Cycling Intervals That Will Make You Faster

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 longer 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.

Most interval-training workouts require 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 become just as fast without all the fancy gadgets, as long as you're willing to push through the pain.

Here are four interval workouts that will help improve your performance come race day.

Workout No. 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 as hard as you can, then more slowly for 5 minutes to recover; 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.

More: How to Combine Bike Commuting and Interval Training

Workout No. 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 (three sitting, three standing), and do two sets.
  • What It'll Do: improve climbing speed and power

More: Combo Workout: Core Work and Bike Intervals

Workout No. 3 - Time Trial Threshold

  • Terrain: best to do on flats in an area with no traffic lights, a bike path or a stationary trainer, avoid coasting at all costs
  • Warm Up: 10 to 15 minutes
  • Set: Begin with two 10-minute efforts with 5 minutes rest in between. Aim for even effort throughout the set. When the 10-minute efforts become easier, move up to two 15-minute efforts. Once you can sustain two 20-minute all-out efforts, you're ready for race day.
  • What It'll Do: This is the classic interval used to improve the 40K time trial.

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

Workout No. 4 - Power Sprinting

  • Terrain: any terrain other than steep climbs
  • Warm Up: 10 to 15 minutes
  • Set: Sprint for 30 seconds, and follow with easy spinning at a high tempo for 30 seconds. Repeat 10 to 15 times and complete two to four sets, with 5 to 7 minutes for recovery between sets (time between sets should be based on your level of fitness).
  • What It'll Do: perfect for building sustained power needed for sprinting

More: Time Trial Tips from 6 Cycling Experts

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