What would you do to improve short-term power?

So this is my current Xert profile
Would obviously need to work on short power duration, I am mainly training indoors on Zwift racing twice a week (generally one TTT and one scratch race lasting 40 to 60 minutes) + 1 long outdoor ride in the weekends (with around 1hr climbing over 3/4 hrs total) or long indoor race (3 hrs)
FTP is 3.9 w/kg, weakest power point in the power curve is between 5 secs and 1 min (1 min power is 5,72 w/kg =430 W, weight 75kg)
Thing is, I would like to improve short term power without losing too much in my actual form in longer durations, going towards outdoor IRL season and some outdoor fondos but still racing indoors during the week.
In Zwift racing, I can get to the final sprint in top positions in B races, sometimes even with A racers, but always getting beaten by most of my competitors in that final sprint
I know there are muscle fibers limiters playing here for me, but I am also sure there is something that can be done in training to improve my short term power.

If you are already practicing hard sprints on the bike, I would also recommend adding heavy weightlifting (squats, leg press) to your training. Other than that, sprinting is something that does seem to be largely determined by genetics, but you can still increase your ability to sprint after having already done hard efforts earlier on in a race.

Spint workout which include anywhere from 4-8 max 10 sec efforts with FULL recovery of 5-7 min between sprints, then you can also work in some sprint stamina efforts where you do 30sec intervals with the first 20 sec at about 140% FTP and then unleash your max 10 sec sprint. FULL recovery between efforts, do 4-6 in any 1 workout. Strenght training with heavy weights, keep it simple doing 3 maybe 4 exercises (squat, deadlift, walking lunges and bulgarian split squats) plyometrics can be used effectvely as well (box jumps, Eric Hayden’s/skaters, standing long jump and box jump cross overs) You want to develop power not strength. Strenght is how much load you can move, power is how fast you can move that load, so like sprint work these strength and plyo workouts need to focus on speed with medium weight. Most plyo moves are just body weight, generally speaking. Be sure to your glycogen stores (carbs) are full for these workouts as you will rely on it for fueling these workouts.

Hope this is of sme help.


I would suggest that it’s not necessarily obvious that you need to work on short duration power. What you might need depends on what sort of circumstances you’re doing the short efforts that are the basis for the XERT profile. For example, does your power duration curve have robust data, to include 5-10 second efforts done while fresh, or are the bulk of your sprint efforts done at the end of hard workouts/Z races? If it’s the latter, then you may actually need more endurance/threshold work, so that the impact of the race efforts aren’t as severe, relatively speaking, and you can then sprint better as you won’t be as fatigued. You say you can get to the end of the races in good position, but don’t have the kick to contest the sprints. Looking at the typical Z race, how much time do you spend above threshold to get to the end? If you’re spending little to no time in Z5 and still can’t sprint, that’s one thing. But, if you have multiple forays into Z5, maybe even Z6, just to stay with the group, sprint ability isn’t the issue. Raise your threshold and increase your fatigue resistance. That’ll have a far greater impact on your sprints than you might think.


@Mudge I think you are nailing it here.
What kind of workouts would you suggest to improve fatigue resistance?

I suggest you confer with your coach. There are far too many unknown variables re: your current status for a simple “go do Tabatas” or whatever to be good advice.

Self-coached here (been coached for years, now happily on my own)
Btw, you are right, too many variables, but it’s quite easy to sum them up a bit:
Last 3 months of training: Tuesday Zwift race (45-60 mins) Thursday Zwift (or RGT) TTT (again, 45 to 50 min), Saturday 3hrs Z2 with 30 to 40 mins Z4/Z5 efforts (long races indoors). Sunday up to 2hrs Z2 if I had something left, Monday and Wednesday very easy recovery rides.
Total training time: around 10 hrs per week and/or 500 TSS (Training Peaks-WKO5-Intervals.icu).
Composition: 36%Z1, 26%Z2,16%Z3,11%Z4,11% Z5/6/7 (6,5% Z5 alone). Sweetspot 12%. Classed as Pyramidal in Intervals.icu
This is a January 33 mins Zwift race where I came 11th on 12th in the final sprint on the group I was in. Improved a bit in last month in that, but not enough IMHO

Threshold has improved from 284W to 295W in Xert from that race 2 months ago.

Ignoring the original question of what to do about fatigue resistance, I’ll point out one thing that jumps out at me: you only do one day of endurance training (Sunday) IF you have anything left. IMO, you have far too much intensity and far too little endurance training in your schedule. As for those percentages of time in zones, they can be very misleading. Take your typical Saturday ride as an example. It’s a 3 hour ride, mostly Z2, but… you include 30-40 minutes of Z4/5. That’s not an endurance ride, that’s a Z5 ride with a long warm up. In that light, you have 2 easy recovery rides, 4 high intensity rides, and 1 day off.

