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Thread: 2x20 Vs 4x8

  1. #1
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    Default 2x20 Vs 4x8

    I been reading a paper by Stephen Seiler etc Al (Adaptations to aerobic interval training:
    Interactive effects of exercise intensity and
    total work duration) on the impact of different durations of interval workouts.

    Adaptations to aerobic interval training: interactive effects of exercise intensity and total work duration - Seiler - 211 - Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports - Wiley Online Library

    Long story short he used 4 groups: control; a group that focused on 4x4 minute workouts; another at 4x8 minutes; and the 4th did 4x16 minutes. The 4x8 minute group outperformed the others.

    This seems to run counter to the conventional wisdom of building to 2x20mins @FTP.

    Does anyone have any additional insight or is aware of subsequent relevant research?

    Asking for a friend;-)
    Larry Sampson

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    Default Re: 2x20 Vs 4x8

    I'm more familiar with training research and theories for running (ran T&F in college many years ago), but 5 - 8 minutes is the sweet spot for VO2max improvements. If the study was of fairly limited duration (i.e. not long enough for the athletes to have the post-peak decline) I could see that training in the VO2max sweet spot would lead to the fastest improvements.

    DaveS
     

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    Default Re: 2x20 Vs 4x8

    Is that part of Seller's 80/20 regime? Also for effective vo2max training check Billat's 30x30s.
    Workout Of The Week: Billat's 3-3 | Competitor.com
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    Default Re: 2x20 Vs 4x8

    I didn't read the whole thing, but this doesn't seem like it was aimed in the same direction as 2x20. VO2max and FTP are different things.

    You could IMHO even take the quote "Accumulating 32 min of work at 90% HR max induces greater adaptive gains than accumulating 16 min of work at ∼95% HR max despite lower RPE." and say that "accumulating 40 min of work would also likely induce greater adaptive gains" and not be far off. But your interval length has to be aimed toward the system(s) you're working on, in either case.
     

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    Default Re: 2x20 Vs 4x8

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveS View Post
    I'm more familiar with training research and theories for running (ran T&F in college many years ago), but 5 - 8 minutes is the sweet spot for VO2max improvements. If the study was of fairly limited duration (i.e. not long enough for the athletes to have the post-peak decline) I could see that training in the VO2max sweet spot would lead to the fastest improvements.

    DaveS
    Thats what I was thinking. Progression would start to tail off in the months after in my understanding.
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    Default Re: 2x20 Vs 4x8

    I like Tim Cusick's approach of raising FTP to your "ceiling" and then work on VO2 Max to "raise the roof" since VO2 Max dictates the top of what you can push your FTP up to. Then push up the FTP from below again once you have increased your VO2 Max. Maybe this study gives good insight into how to most efficiently "raise the roof".

    I think what has helped me the most this year is not breaking up efforts at FTP or below. Now a 40-60 min effort is a lot less daunting. Who has time for recovery between SS and FTP intervals anyway :)
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    Default Re: 2x20 Vs 4x8

    Quote Originally Posted by s_curran View Post
    Thats what I was thinking. Progression would start to tail off in the months after in my understanding.
    That's certainly been my experience - after ~8 weeks I start to get stale and performance starts to drop off.
     

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    Default Re: 2x20 Vs 4x8

    My experience is the same as Zanks on not breaking up tempo, sweetspot or FTP work. Longer chunks work best. I think the shorter efforts is an artifact of indoor trainer boredom and mental breaks more than physical need. I've had my best racing years (time trials) when I've done mostly 30-45 min SS and FTP work vs breaking it up into 2-3 x 10min or 15min or the classical 2x20min.

    I think we're seeing two things in the coaching space:

    Sweetspot had its day and 2 x 20 has been the mantra for a few years now. Its effective training but you reach a plateau. Am now seeing a swing back to VO2max being incorporated. Probably some real rational and probably the need for the coaching space to change it up now and again to remain relevant.

    Friel talks about 15-16 minutes of work 2-3 times a week. There is some stuff on "miracle intervals" which are shorter series of max efforts and then various schemas on other ways to get time in over "FTP" in order to boost FTP.

    Am a big fan of Cusick and Chris O'Hearn. O'Hearn has a series of workouts up on Zwift that you can follow. Along with weekly dosing suggestions.

    FWIW.... I think the key to good fitness is to have a plan and a focus but not become too enamored with any one type of workout or zone. I do best with a focus on 20 min power with a good mix of VO2max efforts and tolerance work. Given I mostly race TT's between 8 and 14 miles the 20-25 min power optimization is critical. As is tolerance to be able to jam up a roller or short hill. My best and most consistent 20 min power numbers come from a balance of training. Too much SS and I'm flat. Too much VO2max and I can't hold steady state for full 20-25 minutes.

