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Interval training, quick sessions that can drastically improve your cycling fitness

Interval training, quick sessions that can drastically improve your cycling fitness

Not everyone can devote the time to go out for a long day in the saddle to train, be it family duties, work commitments or the fact your washing your hair. There is scientific proof that long days in the saddle don't always improve your ability on the bike. "Regularly completing multiple bursts of high-intensity riding can increase VO2 max and stroke volume (the amount of blood ejected by each heart beat), reduce blood lactate levels, enhance fatigue-resistance, improve neuromuscular efficiency, and increase peak power by up to six per cent in as little as four weeks. It’s a powerful package of physiological improvements." (Cycling Weekly, 2016) So, what can you do that will give you a drastic boost to your performance, but only take no more than an hour in the saddle. The answer, Interval Training.

What is Interval Training?

"A burst-and-recover cycle that can offer a viable alternative to continuous aerobic exercise." (Zuhl and Kravitz, 2012) Essentially what it involves is the cyclist taking in a series of High-Intensity Efforts switch to Low recovery efforts for a period. There are several different methods and lengths of interval workouts that will help improve your endurance, VO2 Max and burn fat. Another great thing about Interval Training is that you start to see results fast. In my training routine undertaken for competing in a 24 Hour endurance event, I used interval training, and in a small two-week window, I noticed a massive improvement in my performance on my training rides. I was breezing up climbs I used to struggle with; my FTP also increased, meaning I was riding faster for a longer period.

Our Top 5 Favourite Interval Workouts

The Peak Form Pyramid - Workout length 61 minutes (YEAGER, 2015)

This should be practised once or twice a week and can be scaled up or down regarding duration to fit what your body can achieve. If you find you can't complete the workout, scale back the time intervals / efforts a little. Peak Form Pyramids
Interval Length Effort Level
5 mins Warm Up
5 mins 6
5 mins 1
4 mins 7
4 mins 1
3 mins 8
3 mins 1
2 mins 9
2 mins 1
1 mins 10
1 mins 1
0.5 mins 10+
0.5 mins 1
1 mins 10
1 mins 1
2 mins 9
2 mins 1
3 mins 8
3 mins 1
4 mins 7
4 mins 1
5 mins 6
5 mins Warm Down

Lactate Tolerance Intervals - Workout length 72 mins (Scott, 2015)

lactatetolerance
Interval Length Effort Level
10 mins Warm Up
1 min 10
1 min 8
1 min 6
1 min 8
1 min 10
7 mins 2
1 min 10
1 min 8
1 min 6
1 min 8
1 min 10
7 mins 2
1 min 10
1 min 8
1 min 6
1 min 8
1 min 10
7 mins 2
1 min 10
1 min 8
1 min 6
1 min 8
1 min 10
7 mins 2
5 mins Warm Down

Hill Climb Intervals - Workout length 50 mins

A short and punchy one, it is to try and replicate rolling hills or that last climb where getting into a good position is everything. Hill Climb Intervals
Interval Length Effort Level
10 mins Warm Up
2 mins 8
4 mins 2
2 mins 8
4 mins 2
2 mins 8
4 mins 2
2 mins 8
4 mins 2
2 mins 8
4 mins 2
10 mins Warm Down

Short Reverse Pyramid - Workout length 30 mins

Short Reverse Pyramid Intervals
Interval Length Effort Level
5 mins Warm Up
1 min 10
1 min 2
2 mins 8
2 mins 2
3 mins 6
3 mins 2
2 mins 8
2 mins 2
1 min 10
1 min 2
7 mins Warm Down

The VO2 Max Interval - Workout length 62 mins

Do not do this one more than twice a week. Also, we highly recommend only doing this on a turbo trainer, as the efforts, you are doing may make you unsteady. This could be very dangerous on the road with moving traffic around you. VO2 Max Intervals
Interval Length Effort Level
10 mins Warm Up
2 mins 10
5 mins 2
2 mins 10
5 mins 2
2 mins 10
5 mins 2
2 mins 10
5 mins 2
2 mins 10
5 mins 2
2 mins 10
5 mins 2
10 mins Warm Down
Please let us know how you get on with these workouts, and let us know if you have any that you prefer in the comments.

References

Cycling Weekly (2016) Interval training: An essential guide for cycling performance Read more at http://www.Cyclingweekly.Co.Uk/fitness/interval-training-%e2%80%a8the-long-short-121219#6JEsfQo2kPI703Dt.99. Available at: http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/fitness/interval-training-%E2%80%A8the-long-short-121219 (Accessed: 8 November 2016). Scott, G. (2015) Six training sessions to build form for summer. Available at: https://roadcyclinguk.com/how-to/six-training-sessions-to-build-form-for-summer.html/3 (Accessed: 8 November 2016). YEAGER, S. (2015) Get Crazy Fast With Pyramid Intervals. Available at: http://www.bicycling.com/training/fitness/get-crazy-fast-pyramid-intervals (Accessed: 8 November 2016). Zuhl, M. and Kravitz, L. (2012) HIIT vs. Continuous Endurance Training: Battle of the Aerobic Titans. Available at: http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/hiit-vs-continuous-endurance-training-battle-of-the-aerobic-titans (Accessed: 8 November 2016).