08 Mar Over-Unders: What Makes Them A Great Workout?
Over-under intervals offer an excellent training stimulus for getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. By alternating segments at OVER and UNDER a set intensity (typically threshold or FTP), riders can log a longer average time at the goal wattage than a steady attempt.
The general principle of over-unders can be done using any intensity simply to keep a workout more interesting. However, the main benefit of doing these intervals in Zone 4 (at threshold) is to teach your body to use the lactate that builds up as fuel so that the lactate is removed and does not accumulate in the muscles.
-Over-unders can make a workout more motivating because of the shorter more manageable intervals.
-The pattern of acceleration/ deceleration mimics outdoor riding as when we surge to catch the pack and then settle in to stay with a group, or when we accelerate and push up over the top of a hill as the gradient gets steeper and ride solidly off the top.
-Riders can learn that they are capable of pushing higher watts for a timeframe and still be able to recover with a little bit of reprieve. Knowing that comparative rest is coming (the unders), can help maintain a positive mindset positive and protect against panic. Holding high watts without any “rest” can feel more daunting. For example, in a 20-minute FTP test most riders try to hold the same high watts for the whole time which, at minute three or seven or 14 can feel overwhelming when there’s still so much to go!
Here is a short 20-minute workout:
After a solid warm up do:
30s at 115%/2mins at 95% x 4, rest 4mins and repeat set (as many times as you want)
Always finish with a good cool down spin.