Three minutes at 120% - tips?


I’m in the same boat as you…too many choices for a painful workout :persevere:

For what it last worth, last week I did Agassiz -1 instead of the 5 x 3 in the old SSB 2 and it definitely didn’t feel any easier.


Spencer today… high cadence, loud motivating music & a re-run of Paris Roubaix saw me through. Additionally i always find it helpful to accept its going to hurt before you start, then the reality is normally better than you anticipate.


If you watch Paris-Roubaix from the point they hit Arenberg, Sagan’s crucial attack comes in nearly an hour later. It’s one of the most absorbing tactical 60 minutes of live cycling you can watch.


For 3 minute intervals I’ll usually do:

90 seconds in the saddle
45 seconds out of the saddle
25 seconds in the saddle
20 seconds out of the saddle

This helps give me some intermediate points to shoot for as well as shift the load between muscles.


Like others have said, dialing the intensity down a few % is one option. Another is to create a custom workout where the intervals start at 120% for a minute, and then ramp down to 110% over the next two minutes (similar to Mills). I’ll likely do that, as I don’t think I’m ready yet for the likes of Kaiser.


I made a personal observation, not sure if there’s value to this or if I’m just a bit stronger this year than last. This fall I put an 11x23 cassette on the wheel I use on the trainer (CycleOps Fluid), vs the 11 x 25 or 11 x 28 I’ve had in previous years. I’m able to complete each interval this year and hold the power all the way through, the graph looks much smoother. I feel like it’s easier to find that comfortable cadence at high power when shifting up or down in the middle of the cassette - there’s only a 1 tooth difference on the cog. The graphs look much smoother too… for what it’s worth anyway.


I still have this race recorded on my DVR!


You’re on to something with regards to cadence. The single best thing I am finding from my recent move from a dumb trainer to a Kickr is that the really hard workouts are more makeable when erg mode lets you pick the exact cadence you want on the efforts. Even just a couple rpm can make a difference.


For a three minute interval I usually break down each minute into segments getting progressively smaller as i go. First minute is 2 - 30 second segments, second minute will be either 20 or 15 second segments and then the last will be 10 second segments.
I’ll usually keep my head down and only look up when I think the planned segment is close to finish. That way I am only counting down a few seconds on each segment. It’s much easier to count down from 4 or 3 than 10, 20 or 30. :wink:


I’ll do something similar when I am really hurting but I’ll also count off breaths - for example I count off 10 deep full breaths before I look at the clock again. It makes the time pass but also by focusing on breathing it can actually help with the effort too by getting some more oxygen into the system.


I do this as well. I’m usually not in that zone while racing the bike in triathlon (just hard intervals while training), but once it comes to later in the run (stand-alone or triathlon) I’ll focus on counting breaths to try and take my mind off the hurt.


Hey! I just clued in…you’re the guy who smashes all the workouts on this thread (e.g.):

I vowed never to race you but I might reconsider…only if the race is a 4min@125%! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Love that i’m one of the few crazies who dials the intensity UP a few %!! :crazy_face:
I suffer like a dog in every other zone so I gotta take it where I can get it!


Well I got through 6 out of 9 at 120 percent, better than last time but just too tired by the end, progressively less on the last three, ended at 95 percent

Four minutes at which of our fps? :slight_smile:


everyone’s power systems work differently. you might have a lot of FRC contribution to your FTP test that skewed the number too high. with strong FRC and enough recovery time you can get through intervals pretty well up through Z3. once you are up past Z4 for repeats you have so little FTP contribution that the FRC just runs out. the math does not line up using old school percentages for all people. boiled down 120% might not be a repeatable number for your physiology allowing you to get all the time in zone. you will get more benefit from time in zone than from going slightly too hard for you and blowing up missing those last 2 intervals. my body works like this as well. I can rock an SST effort for over an hour but can’t handle 6x3+3 @ 120% if I go by the 95% of 20min number. my FTP is more like 90% of my 20 minute number. my 3min targets are more like 115-118% on good days if I focus hard on the recovery intervals.

second thing going against you is ERG if you are using it. ERG does not allow microrecoveries that are possible on the road. those 1-2 seconds when you back off the gas and then get right back into it. in ERG if you do that your torque shoots through the roof cause the brake kicks in on the trainer. for 6x3 intervals maybe try the first 2-3 in ERG and then finish them in SIM mode or better yet do all of them self selected .


Exactly what I do… except I try not to look at the time for at least the first 60-90 seconds. It’s always easier if I’m not paying attention. After the first half I know I can complete it.


I was hoping you wouldn’t catch that :persevere::shushing_face:


The interesting thing for me is that I can sustain that 120% for pretty long periods in a single interval outdoors - I just end up suffering so hard indoors on the repeated efforts. I had a 10 minute hill climb on a ride towards the end of the summer at approximately the same power number I was targeting tonight (425 watts for 10 minutes vs 429 watts tonight) - my FTP is likely a bit higher then, but not significantly different


I know a lot of the on screen text during these VO2 workouts suggests a cadence above 100 rpm, but I’ve been trying something different on the last few VO2 workouts. In one of the recent podcasts, Jonathan talked about how he would do the first minute at a preferred cadence, then the second minute he would drop down to a lower cadence to simulate hitting an unexpected situation during a ride or race, then spinning his cadence back up for the last minute. His take is that this would help simulate a real situation in which you have to put a good amount of power down at different cadences. I’ve done this on the last couple of VO2 sessions during the first half of the workout, then the second half I’ll focus on holding down a fast cadence. I feel like this has made the 3 minute VO2 sessions more bearable.

Also, changing your position at certain increments helps to break it into smaller chunks. I’ll do something like 30 seconds in the drops, 30 seconds on the hoods, 30 seconds on the tops. Do it at whatever increments you want, but this also helps as you’re focusing on a smaller amount of time, not the whole 3 minutes.


3mins at 120.% is bloody hard work, and it’s meant to be. Becoming “comfortable” with you lungs pumping, sweat gushing and legs like pistons, you can’t think or do much except gasp for air. I’ll never forget ‘em! :smile:

When your in form and FTP set appropriately the first interval plays out like this for me:

1st minute, my god this is hard I’ll never make it, am I sick? Did I have a beer last night?
2nd minute, hey it’s not so bad, I’m starting to sweat but hey maybe my FTP needs to go up I’m cruising this!
3rd minute, why in the name of all things holy am I doing this? Is this even healthy? I’m heading for collapse or injury…
Recovery first 10s <mind blank, just hauling air into lungs>
Recovery at 45s… hey that wasn’t so bad you know…
…And repeat (if possible).

First thing is are you ready to suffer?
Second failing one interval is nothing
Third check you’re getting enough recovery and sleep between sessions, and your overall plan isn’t grinding you down