Just today, I was listening to a podcast on the importance of Z2 work, and it was noted there is no evidence to show benefits of more than 3 high intensity rides per week and little evidence to show benefit of just 3 high intensity rides per week, and even then, only for a short period of a few weeks; but there is plenty of evidence to show 3 or more high intensity rides per week to be a negative, especially when done for too long.

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i agree with you on my need me of more Z2 and to ease up and not going so frequently full gas.

So much that this is my Sunday ride outdoors just ended (2hrs). What do you think of this kind of intensity? (There are spikes in higher zones because the course was not fully flat, but in the flat parts I tried to stay in zone 2).

I would replace Thursdays races with 1h30 - 2 hrs of stuff like this (possibly with less spikes) and do another one on Sundays, trying to get to 2 rides/5 hours per week of pure Zone 2.

On the other side, this is a typical Saturday race (yesterday, final sprint went better then previous ones because as you said, I was less fatigued towards the end)

May be the Z5/6/7 parts of these races were a bit overestimated in my previous message; in this one, for example, they were 25 minutes in total (around 20% overall).

So don’t know if this one can really be described as a Z5 ride with a long warm-up, as you said. May be it is anyway, I raise this point because in my mind It was more a Z2-Z3 with (some long) surges. Might seem a useless distinction between my view and yours on the nature of this ride, I guess it’s useful instead.

That said, I like your general observation about more Z2 training; it was in my mind too, I was listening to some podcasts (may be to the same you mentioned) advocating for more Z2 training to raise the threshold.

I also found interesting what Inigo San Milian’s pointed out in a podcast here on Fast Talk; if I remember it well (will listen to that part again, It was some time ago) he was pointing out it has to be real zone 2 (not too easy declining in recovery, not too fast ramping to Z3).

If you’re a follower of Seiler, you’ll remember that, in the beginning, he described workouts not based on a percentage of time spent in zone for a particular workout, but by the presence of any intensity in a higher zone. IOW, whether you spend 10% or 20% in Z5, with the remainder in Z2, it’s still a Z5 ride. In fact, it’s actually pretty hard to do much more than 10% in Z5.

And, going down another rabbit hole, the prevailing views on HRV indicate that regardless of the length of time in Z2, you don’t have to do very much intensity at all to have an impact on your CNS response.

IOW, either way you look at it, it’s still a Z5 ride.

Paraphrasing Denzel from American Gangster, ‘you’re overcooking your grits’. And just like Tango in the same movie, 20% will kill you.

You’re demonstrating what many have noted as a common pattern with regular Zwift users. There is no ‘season’ in Zwift and folks don’t have a normal progression building toward “A” races. Zwifters are just doing it for the fun of it, or for the challenge, or the competition, or whatever, and there’s almost a gravitational pull leading people to race too much, train too little (if at all) and eventually stagnate.

I won’t name him, but there’s a guy I’ve followed on Zwift who races frequently, live-streaming on YouTube and all that nonsense, who in a very short time went from a C to an A racer on Zwift. He got so caught up in his success he started racing almost every day, often two or three times a day, and now he’s back in the B group, unable to get out of his own way.

First of all, I like your quote
And your last post gives me a great chance to connect a few dots.
Let’s see if I can do it.
Dot one: yes, I’m a follower of Seiler and that extends to…Zwift :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
As you might know, prof. Seiler is a keen Zwifter too.
I spent some time taking a look on the way he trains there; a good deal of his training time is surely on long Z2 endurance riding, but there are races too, now and then, and recently also a back-to-back race + hard ride (of which he posted screenshots on Twitter a few days ago).
Dot two: I have also been an early adopter of HRV tracking (as you mention HRV research) years ago and I am still tracking it every morning.
I have not seen/had clear signals, recently, that I am overcooking my grits at the moment; but I am keeping more than an eye on this on a regular basis, daily.
This to say, you won’t ever see me racing twice a day (and don’t worry, I don’t think any reasonable person in this world would ever feel the need to see a video of an indoors race of mine on Youtube :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:)
It’s always good to get a reminder, but even if you can put me (and I gave reasons to do so with what I wrote, I understand it) between those Zwift users going down that spiral/rabbit hole you described, my training before the end of January was already (and that was coached training, a good coach for what I can say): Tuesday Vo2 max (30"/30" - 40"/20" etc) / Thursday over-unders or Sweetspot training / Weekend Z2 long rides.
Thing is, I was stagnating back then, doing so.
Last 2 months, trying to improve my racing skills and my performances, I decided (now, on my own and not coached anymore) that the best training for racing was…racing.
So I replaced Tuesday Vo2max workout with a scratch race and Thursday over/unders or Sweetspot with a TTT.
Then, I also made my Saturday classic long endurance ride harder, but there is where I think you and Denzel are right :laughing: That was probably a bit too much.
But… FTP went from 265W in January 2022 (and it was stuck there from October’21 to January '22) to the current 287W. Big gains in such a short time, surely benefitted from the previous work too, and I am also sure this can’t go on forever.
Of course, I would not like to follow the path of the guy you mentioned without naming (but I guess there are quite some names with that same history on Zwift, I’ll try not to add mine :rofl:).
2 options here for me, I think.
I’m already (more or less) at my ‘ceiling’, and I’d better ease off for a while and then rebuild from there and see when/if I can still get any better; or, as I intended with my initial post, find adjustments for the weak spots in an overall positive actual trend, without reducing it too much.
Either way, I like this honest and straigthforward exchange of opinions with you.

