If you enjoyed this article, please join our email list. We have often heard in business or sports that "less is more." On the other hand, we hear of countless athletes in cycling or other sports training everyday for hours and hours. They go out for 6 hour bike rides 3 or 4 days a week. They log 20-30 hours a week on the saddle. They might be fast, but are they maximizing their real potential? What's the real secret sauce to performance gains?
A study by the University of Copenhagen showed that swimming athletes who performed 4 weeks of high intensity training increased their performance by 15%. During the study, these athletes trained 50-60% less than their regular training routine. The study says, "Apparently, high intensity training is a prerequisite for elite trained athletes to gain further adaptations."
The cyclists in the study increased their power by 5%. ANY elite level athlete would love another 5% in performance gain.
The article does not expand on what specific high intensity efforts the athletes performed, however I think it's safe to say that their efforts were less than 2 minutes in duration.
What does high intensity training do for you? Incorporating 1-2 minute intense intervals as part of your training for 3-4 days a week will allow your body to adapt on many levels. Your lungs will adapt to extra oxygen absorption demands. Your muscles and stomach will dissipate lactic acid better. Overall, your body learns to adapt to greater demands of high intensity.
I often use Hill Repeat intervals for my very intense training needs. I'll use a climb that takes about 1.5 to 2 minutes to climb, throw it into a big gear and climb as fast as I can. My muscles and lungs scream with pain. My mind says that I cannot take it anymore. My stomach is ready to release everything. Only then do I know that I'm accomplishing a solid high intensity workout. Repeat the effort 5-6 times. Ouch! High intensity is recommended only after a solid amount of base miles. It's recommended to have logged about 1500-2000 miles before turning to high intense workouts.
Instead of big miles, go for extra intensity and watch your performance and endurance increase. Less is actually more. Are you going to change your training routine this season?