    If anyone finds the magic (legal) bullet to meaningfully increase FTP in a reasonably well trained masters athlete send it my way :-)
     

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    Default Re: 2x20 Vs 4x8

    I agree w/ MarkC & s_curran. Certain types of intervals will maximize improvement of FTP/VO2max/sprint power. However doing only intervals of a certain duration and intensity repeatedly for many weeks will net you getting really good at doing those intervals for that amount of time. Even if I'm in a "build" phase of just trying to raise FTP before icing the cake, I make it a point to throw in a workout to break out of that mold every couple weeks or so.
     

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    Default Re: 2x20 Vs 4x8

    FWIW:

    Control:
    "Low-continuous training only at a low to moderate intensity, 4-6 session/wk. Training was performed without supervision. Subjects were advised to increase their weekly training volume by 20-30% during the intervention period

    4x16 - two weekly sessions of 4x16 min intervals separated by 3-min recovery periods, in addition to 2-3 additional weekly endurance sessions at a low intensity

    4x8 - two weekly sessions of 4x8 min intervals with 2-min recovery periods, in addition to 2-3 additional weekly endurance sessions at a low intensity

    4x4 - two weekly sessoin of 4x4 min intervals with 2-min recovery periods in addition to 2-3 additional weekly endurance sessions at a low intensity

    For all interval prescriptions, subjects were instructed to perform each interval session with their maximal sustainable intensity..."

    Also, the 4x8 group was all men. The control, 4x4, and 4x16 groups contained both men and women. The authors don't think this is meaningful, and I don't know enough about sex differences in response to training stimuli, but it seems worth mentioning.

    Subjects did this for 7 weeks.
     

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    Default Re: 2x20 Vs 4x8

    Tangent: One of the things I'd like to try is boosting weekly volume from consistent 8-10 hours to about 20 hours. Perhaps in retirement. Am interested in the adaptations possible if one is not "time crunched" for training and can recover properly. Bringing this up because most training programs and thinking are around how to extract the most from a period of time available. Which I'd guess for most people equates to 6-12 hours a week. If you remove the time constraint can you take a different approach and get different results?
     

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    Default Re: 2x20 Vs 4x8

    Good thread.

    I've recently realized that I've never trained zones 3 and 4, even before I was "training" I always would do MTB segments super hard, that were probably at average 4-8 minutes, actually even roads, with the hills I attack being more like 2-3 minutes. I have always been decently strong because of this I think, but was always toast after longer efforts, and was probably a bit limiting. And by the tail end of the cross season I felt my body was really fatigued. Once I started using the trainer, I sort of accidentally started doing more zone 3/4 and it helped my riding a lot. Also, when my partner started to get faster, I go a bit deeper into zone 2 and low 3 now, as opposed to earlier I would get a TON of zone 1 time.

    I still have trouble with it though, even yesterday I wanted to do 2 hours in zone 3 and low 4, of course 20 minutes in each 2/3/4/5 is what I ended up with somehow. I need to work on this stuff. My goal is no intentional V02 max stuff to about 6 weeks before my goal CX race. Of course, its hard to not hit that from time to time, in practice CX and MTB rides with friends, but I'm good with that. I think thats one of the best things about MTB time, always brakes the mold from a regimented schedule and you feel less like you are doing something wrong, maybe like BSUdude was saying. I've seen friends try to ride MTBs in whatever low zones they are supposed to be in during road season training and it looks miserable.
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    Default Re: 2x20 Vs 4x8

    I can't be a zone nazi on a mtb ride. However, I do differentiate from an endurance type mtb ride and a hard mtb ride. On the endurance mtb rides, I figure the coasting cancels out the small percentage of time spent above zone 2. If you're spending more than a 10 minutes or so of a 2hr endurance ride above zone 2, either you're riding trails too hard for the type of ride you're looking to do...or you're just choosing to ride harder than endurance.

    Of course sometimes an endurance mtb ride dips into a hard ride when you're feeling good and flowing well....

    My understanding was that zone 3 was kind of a useless zone...stresses your body more than zone 2, but doesn't give you real additional rewards. I'm sure others have better knowledge than I.
     

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    Default Re: 2x20 Vs 4x8

    Quote Originally Posted by defspace View Post
    FWIW:

    For all interval prescriptions, subjects were instructed to perform each interval session with their maximal sustainable intensity..."
    Part of what sparked my initial question is my "maximal sustainable intensity" for 4x8 was pretty darn close to my 2x20 intensity. Not sure why that is other than the bulk of my efforts the past few months have been lots of zone 2 coupled with high gear/low cadence hills. My volume is up quite considerably, just not a lot of intensity.
     

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    Default Re: 2x20 Vs 4x8

    Larry - I was thinking the same thing about 8 min efforts so I went out and did a few to see what would happen. Its a good time (8 min) but think I'll stick with 4 x 6 and 6 x 3 for a while. Those times fit the local loops better.

