While one of the selling points of going for a ride is to turn off the brain and cruise, incorporating interval training into your rides can help your cruise become that much smoother. Plus, it's a killer workout! There are a number of different intervals with different work to rest ratios. Which ones should you implement in order to get the most of your rides? The amount of work compared to the amount of recovery in each workout can work for you or against you, depending on your goals.
Below, you'll find four different interval training methods, how to do them, and why you'd do them. Performing interval workouts in your routine will help you out big time on those more taxing cycling rides.
For Increasing Speed: Sprints
Typically sprints are done in very short bursts with at least double the recovery time. This will help you increase your cadence efficiency and get faster.
Sample workout: After a 5-10 minute warm up, sprint as fast as you can for 30 seconds, and then coast for 60 seconds. Complete 8-12 sprints, and then cool down.
For Building Power and Improving Recovery Time: Power Intervals
Power intervals are done at a slightly lower intensity than sprints, but feel tougher for most because the recovery time is less than the work interval. This is good for trying to maximize your recovery efficiency (aka - recover faster) as well as increase your lactate threshold.
Sample workout: Tabata protocol: After a 5-10 minute warm up, complete the following tabata protocol (20 seconds on 10 seconds off) Sprint for 20 seconds, then coast and recover for 10 seconds. Do this 8 times for a total of 4 minutes.
For Building Endurance: Tempo
Tempo intervals are much longer than sprints or power intervals and are done at a lower intensity still. They typically last 10-20 or 30 minutes and are done just below the lactate threshold.
Sample workout: After a 10-20 minute warm up, cycle at a speed and resistance that you can sustain for 30 minutes. Optional: sprint the last 60 seconds. Then cool down for 10-15 minutes.
For Building Strength: Hills
Riding hills not only increases the strength in our lower body muscles, but it also conditions and strengthens the heart. Charge up a hill in or out of the saddle for 30 seconds as fast as you can, and then cruise back to your starting point to recover.
Sample workout: Find a steep hill or crank up the resistance on an indoor cycling bike. Stand up out of the saddle and attack the hill, then coast back down. On your next time up the hill, attack it in the seat, and then coast back down, alternating between the two for a total of 10-15 times. Then cool down.
Whichever format of cycling intervals you're doing, focus on good form and work to gradually build your level of difficulty. This will help you progress your workouts in a smart and effective manner, allowing you to really get after it when you're hitting the trails or pavement. So what are you waiting for? Get to work and have fun out there!