Top end intervals

Top-end-intervalsAim of Session

An interval session designed to improve both VO2max and anaerobic capacity - stolen from Bert Roesems!

Session description

WARM UP: 45 mins zone 2

Interval set 1: 6 x 30s efforts on a climb at 120%MMP with 45s recoveries

30 mins easy

Interval set 2: 4 x 2.5 mins at MMP on a climb with 5 min recoveries

30 mins easy

Interval set 3: 6 x 30s efforts at 110%MMP with 30s recoveries

5 mins easy

Interval set 4: 4 x 90s efforts at MMP, with 5 minute recoveries

COOL DOWN: 30 mins easy


Working at and around your MMP will stress the systems associated with the maximum delivery of oxygen to your working tissue. At the beginning of each interval, heart rate and your heart's stroke volume (volume of blood per beat) will increase to bring about higher cardiac output. Ventilation will also increase so that the blood is saturated with oxygen. Working at the powers above MMP will also ensure your fast twitch fibres are recruited - the more these are recruited, the more their biochemistry will change over time. The low work to rest ratio ensures you hit each interval in a near recovered state - this means the system will be increasing from your resting baseline each time, thus the 'switch' of the systems is what is being targeted (and less the ability to endure the total work like in 3 min VO2max intervals). Energy will be derived 'anaerobicall', hence why this session targets maximal aerobic ability (2.5 min intervals) and anaerobic capacity (30s and 90s efforts) simultaneously.

Application for the Rider

This session is ideal for road racers who need the ability to change pace quickly, accessing near to maximal powers to cause a break. The session is done on a climb (where possible, as this can be limited in the UK by climb length) and also targets the muscle fibres needed for that bike position. Its not a surprise that this session comes from the professional peloton and is used to prepare riders for the Spring Classics and the short, sharp climbing efforts they face.

Practicalities and tips!

  • This session is best done on a climb; if this is not possible, emulate by using a slightly bigger gear and going from a low speed
  • Be as consistent as you can when hitting the efforts - know your target power, and hit this from the beginning of each interval
  • Do stick to easy riding in between the sets: this will help recovery - the focus is the intervals, not the total ride time
  • As well as the intensity, this is a long session - make sure you are adequately prepared with fluid and fuel

Evaluation of the session

  • Have you hit the target powers for each interval? Across the sets?
  • How does the power profile for each interval shape up? Is the effort steady across the interval or can you see power dropping?
  • How quickly does heart rate respond at the beginning of each interval? Does this change over the session?
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