Intervals are a necessary evil. Yes, these bike workouts are going to hurt, but they're also going to make you really fast. In as little as two weeks, interval training can improve your speed, power and endurance. And the good part is, they take much less time than your long training rides. In fact, each of these four bike workouts can be done in an hour or less, and are just as easy to do on a stationary trainer as they are on the road.
Most interval-training workouts specify the use of a power meter. While power meters and heart rate monitors can help you to dial in training zones for threshold work, they aren't necessary. You can get just as fast without all the fancy gadgets as long as you're willing to put up with the pain.
Here are four interval workouts that will improve your performance on race day.
Workout #1 - The Breakaway
Terrain: Best to do on flats, rolling hills or on your stationary trainer.
Warm-up: 10 minutes.
Set: Ride 2 to 3 minutes of all-out followed by 5 minutes of recovery; complete six times no more than twice per week.
What it'll do: This workout is good for increasing VO2 Max, which will benefit your time trialing and improve endurance needed to make a move for the breakaway.
Workout #2 - Hill Repeats
Terrain: Choose a moderate to steep hill or use a stationary trainer with a riser block under the front wheel.
Warm-up: 10 to 15 minutes.
Set: Climb for 1-minute seated, coast down to the bottom of the hill, and repeat for another minute, this time standing. Efforts should be as hard as you can ride, saving only enough to finish the set. Complete six intervals (3 sitting, 3 standing) and do two sets.
What it'll do: Improve climbing speed and power.