Cycle Strength Booster

A turbo session that will lay the foundations for the season ahead

Equipment needed

Bike, bike shoes, bike clothing, turbo trainer, towel/sweat mat, water bottle, water/energy drink, bike computer, music/DVD (for entertainment).

Performance benefits

Winter is the ideal time to build bike-specific strength, and low-cadence work is a great way to achieve it. Think of it as laying the foundations for the season ahead. By building a good strength base now, come spring time you’ll be fit and strong enough to add in quality high-intensity efforts, which should later translate into faster bike splits when the race season arrives.

Mental benefits

This session is cheekier than it looks so you need to approach it with a positive ‘can do’ attitude. Employ some short-term goal setting to help the 10 x 3min intervals pass without too much pain. For example, “If I can get to three, then I’ve done a third of it”, “That’s five done, I’m halfway!” and “Number eight, only two left!” Mini goals like these are just as useful when racing. Learn to exploit them to maximum benefit.

Physiological benefits

The 8min build set will give your legs a taster of what’s to come and should ensure you’re well warmed up. The high-effort/low-cadence 2min blocks in the main set are designed to improve cycling-specific leg strength and give you a good aerobic workout. Holding 55-60rpm will make your quads burn, which is exactly what you want at this time of year – you’re building bike strength without too much intensity. The 30sec higher cadence efforts help refresh your legs before the next blast.

How to fit it in

You don’t want to do this workout the day after a hard run or ride. Try to schedule it on a day when you won’t be doing any other intense workouts. Prepare yourself for the fact your legs might be sore the following day (especially the first few times you do the session). If this is the case, just swim, spin or do a recovery run the day after.

Adapt for Ironman

Increase the number of 3min reps from 10 to 12 (or 15 if you’re feeling particularly strong). Or add a 10min steady Ironman-pace/effort interval after them. Alternatively, spin down well then do a light 10min run off the bike.

THREE sub-15min SETS

Wall Squats

up to 5mins

Stand facing wall, fingers pointing down. Perform a squat, going as far as you can without falling into the wall. Doing it this way works your hips more than your quads. Repeat 10 times. Move closer to the wall as it gets easier.

Side Planks

up to 5mins

Lie on your side with your shoulders, hips and ankles aligned. Engage your core and start the movement by squeezing your hips forwards so you end with your shoulders, hips and knees aligned. Repeat 10 times on each side.

Hip Swings

up to 5mins

Stand side on to a wall. Raise your leg in front of you and, from the hip, swing it behind you and in front once more. This is one repetition. Do 10 reps for each leg, letting your leg swing. This helps hip mobility and is a good way to loosen your legs after a hard run or bike session.