Coach Jack - "Long" blocks too short?


I’ve just created my first training plan using Coach jack, and I selected the “Block” options for VO2, threshold and sweetspot (1 of each per week, rest padded out with basic low aerobic).

However the “blocks” all seem to be really, really short?

For example the VO2 blocks start out at only two minute duration, whereas I thought that VO2 blocks needed to be minimum 3 minutes in duration and that (especially without “hard start” or other tricks) it would take roughly two minutes even to get your heart rate into a suitable zone (greater than 90% of max) and hence total interval length should be 3-5 minutes, which would make these intervals essentially ineffective? It actually even says in the workout notes " Each VO2 Max interval will last 3-5 minutes"… but they’re not, they’re 2 minutes for the first few in the plan and even the hardest ones top out at 4 mins.

Likewise the FTP blocks are typically delivered at say 4x8 (depending on progression) but start out as only 3 minute intervals? I’ve never heard of as short a time as 3 minutes for threshold intervals, is this not far far too short to provide any real stimulus? There’s 24 minutes of total work but surely 3x8 would be far far better than 8x3 as Coach jack is recommending?

And finally the sweetspot - same issue or concern I guess - they’re starting out as 4x8 minutes when sweetspot blocks tpyically start at say 2x15 or 2x20 at a minimum and work up into the >60mins continuous.

Can you clarify on this please? I have the “starting intensity” level for the block set to 10/10, which makes it even stranger to me. I would have expected a minimum effective interval length for each zone (say 3 mins for VO2max, 8mins for Threshold and 20mins for sweetspot, and then use progression obviously, but if you need to scale it back just make it 1x20 at first for the sweetspot - that’s less time in zone but more effective time in zone since its continuous. What I mean is you could do an hour at VO2 power if you did it in 10 seconds on 50 seconds off for a long time, but the actual stimulus would be competely absent since your HR would never lift into the desired zone with the intervals being too short.

Am I way off base here? The interval lengths just don’t gel with any of my understanding to date on effective continuous time in zone for each level of effort.

1 Like

The coach behind these intervals choices (Andrea Morelli) has coached thousands of pro cyclists including Cadel Evens when he won the Tour de France as well as thousands of non-pros. He feels these progressions are perfect. His pros (in the past) were staring the season with 1 minute of threshold (our level 1)

Generally most platforms are pushing people harder than the need to be pushed for adaption and which causes extended need for recovery partially defeating the purpose of doing the the training. It’s better to do less hard but more often. Pros frequently say non-pros are crazy for how hard they train.

So the bottom line is you hear many opposing opinions out there about how you should train. We have taken an opinon that is different than many of the others but has proven succesful. It’s more important to do logical progression starting easy and building to moderately hard, then to need to “kill yourself.”

If you love super hard training then CJ might not be your first choice. You can make it harder for example with the custom options we do have some harder choices. The “crunched VO2max” is longer intervals.

Below is likely to be very hard.

Perfect, thanks!

1 Like

So I want to point out two more things. Coach Jack is more like a tool for building plans, if there are some specific sequences you would love to see and they make sense to us we can add more custom sequences, you can give the idea and I can have Andrea review and make suggestions as to how he would design them. Some of the ones that are there, came from user requests.

We would also argue their is confusion as to what is required to get faster, and for example we would say maximizing CTL/TSS was proven by Dr Seiler (polarized training) is not a requirement. He does like really hard VO2 max sessions though :slight_smile:

One point to address is there is always high degree of individuality and where you are today. If you are doing 4X8’s now then the chances of a 1 minute threshold causing adaption in you is low/zero :slight_smile:

Generally CJ can work for people and if you try the serious Italian with it’s SFR or our the custom Dynamic Force sequences you might see some new adaptions you never expected. I love these workouts and they are not popular today, but wow

Here is a post from one of our users that saw great success with Jack’s plan

New user, first impressions are I really like some the functionality and customization features in the coach Jack plan builder.

I am still experimenting and playing around with the various selection options and yet to decide on my first plan but like the original poster a bit surprised at ease of starting point when selecting starting intensity at 10.

Having come from a few seasons with trainer road I think a shift in mentality is required as the plans seem less intense and probably closer to what a real life coach would subscribe.

Listening to Coach Chad, my guess (total guess) is 12 years ago he was totally bought into Coggan”s obsession with maximizing TSS/day I.e. CTL. And generally that worked well for TR cyclists for some rapid improvements. Once TR was committed to this, even though Coach Chad may have changed his opinion, the ship had already sailed, heading south. It’s pretty hard at that point to go North with a ship that big.

For sure some people will struggle taking the risk to train at what feels so much lighter. Super hard training is even addictive. Look at the spin classes at the gym. Anyway, welcome and best of luck to your winter training.

1 Like