For real results, work these high-intensity intervals into your training
Because I am a cycling coach, I am often asked how to make someone faster on the bike. The answer is simple: You’ve got to ride fast to be fast.
In my April 2013 column I laid out an eight-week training plan for a strong cycling summer. This installment enhances this plan with the addition of high-intensity training to put more pedal to the metal to improve speed on the bike.
We often make the mistake of riding too medium – not hard enough to achieve a training effect, and not easy enough to recover from that overload. A good training plan works you hard enough to stimulate a fitness improvement and allows you time to recover so that your body has a chance to adapt to the workout stress. This process of overload and recovery leads to improvements in performance.
Competitive cyclists are familiar with the concept of muscular power as measured in watts. Technology such as power meters can tell us exactly how many watts we’re putting out to propel the bicycle down the road. These devices are as cool as they are expensive, but you don’t need one to make you go faster. All you need are some guts, determination and willingness to step into the “pain cave.”
Here is an eight-week high octane, high-intensity plan to get you more horsepower for the competition season. This plan presumes that you have been active throughout late winter and early spring, and have spent some time building your base level of fitness through aerobic sports such as cross-country skiing, running or cycling (winter biking or stationary trainer).
These workouts are based on your Rating of Perceived Exertion, or RPE. RPE is a subjective measure of exercise intensity that rates how hard you feel you are working, with 1 being the easiest and 10 being the hardest.
Incorporate two high-intensity workouts per week with one if not two easy rides in between to come out strong for early season events and finish your season at the top of your game. Do not perform a high-intensity workout the day before an event. If competition season is under way, substitute a race for one of these workouts.
Warm up 15 minutes before doing any intervals. VO2max intervals should be performed at a maximum effort for the time given. Longer intervals will require some degree of pacing, but by the end of the interval you should be pretty well spent. Recovery between intervals (RBI) and recovery between sets (RBS) should be at recovery pace, RPE 1-3.