zone 2, two midweek interval sessions are optimal for improvements. That's from Hoy, Dylan Johnson, Tom Bell, Chris Pritchard and others. I just want to know what intervals are going to be beneficial. Maybe it has to be a coach to tell me that.

I've wrote out a 12 week block following Hoy's plan for sportive training. I have my gym session. I have my endurance session. I have my threshold session. But over the 12 weeks there are 2 capacity sessions and 2 speed and power sessions. So all I need is to understand 4 sessions out of 48 and I'm away.
This doesn't have to be that complicated.
For Capacity, do 3 minutes hard, 3 minutes easy. Repeat several times (maybe 5 or so). You can do the same workout multiple times. The ultimate point is to spend lots of time going anaerobically where it hurts. Each interval should get harder to maintain a given power.
For absolute Speed/Power, do something like 15 seconds all out. Rest something like 5 minutes and repeat (several times).

In fact, in an earlier post, he gives examples:
In Hoy's example sessions a capacity is a session designed to move performance closer to V02 max potential. 3 minutes on (above FTP) 3 minutes rest.
Speed and Power doesn't have a description. An example workout is more bursts, 10 seconds flat out max power, 2 minutes off and repeat.
Just do that.
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