Building speed isn’t just about the mad dash for those final few metres across the finish line. The ability to produce a quick burst of speed will help your hill-climbing, enabling you to get out of the saddle and push hard. A good kick may make the difference between successfully attacking and failing to pull out a gap.
To make improvements such as increasing your power, you need to push your body harder than usual to stimulate adaptations. It’s not easy, so be prepared. Unlike building endurance fitness, where you can increase the duration or intensity of your ride slightly, this session is all about hard efforts, followed by recovery.
The session itself doesn’t last long — approximately 65 minutes — but make sure your route is flat. If you don’t have access to a suitable route, you may have to do it on the turbo.
0-10min: Level 2
Teeter on the boundary between zones 1 and 2. This is the time to prepare your body for the harder efforts you are going to place upon it. Going from steady to full gas is going to put a lot of pressure on your body.
For the next 55 minutes, you will be completing a number of intervals, with complete recovery between each one. Each interval will consist of 90sec followed by five minutes of recovery.
90sec interval (first 70sec): Zone 4
It’s a hard pace, but you must maintain it. Keep your rhythm, and control your breathing. It’s extremely important you don’t push all-out. Riding at this intensity is a great way to build your high-end fitness.
90sec interval (final 20sec): Zone 5/6
Grit your teeth and pedal like crazy — aiming to produce maximum power. Don’t give up. Understandably your body will start to tire, but try to keep your effort as high as you can. These are the 20sec where you are improving your anaerobic capacity (your sprint).
Final 5min complete recovery: Zone 1
Once the 90sec are up, don’t stop pedalling, as this could cause blood-pooling, which will result in dizziness, light-headedness, and sickness. Gradually ease off your pedalling rate and intensity. Maintain your pedalling, continuing gently, as this will help clear waste fluids in your legs, and bring your breathing rate back down.
Training Zones – Six levels of intensity
|3a||Steady||Hold a conversation (just)|
|3b||Brisk||One sentence at a time|
|4||Threshold||Short sentences only|
|5||Hard||Only get the odd word out|