The BigCat's 3 Go-To Interval Workouts

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Ahh, intervals. Everyone’s favorite part of cycling! Dread no further, and feel overwhelmed no more, Coach Frank “BigCat” Overton drops some knowledge and watt bombs about his top 3 go-to interval workouts this week on the pod. It’s that time of year to start thinking about switching from base to race with early season races looming on the horizon, so intervals are the prescription. In this podcast, Frank shares some wisdom on his top 3 interval workouts that are versatile to a variety of races and cycling disciplines, so that you can feel more confident in your training this year:

  • Zone 4: 3 x 8 minutes ON 4-8 minutes off.
  • Zone 5: 2 sets of 2 x 3 min On 3 min OFF
  • Zone 6: 2 sets of 3 x 1 min On 1 min Off , 115 % of your FTP and higher like 150%

For more on interval training go back and listen to our 5th episode ever:

How to Perform Intervals Podcast [Episode 5], June 21, 2018

Intervals 101 Podcast March 7, 2019

[The Right Way To Perform VO2 Max Intervals with Your PowerMeter](

Snoop Dogg’s Hollywood Star Speech

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We’ll be back next week to help you get faster on the bike!


Really interesting podcast.

Can you look to pair different types of intervals within a week/block of training or should you build them in layers?

i.e. 1 x Z4 and 1 x Z5 per week for 6-8 weeks (covering 2 zones in one block) or
2 x Z4 for 6 weeks then 2 x Z5 for 6 weeks (cover 1 zone in each block)

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Thanks for listening @gbitaraf

I don’t see why not - of course it would all depend on the training plan design and what you are training for. For our stage race interval training plan design where you need good VO2 power as well as threshold power we design it like this (see week 3, day 17 & 18) :

Thanks Frank. Training for CX season Sept - Jan. I’m currently following a variation of your SS plan where I build tempo and SS. I have time to put in 2 x ‘Threshold’ blocks with a SS builder in the middle (although what I thought was threshold was prob Z5 so I’m wondering whether to do a Z4 & 5 block then a Z5 and 6 block in the lead up to the season.

I have your CX intervals plan but mostly Z6 as the intervals so don’t want to miss the building blocks before this?

For cyclocross @gbitaraf I would #FtFP our CX plans bc they have the CX intervals you should do.

Also our off season CX plans do not have any VO2 nor threshold work in them (not short enough to be ‘crossy) AND per our timing is everything podcast - chill out on the intervals I. February as it relates to this coming Fall.

Jus saved you doing some VO2’s

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Hi Frank Great Listen,

Could you help i have just entered a 3 day stage race which is in 6 weeks.
i have just come off a weeks training camp so had a rest week then done me ftp test today.
The issue i have is i only have this week to train before i have another week off due to my wifes birthday so going away,which is great.
I will then have 4 weeks till stage race, so not sure what would be best to do this week…
should i start something like above for a stage race plan or continue to build ctl up this week with ss,base,then start the stage race plan once am back off holidays.thanks
I have built my ctl upto 80 from January from base sweetspot and probably sprinkling in some higher intensity.


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To ERG, or not to ERG, that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the legs to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous interval workouts on a smart trainer while in ERG mode
Or to take legs against a sea of troubles on said same smart trainer while in Resistance mode

Hi @peterbracken - I’d get on our stage race plan but try to customize it around all that you have going on (wife’s birthday, race schedule, rest weeks, etc…)

We can help you customize to a point here (with directed questions) or in the form of a coaching subscription - where we got into your TrainingPeaks and of course a custom designed for you training plan per our one on one coaching services.

Either way - good luck and remember to FtFP! :muscle:

Sorry if my question got caught in Hamlet’s verse. Was wondering if I should do these intervals with ERG turned on or off if I’m forced by weather to do the workout on a smart trainer. Thanks

Thank you Coach Frank!

On Tuesday I tried the 2 sets of 1-min zone 6 workout, but modified to 5x1-min as thats what I’ve done in the past on the trainer (but at 120%). @FRANK do you see any issues with doing two sets of 5x1-min vs two sets of 3x1-min? After all the sweet spotting and zone2 work, it was interesting to see this workout produce some nice bumps in 90-day bests from 2:48 to 6:44 which are all right there in the 3-6min long vo2max portion of the PDC. Also some unexpected 90 day bests in 7:48 - 10:48 portion of PDC.

Thanks for the 5 star podcast!

For all ‘full gas’ intervals like zones 4 , 5 & 6 turn off the ERG mode and give 'er all you got! You might surprise yourself and be able to do more than what the ERG mode called for. And more watts in this case during your intervals leads to more watts in your FTP and events. :muscle:

@ bsquared What does the plan say? #FtFP

The plan will provide the progression from sets and reps of intervals.

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Great podcast - a really interesting listen. Just want to make sure I’m on message here though. I’m on the 18 week sweetspot plan (week 8). I assume I’m ftfp rather than introducing these intervals now. Is that right?

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Correct (I think - don’t know when you racing begins or A race is) but then get on one of our race specific interval plans

@FRANK and other coaches,

I have an international relocation for work and some vacation coming up this summer that will throw a few wrenches into my training consistency. To be a good Dad/husband and manage all the logistics of moving at the same time, I may only have 4-5 hours to ride per week for about a month. I was wondering if these go-to workouts are good ones to do when I’m trying to maintain fitness during a few chaotic weeks? Or, are there other workouts that are better for that? I don’t have any competitive events on the calendar, so I’m really just focusing on building my FTP as much as possible over the next several months and don’t want to detrain too much during that transition period.

I’ve got the 18 weeks of Sweet Spot, Part 4 SS Polarized, and the Gravel Grinder Intermediate Hilly plans that I can pull workouts from.

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Take a look at our Corona plan - I included all the best one hour indoor friendly workouts in that plans design