5 Ways to Increase Your Power on the Bike

In a previous article, I introduced five simple ways to boost cycling power. These included riding in bigger gears, riding uphill, riding into headwinds, using block training and following the 75 percent rule.

Once you've got down the basics, take your cycling to the next level with these five more advanced ways to increase power on the bike.

More: 4 Tips for Using a Power Meter Wisely

Power Bursts

Power bursts are a great way to increase your leg strength and muscular endurance, which is the ability to pedal a relatively large gear at a moderate cadence (i.e., force generation). It's a versatile workout that you can complete on any terrain. Begin by warming up thoroughly. This should include easy spinning as well as a few pulls in bigger gears to prepare your legs.

The warm-up is critical because of the stress placed on the knees due to the use of relatively large gears. Begin each power burst by spinning at a very low cadence (i.e., coasting) and speed. Shift to your big gear (e.g., 53 x 12) and while seated, pedal as hard as you can until you reach 80 rpm. This should take about 15 seconds. Shift to a small gear and spin easy for three minutes at 90 rpm. Repeat 10 times and build up to 15 power bursts per session.

More: Going Uphill Fast With Power

Cadence Intervals

Another way to increase power is to elevate your pedal cadence. You can do this with cadence intervals, which is a moderate intensity workout that will improve your neuromuscular coordination (i.e., improved coordination and cooperation between the muscles that enhance your ability to pedal at a very high rate).

To do this workout, use a relatively small gear that allows you to train at 85 to 95 percent of your lactate threshold heart rate (75 to 90 percent of your functional threshold power) while pedaling a cadence of 100 to 110 rpm. Start with 3 x 8 minutes and increase the length of the hard efforts until you can complete 3 x 15 minutes with five minutes of recovery.

More: Power Up With Tempo Intervals

Ride Long Distances

Long rides improve your aerobic and muscular endurance. More than that, they stress your cardiovascular and muscular systems in a way that facilitates the physiological adaptation process. Long rides are the most effective way to increase training volume and stress; however, keep two points in mind.

First, long is a relative term. If your longest ride to date is two hours, completing a three hour ride will have a significant impact. Likewise, if you routinely complete four hour rides, keep working until you can finish a five- or six- hour jaunt. Second, you don't have to complete a long ride every week. A long day in the saddle every three or four weeks will have a significant impact on your power output and overall fitness.

More: How Much Fuel Do You Need During Long Rides

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About the Author

Tyrone Holmes

Tyrone A. Holmes, Ed.D, CPT, is a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise and a Level 1 cycling coach through USA Cycling. He provides Cycle-Max Coaching for cyclists and multisport athletes who want to improve their performance on the bike and Healthy Life Coaching for individuals who want to lose weight and develop healthier lifestyles. His latest book is The Business of Training and Coaching. Visit his website at www.holmesfitness.com and his Fitness Corner blog at www.doctorholmes.wordpress.com.

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