Torque Intervals

Hi everyone,

Just curious as to people’s thoughts on ‘Torque Intervals’ as prescribed by John Wakefield (Coach to UAE Team Emirates and Tadej Pogacar). Specifically, those as outlined here:

They look very interesting to me. John seems like a legit coach - he favors the Polarized model and goes against ‘Sweet Spot’. I saw a tweet of his recently proclaiming the power and value of Torque intervals and saying he would recommend these over most sessions.

Cheers all,


I’m doing them at the moment.

They are usually once a week, and 8-10 ascents of a 6 min hill, in big gear at low cadence. What is quite interesting is that my breathing and heart rate is quite a bit lower than if I did the hill at my natural cadence. Last week I set a personal best on one of the ascents , my previous best was natural cadence. My max heart rate by the top was about 12 bpm lower than when I set my natural cadence work. It’s not taxing cardio wise, it’s more muscular.

I should add that I ride a recumbent. Thus it’s always seated, with a relaxed upper body. One of the challenges of a recumbent is that you can’t stand up if your legs are shot or the hill is so steep you run out of gears. On a road bike you can stand up to compensate. Thus I’m finding the work really useful for building that endurance in the legs to better handle when I do find myself on that 30% grade, and prevent the legs getting shot.

Glutes and hamstrings are key to power on a recumbent. Hence it’s also helping with that. I did a 10 repeat session today to clock up an hour of big gear low cadence work.

It’s not something I’ve done before this year but I’m enjoying the sessions being different to what I’ve done before. Does feel like they are benefitting me.

Yep, I’ve been doing variations of torque based intervals for years. Anything from 10 minute overgeared tempo climbs to 20 second all out seated from very slow or stationary starts. A favourite is to do the overgeared climbs with one hand on the bars or ‘piano hands’ on the tops to force you to engage the core and drive from the hips.

The first torque based session I ever did, before I had a power meter, was simply to do a flat route for an hour or so in 53 x 15/14. Another variation was to alternate every 15 minutes between big ring and small. Great for getting used to changes of pace.

Torque intervals, or ‘strength endurance’ intervals from back in the day, are sort of like porn. You know, ‘you can’t define it, but you know it when you see it’.

No one can tell you why they work, many will try to tell you they don’t work (and there’s lots of research to support the “they don’t work” camp), but for decades top time trialists have done them.