Fast Talk Episode 113: Rest Duration/Intensity = Importance of Work Intervals

I forget which episode number this was but it was a real good one.

[Helpful editor’s note: The Duration and Intensity of Rest Periods Is As Critical As Your Intervals, with Sebastian Weber]

By the way, i just thought of something while i was thinking about this episode while riding (not listening, thinking :slight_smile: ). At one point, Connor and Sebastian Weber were discussing the traditional 5x5 “Vo2max” intervals, and Sebastian said he thinks it’s weird that we call them that, and Connor mentioned that he doesn’t do these much unless an athlete has a specific need e.g. was facing a road race with a 5 min climb in it.

Question for you though: would traditional 5x5 Vo2max actually be “specificity” for a road racer? I would think that rather, these would be the kind of interval you’d use–sparingly–during general prep: they push adaptations that overall make you stronger but are not specific. I would think real specificity would be something like, have the athlete go do a long endurance ride, and throw some hard 5 minute efforts in the middle.

Or, even better, how about go on long endurance ride, halfway through, spend ten minutes ramping up from tempo to sweetspot to threshold (sort of like the lead-in to a big selection-type hill, where the field is jockeying / not letting you just roll up nosebreathing), hit your 5 minute supra threshold interval very hard, then settle back into sweetspot / tempo (mimicking when the field is deciding whether / how to take advantage of any separations). Then, rest, and repeat that a few more times.

I’d think the usual, straight-up 5x5 would be specificity for shorter racers like STXC or crits.

Is that how the coaches would approach it? Do you ever prescribe those, umm, not sure what to call them, “intervals-in-the-middle-of-an-endurance-ride” (for lack of a better term :slight_smile: )?

Yes, I do like to prescribe these for athletes and think they are quite helpful in preparing for longer events. You can probably source a bunch of different types of sessions, but here are a few that I’ve used in the past with athletes:

  • mid-ride or late-ride 30/30s or 40/20s. These were used with a pro roadie getting ready for a number of events around the country. We would have him do maybe 4 hours or so and then insert a couple sets of these mid-way through or later in the ride.
  • late-ride threshold. I used these with athletes getting ready for long gravel races like Unbound or MTB races like Leadville where they would ride for somewhere between 4-6 hours and then we would finish the final 1-2 hours (in general) with 20-30 minute climbs (maybe 2-3 of them) where the focus was on achieving at least 85-88% of threshold power.

I think the straight 5x5 type of session like you’re talking about is great for shorter events and agree with what you suggested of using them to push adaptations. I’ll use them more frequently in smaller doses for just that reason, but actually would say that 5x5 at that high intensity almost never shows up in my training plan(s) outside of that the remainder of the year. Inserting something like that halfway through a long endurance ride can be pretty specific as those demands could certainly be necessary in the race and I can see a great use for it. The athlete might not hit the same intensity if there is already some fatigue built in, but if he/she can work on that ability to respond to a specific race need, it seems like a great method to help train that.

We do need a name for the “intervals-in-the-middle-of-an-endurance-ride” session though - I don’t have one at the moment, but surely someone does! :slight_smile:


@BikerBocker, just saw this paper in an Outside article on Facebook- good timing in this topic of inserting efforts into the end of long rides.

Power Profiling, Workload Characteristics, and Race Performance of U23 and Professional Cyclists During the Multistage Race Tour of the Alps




Some great points made here already.

One thing I really like to do to is have athletes complete, 3, 6, 12, and 20m time trials at the end of specific sessions.

Usually, these specific sessions are progressive in nature, starting easy at bottom of endurance, moving through steady endurance then into the tempo range (all of this usually taking about 3 hours) then I have them do a specific Critical power duration test mentioned above.

When their end of session performance starts to get really close to their normal test day of that duration, the confidence really starts to build.

So I agree with putting higher intensity into the middle or towards the end of a long progressive ride.

Physiological and mental gains really come from this type of training, not to mention great practice for working on nutrition to maintain performance!


guys, thanks for all the super helpful input. I recognize that this discussion is about mostly icing (vs. the cake), but (i) the icing part is interesting and (ii) i now know a bit about progressive overload, i finally understand how slow to ride on my long days and and how to strike an easy / hard balance that won’t kill me, but i have no idea really how to choose what i spend my hard days on!


Endurintervals or Interendure might work.

@phil I’ve been practicing the pronunciation…it’s hard :slight_smile:

I call these COPID, which stand for COmpressed Polarised Intensity Distribution, as you are putting the polarised intensities into a single session.
I’ve been doing these as a research project last year (n=1) and it produced great results for performance, motivation and skill.

You can read the report here.

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that is amazing great job! I could use some help to track all the stuff I am always doing.

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I think Endur-ivals or endurivals will do nicely!

@steveneal thanks. Without a proper tool it is near impossible to do. I used a tool to create structured training. Data is collected per element of the training so it becomes easy to track progress per hr zone.

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There’s also something about fatigue resistance in terms of doing them during a long endurance session.



Doing medium intensity intervals every day isn’t compressed polarized, it’s daily sweetspot.