Time to Read
Points of Interest
A note about recovery
Boosting your threshold
- Breaking away
- Pushing through lactate burn
Intervals are proven to be one of the fastest ways to build your fitness. They’re tough, but worth it! You’ll see your strength and speed increasing far faster with the inclusion of some intervals in your programme rather than just aimlessly riding.
Given how effective they can be, it can be tempting to include intervals every ride – but this can be counter-productive. These sessions are HARD, and so you need to go into them fresh. We recommend you do no more than three interval sessions per week, but two sessions are more than enough. Your other rides in the week should be steady, lower intensity spins.
Check out our guide below to three of the best workouts for cyclists of all disciplines, objectives, and ability! These are the essential workouts to include in your programme. If you’re doing two interval sessions a week, do two different workouts each time to make you well-rounded as an athlete.
Before you start, if you don’t know them already, you’ll need to figure out one or the other of your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) or Threshold Heart Rate by performing a 20-minute test. This involves riding as hard as you can for 20 minutes, and multiplying the average power over that time by 0.95 to find your FTP, or taking your average heart rate over that time for your Threshold Heart Rate.
If you have both of these metrics available to you, it’s best to base your intervals off the power numbers.
After all of these sessions, ensure you do all you can to maximise your recovery – and so maximise the benefit of the training session. An easy way to fast-track your recovery is by wearing a pair of our IR50 recovery legging for the remainder of the day, which will help speed up the removal of lactate from your muscles, and improve the rate of cellular repair.
This works to push up your overall physiological thresholds by making you work just beneath them for prolonged periods. It’s an awesome one for making you an all-round stronger rider.
Warm up well, then ride at around 88%-92% of your FTP, or 92-97% of your threshold heart rate (the ‘sweetspot’), for 20 minutes, take 10 minutes of very easy spinning, and then repeat.
You want to ride uninterrupted for those 20-minute blocks, so you need to try to find a stretch of road where you’ll be unhampered by road junctions or descents that allow you to freewheel. It’s not always easy to find this in the UK, unless you’re lucky enough to live near a long climb or perhaps a closed circuit, such as a cyclopark.
One way of countering the issue of not having a suitable stretch of road to ride on is by performing this on a turbo trainer, but be warned, part of the difficulty of this workout is that it’s mentally taxing to ride this hard for that long – and that can feel even worse when riding indoors.
This one’s great for giving you a great ‘kick’ to enable you to break away from a group in a race, or to surge clear over a short climb. This session makes you work above your threshold and is brutal!
Warm up, then ride for 5 minutes at 105-120% of your FTP, or anything over 105% of your threshold heart rate (VO2 max effort), spin easy for 5 minutes, then repeat for 5 intervals in total.
This one is key to pace correctly. The first 2 or 3 efforts can feel quite easy, but it all starts catching up with you very quickly in the final efforts. If you ride too hard on those first intervals, you risk getting into a hole that you cannot drag yourself out of for the final sets, compromising the effectiveness of the workout.
This one is all about slowly building up the lactate in your legs to an almost unbearable amount before giving you an insufficient recovery, then repeating. By doing this, you’ll be better able to tolerate lactate, and push through the burn when you need to most.
Warm up, then perform 10 x 30-second full gas sprints, with 30 seconds of recovery between each effort. When you’ve completed the 10 sprints, ride very easy for 10 minutes, then repeat the 10 sprints.
It’s easy to cheat this workout if you’re starting to suffer by not really giving every sprint your full commitment. If you’re not going full gas in every effort, you’re not going to fully reap the rewards of the training session – ‘you’re only cheating yourself’ as the saying goes.