Here are Frank’s Four Favorite and Fun Indoor Cycling Workouts:
- Sweet Spot Bursts
- Criss Cross ‘Micro’ Intervals
- Over Unders
My four favorite workouts are all one hour and have a plethora of variations to last you all winter and to help make indoor training diverse, fun and motivationally stimulating. I prescribe variations of these workouts Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday and longer outdoor sessions without any structured intervals on the weekends. One of my biggest rules to make indoor cycling fun and productive is to avoid steady power output – that tends to be boring. For example 4 x 8 minutes on 4 minutes off – booooooring. Productive yes, but with a little tweak this workout can become more realistic and dynamic by adding bursts which help the time pass by quicker.
One last aspect of indoor training during your base season – hold off on the macho full gas go as hard as you can crazy hard workouts. Concentrate on good old fashioned aerobic endurance using your zones 2, three (tempo), and of course sweet spot. Bursts and short durations above your FTP are fine and good, but save the hard effort for late winter, early Spring.
P.S. Don’t forget Coach Jake’s (the King of Indoor Training) 5 tips to help make indoor cycling more fun and productive
Here are Frank’s Four Favorite and FUN 1 hour Indoor Workouts:
1. Sweet Spot Bursts: 4 x 8 minutes w/ a burst every 2 minutes
The tried ‘n true sweet spot intensity: not too hard and not too easy, goldilocks. This is ‘base season’ after all and not a time to be going full gas with hardcore threshold, VO2, and anaerobic intervals. During each 8 minute sweet spot interval ‘burst’ out of the saddle for 5 seconds at 200% of your FTP every 2 minutes. The bursts mimic getting out of the saddle up a switchback on a climb, a rise in the road or an acceleration in the peloton. The catch is to go back to sweet spot after the burst and not a recovery intensity. Adding in those simple 2 minutes bursts will make each 8 minute interval whiz by!
2. Criss Cross Micro Intervals: Tempo > Zone 6 (20 sec) 5 x 7 minutes
This workout looks more intimidating on paper than in practice. The 20 second forays to anaerobic watts every 2 minutes during a 7 minute interval are great for cyclocrossers, mountain bikers, road, gravel, time trial – just about every discipline of cycling. Like the sweet spot bursts the catch is that you go back to tempo watts and not a recovery interval like a traditional steady state interval. Your heart rate will climb over the course of the interval because 3 x 20 sec anaerobic efforts add up. You can apply extra credit to your workout by going full gas for the last 20 seconder because each criss cross interval ends with a traditional recovery – but only for 2 minutes!
3. Sweet Spot Micro Over-Unders: 2 sets of 5 x 2 minutes
Like the criss cross workout above we are using the 20 second foray up into Zone 6 to mimic a short punchy climb. The sweet spot intensity is harder than that of tempo but the intervals are over in 2 minutes. 2 min on 2 min off with Zone 6 in the beginning and the end. The set break in the middle allows for a higher quality 2nd set than without. The challenge of these over unders is to not go too hard for the 20 seconds and to hold the sweet spot for 80 seconds in the middle. ERG mode gets a bad wrap, but honestly this workout using the ERG mode is money – the smartTrainer changes the resistance and power so all you have to do is jam out to your tunes and pedal!
I like Zwift (for many reasons) because it is a great way to get in an unstructured, fun, quality one hour of variable power endurance training – much like the Sweet Spot TSS Ride. The key is to not race! That’s right – save the zwift racing for your interval training later in your annual training progression after you’ve built your base. Zwift racing tends to be full gas for the whole one hour and that kind of training needs to be used at the right time of the year and certainly not regularly in the winter.
Concentrate on group and solo rides using the terrain on Zwift to match your training goal for the day. For example – use the flat Richmond course to pedal out a fun quality zone 2 workout. Use the New York’s Central Park to hammer out some TSS sweet spot style on Saturday’s if you can’t ride outside. Choose a group ride on Zwift, but give yourself some cushion so that you can actually sit in a little bit rather than being forced to ride all out as hard as you can. For example, if your FTP is 3.5 watts / kg , choose the “C Ride” between 2.5 – 3.1 w/kg and get in some fun advanced aerobic endurance training.
The possibilities on Zwift are really as endless as the variations of the three structured interval workouts above! What’s even better is that exporting these TrainingPeaks workouts to Zwift for the ultimate indoor riding experience is a piece of cake. It only takes a few clicks and then all you have to do is pedal! Below is a quick demo from our friends at TrainingPeaks that shows you how to sync your TrainingPeaks account to your Zwift account and follow your training plan using Zwift:
Set yourself up for success! Make sure you have everything you need for your trainer session to make it as fun, comfortable and effective as possible! Indoor training does not need to be one of Dante’s nine circles of hell, it can just be another stroll in the park doing what you love! So get out there, or better yet… Get in there and ride!
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