FTP intervals on hills and HR

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FTP intervals on hills and HR

Postby Ignoto » Mon Jan 06, 2014 1:17 pm

Due to the limited time I have, I'm not able to have a separate training day for hill repeats and FTP so I decided to combine the two. Previously I have been doing this type of intervals on a flat course based on my max HR and then working out the appropriate HR zones (I don't have the cash for a power metre just yet, so I'm making do with what I've had).

Now my concern is, going from the flats to the hill, should I adjust the HR zones I use? From what I've read, you obviously require more power going up a hill than on the flat. So, to hit the same marks would I use a lower HR on the hills to get a similar work out to the flats? Say my HR zone for FTP is meant to be 171 - 179 on the flat, should I adjust this to be say, 167-174.

Or is it simply a case of still utilizing a similar HR zone and "pushing" more watts? Hopefully I've done my research right, but please let me know if I'm way off the mark.
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by BNA » Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:27 pm

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Re: FTP intervals on hills and HR

Postby toolonglegs » Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:27 pm

Well :P ... if you know your ftp then you won't be pushing more watts on the hill than on the flat...well sort of.
Your heart rate may vary... it always does. Hills are more fun, your body will heat up more on a climb with reduced air flow etc. But if your ftp is say 300w ... then it is basically going to be the same on a hill as on the flat.
Personally I would be using HR and PE ( perceived effort ) to feel how hard I was pushing it.
Basically if you are pushing harder on the hill than on the flat and you can hold those extra watts for the entire work out... well then maybe you underestimated your ftp a bit :D .
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Re: FTP intervals on hills and HR

Postby ausrandoman » Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:45 pm

I find I can maintain higher power for longer intervals on moderately steep climbs than on the flat. This cannot be a matter of physics: power = force x velocity or torque x rpm wherever you are. It might be a matter of physiology but I don't know enough to say. I suspect it is partly psychological - I like hills :)

Whatever the reason, when my most intense workouts are due, I head for the hills.
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Re: FTP intervals on hills and HR

Postby Ignoto » Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:11 am

toolonglegs wrote:Well :P ... if you know your ftp then you won't be pushing more watts on the hill than on the flat...well sort of.


Yeah that's true from what I've read. But to push 300w on the Flat you could be doing say 35km an hour with a HR of 170, but up a hill of 8-9%, 300w may only get you 12km with a HR of 180. So I guess that's where I find myself a little stuck, that to hit the same theoretical power (theory because I don't have a Power Metre :P) that I should be using less intensity up a hill than the flat.

That's not to say I would back down from the additional challenge, it was quite the experience yesterday going up the hills compared to the flat. What it means is, I'm more limited in the style of FTP intervals I can do on the hill, ie 4 x 10m instead of 2 x 20m or 3 x 13m.

toolonglegs wrote:Personally I would be using HR and PE ( perceived effort ) to feel how hard I was pushing it.


I thought that, but then with the additional factors of heat as you mentioned (it was god awful humid yesterday in Brisbane), that my PE goes through the roof in the hills compared to the flats.

toolonglegs wrote:Basically if you are pushing harder on the hill than on the flat and you can hold those extra watts for the entire work out... well then maybe you underestimated your ftp a bit :D .

One day I'll get some proper testing done, but for now this beginner amateur will have to do with the basics ;)

ausrandoman wrote:Whatever the reason, when my most intense workouts are due, I head for the hills.


I agree completely. With the added intensity of the hills, do you find yourself doing less FTP sessions to ensure you don't overcook yourself? Or is it simply a case of sucking it up?
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Re: FTP intervals on hills and HR

Postby Cul » Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:37 pm

Power will be generally relative to a heart rate at which your body can produce such force particularly on longer intervals. I've done 20min tests on flat, and on a hill and I found only a difference of one or two BPM given the same wattage. YMMV!

As for using hills for FTP intervals, if thats what works best for you it's fantastic and you will find you work harder and likely much closer to your FTP on the hills. 4 x 10min would be fine but try and keep the rest to a minimum. Maybe once or twice a month find a bigger suitable climb and hit up 2x20 just to mix things up a bit.


