Workout #1: Single-Leg Pedaling1 of 12
What it's for: Improving pedaling efficiency
Pedaling with one leg will force you to pedal in full circles, which will increase your efficiency. You'll notice right away how much work it takes to pull through the bottom of the pedal stroke and lift the pedal back up and over the top when both feet aren't on the pedals.
Do this drill on a stationary trainer. Unclip one leg and rest it off to the side. Pedaling only with the other leg, try to keep the cadence, resistance and duration low until you develop your technique. Begin the drill at 60 rpm.
Alternate legs every 30 seconds or until you're fatigued. Gradually over several weeks of practicing increase the duration, cadence and resistance.
Try to eliminate the dead spots at the bottom and top of the pedaling circle, and keep the pedaling motion as even and smooth as possible. You should begin to see some improvement after a few weeks. Don't make the mistake of using momentum to "throw" the pedal up over the top. Move it purposefully.
Workout #2: Water Bottle Pick Up2 of 12
What it's for: Improving bike handling and balance
When you complete this drill, practice it with both hands, preferably not at the same time. There's a trick to doing this easily, but you'll figure it out after plenty of practice; no track stands. At a junior training camp, they picked chocolate chip cookies off plates.
Start off in the grass and work your way to doing the drill on the pavement. Approach the bottle (or cookies), lean over and pick it up off the ground. Complete five repetitions with each hand.
Workout #3: Power Building3 of 12
What it's for: Improving power on the bike
This workout can be used to transition from strength training in the gym or for cyclists who want to build power during the offseason without lifting weights.
1. Warm up 20 to 30 minutes on the trainer at an easy, aerobic intensity.
2. Complete three repetitions of 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off, producing as much average power during each repetition as possible. Spin easy for four minutes after the third rep.
3. Move straight into the next interval set. Complete three repetitions of 20 seconds on, 20 seconds off, alternating all-out sprinting with easy spinning. Spin easy for four minutes before moving to the next set.
4. For the last interval set, complete three repetitions of 10 seconds on, 10 seconds off, producing max power for each of the reps. Spin easy for four minutes.
Workout #4: King of the Hill Repeats4 of 12
What it's for: Improving your climbing endurance and power on steep ascents
Time: 45 minutes or more; Gearing: 53-12; Cadence: 50 to 55 revolutions per minute (rpm) at a moderate pace; Reps: Start with one, add one every week to four; Warning: Weak knees? Stay away.
Warm Up: Light spinning for 15 minutes.
Workout: Elevate your front wheel to simulate climbing position of a moderate (5 percent) grade if doing on an indoor trainer. Set resistance that puts your cadence at about 50 rpm when pedaling in the highest gear. On rollers, put a towel under one cylinder. Remain seated, relax your upper body and ride at a steady tempo for 5 minutes, then stand for 5 minutes (or as long as you can without shifting into a lower gear).
Cool Down: 10 minutes in a light gear.
Workout#5: The Deadlift5 of 12
What it's for: Building strength and power; improving cycling posture
The deadlift is arguably the single most productive resistance training exercise there is. Cyclists with little time for strength training can benefit from the deadlift activating several muscles per movement—including the forearms/gripping muscles, core stabilizers, lats, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and upper, mid and lower back.
How to do it
Step up to the barbell so your shins are in contact with it. Push your hips back as if someone has a rope around your waist and is pulling you backward, keeping your chest high.
As the hips continue back, bend your knees to help lower yourself to the barbell. Grasp the barbell with a grip that puts your forearms right up against the sides of your thighs. Your chest should remain high while your hips drop down—not so far down, however, that it appears you're trying to squat the weight up. Your arms should be completely straight, your eyes looking up and your weight focused on your heels.
Workout #5: The Deadlift Continued6 of 12
To lift the weight, take a big gasp of air into your stomach (helps stabilize the spine), drive your heels into the floor and push your hips forward as your knees extend Your hips and knees should extend simultaneously.
As odd as it might sound, as you reach lockout, think of pinching something between your butt cheeks when completing the lift. This will prevent you from leaning back to finish the movement (lumbar hyperextension) or stopping short, which can lead to hamstring dominance, among other problems. Make sure your shoulder blades are back and you're standing tall.
