5 Intense Cycling Workouts You Should Try

The Tempo Razor

Similar in concept to the endurance razor above, the Tempo Razor is a bit higher intensity and includes stints at and above threshold. Start with a regular 15- to 20- minute warm-up to get the body going, then try to do the following twice:

Working in two by 30 (2x30 minutes) intervals (five minutes easy between) do the following: set your power-meter so you see the "average" watts view for the interval. Start at the bottom of zone 3 power (about 80 percent FTP) and build to the low to middle of zone 4 by the end (about 90 to 95 percent FTP). A good plan is to ride five minutes at approximately 80 percent, then punch up your power in small surges until you are averaging steady in the 82- to 85-percent range. Ride that a few minutes then bump intensity until you get the average to about 88 percent FTP. Repeat until you get to about 90 percent-plus of FTP by the end.

It may take some trial and error to figure out the pacing. You will likely be over threshold in the last five minutes or so trying to get those last few watts. Finish the ride with five max effort/good form sprints of about 15 to 20 seconds. Rest three minutes between each, then cool down.

Overall intensity of the interval should average around 90 percent of threshold, but will normalize a bit higher, probably 95 to 97 percent of threshold. This is similar intensity to a "sweet spot" interval (88 to 93 percent FTP for 60 minutes), but is paced differently and taps the VO2 system in the last part of the effort. A great workout, albeit a tough one.

More: 3 Supercharged Early-Season Cycling Workouts

MAP to Threshold

This is a favorite for a number of reasons. First, it works both VO2 and threshold systems in a single interval. It also helps with those hard race level efforts that define a breakaway or the start of a cyclocross race. Lastly, it allows for a very natural progression in length over a block of training, and as you develop over the years. Here are the details:

A short crisp warm up of no more than 20 minutes at about 70 percent of threshold power (hey, it's a focused day right?). Once warmed up do two minutes at your Maximal Aerobic Power (MAP, best five minute value is a good proxy) followed by at least five minutes at your threshold power. I usually clip a "new" interval after the first two minutes and put a "short" (about 20 seconds) tempo level recovery at the start of the threshold segment. This small respite allows you to return to threshold pacing straight away, and gives the interval an above threshold average when combined with the MAP segment. Plenty of recovery between these.

The progression is to add time to the threshold segment each week. Normally I'll add one to two minutes per week. Keep recovery at roughly 1:1 for these efforts. As you develop as a cyclist keep lengthening the effort until the total interval is about 15 minutes long.

More: Improve Your Power

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