Performing Intervals Manually with Optimize

You may perform your structured workouts outside or indoors, or on your bike computer or Zwift. 

It's not hard and the flexibility is not only liberating but actually good for your training. 

You need to know the basics of your day's workout, your training zones, and what not to worry about.

You can do your workouts indoors or outdoors, with or without a power meter, even manually on Zwift.  Here's a 4 step process how:

Step 1 - Know your day's workout

If you are following a plan in Optimize, your day's workout is laid out by time in different zones. Sometimes the whole workout is in zone 2. Sometimes it's simply doing a group ride. And sometimes it is an interval day.

Commit the basic day's plan to memory before you head out the door or hop on the trainer.

For interval workouts, look at the number and duration of the intervals — and which zone they are in.  In the workout above it is Zone 5 for 3 minutes.  Four reps broken up into 2 sets.

Those are the parts to remember.

Step 2 - Know your zones

Power-based workouts are all about power zones. At FasCat, we use the standard 7-zone methodology, plus Sweet Spot, which overlaps the top end of zone 3 (tempo) and the bottom end of zone 4 (lactate threshold). 

The Optimize app calculates your power zones for you. The first time you use it, go to Profile, then Training Zones, and enter your functional threshold power (FTP) and threshold heart rate at the top of the chart, and the chart calculates the zones from there.


Don't know your THRESHOLD ? No problem; our training plans begin with a field test to determine. (Warm up, ride steadily as hard as you can for 20 minutes; 92.5% of your best 20 min average power is your threshold power)

Training with heart rate and not power? No problem. Just take your average heart rate for that 20-minute all-out test for your threshold heart rate.

Step 3 - Use your computer for time and power

Ride in Zone 2 (reference above) to where you are going to 'do' your interval work.  It doesn't matter if your power bounces all over the place or if there are stops and starts - this is your warm up time. 

  • When it is time for you to begin your interval, start on a multiple of 1 minute, for example 30 minutes total time.  In the workout above the interval is 3 minutes.  Pedal harder between 277w and 318w per your Zone 5 (zones example above).  
  • Use your real time power or heart rate readout (3sec or 10sec smoothing is fine too) to know if you should pedal harder or easier in order to keep your power above 277w yet below 318w. 
  • One trick we recommend is to round my zones to make them easier to remember in the moment - 277 becomes 275 and 318 becomes 320.   Hold my 3 minute VO2 max power between 275 - 320 watts - easier to remember.
  • Since you began your interval at 30 minutes, your 3 minute interval will be done at 33 minutes.  You can also hit the Lap button but it is not necessary. 
  • Rest by pedaling easy in Zone 1 & 2 for 3 more minutes, from 33 to 36 minutes like the workout above and then begin the second interval.
  • During this rest is where you may turn around for hill repeats or re-position yourself on the road.
  • After the 2nd interval there is a set break of an additional 3 minutes, for 6 minutes total which you can pedal around in zones 1 & 2, take a drink and re-position yourself on the road
  • Repeat the 2nd set just like the first!

The biggest point we'd like to convey is to know your knows and pedal harder or easier to keep your wattage or heart rate inbetween those ranges for the duration of the interval.

Step 4 - Don't sweat the non-interval details

In our workouts, we prescribe warm-up and cool-down durations as well as the work interval durations. Worry about the work interval details; don't sweat the exact minutes of the warm-up and cool-down. Whether it takes you 16 minutes or 21 minutes to get to a safe place to do your intervals is not important.  

If you want to warm up for a shorter period of time because you are indoors, go for it.  Concentrate on the structure of the interval workout rather than the exact details from sending your workout to for example, Zwift. 

You may even ride longer in Zone 2 after your intervals if you have the time and are feeling good.  As long as the extra riding does not impact your recovery and power output for the next day and week's training, think of it as extra credit training. 

If you have a zone 2 ride or a group ride on the schedule, shoot for the prescribed time, but don't fret if it's a few minutes shorter or longer. Same for OTS - you do not need to hit the exact number, a range is fine like +/- 5 or 10%.

Focus on daily consistency - make it turn green on your training calendar 💪 Focus on your intervals. Know your zones, and know the basics of the day's workout.

Would you rather do your workouts in an automated way on your bike computer?

Good news, we are very close to having the workout export feature completed! There are advantages to being prompted especially for the variable power workouts.  


Download and join Optimize where Coaching is included, the training plans are unlimited and there's a 14 day trial to see for yourself!