As someone mentioned above, they find they can push harder on the hills this is not only psychological but physiological; there was an article on Cycling Tips about this very subject not long ago.
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Re: FTP intervals on hills and HR

Postby kb » Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:00 pm

Of course, if there's a physiological component it raises the question of whether it's better to work on what gives you higher numbers or matches what you're training for. Probably a bit of both :-)
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Re: FTP intervals on hills and HR

Postby toolonglegs » Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:01 pm

Once you have ridden with a pm it is obvious how much over ftp you are probably going at the start of the climb... holding ftp should feel pretty easy at the start of a climb.
That's why if you haven't got a pm you need to use a combination of things... heart rate won't reach ftp levels till a few minutes or more into the climb ( if it comes up really fast you probably went out to hard )... hence you need to combine perceived effort. Or if it is a very steady gradient average speed.
Basically practice makes perfect... do it a dozen times and you will know what is a sustainable steady level to climb at over and over again.
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Re: FTP intervals on hills and HR

Postby boss » Tue Jan 14, 2014 1:53 pm

IMHO any sort of interval training without a power meter is going to be guesswork, HR is so variable that it's not funny... just suck it up and use a mix of riding by perceived exertion and HR.

I.e. if your heart rate is saying you're at functional threshold, but you still feel ok (and you're a ways into the climb), crank it up, because you probably aren't actually at your threshold.

And if you're serious about your training, save your pennies for a stages or a powertap. Forget new kit, forget new wheels, forget all that stuff. If you're even slightly serious and have some discipline, a PM will be the best money you've ever spent on your bike.

Also don't skim over my comments about HR being variable. It's ridiculously variable. I still use a HR monitor (most of the time) but only for utilisation afterwards to check out my body's response to the load, it can give interesting insight into if you're training too hard or not hard enough. But for pacing intervals, HR is pretty wishy-washy.
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Re: FTP intervals on hills and HR

Postby Ignoto » Tue Jan 14, 2014 4:22 pm

toolonglegs wrote:heart rate won't reach ftp levels till a few minutes or more into the climb ( if it comes up really fast you probably went out to hard )... hence you need to combine perceived effort.


Yeap and I've been keeping that in mind as I've been doing this. The only downside I've found with going off perceived effort is towards the end of the last interval, being fatigued, my PE of the same climb at the same speed goes up. But I'm keeping that in mind.

toolonglegs wrote:Basically practice makes perfect... do it a dozen times and you will know what is a sustainable steady level to climb at over and over again.


The second time around wasn't too bad. It was bloody tough adding an extra interval in (only started off with three), but managed to keep everything fairly consistent and timing wise and distance of all 4 intervals were within an acceptable fatigue level ie 10metres.

boss wrote:
And if you're serious about your training, save your pennies for a stages or a powertap. Forget new kit, forget new wheels, forget all that stuff. If you're even slightly serious and have some discipline, a PM will be the best money you've ever spent on your bike.


Oh I'd love to get a stages, but they haven't released the FSA version just yet. So it's either a powertap or Vector. I was hoping Garmin would release at CES a one pedal vector as they could sell it at a comparable price point to the stages. I'd love a PM and it'll be on the horizon of purchases, just right now, after buying a new bike it's a way off!
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Re: FTP intervals on hills and HR

Postby Xplora » Tue Jan 14, 2014 10:48 pm

If you want power, ignore the new bike. You will pace better, ride harder, be more awesome with a PM. 750 bucks for my Quarq. Better legs is faster than 300gms for lighter wheels or frame.

It doesn't make a difference to some people, but if you're trying to do perceived effort with intervals and you've noticed such big differences on flats and climbing, then your RPE is way off base. No drama. My RPE sucks bad.
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Re: FTP intervals on hills and HR

Postby Ignoto » Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:27 am

Xplora wrote:If you want power, ignore the new bike. You will pace better, ride harder, be more awesome with a PM.


The bike has already been bought :(

Xplora wrote:It doesn't make a difference to some people, but if you're trying to do perceived effort with intervals and you've noticed such big differences on flats and climbing, then your RPE is way off base. No drama. My RPE sucks bad.


