What is interval training?
If you want to take your performance to a higher level, interval training is almost certainly going to be part of your plan.
In this series of blog posts, we’re going to look at different types of interval training, why you’d choose to do them and give you some example workouts you can try for yourself.
This time we’re focusing on long intervals.
What are long intervals?
Long interval are performed at a high intensity for long enough for you to reach and spend significant time at your maximum rate of oxygen consumption (VO2max). Typically, that will mean intervals of 2-5 minutes with a total work duration of between 12 and 30 minutes. Recovery periods will be about as long as the work interval. If you monitor heart rate, you should be getting up to 90-95% of your maximum heart rate after a minute or two.
However, there is also some interesting research from Stephen Seiler that suggests accumulating more time at a slightly lower intensity might by even more effective. More on this below!
Why do it?
Long intervals are designed to increase your maximum aerobic capacity by having you spend as much time as possible operating at or close to your VO2max.
How to do it?
Interval training is typically described as sets of intervals or work and rest, where 10 x 2min / 2 min means 2 minutes of work followed by 2 minutes of rest, repeated 10 times. Runners can do these over any terrain running at around 3k to 5k effort. For cyclists, these are perfect for indoor training on the turbo or rollers. Good targets to aim for are about 120% of your FTP or 90-100% of your 5-minute power.
Try this progression of workouts, including just one in your training plan each week:
Always make sure you bookend the interval session with a thorough warmup and cooldown.
Alternatively, you could try the Seiler approach, which involved a slightly lower intensity but longer intervals. It’s been shown to be more effective than the traditional 4x4 session, so definitely worth considering as a part of your toolbox:
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