This concept in a nutshell: Forget heart monitors or power meters. Go flat out when riding intervals up to 5 minutes long.
Coach Dean Golich is not only infamous for his block training, he also preaches a heretical approach to doing intervals. He counsels his riders to ignore the usual methods of gauging intensity, such as heart monitors and power meters. He eschews elaborate training zones based on percentages of max heart rate or lactate threshold.
Instead, Golich argues, every interval should be ridden as hard as you can. What’s more, he doesn’t want you to ride a 3-minute interval at a steady high pace, calculating how hard to push so you can last the distance. No such luck. Instead, he wants you to start the interval with a sprint and hang on for all you’re worth.
“Don’t pace yourself,” says Golich. “Start each interval flat out. You’ll be struggling at the end, but that’s okay. That’s when you get the adaptation.”
Golich likes to invoke the “30 miles per hour rule” which states that if you never go 30 mph, you’ll never go 30 mph.
Put another way, if you don’t train at race intensities, you won’t be able to go that fast in a race. Don’t expect to do well at your goal pace, whether it’s 30, 25 or 20 mph, if you consistently train at lower speeds. If your goal is 25 mph in a time trial, start your interval with a hard charge off the line, then do your best to hold that pace. As you get tired, your speed will decrease but your effort won’t.
“If you do intervals this way, next week or next month you’ll be able to hold the speed longer,” says Golich. “You’ll feel fatigue but it will be temporary. It isn’t overtraining, so tough it out.”
Gearing is crucial to this type of interval training. If you start the effort in a relatively large gear at a reasonable cadence, say 90 rpm, and you don’t shift down, your cadence will get slower and slower as you fatigue.
Most cyclists aren’t accustomed to progressively shifting lower during an interval’s work session. They equate it with giving in. But for Golich’s intervals, effort is the most important thing, then comes high cadence. Gearing is a distant third—it’s only a tool to help you work as hard as you can. There’s no shame in shifting down. In fact, it’s necessary to keep effort flat out and your knees healthy.
Won’t such intensity lead to chronic fatigue? No, Golich argues, as long as you rest properly after these hard workouts.
We’ll follow up next week with Part 2 of this short series, including a few caveats to follow if considering this “all out” training method.