Threshold Workouts to Improve Your Bike Speed

Begin timing the work interval as soon as you increase your effort. It may take awhile for heart rate to respond, and that's okay. It will also take awhile for your heart rate to respond within the recovery time. Recovery time begins as soon as you reduce effort.

If you are using lactate threshold power for the session, you will notice your heart rate will begin relatively low and end higher for the same power output. This is known as heart rate creep.

More: How to Combine Bike Commuting and Interval Training

As you gain fitness over the course of several weeks, you can use the following variations:

  • 4-7 x 4 minutes (1 minute recovery between each)
  • 3-5 x 6 minutes (2 minutes recovery between each)
  • 2-5 x 8 minutes (2 minutes recovery between each)

Select the number of intervals based on your fitness level, race goals and training plan.

I prefer to use broken intervals rather than a steady 20 minutes at threshold because I find athletes can produce higher average speeds and power outputs.

More: Time Trial Debate: Steady Power or Steady Speed?

Criss-Cross Threshold

Right after I've told you I prefer broken intervals, I'm going to give you a 20-minute threshold workout. After you've completed several broken interval sessions, this criss-cross session is nice because it works on mental toughness and pace control, as well as threshold speed.

More: Interval Training Will Boost Your Speed and Stamina

Do the session on a mostly flat or rolling course. After your warm-up, slowly increase heart rate to Zone 4. Once Zone 4 is attained, begin timing. Gradually build speed until the top of Zone 5a is achieved. Then, gradually reduce speed until the bottom of Zone 4 is achieved. The build and reduction time segments should take about two minutes. Continue the criss-cross from low Zone 4 to high Zone 5a for 20 minutes.


By including threshold workouts once per week at the right time in your training, and including the proper recovery, you should see an improvement in your 40k bike time trial speed.

More: 4 Cycling Intervals That Will Make You Faster

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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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