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ASK GCN: INCREASE ENDURANCE WITHOUT RIDING LONGER OR MORE OFTEN

on November 05, 2018

Question: Is there a way to train for endurance while being time crunched? Meaning, is there a way to increase endurance without riding longer? Or are consistently long rides the only proper method?

Great question, and one that applies to pretty much anyone training on a bike. When athletes talk about increasing endurance, they’re really referring to improving their Aerobic Efficiency.

POWER PRODUCTION

The more efficient you are at processing fat and carbohydrate aerobically, the higher your sustainable power. Meaning, you can produce more power in fewer heartbeats. Higher aerobic efficiency also allows you to operate at a lower percentage of VO2 max at endurance pace, which preserves glycogen stores for the high-intensity efforts usually needed at the end of a ride. So how do we achieve this?

By focusing on training that targets mitochondria. The powerhouse of the cell, bigger and better mitochondria in muscle cells increase your capacity to break down carbohydrate and fat into usable energy more quickly. Thus, you’re more efficient.

MAKING MORE MITOCHONDRIA

The Zwift workout below is designed to do exactly that. You’ll perform 30sec to 2 min efforts at VO2 max intensity of 106~120% FTP, with 3min recovery. Doing anywhere up to 20 of these efforts would be an effective session. Because the intervals last less than 2min, this is NOT a VO2 max session.

In repeated 30sec to 2min efforts, you should feel your breathing rate increase in the last 15-20sec of each interval. This means that your muscles will have an increased need for oxygen while still working aerobically. This triggers your body to produce more mitochondria within the muscle cells. Because it requires very precise interval and recovery periods, it’s the ideal session to perform on Zwift.

TRAINING TIPS

  • Ride with a high cadence for the interval portion. Maintaining a high cadence improves the aerobic stimulus.
  • The intervals are not maximal efforts. They are nice controlled efforts with stable power produced.

DOWNLOAD AND IMPORT THE WORKOUT

You can download the recommended workout here. Next, you'll want to import the workout into Zwift and get training. This article explains how to import.

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