Sprint Interval Training plan?


#1

I was interested in the shortest possible workouts, so I started doing the new SIT workouts (Birling, Detling, Charing) over the past couple of weeks. I wasn’t sure how to structure a progression with these, and couldn’t find a plan that uses them.

Here’s what I did:

First week: Birling (Monday 100% intensity, Wednesday 101%, Friday 102%)
Second week: Detling (Monday 102%, Wednesday 103%, Friday 104%)
Third week: Charing (Monday 104%, Wednesday 105%, no time for Friday workout)

Each workout had my cadence slowing on the next-to-last interval, and had my cadence dropping to nearly-zero on the last interval. The effort was so hard on that last interval in Charing that my front wheel kept popping off the floor on each pedalstroke. I’m planning on taking an easy week, then doing a ramp test, then starting over with Charing at 100%.

So… what would the proper TR version of the SIT plan do differently?


#2

I’ve been doing something similar since completing my final event of the year. Started with Detling a few times, now to Charing. This format is hard as hell, and I regularly get to the place where the legs just won’t push hard anymore. Pretty fun, actually.

These 30-35 minute workouts let me add a few rounds of core work and stretching afterward. I’ll do that twice during the week, then enjoy outdoor rides on the weekend while the weather is still nice. So far it’s been a great way to maintain some level of discipline at the end of the season. I’m looking forward to hearing more on this topic.


#3

Hey, @woo49. My plans will be pretty straightforward and will be about the number of sprints you can effectively complete per workout, 3 times per week. So the lower-volume plan will have fewer sprints but always on the same number of days, always 3x/week. And I think I’m limiting all volumes of plans to 2 weeks with the option of doing a single week or adding another week or two if the results and progress merit it - still working that out.

What’s most important is that each and every sprint is a maximal effort. So if, in the case of Birling, all 4 sprints should see your cadence drop sharply and sometimes even bring you to a near stand-still, each time during those closing few seconds. Ideally, this will all be done at a similar power output (could take a bit of practice), then that power output may grow over time if you’re doing multiple weeks of SIT training, e.g., week 1 sees sprints around 700w, week 2 grows to 720w, etc.

By repeating all-out 30-second efforts with high, pretty repeatable power (e.g., 700w, 720w, 690w, 710w), you’ll get a sense of what you can reproduce if you give everything you’ve got. Then when you get to a point that the margin between sprints is minimized (meaning you’ve plateaued in how high you can push your 30-ish second power) and each one leaves you completely, temporarily exhausted but you get through all 4, that’s when you can grow your repeats and move on to Detling, in this case.

It’s only reasonable to expect the power to go so high, then it’s a matter of reproducing that power more often.

Repeating 4 truly all-out efforts is where I’d like everyone to start if they’re inexperienced, much like we recommend starting with a low-volume plan if you’re an athlete new to structured, power-based training. I hadn’t done this sort of thing before, and once I got a handle on just how hard I could push (and I was only using 20-second jobbers), I had the ‘training flu’ for most of the rest of my morning - hard, hard stuff.

I hope that sheds a bit of light on the matter until I complete these plans. No promise on when they’ll be released, but they are coming.


#4

Yes, very helpful, thanks. However…

Given the few times I’ve done this so far, always in “erg” mode, I’m not sure I know how I’d get to the “near stand-still each time” level. With all of the intervals set to the same power, it’s only on the last couple of intervals that I’m beat up enough that I’m slowing down to a near stand-still.

I’d switch from “erg” to “slope,” and just go all-out for as long as possible, but I’m not very good at pacing. I’m not sure how I’d keep from going too hard or not hard enough on each of the intervals. (Same problem I always had on the 8- and 20-minute tests. This just becomes a series of 30-second tests.)

Maybe I could set the “erg” level so that I start failing on the second or third interval, instead of the last one?


#5

Wow, those things hurt. I was still hurting 15 minutes after the ride.


#6

Atta baby, @tdcarlo!


#7

@woo49, that’s a tough nut to crack, right? I had to do a few “fact-finding” sessions in order to get myself into the 20-second ballpark. But once I found the pretty reliably repeatable wattage, Erg mode actually worked surprisingly well. In fact, I think it kept me as accountable as a real-life coach standing in front of the bike yelling in my face (coupled with some really well-timed songs, of course).

As always, a bit of trial and error is useful, and when it comes to all-out efforts, it’s vital. Seems like pacing wouldn’t be that big of a concern with such short efforts, but it’s just as important as any duration of effort if you’re truly looking to understand your current limits.