Miracle Intervals on the Indoor Trainer

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n December 2006, a road cyclist I've worked with for over 10 years collided with a dog. The dog had charged the cyclist's group ride and ended up under his bike when he had been going full speed ahead. My guy launched into the air and, of course, eventually met with the earth. The dog simply took off running after a few body rolls.

When the dust settled and an evaluation was made, my cyclist ended up with a broken clavicle—or what is commonly called the collarbone.

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A broken collarbone eliminates many training options for a cyclist: no leg presses, squats or outdoor riding, and only the absolute minimal pressure on the hands, arms and upper body. That does not leave many options for staying in form and demanded some coaching creativity.

Before the crash, he was just beginning Zone 3 intervals and starting to work on lactate-threshold power. After the crash, lactate-threshold intervals were out of the question—they caused too much pain. He couldn't do outdoor rides for about six weeks. Long rides were done indoors for two hours on a CompuTrainer. The accumulated time above aerobic training zones was very minimal.

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He continued to do strength-training exercises that did not cause him pain, though there were few. Strength training occurred two or three times per week, as was typical for him at this time of year.

To help him keep some leg strength and power, I decided to have him do short, powerful intervals with plenty of rest. The intervals were ridden on the CompuTrainer and his goal was to produce as much wattage as possible for each interval. I didn't care if power faded through the workout, just go for it each time. These once-a-week interval sessions were the key workouts for six weeks.

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The Workouts

Below are three examples of his key power workouts:

Workout #1

  • Warm up for 20 minutes at an aerobic effort
  • 3 x 20 seconds all-out power production, 4:40 easy Zone 1 spinning
  • 3 x 10 seconds all-out power production, 4:50 easy Zone 1 spinning
  • Cool down with easy spinning

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