The lowering portion is initiated by pushing your butt back. Think about stretching your hamstrings without rounding your back. Once the bar has passed your knees, you can bend them to reach the floor.
Because it's a pretty technical exercise, don't do a lot of deadlift reps. Stick to sets of 1 to 8 reps. Perform these exercises regularly and you'll be riding more efficiently and powerfully than ever before.
Workout #6: Anaerobic Threshold7 of 12
What it's for: Getting faster
Often referred to as maximal steady-state pace, this workout will help you build your sustainable pace, which will pay off during long races and climbs.
Complete 20 minutes (or 10 sets) of the following:
- One minute in a 42 x 15 gear ratio, cadence at about 110 and heart rate at 65 to 80 percent of maximum.
- One minute in a 53 x 15 gear ratio, cadence about 90, and heart rate at 75 to 90 percent of maximum.
Build up to two 20-minute sets or one 30-minute set (1:30 intervals).
This workout will build your sustainable pace. The gearing changes give you the opportunity to push up your heart rate without fatiguing your muscles. You should not feel a "burn" in your muscles if you are doing these intervals correctly.
Do these continuously for a full 20 minutes. This is a low-intensity, long-duration interval set. Simply make your gear changes and concentrate on your cadence.
As you improve, you can choose to increase the duration of the set or increase the resistance, or both.
Workout #7: The Bunny Hop8 of 12
What it's for: Improving bike-handling, safety
These skills are important, not just for safety but also to avoid flat tires and to keep your wheels true. As with the other drills, there is a natural progression here.
Front Wheel: Assuming your parking lot has white lines to indicate parking spaces, practice riding the length of the lot, hopping your front wheel over each line as you cross it. Try to use only the arms to pull up on the bars.
Rear Wheel: Now do the same thing but with your rear wheel. You'll use your legs to pull up on the pedals and lift the rear wheel off the ground.
Both Wheels: Once you've mastered the front and rear wheel separately it is time to get both wheels off the ground at the same time. At a jogging speed, bend your knees, push the bike down into the ground and then burst upwards, pulling up simultaneously on the pedals and the handlebars. Once you feel comfortable jumping white lines, you can try jumping bigger obstacles such as soda cans or sticks.
Advanced Bunny Hopping: Once you can easily jump your bike over curbs and potholes, give these advanced skills a try. Ride up to a soda can so your back wheel is even with the can. Bunny hop just the rear wheel. While it's in the air, swing it to the side and try to knock the can over. Next, try a sideways bunny hop. Ride parallel to a white line or an obstacle. Do a bunny hop and once you are off the ground, move the entire bike sideways and over the line or object. Practice these drills to the right and then to the left.
Workout #8: Crisscross Threshold9 of 12
What It's for: Controlled speed, pace
This crisscross interval session is nice because it works on mental toughness and pace control, as well as building threshold speed.
Do the session on a flat or rolling course. After your warm up, slowly increase heart rate to Zone 4. Once Zone 4 is attained, begin timing the interval. 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 crisscross from low Zone 4 to high Zone 5a for 20 minutes.
Workout #9: Spin Ups10 of 12
What it's for: Improving your cadence
Find a moderately steep climb with a gradual descent. Once you're at the top, shift into a gear that puts you around 70 rpms. On the way down, don't shift—instead gradually let your cadence rise until you get to the bottom. Shoot to be well above 100 rpms by the time you reach the bottom. Repeat 4 to 5 times.
Tip: When you get more comfortable with this drill, start at a higher cadence at the top of the descent. Make sure to apply even pressure for the full rotation of the pedal stroke and try to avoid dead spots when power isn't being produced.
Workout #10: Group Ride Redux11 of 12
What it's for: Improving riding techniques in packs; practicing for a variety of efforts during a race
These hard, mid-week, race level efforts are fun, build skills, and help keep your race fitness up. Next time you go on a group ride, try the variation below.
Make it your goal to keep your average power as low as possible, with a few caveats:
1. Spend the entire ride in the front 10 percent of the field.
2. Contribute to the pace making by taking pulls at the front during the ride.
3. Contest any and all sprints by either contributing to a strong lead out or sprinting for a place.
4. Try to have at least 10 to 15 percent of your ride time at zero power.
This is a fun variation to the usual "hard as possible" approach to group rides that we often default to, and it'll make you pay closer attention to your effort.