The Cure​ ​for​ ​the​ ​Common​ ​Workout : Tempo Intervals With Bursts

There's nothing like the satisfaction of focusing on cycling intervals without distractions of the road.  Having concrete goals to achieve within an indoor cycling ride makes it even better.  Coach Patrick Carey from www.fastertomorrow.com has shared this cycling workout that's perfect for E-Motion Rollers, and explains exactly why it'll make you a stronger cyclist :

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Most training programs for endurance athletes include a fair number of ‘tempo’ workouts (80-90% TP;  ‘medium-hard’).  This is great for building muscular endurance, aerobic capacity, and cardiovascular efficiency. However, it’s common for athletes to spend too much time in this zone.  It's understandable why: extended riding at tempo creates lingering fatigue.  Endurance athletes use this as a sign of effective training.  What's really happening though is that we're getting better at riding tempo pace, and most races are not won by going "medium hard" (with the exception of ultra-endurance athletes).

One way to to build race winning speed is to add short, repeated bursts (10-15 seconds) of anaerobic pedaling with steady-state work in between. The bursts create a repetitive load on the anaerobic system which is not taxed during typical steady-state workouts.  You'll also learn to recover from an effort without having to go all of the way down to easy pedaling. (Picture a steady hill with a steep pitch in the middle, followed by more climbing beyond).  Also, these workouts are time efficient - training more energy systems in a shorter session.  

This is beneficial for all disciplines of cycling, including triathlon. Unless you’re racing Ironman Florida (sorry, Florida), riding and racing in the real world is almost never on totally flat, consistent courses.  Even long-course athletes aiming to maintain steady output face hills, wind, surges, and attacks. For short-course athletes the severity of these changes is often much higher. In off-road races (mountain bike, cyclocross), repeats of short, intense bursts of power are essential for success. Burst workouts also help steady-state athletes make training more time-efficient, taxing multiple energy systems, with less residual fatigue.

Performing these workouts is simple. Outside, do them on flat or gently rolling terrain.  Indoors, I prefer to use E-Motion Rollers.

HOW TO DO THE WORKOUT:
Decide the duration of the workout (see list below) and how long to "recover" at tempo between bursts. (Typically, this time would be 2:50.  If you're an advanced athlete or recover quickly, shorten to 1:50). If you choose 2:50, perform a burst every time the stopwatch reaches a multiple of 3 minutes: (2:50 tempo + :10s burst = 3:00).  Maintain that pattern until the interval duration is reached. (In a 10 minute block, you would repeat five 2-minute cycles).)  Between interval blocks, recover riding easy for 5-7 minutes.

Choose one line to use as a workout.  They get progressively harder down the list.
Each time you do this workout, challenge yourself by increasing the total interval time.

20 minute workout: 2 x 10 minute block
30 minute workout: 3 x 10 minute block
30 minute workout: 2 x 15' block
40 minute workout: 2 x 20'
40 minute workout: 1 x 40'
45 minute workout: 3 x 15'
50 minute workout: 2 x 25'
60 minute workout: 3 x 20'
60 minute workout: 2 x 30'
60 minute workout: 1 x 60'

 
THE WORKOUT
● 10-15 minute warmup as follows:
  ○ 5-10 min - start easy and slowly ramp up to temp (80-90% TP)
  ○ 3 min - repeat 15 second high-cadence bursts, 45 seconds easy.
  ○ 1 min - power interval - zone 4+ (90+% TP) for full minute.
  ○ 1 min - easy pedaling

 ● Interval w/ duration from above list
  ○ ___ Minute - ride steady tempo (80-90% TP).
  ○ 10-15 second burst every - 2-3 minutes. (Tempo between bursts)
  ○ 5-7 minute recovery (easy spinning)

 ● 10 minute cooldown - Easy spinning after last interval.

Example workout - 2 x 20 minute tempo with bursts every 3 minutes.  This makes for a total of 12 bursts and a total workout time of 1 hour 10 minutes, including warm-up and cooldown time.

Example workout - 2 x 20 minute tempo with bursts every 3 minutes.  This makes for a total of 12 bursts and a total workout time of 1 hour 10 minutes, including warm-up and cooldown time.

Data from this workout completed by an elite off -road racer on Inside Ride E-Motion Rollers.   A full hour of tempo with bursts every two minutes, for a total of 30 bursts!  Notice how the heart rate (red) jumps with every burst but recovers almost completely when the athlete returns to tempo power (pink).  (Yellow is cadence and green is theoretical speed).


Data from this workout completed by an elite off -road racer on Inside Ride E-Motion Rollers.   A full hour of tempo with bursts every two minutes, for a total of 30 bursts!  Notice how the heart rate (red) jumps with every burst but recovers almost completely when the athlete returns to tempo power (pink).  (Yellow is cadence and green is theoretical speed).

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