With the rain and the cold creeping in many of us will want an indoor way to keep training and whether you prefer turbo’s or rollers (ideas) here are some excellent training suggestions for improving fitness and leg strength. To be honest these are actually about suffering and intensively hitting your threshold… so be prepared.
Lets not forget Rule #10 throughout: Cycling doesn’t get easier, it just gets faster!
You should always do a warm up to prepare your body for exercise, whether training or racing. Something around 10-20 minutes is suitable. I follow the British Cycling routine here and always like this excellent quote:
“When you warm up you will ride hard, you will break sweat, and will be out of breath at some points. Riding a good event requires a rider to have felt, in the warm up, the effort that they will need to sustain in the race.”
All the following workouts assume you have done a warm up beforehand.
1. Seriously Hard Intervals
A great way for targeting your VO2 max – the maximum amount of work you can do before your body starts working anaerobically without oxygen.
Choose a difficult gearing / resistance level you can sustain for the interval time working at a flat out 90% max heart rate pace. The longer the interval the easier the gearing should be.
Build up to a high cadence (90rpm or more) over the first 30 seconds of the interval then maintain the intensity. Over the various sessions (or spread 1 per week) use the following guide to mix it up.
Week 1 – 3 x 7 mins, with 3 mins recovery between each effort.
Week 2 – 4 x 5 mins, with 2 mins recovery.
Week 3 – 7 x 3 mins, with 1 minute recovery.
Now reverse the order.
2. 60-second Killers
Should take under a hour including warm up and down, and will help improve your sharp speed increase potential.
Choose a difficult gearing / resistance level you can sustain for minute intervals as if you were at ‘lead out’ race pace. Use the first 5-10 seconds of the interval minute to get up to the pace smoothly. After the minute back right off to recovery pace for a minute, then go again.
Do 5 of these intervals followed by a 5 minute recovery period.
Repeat, and if you are in good form you might be able to complete 3 complete sets. As soon as you can’t complete a full minute at your chosen intensity, stop the session and start cool down.
3. Escalating Intervals
Learn to suffer, useful for long hard hills and time trials when your legs are burning.
The turbo resistance level is really determined by going through this exercise once and seeing what you can manage. Look to improve each time by upping resistance or starting in a hard gear…
Starting on the big ring on the front and back and get up to about 90rpm cadence – this should be pretty easy to start off.
What you will do is change up at the back (next smallest ring) then exercise for the number of minutes per number of gear changes made. You’ll do a total of 7 gear changes so the last interval is 7 mins long, and there are no breaks!
Example: Taking a 10 speed cassette (11-23) with sprocket sizes 11-12-13-14-15-16-17-19-21-23
- Start 23 – 1 min
- 21 – 2 mins
- 19 – 3 mins
- 17 – 4 mins
- 17 – 5 mins
- 15 – 6 mins
- 14 – 7 mins
4. Aerobic Development
This is a speed rather than strength session.
Pick a gear one cog (or 1 resistance level) tougher than your cruising gear and get to a high tempo intensity to start the intervals. Try and smoothly up the intensity during.
To begin, step up to a sustainable ‘lead out’ pace for about 10 seconds, then back off to the tempo pace again for 20 seconds. The ‘recovery’ period shouldn’t be totally backed off so keep the pace relatively high.
Repeat the intervals 20 times (10 minutes) then recover for 5 minutes at a snail’s pedalling pace. Try for 2-3 sets of this!
5. 30-second Supra-Maximal Intervals
Helps improve your fast cruising speed.
Pick a gradual hill if outside or raise the front wheel on the turbo (excellent raiser) and choose a good resistance.
After warming up, start with a big gear out of the saddle and pedalling very slowly before exploding and giving everything for 30 seconds. Take at least 5 minutes to recover then go again, 5 sets is good.
By adjusting the starting gear or resistance level you can gradually improve.
6. Drop Intervals
Learn to love lactic acid!
Get to a fast ‘lead out’ pace out of the saddle (need to figure out your own rpm for this) then start the intervals. Adjusting resistance and starting gear will help moderate the difficulty.
Start in a hard gear (big front ring / small rear ring) for 10 seconds, then every 10 seconds change down until you’ve done 6 changes / 60 seconds. Take a seat and recovery pedal for 5 minutes before starting again. When you can’t complete a full 60 seconds begin the warm down.
Over the various sessions (or spread 1 per week) use the following guide to mixing it up.
Week 2 – 3 sets, 4 mins recovery.
Week 3 – 4 sets, 3 mins recovery.
Week 4 – 5 sets, 2 mins recovery.
Now start again from week 1 and make it harder.
“Miguel Indurain’s lung capacity was a phenomenal 8 litres: where for the average mortal it is about 5, and even more than the great Eddy Merckx.”