WHY OVER AND UNDER TRAINING WILL MAKE YOU A FASTER CYCLIST

Posted On Oct 14, 2021 |

Find out more about our Njinga Over and Under Training session - A great way to boost your FTP whilst preparing you for accelerations out on the road.



There are many facets to becoming a stronger and more capable cyclist, but one which covers a multitude of bases is your Functional Threshold Power (FTP), which is why so much emphasis is placed upon it.

Luckily for us, Functional Threshold Power is trainable and is basically what MOST people try to improve including the pros via a power-based training programme.

Without going into too much detail about FTP (as that is the topic for a blog post all of its own) it is important to understand and accept that FTP is linked to your blood lactate. Therefore, the more lactate acid your muscles are able to process before becoming overwhelmed, the more power you will be able to sustain.

And it’s this link with blood lactate that makes Over/Unders a very effective way of raising your FTP.


WHAT ARE OVER / UNDER INTERVALS

Over/Under intervals involve working just either side of your lactate threshold or FTP. The goal of these intervals is to load your body with an abundance of lactate during the ‘Overs’ and then force it to deal with and process the lactate during the ‘Unders’, when you will still be working at a relatively high intensity.


BENEFITS OF OVER / UNDER INTERVALS

There are many advantages of including over/under intervals into your training:

Increase your FTP Score: Getting used to the build-up of lactate, and teaching your body to deal with it, is one of the quickest and most effective ways of increasing your FTP. 

Replicate demands of riding outdoors: Over and Under intervals are great at mimicking the power demands on the road and improving your ability to deal with these situations when you ride outdoors. For example sticking with a group as it surges, holding onto the wheel of the rider in front of you as they attack a climb, accelerating before a small hill to help carry your momentum up or getting out the saddle at the top of a climb to carry your speed over the top. These are all examples of when this over/under training can help you out on the road.


Improve your climbing ability: In addition to them being an effective way to boost your FTP, Over/Unders can also help you become a faster climber as you will improve your ability to surge above your FTP and then recover whilst still climbing.

Seldom are the climbs we suffer up in the ‘real world’ of uniform gradient or without corners and bends. It is on these changes of gradient and around the bends and switchbacks that the ability to surge above threshold followed by the ability to recover just below it will reap rewards.


COACH TIP: These Over/Unders sessions however are demanding, so the number you can complete during each week will (and should!) be limited. We recommend completing this type of session once a week for the most benefit.


NJINGA SESSION STRUCTURE

You can now understand why, during certain times of the year, we have a weekly group training session dedicated to Over/Unders here at Njinga. Though there are many ways in which you can execute a series of Over/Unders, our typical structure is to start off with three lots of nine-minute blocks, comprising of two minutes at around 90% of FTP followed by a minute at 105% of FTP, repeated three times in each block. The blocks are each punctuated by (a much needed!) five-minute active recovery.

Image Above: Njinga session structure - 3 x 3-minute intervals at 90% of FTP followed by 1 minute at 105% of FTP.


As our cyclists get stronger we can build in progression via increasing the 90% up to 95% across one block.

Image Above: Over/Under session progression - Within Block 1 you can increase the 'under' intervals by 5% so you work at 95% for the first block and remain at 90% for the second and third blocks.


Over time we extend this across two blocks.

Image Above: Over/Under session progression - Within Block 1 and 2 you can increase the 'under' intervals by 5% so you work at 95% for the first and second blocks and remain at 90% for the third block.


Then ultimately across all three blocks.

Image Above: Over/Under session progression - Ultimately you can get to the stage where you are able to increase the 'under' intervals by 5% in all three blocks.


Once you have become comfortable increasing the 'unders' intervals, we then do the same process with the overs. We will gradually push them towards 110% of FTP across all three blocks, increasing one block at a time.


Image Above: Over/Under session progression - Within Block 1 you can increase the 'over' intervals by 5% so you work at 110% for the first block and remain at 105% for the second and third blocks.


Over time we extend this across two blocks.

Image Above: Over/Under session progression - Within Block 1 and 2 you can increase the 'overs intervals by 5% so you work at 110% for the first and second blocks and remain at 105% for the third block.


Then ultimately across all three blocks.

Image Above: Over/Under session progression - Ultimately you can get to the stage where you are able to increase the 'over and under' intervals by 5% in all three blocks.


All of this takes time, dedication and a measured approach.

So regularly committing to this session on a weekly basis is an effective way of achieving your ultimate goal, not easy… but the rewards are there for the brave and the committed.


COACH TIP: Ensure you are well rested before attempting this session as its all about quality over quantity when it comes to training smart. 


WHAT OUR RIDERS HAVE TO SAY

Don't just believe us...Hear from our riders on how they are benefiting from our Over/Under Group Training Session:


"The Under and Over session sounds easy from the description - I wondered what could be difficult about cycling at 90% of my FTP for 2 minutes, then at 105% for 1 minute. By the time I had repeated this 3 times in each of 3 intervals I had burning legs and burning lungs! Chris is very motivating; it's a great session for challenging yourself to ride in specific zones, in order to improve your FTP." Cathy Bell


"I found this session very useful in learning how to maintain my overall average power output whilst alternating between intervals at 90% and 105% of my FTP. Chris does a good job of explaining the merits of this and how to achieve it. His tip on maintaining the correct cadence once you've selected the right gear/resistance was invaluable and a real lightbulb moment for me." Mark Flynn



Ready to try a session? Join one of our Group Training Sessions today

OR

Looking for more structure? Sign up for one of our 8 Week Group Training Programmes



ABOUT CHRIS MURRAY

Chris is a senior Njinga Cycling Coach and qualified Level 3 Cycling Coach. Chris takes regular group training sessions at the Lab and is a keen and experienced road cyclist himself. To find out more Chris and other members of the Njinga Team visit our About Us page.



Categories: Indoor Training

GOT A QUESTION?