In Season Interval Training Tips for Experienced Cyclists

This is part 1 of a series by our fantastic cyclists on Team RMHP. Questions for our cycling experts? Be sure to ask below!

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By now your season is in full swing! Whether it’s the latest Century Ride or your “A” race for the year, everyone wants to have that fantastic form that makes the event worth all the effort from the previous 8 months of training. We’re here to help make that happen.

Cycling Interval Workouts

No more base miles, you should be in full gas training. This means Intervals. Intervals are hard, and you feel awful while they’re going (that’s a sign you’re doing it right!), but you feel elated when they’re done. Depending on your needs, here are a few intervals that should be the meat and potatoes of your weekly workouts:

3×15 @ LT. Sounds technical, but it’s really just shorthand for a lot of suffering. 3 reps of 15 minutes, and be sure and get 5-8 minutes of recovery between reps. Work into 3 reps of 15 minutes each at your Threshold. There’s a lot of research on the subject, so we won’t add to that here, but these efforts do feel unpleasant. The goal is to go for 15 minutes at the effort that you can only hold for 15 minutes, and you want to build your effort the whole time. So in the beginning, your effort might feel like a 7 out of 10, and you feel like a rock star, but after the halfway point you have to pick up the effort to an 8, then a 9, and really a 10 by the time you’re done. This kind of interval has to be unpleasant because they prepare you for when the pace heats up in competition, and you either make the selection or you’re off the back of the race, riding home alone in the wind. No one wants that. Besides, all your competitors are doing these, so you should, too.
And during those 5-8 minutes of recovering? Be sure you do just that: recover. So often cyclists don’t go hard enough on the interval, and don’t go easy enough on the recovery. On the recovery, you should be in your little chain ring and your biggest cog, going super easy and super slow. See if you can spin your legs quickly with almost no stress on them. It’s an odd feeling going 8 mph on the flats, but give it a whirl and when your opponents lay down some smack, you’ll have the legs to tag along, and even have the power to strike when they eventually tire out.

1 minute efforts: Sounds simple enough, but see what kind of power / pressure you can put out for a minute. Hold it for a minute, don’t weaken or slow, in fact build it as each 10 second period passes. These efforts are great for those final laps of a crit where the racing is ugly fast and all you want to do is cry mommy. Try 8 reps of 1 minute on and 5 minutes off. See above for doing the “off” recovery period the right way.

And for that final punch, 20 second sprints are nothing but pure joy, or pure hell, depending on your point of view. Most every race comes down to a sprint, either for 1st, for 10th or 45th place. In most scenarios, these sprints last from 10 seconds on the short side to 30 second on the long end. To prepare, ramp up to 6 reps of 20 seconds of full gas sprinting with your eyeballs hanging out. Look forward, keep good form, and concentrate on applying pressure on all 360 degrees of the pedal stroke. The first 3 should feel unhappy, but doable, the last 3 should feel like you’re made of rubber and you want to quit early. Don’t. Never weaken, never quit. If you can conquer all 6 feeling like Cav, then you didn’t go hard enough.

These are mental tests just as much as physical, so make the effort count.

These 3 exercises are great ways to drill home that peak performance. But don’t overdo it. Doing these you tear down tissue, and by resting and sleeping you build those tissues back stronger. They go hand in hand, and next time we’ll talk about the other side of the coin, the recovery side.

Come ride with us on the road, or join us on Strava!
Team Rocky Mountain Health Plans

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