Increase your Cycling fitness with these five interval sessions

 

Need help to improve your cycling fitness. Read Jack Martins tips for increasing your fitness. 

Seasoned Cyclist

 

Whether you are a seasoned cyclist or just getting into the sport, structured interval (link here pointing back to interval training for time trials blog post) training is the easiest and simplest way of increasing your fitness and cycling power.

 

Sports science research has shown that structured interval training is the most beneficial type of training for people with limited time to ride their bike. With just 5 hours per week of structured training, you could see the same fitness increase as doing 15 hours of unstructured training.

 

There are many elements to structured training that make it so effective such as progressive overload and intensity periodisation. However, the most significant factor that makes structured training so good is interval training. The basic premise of interval training is that you cycle for at

 

Maximal effort

 

a near maximal effort for short periods, followed by rest. This process is then repeated over and over again for up to an hour in duration.

 

There is a large variety of different interval sessions that can be performed, and each one will aim to increase your cycling fitness in a slightly different way. How to improve your cycling by steven robinson.

 

Different interval training sessions are usually categorised based on their prescribed intensity, and some examples include endurance sweet spot, threshold vo2max and neuromuscular. In this article, we will explore five different cycling interval sessions that will help you to increase your cycling fitness. Common mistakes when cycling long distance by Robbi Ferri.

 

3 minute vo2max intervals

 

We will start with what I personally think is the most brutal interval session you can do on a bike, 3 minutes all-out vo2max intervals.

 

This session will work on your power output at vo2max and your maximal oxygen output whilst cycling.

 

This session is best done on an indoor turbo trainer, but if you would rather do it out on the road, try to find a local hill around 3-4  minutes in length that you will be able to complete the session on. To start this session cycle at an easy pace for 20-30 minutes.

 

If you are using a power meter or a heart rate monitor, this first 20-30 minutes should be ridden at zone one/low zone two. If you don’t have a power meter or a heart rate monitor, this first 20-30 should feel very easy, about 2-3 out of 10 in terms of how hard it feels.

 

 

Twenty – Thirty minute warm up

 

 

Once you have completed the 20-30 minute warm-up, you are going to perform 5 3 minutes all-out intervals. Warning if done correctly, these intervals will really hurt.

 

During each interval, you should aim to ride as hard as you can for the entire three-minute duration. Between each interval, you should cycle at an easy pace for 3-5 minutes to allow your body to fully recover from the effort.

 

Once you have done all five intervals, you can ride at an easy pace for 10-20 minutes to cool down and that is your session over. This is a tough session, so remember to fuel correctly for it (you can see our article on cycling nutrition here).

 

Twenty – Thirty minute warm up

 

 

Once you have completed the 20-30 minute warm-up, you are going to perform 5 3 minutes all-out intervals. Warning if done correctly, these intervals will really hurt.

 

During each interval, you should aim to ride as hard as you can for the entire three-minute duration. Between each interval, you should cycle at an easy pace for 3-5 minutes to allow your body to fully recover from the effort.

 

Once you have done all five intervals, you can ride at an easy pace for 10-20 minutes to cool down and that is your session over. This is a tough session, so remember to fuel correctly for it (you can see our article on cycling nutrition here).

 

30-second maximal sprints

 

 

 

 

 

This session is designed to improve your neuromuscular sprint performance, and the good news is that you will only be riding hard for a total of 4 minutes during a one hour ride.

 

Much like the 3-minute interval session, you should aim to warm up for 20-30 minutes at a moderate intensity before starting the intervals. In this session, you are going to complete 2 8 minute blocks which include four maximal 30-second sprints.

 

To perform this session, you will need to sprint as fast as you can for 30 seconds. You will then ride easy for 30 seconds, repeat this four times, and you will have completed your first 8-minute block of intervals.

 

During the 30 second interval try not to focus on what power numbers you are doing or how fast you are going and instead focus on cycling as hard as you can for the 30 seconds.

 

Ride easy for another 20 minutes and try to recover from the sprints. Repeat the first block of 4 30 second maximal sprints and all the hard riding is now over. To finish the session cycle easy for 10 minutes to cool down,

8-minute over-geared sweet spot intervals

 

 

 

 

This session is not as hard as the previous two sessions but will significantly improve your cycling fitness and performance. To start this interval session cycle at an easy pace for 15-20 minutes to warm up, you should perform this in low zone two if you are using a power meter or heart rate monitor; this should feel easy at about 3 or 4 out of 10.

 

For the interval, you will perform 4 8 minutes intervals at 85-95 of your functional threshold power (or FTP for short). If you don’t know what your functional threshold power is, aim for a feeling of 8/10 whilst performing each interval.

 

The twist with these intervals is that you need to use a lower than usual cadence (how quickly you pedal). You should aim to cycle at 60/70 rpm during each interval. In between each interval, you should have 8-10 minutes of easy riding.

 

Once you have performed all four intervals, cycle at a leisurely pace for 10-20 minutes, and that is your session over.

Fasted endurance

 

Not all structured interval sessions have to be hard to be effective. One of the easiest ways of increasing your aerobic endurance (your ability to cycle long distances is to perform fasted endurance rides.

 

This is simply going out on a bike ride at the start of the day before you have eaten your breakfast.

 

The night before this session, it is recommended to limit your carbohydrate intake and eat your dinner a little earlier than usual. To do this interval session correctly, you need to be strict with what intensity you cycle at.

 

You are aiming to increase your endurance, and so you need to cycle at a pace similar to that you’d use whilst out on a long endurance ride. This session should be 1-2 hours in length, and you should try to keep the intensity steady throughout the session.

 

Two minute under overs

 

 

 

 

We are finishing this list with another hard session. This session is designed to teach you how to pace long solo efforts and deal with increased lactic acid in your legs whilst cycling fast for long periods at a time. This session is best done using either a power meter or a heart rate monitor but can be done just on feeling alone if you are careful.

 

To complete this session, you should ride for 20-30 minutes easy as a warm-up, gradually increasing the intensity as you get towards the end of the warm-up. Then you will perform 2 20 minute efforts with 20 minutes of easy riding in between each effort to recover.

 

Now comes the slightly tricky bit. You are going to complete every 20 minutes by riding at two different intestines for 2 minutes at a time (see the image above which gives a visual demonstration of what this should look like).

 

You should cycle at 90% of your functional threshold power (this should feel like 7/10). For the next two minutes, you will ride at 105% of your functional threshold power for 2 minutes (this should feel like 9.5/10).

 

Repeat this process until you have cycled for 20 minutes. Cycle at an easy intensity for 20 minutes and then repeat the first 20-minute interval so that you have completed two 20 minutes. You can now cool down by riding easy.

 

 

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