Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Micro Intervals




I often wonder how many people out there suffer lack-of-time-to-train issues? I know I do.  I have a family, a job, like many of you out there.  Fitting in the hours to get me fit is almost as hard as the work out sessions themselves!!  I could on average do about 6 hours a week maybe 8 max.  Its not enough to make me the most competitive person but enough to make sure I'm not last!!.

However, even these hours can be challenged by the terrible weather that we can suffer here during the winter. Gales are common with bad winds for weeks at a time and the snows over the last few years have lasted a good two months with road conditions too dangerous for even vehicles let alone bikes.

So really that means its time for that so loved weapon........the turbo trainer.  No matter how enthusiastic I can be about getting fitter after 20 minutes I'm clock watching wondering when that hour will finish.  As a rule I don't tend to do more than hour, primarily as I find it a chore, its not fun and if I have to be on it a few times a week then I find myself burning out all too quickly.

My real problem comes when I'm supposed to be out on a long endurance ride of 3-4 hours, and the weather is stopping me. An hours turbo training session just isn't going to cut it.  I'm not sure what others do.  Can people really tolerate indoor training for three hours?

Anyway, recently I've come across a solution to this.  It always said that with little time to train you have to make every ride count.  Micro Intervals may just be my answer and yours too if you suffer the same problems.  Simply they are short intense efforts of up to 60 seconds or less repeated with varying lengths of active recovery.  It recently been discovered that micro intervals help train the physiological processes that support much longer efforts.  They boost the level of VO2max an individual can access, having a positive effect on fitness.  The advantages of doing short intervals like these compared to long ones is that you maintain pedal efficiency more,  making each interval more effective.  This training is no secret, Pro riders have been using it more and more over the last few years.  Many no longer have to ride the 6 hours needed a week but have been riding for four but included micro intervals into their training at the beginning, middle and end.  Good evidence of micro-intervals comes from the British team whom many come from track racing where micro intervals are drilled into them.

Some example workouts as used by pros: 
40 seconds hard then 20 seconds easy repeat a set of ten for time:  This can be done on the turbo trainer or on a long ride.  Good for road riding.

30 seconds flatout efforts then one minutes easy in between:  Good for speed and endurance

10 seconds hard followed by 20 seconds easy. Two matches of 15 minutes with five minutes in-between: Effective for Power.

Well this is all just a guide line but hopefully with a session like this added into a limited ride or workout you'll reap in greater fitness than you would normally.

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