A full recipe for success – crème de la crème of cycling self-GBH (or simply: five training sessions for every occasion).
But is said five supposed to be enough for the whole season? Whole life? It sure does! At work we repeat the same thing all over again so after work we deserve a bit of monotony too. 😉
On a more serious note: these five variants are probably about 80% of my training plan for the season. Sure, there are mutations and deviations, but the following list is perfect for the year-round core of training ideas.

We’ll start with a few initial provisions.
What you need? You need to know your FTP, or Functional Threshold Power. Does this mean that if you don’t have a power meter, you’re fucked? No. You should simply measure your LTHR ( Lactate Threshold Heart Rate). How to do it? Just as if you’d perform and FTP Test: go all-out for thirty minutes. Your average heart rate from the best twenty is your LTHR.
Simply put: both FTP and LTHR have the same meaning/interpretation – it’s the maximum power/heart rate that you are able to maintain during an hour’s effort (well, not exactly but we’ll come back to that).
Why are they so important? For many reasons. EVERY training plan, EACH trainer (well, any nimble trainer) does is based on the percentage values ​​of one of these thresholds. In addition, as I mentioned, most races happen to be ridden around FTP. Both amateur and professional. In the latter, numbers are simply quite different from the former. However, both have a similar meaning.

All right, let’s do it. Five ‚golden hits of cycling training’:

The most pleasant. The most important. The best. Sweet spot.
This is probably the most frequently repeated type of intervals. Not without a reason – most sources agree that it has the most positive impact on the value of our FTP/LTHR. How does it look like? It’s a ride with an intensity of 83-97% of our FTP (according to Joe Friel – creator of the TrainingPeaks platform, among others). Some (including myself) narrow this range to 88-93% FTP. How does this relate to heart rate? Probably the most accurate description would be: ‚slightly below LTHR’. And trust me – it’s ‚accurate’ enough. This is not quantum physics.
How much of it during one training session? Apparently, the golden standard is two times 20 minutes with a five-minute interval between repetitions. I would start with this as a beginner. For someone fitter than that i’s not enough. My golden standard is:

– 15-20 minutes of warm-up (with three times 1 min at high cadence – over 110 rpm)
– Two repetitions, 30 minutes each, at 88-93% FTP, with a ten-minute break between them
– 15-30 minutes – return home at ‚low tempo’ (somewhere between 65-75% FTP)

Easy as pie.
My advice: start with 2 × 20 minutes and increase until you reach 2 × 30 minutes, with a cool-down in Tempo Zone.

The most universal one: strength intervals at FTP.

What do we (cyclist) need the strength for? Well, for pedalling. By strength training, we increase the power of these muscle parts which perform a specific movement pattern. In our case: ones that set the crank in motion. How does this type of workout look like? It’s applying the specific force to the full range of pedal stroke. And how do you ride it? By pedalling in a low gear, with a very low cadence (approx. 60-70 rpm), focusing on full range of motion (thus activating all needed muscle and fascia parts). Remember not to ‚help’ yourself with your arms – just rest them freely on top of the bars. It’s the legs that need to do all the work.
The ‚specific force’ I mention is simply FTP in my case. Thanks to this, I kill two birds with one stone: the work is done both: on the threshold and in the strength department.

My usual session looks like this:

– 15-20 minutes of warm-up (with three times 1 min at high cadence – over 110 rpm)
– Repetitions of: 5, 6, 7, 5, 6, 7, 5… minutes at approx. 100% FTP and 60-70 rpm cadence, with five-minute breaks between them
– 15-20 minutes – cool-down

Footnote: I’d start with six repetitions, gradually increasing the load to a maximum of ten.

Intervals at the threshold (…or just above it)

The name says it all. How many and how long? Start with 2 × 10 minutes on 100-105% FTP and gradually add until you can manage this:

– 15-20 minutes of warm-up (with three times 1 min at high cadence – over 110 rpm)
– Four reps, 10 minutes each, at 100-105% FTP, with a five-minute break between them
– 15-30 minutes – return home at ‚low tempo’ (somewhere between 65-75% FTP)

…and at home you should collapse on the bed, half-dead.

And above the threshold we’ve got VO2Max

It is useful when we have to endure someone’s attacks, pull someone back or want to attack by ourselves. By definition, this will be the intensity above FTP.

I usually ride ‚4×4’, which is:

– 15-20 minutes of warm-up (with three times 1 min at high cadence – over 110 rpm)
– Two repetitions, 4 minutes each, at 120% FTP, with a four-minute interval between them
– Eight minute break
– Two repetitions, 4 minutes each, at 120% FTP, with a four-minute interval between them
– 15-20 minutes of cool-down

Yeah, it IS really painful.

And if you ‚don’t have time for anything’, you still have time for Gibala’s HIIT

WTF? You have probably already encountered the HIIT concept (High Intensity Interval Training). More or less cursory. If less cursory – you’ve probably read that various cycling coaches claim that a very high intensity effort accumulated over a very short period of time has a greater impact on our form (positive, of course!) than training at a medium intensity and longer duration. Yeah, I trust them.

In this case, I trust Mr. Martin Gibala, who came up with the following self-GBH:

– all of three (yes, three!) minutes of warm-up
– Ten times (maybe start with six to eight, huh?) 1 minute at 150% FTP with 75 seconds rest between them
– …and basically no cool-down

If you don’t spit blood while riding back home – you did something wrong.

That’s it. Whole secret. Save it in bookmarks, print it or have it tattooed on your thigh (or whichever body part takes your fancy). Then arrange it neatly into three-day microcycles and of you go, to kill these KOMs or opponents!

You’re welcome.

My name’s Przemek. I ride bikes. A lot. I also write about bikes. Not a lot. Some time ago I started a cycling apparel brand – eroe.cc and it sort of exploded with World’s Best Bib Shorts being an absolute bestseller. Feel free to have a look.
You can also stalk me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter if that is what you desire.


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