What does Trevor think of 2 x 20min?

We know @trevor is a fan of 5 x 5min for base training which is a nice compact session, and appears to be very effective.

2 x 20min is commonly talked about / prescribed in plans by other coaches and I have seen it being done anywhere from sweet spot to above threshold (90-105% FTP ranges).

So what do and don’t you like about 2 x 20min vs Trevor’s 5 x 5min?

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Hi @gerrard, great question! I’ll pipe in quickly with my reasoning… 2x20s can be a great workout if you can do the intensity. My experience is that one of two things happens when you prescribe a workout like that to athletes:

  1. Doing it solo, it’s really hard to find the motivation to do them hard enough, so while an athlete will get through, the intensity tends to be low and they don’t get the benefits they’d think out of it.

  2. Or, they actually hit the quality and in that case, it’s a FATIGUING workout that’s going to take time to recover from. And if you try to do that week-in-week-out it’s really going to wear on you. So, while it might have small gains over the 5x5s, they are small and come at a much bigger cost.

All that being said, there’s definitely a time and place for the longer efforts. Last night I had 4x5s on my plan and I’ll admit I wasn’t very motivated. There was a time trial taking place on Zwift in 15 minutes, so I skipped my intervals and did the time trial (worked out to 28 minutes.) Doing it as a race, I was able to sustain the same wattage I would have done my intervals at. So, I thought it was a great workout and it was fun. But I wouldn’t do it every week at this time of year…


Totally agree with @trevor’s first point too. I saw this every year in my indoor cycling classes. We would work up to a 2x20 workout (once or twice a season, that’s about it) and it was inevitable that the riders who were unwilling to reduce their FTP/CP to levels that I recommended (based on previous performances) ended up not making the entire 20 minutes. So we would spend time spot-reducing their FTP on the fly as they were doing those intervals. They would always end up at a sub-threshold power by the end because they were pushing too hard early on and weren’t actually prepared to ride at what they had set for their FTP.

So my take on those is that if you’re going to do them, start easier than you think you need to. It’s not worth being a hero and trying to ride them at 100% FTP the first time. If you make it 1 or 2 workouts at 90% FTP and complete them with good form, a steady cadence, etc. then that’s a huge success! Build from there. But avoid the trap of going all-in on the first session and having to reduce power throughout or building too large of a training load that requires a large recovery repayment afterward.


I feel like these anecdotes are more of a reflection of people using FTP as a vanity number and not a true reflection of their abilities and physiology.

@trevor , with your 5 x 5 intervals you talk about having a HR ceiling to govern the effort. Have you tried using Moxy to assess inter-interval SMO2 recovery to determine appropriate effort intensity? Kind of like a 5-1-5 test.


I keep hearing this on the podcast. I just don’t understand the thinking behind this by people at all :man_shrugging:t2: I like lowering my FTP in software :slight_smile:

Great question!

@DaveQB welcome Dave hope you are doing well!

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Hey @steveneal :wave: :smiley:
Yes thanks. Hope you are well too.

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I recall prior discussions that longer intervals done at 90% of threshold are excellent at training lactate clearance. Are they better than 5 min intervals at 100%? I’m currently doing 5 X 5min @ 100% twice per week. In my build phase, I was planning to start extending the duration of intervals (6-7-8 min) while staying @ 100%. Should longer intervals at slightly lower intensity have a place in a build or specialty phase?

Great question. When you say lactate clearance, what’s the desired outcome? Is it achieving that intensity where you clear lactate at the fastest rate, or are we talking more about working at an intensity where our lactate clearance is still relatively high (but not maximal), while still being an intensity we can sustain for extended intervals to deliver the training stress?

At 100% of threshold (using MLSS), you’re likely close to, or at, that point where clearance is being outpaced by accumulation, so is it then more of a lactate “tolerance” situation?

To your question though, I do think slightly lower intensity has a place in a build phase. As you’ve also heard many times before, you can train threshold within a range, so not knowing a lot of other details I think as low as 90% is completely reasonable - you may be able to extend the durations too.

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I forget the exact physiology but it was something like the zone just sub threshold is a good adaptation for expression of lactate transporters into type 1 fibres and heart thus enhancing the clearance of lactate. I suspect I’m really good at producing it and less good at utilizing it! I would think that lactate “tolerance” more relates to buffering capacity best trained by higher intensity. My ultimate goal is to raise my FTP as my goal events are typically 2-3 hr duration.