The intensity classification of a session should be based on the stress it caused. If @vdude69 was fully recovered the next day, the session was not high-intense for him. Especially short bouts of high-intensity can be handled quite well.

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That’s an interesting approach to intensity description that I haven’t heard yet. How are we defining ‘fully recovered’? And, how would you know how to qualify a session if you have to wait until the next day?

@Mudge Have a listen to Fasttalk episode 75 with Stephen Seiler for all the details.

‘Fully recovered’ would be the state where your HRrest is back to your baseline level (*) and you feel no soreness / DOMS in your legs.

Waiting until the next day is not a problem, unless you would want to do 2 high-intensity sessions on a single day. On the next day you can check your HR rest. For DOMS you might need to wait another day.

Once you know what you can handle you can plan high-intensity.
But that group ride with that unexpected number of sprints and unexpected number of draft minutes…you’ll have to wait and gauge.

(*) baseline should be your ‘fully rested’ HR. Something you get after 2 to 3 days of rest. Your mathematical baseline (average Rest HR during the week) is higher because that includes the result of all your sessions. As an example. My fully rested HR is about 47, while the first 4-hours of sleep average is 50. Even after zone 2 endurance training my night rest HR has risen to 53/54. A HIIT workaround will set it to 58/60.
When the 4-hour night average goes above 60 without training, i go to the doctor to figure out which illness i’ve got :slight_smile:

A few consecutive days of endurance training will increase rest HR day by day. I usually take a rest day when i reach ‘baseline + 10’.

Instead of making a training plan in your calendar, I would go by the principles:

  • when fairly rested ( <= baseline +5), no soreness, do whatever you want
  • when fairly stressed ( >= baseline +5, <= baseline +10), some soreness, go Z2
  • when stressed ( >= baseline +10 ), rest day.

There is also a nice explainer on this by former speed skater Pascal Briand
(One season plan breakdown then Q&A (pascal briand) - YouTube, minute 36 and especially 43)


@kjeldbontenbal I basically do the same, but with HRV
Anyway, ‘normal’ trends of HRV and resting HR are very similar and give the same indications, they just go the opposite way (when tired, resting HR is high and HRV low)
I have also noticed that sometimes the difference between the full night average, the average of first 4 hours and the average ot last 4 hours of sleep is relevant (for both HR and HRV, again) and can be impacted by external factors (late and or ‘heavier’ eating, for example).
Throughout the years, I have learned how to read these data and have a good indication of what to do, always to be matched with how I feel of course

That is exactly what it is all about.

I’ll just start by saying you and I had different takeaways from Ep. 75.

As for the rest of it, I typically prefer not to describe one’s approach on forums using raw numbers, whether HR or power or whatever, as it is so variable between individuals. I find it better to think in terms of percentages. For example, you talk about what you’d do if your HR is 5 or 10 beats above baseline. That may work for you, but at even 5 beats above baseline, I’d be worried sick that I was dying. Then again, even at 65 y.o., my baseline is ~40 bpm upon waking, and very rarely goes above 44. FWIW, I can tell when it’s going to be that high even before taking a reading, based on all sorts of subjective/objective info. The only time in the last 4 years that my morning HR reading was more than 45 was the day after my first Covid shot, and not surprisingly, my HRV was about a third of normal as well. One day later, back to normal.

I agree with the percentages vs raw numbers.

Yes, definitely, percentages are the way to go.
That said, both of you (I add my 2 cents there, too) have clear personal baselines in mind, well defined; that’s important when it comes to understand what to do in any particular day (again, combined with personal feelings).
In the meanwhile, my initial question of this thread is - I would say- only partly answered, but I would still like to hear more about it.

Yes sir, we got off track.
Strength is increased by working out above 55% of 1 Repeat Max.
You can choose to do longer intervals or shorter intervals, depending on whichever you handle best.
30 sec sprint could be the short one. X minutes sub max could be the long one.