For athletes doing time trials that are 30 minutes and shorter—or for cyclists focusing on 40K TTs as their key races—the next step is anaerobic intervals. The work-to-rest ratio for these intervals is roughly 1 to 1 and intensity is Zone 5b.
Here are a few of my favorite workouts:
Find a hill that is in the four to eight percent range and takes you over three minutes to climb when you are going at a good effort. Mark your start location and finish location.
Workout #1 — Best Average
After a good warm-up, ride 5 x 3-minute repeats up the hill, with three-minute recovery spins between each work bout. Do not skimp on the recovery. Time your first trip up the climb and aim to get your heart rate to Zone 5b by the end of the interval. For each subsequent trip up the hill, aim for the same climbing time and just watch your heart rate to see what happens.
If done correctly, your time up the hill should be consistent, but you should see more time accumulate in Zone 5b with each trip up. Cool down after the intervals with easy spinning.
If you don't have a hill to climb, use bigger gears on a flat section or road to simulate a hill—preferably a section of road with no stop lights or signs.
Workout #2 — Descending
After a good warm-up, ride 5 x 3-minute repeats up the hill, with three-minute recovery spins between each work bout. For this workout, make each trip to the top faster than the previous one. You will ride a bit shorter than three minutes as you progress through the set, and that's okay. Continue to take a full three minutes of recovery between each one.
Workout #3 — All-out, Best Effort
After a good warm-up, ride 5 x 3 minutes with three-minute recovery spins between each work bout. Don't look at your clock for the climbs during this particular workout. You already have your section of road marked out from the first two workouts. In fact, it's best if you cover your watch face for this one—but keep access to the time or lap buttons. You want to know your speed, or lap time, but not until after you've crossed the finish line of each climb.
Ride each three-minute segment as fast as you can possibly go. Expect your speed and power output to fade some as the workout progresses—but ride all-out-fast on each one. If you have a rabbit (someone slightly faster than you) to chase or someone you can race up the climb, better yet.
The Race of Truth
A time trial is often called "the race of truth" because it is you against the clock. There are no teammates to help you. Whether or not you enjoy doing them, working on your time-trial ability can make you a stronger rider physically and mentally.