Workouts to improve 1-5 min power

Hi all. So, following a fairly interesting thread I started it looks like while I’m fairly ok to hold A-grade power for longer periods, I’m somewhat lacking in the short power bursts required to hold on when things get a little tasty in Zwift races. Once I’m dropped on a punchy climb, it’s game over.

Among all the training sessions and group workouts on Zwift (I don’t subscribe to any others) what should I concentrate on? And how regularly do I need to do them? Once a week plus a race, or more ? Thanks.

Much better qualified members than I will no doubt be along shortly, but workouts such as…


It seems like you already have a pretty good foundation for your endurance riding and 20 minute power so what you’re looking for is the tools to round out your explosive power in the 1-5 minute range. The first training plan that comes to mind for this type of development would be the Crit Crusher plan which is designed for competent riders looking to build on their attack power.

Thanks everyone. How regularly should I do training - I’ve never had a structured plan as such, I just do a race every now and then. Would a race and a training session per week make any noticeable change, or does training need to be more regular?

So to preamble this with the fact it’s my opinion (not Zwift) and I’m by no means an expert…

I tend to ride 6 days a week. I would look at doing 1 or 2 races weekly, with 2 recovery sessions, one moderate and one intervals. That wouldn’t have as quick of an impact as a dedicated training plan would, but I think it’s more sustainable and I’d be less likely to burn out from interval fatigue / boredom.

1 Like

5 minute VO2 intervals are pretty tough mentally (and physically). I find it a bit easier both mentally and from the perspective of keeping a reasonable cadence to break the longer VO2 intervals into 2 minutes on/ 20-25 seconds off (8 minute lower VO2’s intervals are also much more achievable this way). The other approach taken by the Zwift academy workouts is to use micro-intervals.


I do several VO2 workouts but not the same time.
I define my VO2 as the max effort I can sustain for the defined duration.
This is probably an incorrect use of the term.

I ride 4 days a week and race one of those days and rest (due to work) 3 days a week (M-W-F).
I’m not a trainer so basically this is just what I do.
I’m interested in how it compares with what others do and if there are any glaring mistakes.
At 57, rest and recovery to avoid injury and over use is a major consideration.

Some days I focus on 60 sec intervals other days 90, sec 120 sec or 5 min.
I recently added 30 sec intervals.
Usually my workouts are 6 of the max effort intervals with adequate rest in between.
I rest between my intervals at least the same amt of time as the duration of the interval and as the workout progresses, I will freq extend the rest period up to twice as long.
That way I can have a quality interval and hit and maintain the target.
I think it important to ensure adequate rest between the individual intervals in order to maximize the gains.

My 5 min intervals, I will vary my cadence while maintaining the max effort. The first interval is my natural cadence then I will try to decrease by 20 on the next (increase resistance) and then increase cadence by 20 (decrease resistance) on the next then repeat for a total of 6 intervals.

I’m amazed at how different each of these intervals vary from each other.
While a good 60 or 90 sec power will help your 30 sec power, there was not as much crossover as I expected and I appear to have to spend time training each interval.
This became apparent when I looked at my numbers on the Interval web site.

Training sessions for recovery are different. These are done on another day.
There I try to maintain a certain power during the rest period (usually sweet spot) and the the higher power interval is used just to push me to near failure (or some certain HR) then I focus on recovery at sweet spot.

I also try to throw an endurance ride in once a week (2-3 hours) at a specific but non race power (2-2.5 FTP)

I used the Wringer as a basis for 30 sec intervals but I think this workout has some flaws (for me). I think 12 such intervals is too many and the Wringer has decreasing recovery duration between the intervals so I designed my own.

A good place to start when defining your power intervals is to look at your current numbers either on Zwift or Intervals and plug that number in (or add 20 - 50 watts) and do a session of 6 intervals and see how it goes and adjust from there.

6 intervals doesn’t sound like much but 6 truly max intervals wipes me out.
In the future I can add additional intervals but if I’m able to do more does that mean the individual intervals are no longer max efforts for that duration?
I guess with adequate rest between intervals, I could do more but these are really really hard and for now I’m good with 6.

This gives me a goal for every ride and I try to remember that as an amateur, my easy days are not easy enough and my hard days are not hard enough unless I set specific goals.

hills, lots of hills and also riding with more powerful riders to make me go harder for longer on the flats, full gas up the volcano climb/leith hill/box hill/titans grove/hilly kom etc will help improve the 1-8 minute ranges

I found just doing occasional races was pretty helpful. Might not work if you’re utterly outclassed from the get-go.

Also TTTing with a suitable team. Which is probably more fun than being dropped early in races :slight_smile:

disclaimer: i’m not a coach, but i do my own programming with good results, and my programming is a little different to what i usually see on the internet. it might work for you, maybe not.

A: 1 to 5-8 min max efforts with full z1 rest between (15 mins+). if you’re doing your absolute max you only need to do 2 or 3 of these per workout (3 for 1-3 min, 2 for 5+) because you will not be able to do more, physically or psychologically.

that will raise your ceiling for a given effort, other stuff like repeatability and base fitness just comes naturally from any other riding or racing you do, but make sure you’re enjoying whatever else it is you do on the bike or these max intervals will not feel like they’re worth it and you won’t progress. ultimately, you have to want to do it, or you wont do it.

make some custom workouts for these because zwift doesn’t really offer anything like this and dont use erg mode. i do this stuff outdoors in the summer, i don’t do anything except try to have fun on zwift in the winter, while the weather is bad, some racing, some sporadic efforts, maybe a couple PR attempts. not a lot of structure

some people have success with 40/20s or some variant of closely spaced intervals with short rest periods, i don’t. my personal opinion is that you won’t get better at max efforts if you don’t do max efforts

B: gym. a lot of sticking points in cycling can basically be solved by just literally getting stronger, it’s not really more complicated than that. dont try to combine gym work with hard training on the bike… keep it easy on the bike

3 days of work per week is OK, for the other 4, easy, maybe a little tempo rarely so your ftp doesnt end up completely in the gutter from doing this stupid hyper specialized training program, or a day off if you need it.

keep a training diary, like a physical pen and paper diary and write down how you’re feeling, what training you did each day, how you slept, ate, all that stuff. i think everyone who trains and intends to reach a high level should be doing this

sorry about the length. actually, i really only care about 1 minute power, but if you get really good at 1min power, the rest just kind of follows. you need to do efforts up to 3 mins to train that anyway

1 Like