Cycling workout of the week #7: Pick ’n’ Mix - a little bit, and not too much, of everything [1hr 1 min]

Do if… you want a session to help boost your VO2max while keeping the efforts fun and varied

Image shows rider completing a cycling workout.
(Image credit: Future)

Looking for a mix of efforts to keep your training interesting? This cycling workout is designed to help with multiple fitness targets, such as repeated effort capacity, recovery at higher intensities and improving VO2max. The mix of efforts also makes it a little more fun, as well as simulating the variations you might experience in a race or hard ride.

So, what’s coming up? You’ve got a 15 minute warm up followed by 10 minutes of 30 seconds hard/30 seconds easy. Then make the most of the five minutes rest before settling into a 12 minute block which switches between one minute at maximal aerobic power (MAP) and three minutes at sweetspot. After this, you’ll get another five minutes to recover, followed by four minutes at MAP before finishing with a warm down. 

The workout

To download the session click on the embedded graph above. If you’re not already set up on TrainerDay it’ll ask you to register for an account - it’s free to do so and it’s free to download the session.  

Simply explained

Training is primarily about improving our fitness or performance on the bike, but making sure the session remains enjoyable is another important element - you’re more likely to cycle regularly and get fit this way. For an hour long session on the turbo, this one is filled with variety to keep it engaging and fun. 

The efforts themselves focus on the specific aspects of fitness that we want to target. These include repeatability of efforts (useful for fast paced group rides or races) and recovering at higher intensities. The session also targets improving ability to work at MAP along with boosting our VO2max (aerobic fitness).

Let’s geek out

The first segment of the efforts in this cycling workout is a set of 30 seconds hard/30 seconds easy. Similar to doing a 20/40s cycling workout, this area of the efforts focuses on short recoveries from harder efforts and building up a resistance to the inorganic phosphate fatigue that comes from repeated short bouts of high intensity efforts. The 30 on/30 off structure gives a higher accumulative heart rate response than 20/40s, without hitting VO2max. 

Then, with just a short recovery, we jump straight into the Under/Overs. As explained previously in the Under/Overs cycling workout, these help us recover our Watts Prime (W’) at higher intensities, as well as improving our pain threshold. We also often hit our peak oxygen consumption and heart rate by the end of these efforts, so there is a maximal aerobic response.

Finally, the four minute MAP is useful by itself for improving our performance at MAP and improving VO2max. However, doing this effort at the end of a session that has already  elicited multiple fatigue elements can also help us perform at closer to our maximal intensities at the end of a crit, road race or tough group ride. The ability to perform near our best after experiencing fatigue is one of the most important determining factors when it comes to performance, and one of the biggest differences between the best World Tour riders and us mere mortals.

Golden rule

Stick to the numbers. Pushing too hard too early will likely mean that, come the under/overs or the MAP block, you might have burned too many matches too soon. Once you’ve done this session and successfully completed it, you can adjust your target more towards the upper power zones of each effort block.

Sunny out? How about…

Image shows a rider completing a cycling workout.

(Image credit: Future)

This cycling workout is a little more difficult to complete outside but it can be done with a bit of thoughtful route planning. On a nice flat or rolling circuit without too many technical sections, the effort blocks can be done with the right recovery time in between. Failing that, try and find 10, 12 and four minute long stretches of rolling road to do each of the 30/30, Under/Over and MAP blocks and don’t worry about the recovery time between efforts. 

Looking for another? How about...

 - Cycling workout of the week #1: 20/40s [50 mins]

 - Cycling workout of the week #3: MAP (Maximal Aerobic Power) efforts [1hr 5 mins]

 - Cycling workout of the week #4: Rev outs [1hr] 

 - Cycling workout of the week #6: 1 min on, 1 min off [45 mins]

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