One common mistake that I see in many athlete files is the improper execution of an interval during a bike workout. When an interval is prescribed, it will have two main components: intensity and duration. As an example, let’s look at the workout below. The intensity of this bike workout will be measured in percentage of FTP indicated by watts. In this example, the workout calls for 15 reps of 30 sec. @ 120% of FTP and 30 sec at 50% of FTP times three sets.
Below is an actual athlete file from the above workout, the green line represents 100% FTP, and the white line is the target of 120% of FTP. If we look at the first set of 15 reps, we can see how the athlete went out too hard on the first rep, then faltered on the second rep, and by the middle of the first set, was no longer able to maintain the prescribed wattage. Remember that it is essential to keep the correct wattage to place enough stress on the energy system to see improvements, in this example, we are working on Vo2max, but too much stress and we are no longer working on the desired energy system. Because the athlete went to hard on the first rep, it affected the entire set, and then did not make the targeted stimulus for the remainder of the set. We can further examine the workout and see in the second set the athlete significantly increased intensity above the prescribed wattage and completely blew-up on the last set, making it difficult to determine if the duration of the workout is the correct stimulus for this athlete, as a result of the considerable efforts in the second set.
Below is a sweet spot workout @ 90% FTP and we can see the consistency of the wattage in each interval, and how the athlete nailed this workout and achieved the correct amount of stimulus indicating we can apply more duration to this workout, conversely if we saw a drop in power on the last interval we may drop the duration. When your coach or training plan prescribes a specific intensity, try your best to attain the target number or energy system to maximize your training efforts.
Coach George Epley has a passion for knowledge and believes it’s the key to maximizing your potential. He keeps abreast of the latest scientific studies, always trying to find more efficient and validated means of coaching his athletes. Knowledge in the form of communication is just as important. The more he knows about his athletes, the greater resource he can be. George's certifications can be found here.