I wouldn't say I've noticed a big difference in RPE and intervals on the flats and climbing, but the "feedback" of RPE comes sooner on the hills than on the flats (which is understandable).

At the end of the day, I do realise more gains will be made with a PM along with the consistency. It's something on the horizon that I will be getting, right now going off RPE and HR is my only option (along with comparing past distances in the same time). Hopefully by training this way, it'll help me atleast set the foundation on a training schedule and the type of pain I should be expecting for when I do have a PM and train "properly".
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Re: FTP intervals on hills and HR

Postby boss » Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:35 am

If your only reason not to drop $800 on a Stages is your chainset, consider purchasing a different chainset.

Ultegra 6700 chainset goes for about $200 these days via the likes of Wiggle et al.

You can most certainly train and get better without a PM, I have just found the PM gives me a degree of surety about whether or not what I am doing is working, and guides me appropriately. Comparing the way I train now to how I previously trained, its like I used to have a blindfold on!

There is also nothing better than working hard into the wind and afterwards analysing your ride and seeing that while your time sucked, the wattage was a PB. Those rides are the ones would have though "Oh the wind wasn't that bad, I must be losing fitness" and then I'd ramp up my training and get super fatigued.
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Re: FTP intervals on hills and HR

Postby Xplora » Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:47 pm

Don't get me wrong, Ignoto, there is nothing "wrong" with training the way you are. The Cannibal and dozens of brutal Hard Men didn't even have HR to go by. My point was simply this - the reason you train to power is so you can IGNORE RPE and IGNORE HR. Your legs and more importantly more mind will say 'go and get stuffed, this SUCKS" a lot faster than your legs can deliver. Power simply allows you to trust your legs, not your mind or your heart. I was seeing 350W 30 second averages in my race last night, and my MIND was saying "wow, you're in big trouble, mate" while my HR was close to max on my first break attempt. If I relied on my mind, I'd be stuffed, because my data proves to me that I can do that 350W average power a dozen times in an hour without concern. I can punch out 600W a few times over 30 seconds to establish a break. That is absolute torture if you're on the trainer and have nothing except the numbers to look at.... on a hill, you're facing the same struggle. You think "this is manageable" and at some point you think "oh man, where can I stop?". Mentally, it's very hard to know what you can do. I prefer to blow up, and work harder at pacing myself in the early stages of the effort... but you can't do that from RPE or HR because they don't respond the same way.

Sounds like you'll get the power soon, and you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about. Ride hard, ride often :)
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Re: FTP intervals on hills and HR

Postby boss » Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:57 pm

Yeah, what Xplora said!
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Re: FTP intervals on hills and HR

Postby dalai47 » Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:47 pm

Xplora wrote: My point was simply this - the reason you train to power is so you can IGNORE RPE and IGNORE HR.


The risk of ignoring RPE when training and racing is not being able to race to the best of your ability if the PM stops working during a race... It is important to continue to refine your RPE using the PM Wattage in case this eventuates and it can!

As to the mind going before the legs - depends on the individual...
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Re: FTP intervals on hills and HR

Postby anttismo » Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:51 am

The other good point about a power meter for me is that it keeps my PE in reasonable calibration. I ride a lot in the dark - did a threshold run up the 1:20 this morning in the dark - so I can't actually see power during the effort. So I'm just going on feel with a bit of experience. It is nice to look at the data now and see that the time was not great but OK, the wind was up a bit, but power was a PB. And that was how it felt (hard!!), and it was well paced on perceived effort. For the record it was 367W for 19 mins, which might sound OK until I tell you I'm 98 kg :lol:
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Re: FTP intervals on hills and HR

Postby dalai47 » Thu Jan 16, 2014 9:26 am

Nice work on the power PB.Kg is often omitted in the Watts discussion and definitely puts it in context.
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Re: FTP intervals on hills and HR

Postby boss » Thu Jan 16, 2014 3:34 pm

3.74w/kg for 20 min ain't bad mate, especially for a big bloke! Good work.

That brute power does count for something on the flats...
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