    On an FTP of 235 (25 mile TT) and a CP20 of 250-255 (repeatable not a best day ever) can do multiple 8 min efforts at 260-265. The last ones are very hard. Did these with about 10 min of recovery which was not specific but rather the time back around for the loop.

    When doing 4 x 6 min (which is a stout VO2max workout) power is 270-275. Best 5 min ever is 330 and best 8 min ever is 305 (as part of a power test, TT Bike). If doing 2 x 20 at this part of the season it would be 230-235w efforts not 250-255. The 250-255 for 20 min is a single effort or race effort (10 mile TT is about 22 min at that power).

    So... power targets:

    2 x 20 230 - 235
    4 x 8 260 - 265
    5 x 6 270 - 275
    4 x 5 290 - 300
    6 x 3 300+

    Assuming I'm not too different from y'all perhaps this helps triangulate in on power target if y'all want to go give 4 x 8 a try this weekend.

    Reference data: 138 pounds, middle of the pack cat 3, 50 years old.

    YMMV

    --Mark
     

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    Default Re: 2x20 Vs 4x8

    Quote Originally Posted by LarryA View Post
    Part of what sparked my initial question is my "maximal sustainable intensity" for 4x8 was pretty darn close to my 2x20 intensity. Not sure why that is other than the bulk of my efforts the past few months have been lots of zone 2 coupled with high gear/low cadence hills. My volume is up quite considerably, just not a lot of intensity.
    You are on to something.

    The more I read and think about this, the more I question the value of this study. Here are my thoughts:

    1) The 4x16 group seems destined for failure from the get go. Accumulating over 60 minutes of "maximal sustainable intensity" 2 times a week for 7 weeks is on the high side for an average trained cyclist, IMO. Plus the rest intervals for the 16 minute group were 3 minutes. I doubt that was enough time to recover to keep the power levels decently consistent between efforts, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the intervals. But that data isn't in the study, so we don't know. Finally, by definition VO2 is anaerobic and a 16 minute interval is certainly an aerobic interval any way you slice it.

    2) The 4x4 group is actually doing a interval length in a VO2/anaerobic range, however a normal interval intended to work that power level would have about an equal recovery period to the interval itself. This group had 2 minutes. So once again I would believe this group probably is not keeping power levels consistent between the efforts, therefore not maximizing their work. The total accumulated work of 16 minutes, given that they are probably not actually sustaining VO2 power, is on the low side for for the average trained cyclist. So they probably could be doing more work to get more results, or at least be doing it more effectively.

    3) The 4x8 group is out of the VO2 zone and into aerobic, given their multiple efforts. However their recovery time of 2 minutes per interval, while what I'd consider on the shorter side, would be least likely to result in a dropoff of power during the course of the workout of the three groups, thereby maximizing the effectiveness of the interval. Furthermore, accumulating 32 minutes of work 2 times per week is sustainable for the average trained cyclist.

    My conclusion is that none of these intervals were actually set up to be the most effective at maximizing VO2 power, however the 4x8 group did the most effective training in general, and their increase in power is a result of that. I don't think the study has really unearthed new ground in the world of bettering a cyclist's VO2 power, just shown that poorly designed intervals garnish poorer results.

    My 0.02.
     

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    Default Re: 2x20 Vs 4x8

    BSUdude, I had remembered reading something similar. But kind of ignored it, since I'm pretty bad at staying in zone 4, without constant babysitting my garmin. Looking at Friels chart, I have spent waaaay to much time there though in the last year, so I obviosly have some learning to do. If I took some time out of 3 and split it between 2 and 4, I'd be much better off.

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkC View Post
    Larry - I was thinking the same thing about 8 min efforts so I went out and did a few to see what would happen. Its a good time (8 min) but think I'll stick with 4 x 6 and 6 x 3 for a while. Those times fit the local loops better.

    On an FTP of 235 (25 mile TT) and a CP20 of 250-255 (repeatable not a best day ever) can do multiple 8 min efforts at 260-265. The last ones are very hard. Did these with about 10 min of recovery which was not specific but rather the time back around for the loop.

    When doing 4 x 6 min (which is a stout VO2max workout) power is 270-275. Best 5 min ever is 330 and best 8 min ever is 305 (as part of a power test, TT Bike). If doing 2 x 20 at this part of the season it would be 230-235w efforts not 250-255. The 250-255 for 20 min is a single effort or race effort (10 mile TT is about 22 min at that power).

    So... power targets:

    2 x 20 230 - 235
    4 x 8 260 - 265
    5 x 6 270 - 275
    4 x 5 290 - 300
    6 x 3 300+

    Assuming I'm not too different from y'all perhaps this helps triangulate in on power target if y'all want to go give 4 x 8 a try this weekend.

    Reference data: 138 pounds, middle of the pack cat 3, 50 years old.

