high intensity cueing

High-Intensity Creative Cueing Part 2: Anaerobic Efforts of 1 to 3 Minutes

High-Intensity Creative Cueing: Anaerobic Efforts of 1 to 3 Minutes

In the first part of this creative cueing series, I explained the benefit of training at threshold intensity and gave you cues to motivate your riders to pace themselves through longer efforts of about 4 to 20 minutes (or more). Any effort that is over 3 minutes has a much greater aerobic component to it.

However, once you start pushing the intensity so much that it is impossible to continue for longer than about 3 minutes, the effort is predominantly anaerobic. This level of intensity requires its own type of cueing since the physical sensations are different than at threshold.

These intervals of 1 to 3 minutes are uncomfortable, but short. Riders deal with the burning sensation in the legs and lungs caused by anaerobic glycolysis. Some people do not mind this sensation as much as others, perhaps because they know it will be short, or perhaps because of their genetic makeup. Those with a higher percentage of fast-twitch muscle fibers are better suited for this level of intensity. Some riders, on the other hand, dislike this burning in the legs and the pounding of the heart in the chest—they are more likely to favor longer, more moderate endurance activities, due to their higher percentage of slow-twitch muscle fibers.

That latter person is me. I admit, I suffer through anaerobic intervals or segments on my mountain bike where the searing discomfort in my legs screams at me to stop. I would much rather settle into a sub-threshold (or even threshold) pace for a sustained amount of time. But, I recognize these super-intense short efforts are an essential part of doing what I love to do—ride my mountain bike up those narrow paths through the trees. I also know I need to train here indoors if I want to better deal with it on my bike outdoors. And finally, from a fitness perspective, I know these short intervals are a great way to burn calories and keep me fit, as long as I don’t overdo them.

Through your empowering coaching, you can inspire all of your riders to recognize that they can indeed push through that discomfort and deal with the short-lived suffering.


  1. I agree Nina. Our area has been hit by car and bike theft this past year and we would never encourage anyone to steal anything!

  2. Author

    Nina, woah, that would suck. You are right! We meed to be careful with this cue. I think it’s originally from movie (about driving a car) but not sure which one.

  3. Love these cues!! However, as someone who made her living on a bike-I was a bike messenger in SF for two years, and had two bikes stolen during that time, I have a huge problem with using “ride it like you stole it”. I’ve also had race bikes stolen. It’s enraging and heartbreaking to lose your best friend, not to mention your meal ticket. Think twice before using that cue, pleSe!

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