Workout of the Week: Mountain Blasters

These one-minute intervals have no designated number of sets—it’s up to you to do as many as you can.

Man riding bike up a mountain road

Mountain biker and gravel cyclist Payson McElveen describes this road routine as one of his favorites for working VO2max to peak before a race. The session involves indeterminate sets of 1 minute on/1 minute off during a climb of about 20-30 minutes, ending at the summit.  

“Rather than going in knowing that I have 10 one-minute efforts, it’s like well, you have as many one-minute efforts as it takes,” he says. 

McElveen likes to set a target power to stay at or above, rather than a training zone or threshold level. For him, it’s 500 watts, but the target can be adjusted depending on the steepness of the grade and rider’s fitness. 

The specifics of the climb are also dictated by what terrain is available. If there are no accessible climbs, this can be done at home on a favorite Zwift climb. The goal is to either complete the sets by the summit or until the average power dips 10% below the target. 

RELATED: The MTB Episode, Starring Payson McElveen, Geoff Kabush, Joe Lawwill, and Steve Neal 

By having the distance dictate the number of sets, McElveen says it forces the rider to rise to the occasion. 

“There’s something that I find really motivating by going really hard for that minute and then only having a minute to recover and you’re trying to recover while you’re still climbing,” McElveen says. “The emotion kind of drives you to a little bit of a higher-quality workout.” 

Workout of the Week: Mountain Blasters 


10 min. easy riding over flat or hills with 2 × 20 sec. sprints 

Main Set 

Perform on at least a 5% grade: 

1 min. @ >400W 
1 min. recovery 

Repeat for about 20-30 min., until summit or if unable to maintain 10% of target power. 


15 min. easy riding after descending