After I posted my most recent profile, EDM Muscle Madness, a number of instructors said their riders found it difficult to push into Zone 5 during the strength intervals, even though they were riding as hard as they could. Are these riders doing something wrong because they are not able to hit Zone 5?
I Can’t Stress This Enough
Conditioning the body involves applying appropriate stress to different systems (aerobic, muscular, central nervous, etc.) to force adaptation. Said another way, if the body is not stressed, it will not find a need to strengthen or improve.
Profiles like EDM Muscle Madness emphasize the stress on a specific system—in the case of this profile, the legs. This does not mean that other systems are not being used; they are just not stressed as much.
Failure Is Your Only Option
Failure is not the most pleasant word or thought in any activity, but ironically, can be considered an indication of success during training that expects a maximum effort. This, of course, does not mean absolute system failure, but rather the inability to maintain a high level of stress. The EDM Muscle Madness profile stresses muscular strength, so it would be understandable for a rider’s legs to fail first, before their cardiovascular system.
For example, at the end of a 1-minute muscular strength interval (targeting a cadence of 60–65 rpm), the rider’s legs may greatly fatigue in the last seconds, failing to maintain the cadence. During this same interval, the rider was only able to reach Zone 4. Did they fail to push hard enough? No. Why?