2 Indoor Trainer Workouts

These workouts will improve your lactate threshold power and sprinting power.

This winter the cycling gods have noticed more hours logged on indoor trainers than any winter in recent memory. They have also noticed that many cyclists end up doing the same few workouts over and over again. If you are bored to tears with the same handful of workouts and you need some new ideas, maybe I can help.

In this column are two workouts with very distinct purposes. One workout is to help you improve your time trial ability, or lactate threshold power. The second workout is designed to help you with short bursts of speed on the bike, otherwise known as sprinting power.

The first workout helps improve lactate threshold power. Before doing the first workout you need to do a 15 to 20 minute time trial on the trainer. Beginners can start with 15 minutes. Note your average heart rate during the time trial (TTHR) and for those of you with access to power data, note your average time trial power output (TTP).

Workout #1

Warm up 20 to 30 minutes on the trainer at an aerobic intensity. After your warm-up, do two sets of:

4 minutes at TTP + 10 watts, spin easy for 1 minute

3 minutes at TTP + 10 watts, spin easy for 1 minute

2 minutes at TTP + 10 or more watts, spin easy for 5 minutes

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On the second time through, try to keep your power output higher than the first time through. For those of you using heart rate, aim to begin each work interval at about ten beats lower than your TTHR. Meter your intensity so you finish each interval at TTHR or up to about three beats over TTHR.

Power-building

The second workout works on power. If you have completed your heaviest phase of lifting, this workout is a nice addition to the training that follows a strength building phase and works on building power.

I use this workout and similar workouts for athletes that do not strength train and are looking to keep a maintenance level of power.

Workout #2

Warm up 20 to 30 minutes on the trainer at an aerobic intensity. After your warm-up, do:

3 x 30 seconds, producing as much average power during each work bout as possible. Take 4:30 of easy spinning after each work bout.

3 x 20 seconds, producing as much average power during each work bout as possible. Take 4:40 of easy spinning after each work bout.

3 x 10 seconds, producing as much average power during each work bout as possible. Take 4:50 of easy spinning after each work bout.

Don't worry if power fades over the three work bout intervals, give it all you've got. Monitoring heart rate for this workout does not work, the intervals are too short. If you don't have a power meter just use rating of perceived exertion.

Be sure to spin easy at the end of both workouts to cool down.

Workout Resource

If you need more workout ideas to get you through the remaining winter and early spring days on the trainer, check out Workouts in a Binder for Cyclists by Dirk Friel and Wes Hobson, published by VeloPress. The workouts are categorized by purpose and the booklet pages are specially coated to repel sweat, spit and energy drink.

Hang in there, warm weather is coming soon!


Gale Bernhardt was the USA Triathlon team coach at the 2003 Pan American Games and 2004 Athens Olympics. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Games in Sydney. She currently serves as one of the World Cup coaches for the International Triathlon Union's Sport Development Team. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's pre-built, easy-to-follow cycling and triathlon training plans. Let Gale and Active Trainer help you succeed.

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