OverUnder Climbing Intervals Workout


, by Jim Rutberg

To truly become a fast climber it’s important to also develop the ability to surge above your high intensity and then recover while still climbing. That’s exactly what OverUnder Intervals help you develop.

We’ve worked with the coaches who created our Premium Cycling Training Plans to bring you a free weekly workout. Check back each week for something new to mix up your training. If you’ve missed the past workouts, you can find them all on the Cycling Weekly Workout page.

This week coach Nick White explains the importance of being able to repeatedly surge above your sustained threshold intensity during a climb. OverUnder Intervals are featured in our climb and medium climb Training Plans.

Why This Workout Is Awesome

While it might be nice to train on a consistent grade, real world climbs have steep sections and areas where they flatten out. There are corners and switchbacks that disrupt your rhythm. So, while it’s important to develop as much climbing power as you can at your lactate threshold, to truly become a fast climber you have to also develop the ability to surge above that intensity and then recover while maintaining a threshold effort. That’s exactly what OverUnder Intervals help you develop.

Coach’s Perspective

OverUnder intervals will help you to maintain a higher pace and power output during 12-40 minute climbs where you’ll be maintaining a higher pace and power output than during long and epic climbs (>40 minutes).

OverUnders are relatively simple to execute but somewhat difficult to describe. Let’s take a 10-minute OverUnder Interval as an example. The training plan will say 10minute OU (4U, 1UO), which means you are supposed to alternate between 4 minutes at your Under intensity and 1 minute at your Over intensity, twice. In other words, 4min Under, 1min Over, 4min Under, 1min Over, then recover for 5 minutes between intervals. There is no rest between the Over and Under segments of the interval, you are riding at your sustainable climbing intensity (Under) and then you surge to ride over that sustainable intensity (Over) before returning to your sustainable intensity.

As athletes get more advanced we often make the intervals longer and make the Over segments more frequent, like a (2U, 1O) setup or even a (1U, 1O) setup.

Why Bother With All This Surging?

Because the surges generate a lot of lactate and when you return to your sustainable climbing intensity you then have to continue riding at a pretty high power output while processing that lactate back to usable energy. The adaptation you’re looking for is an increased rate at which you can process that lactate, which will help you recover faster from surges and also help increase your lactate threshold power.

Here’s The Workout:

90 Minutes Ride Time

  • 20 minute warmup,

  • Interval Set: 4×10 minute OverUnder Intervals (4U, 1O) (55 minutes for interval set)

  • 15 minute cool down.

Ready for More?

One day is just a tease. Unlock your full potential with a four-weekCycling Training Plan. Strava Premium members get access to 10 customizable plans. Each program is specifically geared towards making you faster for a specific segment length. Workouts get emailed to you every day that tell exactly what to do.

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