Alternative ways to ride The Downward Spiral


I designed the Downward Spiral spinning / cycling workout video to beat the living crap out of you. And you're telling me that, indeed, the crap has been knocked so far out of you that you're not quite sure where to look for it or if it will come back again. Excellent.

But sometimes you just don't feel like that. And sometimes you feel like doing something a little different than what the video is telling you to do on the screen. To help you get even more value out of video, I've put together a few alternative ways of riding The Downward Spiral.

First, a reminder of how the 60 minute workout is structured:

  • Approx 10mins warm-up featuring two 30 second jumps.
  • First interval set (with Paris-Roubaix footage)
    • 2:00 min interval / 2:00 recovery
    • 1:45 min interval / 1:45 recovery
    • 1:30 min interval / 1:30 recovery
    • 1:15 min interval / 1:15 recovery
    • 1:00 min interval / 1:00 recovery
    • :45 sec interval / :45 recovery
    • :30 sec interval / :30 recovery
    • :15 sec interval
  • 5:00 recovery
  • Repeat interval set (this time with Fleche-Wallone footage)
  • 4:00 warm-down

The video has you do the intervals at extremely high effort levels - either 9.5 or 10 out of 10 on a 'perceived effort' scale.

Alternative 1: Over-unders On the first interval, bring your intensity level just above your threshold (ie., the point where you would really, really, really rather not talk to anybody). On the recovery sections, rather than recover, bring the effort level to just under your threshold (i.e., you can talk, but you won't say terribly nice things to anyone). Do this through the whole set of intervals.

Alternative 2: Increasing intensity If you're not used to the high effort of serious intervals, gradually work your way into it. Rather than doing the first interval at 9.5/10, do it at 6/10. As each interval comes up, increase your intensity and only get to 10 out of 10 for the last :15 second bit. Use the recovery sessions as normal.

Alternative 3: Accelerations Do the intervals at an effort level of 8/10...which still hurts a helluva lot. When racers attack on screen, or the camera is working to close a gap, increase your cadence by +10rpms and push to stay with the action. Bring effort back down to 8/10 after attack is finished. Any other ideas? Post them in the comments here!

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