Interval Training. These very words trigger groans of dread from even the most training-obsessed cyclists. But these short, misery-inducing efforts offer a huge fitness return for a comparatively small time investment. Even 20- to 30-second micro-intervals have been shown to increase V02 max, burn fat, and improve endurance. And they work fast. “Just two weeks of interval training can enhance performance,” says Paul Laursen, PhD, of the University of Queensland in Australia.
Choose one of these intervals below and add it to a ride no more than twice a week. Warm up with easy pedalling for at elast 15 minutes. Cool down as needed.
TRY 10-SPEEDs to IMPROVE PEDALLING EFFICIENCY
These lightning-fast efforts help you develop a fluid and efficient cadence. Pedal as hard as you can for 10 seconds in a gear you can push 90 to 110 rpm with effort, then spin easy for 20 seconds. Repeat for 10 to 15 minutes. Rest five minutes. Do another set.
TRY Hill Charges TO CLIMB STRONGER
On a moderate incline, stand out of the saddle and charge up the hill as fast as possible for 30 seconds. Coast back to your starting point. Repeat, this time seated. Alternate between standing and sitting for six climbs. Recover 10 minutes. Do another set.
TRY Tabata Intervals to BUILD POWER
Developed by Japanese exercise scientist Izumi Tabata, these intense efforts train your body to use more muscle, as well as increase the intensity you can sustain over a 60-minute time trial, which corresponds to your lactate threshold. Sprint as hard as possible for 20 seconds. Coast for 10 seconds. Repeat six to eight times.
TRY Attack Intervals to INCREASE YOUR THRESHOLD
Raising your threshold pace will help you sustain attacks. Ride as hard as you can for two to three minutes (you will be flagging by the end). Recover at an easy pace for two minutes. Do up to three sets.
TRY Flying 40S to ENHANCE MUSCULAR ENDURANCE
Build power and train your body to recover quickly between efforts for events that demand repeated surges. In a medium to large gear, push hard for 40 seconds; recover 20 seconds. Repeat 10 times. That’s one set. Do up to four, resting five minutes between sets.