What Intensity Should I Train At?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

I coach my guys to Six Levels of Intensity and here's a quick run-through to help you plan your training and get your fitness up to full potential.

Level 1 – Recovery

This is for rest days to keep your leg muscles loose and to get rid of the waste products accumulated after a hard session the day before.  Keep it easy so you don't put any real stress on your muscles.  A low gear ½ hour spin at about 90 revs with low pedal resistance is best.

Level 2 – Endurance

Endurance rides are the foundation of all training schedules, so get out there for 90+ minutes to build endurance.  It's pretty easy until you get into 2 – 3 hours and start to feel the challenge.  This helps your aerobic baseline and prepares for intense, advanced training.  A couple of 2+ hour sessions a week will give good results.

Level 3 – Regaining fitness

This is great for building fitness after an extended training break.  Some guys use it when they don't have time to do 2+ hours at Level 2, because 1 hour in Level 3 is more beneficial than just 1-hour at Level 2.   Do 5-minutes at Level 2 and then push up your speed to Level 3 for 5-minutes. Alternate your speed like this until the session ends.

Level 4 – Threshold

This is the Progress Level, where you reach your aerobic limit and maintain the pace for up to an hour.  It's tough, but it'll lead to you riding faster for longer without going anaerobic or being short of breath. 

Try it at 3-minute intervals at Level 3 pace followed by 3-minute recovery periods - aim for up to one-hour at these intervals.

Level 5 – Anaerobic

This level is a tough, so it's only for folks who're super-fit.  It increases your body's aerobic and anaerobic working capacity, but you'll only be able to keep it up for 5-minutes at the most.

So you do 2-minute very hard intervals at Level 5 pace followed by a 3-minute recovery period.  These are red-line intervals, when your muscles lack oxygen so lactic acid accumulates and your legs burn.

Level 6 – All-out effort

Only necessary if you're a competitive racer, these are total effort sprints taking all you've got for about 30-seconds - repeat every 5-minutes during a ride.

Remember, train steadily over a 7-day period, keep a training diary and don't overdo it!

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