Batman Intervals

@ryan led a Batman interval workout early February that I really enjoyed, because it snuck in @trevor’s fave 5x5 min intervals without me realizing it. Here is a similar workout on Xert called “The Towers” consisting of 6x5 min efforts. These workouts start and finish with a 30 s hard surge (300-315 W for me) with 4 min of steady effort at threshold (230 W for me). This is starting to become a favourite workout for me because I think that the first 30 s surge works to build fatigue, making the 4 min at TP hard as you process the lactate. Then the final 30 s surge is also a good mental test to make you work at the end rather than have the interval tail off. Towers has me averaging 246 W for each 5 min, so about 107% TP. It ends up a very solid workout with 30 min of work above threshold, and is hard yet doable. For Xerters out there, the Difficulty Score for this ride is only 83 compared to a much harder 113 for the Gasoline workout I discussed in my recent webinar, making it much less taxing mentally.

On the ‘4x4 min Workout - Proper Pacing’ thread we talked about being ready for hard workouts. My last hard workout was this past Sunday, and I was initially going to do this Towers ride Wednesday but ran out of time and did an endurance ride instead. In retrospect, I’m really glad I involuntarily waited the extra day, as this workout was perfectly executed through to the end, whereas I’m not sure this would’ve been the case Wednesday. As with my post about my 4x4 min file, note here how heart rate responded rapidly and pretty similarly throughout each of the 6 intervals, drifting by only about 2 bpm between the first and sixth one.

Stephen Cheung


This (Batmans) is also my favorite workout/workout template. It may be due that the 5 minute interval is my sweet spot for my profile. I tend to do it by getting above my 5 min max by about ~10-15% for the first 30 seconds and the final 30 seconds I do the same ~10-15% for the first 20 and then try to give everything I can do for the last 10 seconds. The middle 4 minutes I try to stay just under threshold - but at a point where I can feel a little bit of recovery happening. With me I feel that it is a nice workout with intervals that are tough but not too long and sustainable, works on recovering (or, more important, get the feel of what it is like to recover) just below threshold, and then working on pushing when fatigued but fully recovered.

The Towers is my go-to 5 minute interval when I use Xert to drive my workout app. (The following may be something for an Xert topic or forum) I like the xert workouts and creating workouts in xert because I love that I can choose the measure of an interval to be something other than FTP/TP - I tend to do an interval based upon a % either - 1, 5, or 20 mintue max and not FTP, It is the only one I know that I can do that and not just have to adjust my % of FTP based on a manual calculation outside the app. The only drawback is I cannot seem to be able to get interval breakdown cleanly without using clunky manual selection. That is where I will need to go to Xert forums to figure out a good solution as well as getting good xert overlays of my work while using other apps.

Brian I agree with you that Xert allows for a lot of flexibility in interval design, but that it can be tough to figure out, for example, the average wattage for an interval like that in Towers. I’ll add that to our to-do list to make it easier!
Speaking of Towers, on a separate off-line chat @trevor, @TKskate and I have been talking a lot about interval design and 5 min intervals. For me, the Towers 5 min averages about 248 W, so about 107% of my 231 W TP. That’s balanced by 5 min easy recovery.
Trevor’s advice is to ensure short recovery period between each interval and also to lower the overall intensity such that the average 5 min wattage is closer to your TP. So that’s what I’ve done with this “Compressed Towers” workout that you can find on the Xert library. The average wattage for the 5 min is now at 100% TP. However, the short 1 min recovery results in fatigue building with each interval, such that MPA gradually drops. Indeed, the Difficulty Score (DS) is actually higher for me with this version than the normal Towers.
If you’re keen, try it out and let me know what you think!

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So I just did this Xert “Compressed Towers” workout this morning. A reminder that the purple is the Max Power Available (MPA) - a measure of fatigue, and the grey line is Difficulty Score (rate of XSS accumulation). Here are my notes:

  • Each interval is 30 s at 6 min Mean Max Power (290 W for me), 4 min at 95% TP (220 W for me), 30 s at 5 min MMP (301 W for me).
  • Each 5 min effort averaged 234 W, so 101% of my 231 W TP.
  • This was SOOOO much easier to do than the Towers workout we have on Xert. I was completely comfortable throughout each interval, whereas each of the normal Towers workout is just on the other side of comfortable, and the last couple are really tough.
  • This workout felt really much easier despite the only 1 min recovery compared to 5 min with Towers. This was the case even though my overall XSS and DS was at least the same or higher. That’s because here my MPA doesn’t recover fully, and is down by about 250 W in the latter intervals. You earn a lot more XSS and DS when your MPA is down.
  • I honestly feel that I can do this on back to back days, whereas doing the normal Towers back to back would be really mentally and physically not fun.

Hope you have fun with these. Xerters can search for “Compressed Towers” to find this workout.
Stephen Cheung