When I first started cycling, I pretty much did my training rides at the same tempo. After talking to some personal trainers and reading various cycling “how to” books…I discovered that interval training (or fartleks) are essential for nearly any endurance sport. Below are some of my favored cycling training routines:
To achieve my maximum heart I was doing hard one-minute intervals on a slight hill as per the recommendation of several books. It seemed I never could really raise it to what I believed was my “max.” During the spring of 2010 I started using another technique, a 4-minute interval, which I call “Stair Steps.” I found I was able to elevate my heart rate a little higher than before.
I have a favorite area which has a slight hill with perhaps a 3% grade for about 1.5 miles. It is a farm road with little traffic so I can do this workout without getting distracted by vehicles. I usually start at the same place which is a house with a paved driveway which serves as a turnaround. After a 10-minute warm up, with my heart rate fairly low (approx. 100 BPM), I start out uphill, resetting the stopwatch on my bike computer. I start to accelerate so that within 20 to 30 seconds my heart rate is up to 130 BPM. I then hold it the pace and heart rate until one minute has passed, at which point I accelerate a little faster, raising my heart rate 10 more BPM, up to 140. For me, this is in the upper 20% of my range. At the beginning of minute three, I raise it again to about 150 BPM and hold it for the duration of that minute. And then somewhere in the last minute, minute four, I try to raise it to 160 to 165 BPM, which is my absolute maximum on a bike (I can raise mine higher on an uphill ski workout). Sometimes I stand a little in the last minute to kick up my heart rate. There is a street sign, which is about 1.5 miles from the start, which happens to coincide with my four-minute routine and serves as my “finish line.” I then coast back down, while lightly pedaling, to the start. This usually takes 2.5 minutes. My heart rate is typically lowered to 60% of my maximum (100 BPM) and then I do the whole routine all over for four or five times. My street sign serves as a good goal to reach on subsequent laps as I usually slow down and it helps me stay motivated. Afterwards I might do a moderate 60-minute continuous ride, rounding off my two-hour workout.
Coming next time….