    YMMV

    --Mark
    This is helpfull, we are pretty much the same power to weight, I just weigh 60lbs more...
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    Default Re: 2x20 Vs 4x8

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkC View Post
    Larry - I was thinking the same thing about 8 min efforts so I went out and did a few to see what would happen. Its a good time (8 min) but think I'll stick with 4 x 6 and 6 x 3 for a while. Those times fit the local loops better.

    On an FTP of 235 (25 mile TT) and a CP20 of 250-255 (repeatable not a best day ever) can do multiple 8 min efforts at 260-265. The last ones are very hard. Did these with about 10 min of recovery which was not specific but rather the time back around for the loop.

    When doing 4 x 6 min (which is a stout VO2max workout) power is 270-275. Best 5 min ever is 330 and best 8 min ever is 305 (as part of a power test, TT Bike). If doing 2 x 20 at this part of the season it would be 230-235w efforts not 250-255. The 250-255 for 20 min is a single effort or race effort (10 mile TT is about 22 min at that power).

    So... power targets:

    2 x 20 230 - 235
    4 x 8 260 - 265
    5 x 6 270 - 275
    4 x 5 290 - 300
    6 x 3 300+



    YMMV

    --Mark

    Do any of you guys pay attention to what Skiba calls "w-prime" or what I gather TP calls "functional reserve capacity" ? For intervals (and TTs) in the 3-20 minute range, it's a major factor. When Skiba started talking about it, I felt like this was something that's been missing from most of the training books. Maybe I wasn't always paying close enough attention. But for me, with something of a pursuiter's power profile (unremarkable at <2min and >16m or so, but decent at 5 minutes) the light bulb went on. GC tells me my w-prime capacity is around 32kJ (368KJ/kg at my current state of obesity), which is on the high end. It explains a lot. I can do a good effort at 5 minutes relative to my CP, but it also takes me a long time below CP to "recharge." If I do 4x8 minutes with 3m recovery, I'd have to hold back a huge amount from what I can produce on a one and done effort. On the other hand, if doing the 20 minute local TT, I can ride 26 watts (32000 kJ /1200 seconds) above my CP if I meter it out properly.

    This is really where pushing up your CP comes into play. It means you don't have to go as slow to get into the "recharge" zone. I'd be interested to hear what the forum members who study this stuff more deeply have to say.

    56 y.o. Cat 3 at 85 kg (which is at least 5 too many for a skinsuit in public)
     

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    Default Re: 2x20 Vs 4x8

    A couple of the coaches I take advice from have used the term "tolerance" for many years. Think it's similar to FRC / w-prime but without putting math or acronyms to it. Or... I don't understand FRC yet. Which is possible!!!

    The observation was that with the popularity of sweet spot training some riders had decided that was all they needed to do. A ton of miles at 85-90% feels great and loads up the TSS graph. But after the initial gains seems like folks get stuck in a rut. They lose the dynamics of riding a bike and become pure diesel motors. Particularly time trialists where you are riding a lot of constant power efforts and not getting pack dynamics, surges, etc.

    In vague terms, unlike the FRC math, "tolerance" its how quickly you can recover from higher wattage efforts.

    FWIW, I really dig the math and the theory. But must admit results have come from just riding the bike consistently and with a good mix of training. I think the tools allow us to over do it in terms of planning and fixation on data. At least I've been guilty of stem staring and have found it nice to move back towards riding and riding hard on hard days and easy on easy days and worrying less about numbers. Probably sounds weird given the posts in this forum but sharing numbers makes the examples more concrete (I hope).

    Everything obvious in retrospect.... adding in some sprints and specific VO2max work builds a better engine. At a cost or recovery time and frankly the workouts hurt more which means it takes more dedication and HTFU to complete them.

    If there is interest maybe a few of us could take a different thread and share training plans for a season or even a year. Might be fun, could be long and boring. Suspect there are only 6-8 folks on VS interested and everyone knows the various bike training / math dork forums (Wattage Group etc etc). But if there's interest I'll throw up some posts and track things through Base in the Fall and Build Jan-March. We start racing in April so season is shifted compared to say CX focused riders or folks training for long fall events.

    -Mark
     

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    Default Re: 2x20 Vs 4x8

    I've been really interested in FRC and how it relates to cyclocross. Mine has been coming up in WKO4 as I've been doing some more 30 sec, 1 min, and 2 min efforts. No where near 32 kJ, but over 20 in WKO4. Cusick said their algorithm considers over 23 kJ as "High" and desirable for a cross racer.

    I was going to post this in the WKO4 user group on facebook, but does anybody know if the FRC calculation is based on set FTP? In other words, if my FTP is set low, does that inflate FRC? Or is it based on the power duration curve?

    I wish the wattage group was less confrontational and combative. I'm too intimidated to post there :)
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