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Perk Up Your Ride With Intervals

Ask a Pro — Diane Stibbard

Coach, Personal Trainer, and Two-Time Canadian Duathlete of the Year

Diane Stibbard - two-time dualthlete of the yearQ: I’m a little bored with all my riding routines. Could you give me some ideas of how to mix things up?

A: Riding, as fun and invigorating as it is, can sometimes be monotonous. We’re creatures of habit and tend to do the same workouts and training rides week in and week out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. You’ll still get benefits from your rides, but changing the structure of your workout creates a different training effect on your body, and does wonders for your mind. Below are a few ideas for you to try out over the next month of your training. To add variety, mix some of these with what you’re doing now.

Workout One: Ladders
This is a great way to add intervals to your ride.If you’re training with a heart rate monitor, aim to work in zone 4. If you aren’t training with a monitor, then your RPE (rate of perceived exertion) should be 7 (where 10 is the hardest you can work and 1 is the easiest).

15 min warm-up – light, easy spinning
1 min on hard – 1 min off easy spinning
2 min on hard – 2 min off easy spinning
3 min on hard – 3 min off easy spinning
Come back down the ladder
2 min on hard – 2 min off easy spinning
1 min on hard – 1 min off easy spinning

You can take the ladders all the way up to 5 minutes on hard and 5 minutes easy spinning, but if you haven’t been doing much interval training start with this schedule.

Finish with 15 minutes of light easy spinning to cool down

Workout Two: 2:1 Work to rest ratio intervals
With these intervals you’re working for double the amount of time you are recovering/spinning. Intensity – zone 4 or a RPE of 7–8.

15 minutes warm up – light, easy spinning
These intervals can be done in the following time increments:
2 minutes work – 1 minute recovery
3 minutes work – 1.5 minutes recovery
4 minutes work – 2 minutes recovery

Start with a total of 10 minutes of work, and build to 15 minutes of work.

For example:
5×2 minutes hard – with 1 minute of recovery will give you 10 minutes of “work” time. Then 15 minutes of easy spinning to cool down.
3×3 minutes hard – 1.5 minutes of recovery
1×1 minute hard – 30 seconds of recovery
Then 15 minutes of easy spinning to cool down
2×4 minutes hard 2 minutes of recovery
1×2 minutes hard – 1 minute of recovery
Then 15 minutes of easy spinning to cool down

Workout 3: Power-Ups within your long ride
To build leg power, throw in some high intensity bursts while doing your long ride. Every 5-10km (3– 6 miles) do three 4×30 second high-intensity all-out efforts. These high-intensity efforts are best done on a flat stretch of road. Put your bike into the big chain ring at the front, and into the middle gear at the back. Power up for 30 seconds then drop back into the small chain ring at the front and an easier gear at the back. Spin easy for 30 seconds. Do 3–4 sets of these power-up efforts during your long ride.

Try mixing these workouts into your current training schedule. All of the above workouts can be lengthened or shortened depending on your fitness level and the amount of time you have. Your body will love the variety, and will adapt to the change with increased fitness. So get on the bike, get outside, and mix it up. Have a safe and enjoyable ride.

Training for a two-day cycling eventDiane provides training programs for recreational and competitive cyclists, duathletes and triathletes, including nutritional counseling and personal training. Does your company need a fitness consultant? Get in touch with Diane to discuss fitness seminars for corporations

You want personal training but don’t live near Diane? No problem. Diane does email and telephone consultations. To learn more, contact Diane at [email protected] or at LinkedIn.

Check out Diane’s e-programs: Keeping Fit in the Off-Season and Training For a Two-Day Charity Event For the Time-Starved Cyclist.

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