Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | March 9, 2009

Interval Training for Cyclists

  One of the most popular forms of training for endurance athletes is Interval Training.  You’ve probably heard of it before.  If you have ever performed an interval workout you can probably remember the pain!  Simply stated, interval training is the most effective way to improve your performance in any type of aerobic activity such as swimming, running and cycling.  If you are a serious cyclist (meaning you want to significantly improve your speed and your ability to hold that speed for long distances), you must perform lots of interval training.  It is the most effective way to facilitate the physiological adaptation process that leads to improved performance.  Interval training consists of a series of relatively hard efforts performed for a specified period of time (usually between 15 seconds and 20 minutes depending on your workout goals) with an easy spinning recovery phase between each hard effort.  For most intervals, the work phase is performed in Training Zones 4 or 5 while the recovery phase is designed in most (but not all) cases to get your heart rate back to Zone 1 before the next hard effort.  What makes intervals so effective is that you work much harder during the work phase than you do in any other type of training ride.  Put simply, you get your body used to working at a very high intensity level (and yes, you will suffer).  You perform a hard effort, recover and repeat the process a specified number of times.  There are three primary considerations when performing an interval workout:

  1. How much time for each hard effort?
  2. How much time recovering between each hard effort?
  3. How many intervals?

Of course, the answer to each of these questions is based on the goals of a particular workout.  Over the next few weeks, I will provide you with a variety of interval workouts designed to address several different performance goals.  I will begin with a couple of relatively easy ‘aerobic interval’ workouts and progress to much more difficult ‘lactate threshold’ and ‘anaerobic interval’ workouts. 

NEXT POST – March 12, 2009

Cadence Intervals

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