Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Favorite Workouts (Part III): Bike Sessions

This is the third part in a series of my favorite workouts. Check out Part I on swim sessions here and Part II on run workouts here

Back when I was setting my goals for the 2013 season, I mentioned wanting to both gain additional power on the bike, and become stronger and more efficient running off the bike. Not only are the following workouts a few of my favorites, but I've found myself regularly incorporating them into my routine as of late to work towards those two goals. The interval sessions are a lot easier to structure on an indoor trainer, but can certainly be done outside if the weather is cooperating and you have access to some decent stretches of stop-sign-free roads. Brick workouts can be structured a hundred different ways and can be done either outside or inside, barring you have access to a treadmill as well.

So, let's dive into the workouts.

Modified Tabata Protocol

This is my go-to workout when I'm crunched for time. Now, traditional tabata training can be applied to almost anything, whether push ups, squats, running, or cycling. The basic concept is the same: 4 minutes of 8 intervals lasting 20 seconds. The kicker is that these 20 seconds are flat-out, as hard as you can go. The concept is based of research done in Japan by Izumi Tabata who essentially found this type of high-intensity intervals training to benefit both aerobic and anaerobic fitness to a greater extent than doing moderate high-intensity training. I always do this workout on the indoor bike trainer, and it's great for those cold or wet days when you don't feel like getting outside.

10 minute warm-up

15-20x 40 seconds as fast as possible / 20 second recovery

5 minute cool down


Bike Gear Intervals
This is another great session for the trainer that I incorporated quite frequently during the winter months. Not only is it a solid session for maintaining decent fitness during the off-season, but in really focusing on building strength and endurance on the bike, I incorporated a lot of bigger gear work into my workout structure. This is predominately a cold-weather session as a substitute for hill intervals, which I've begun to do now that the weather is getting a little warmer (not exactly the same as hill intervals, but it gets at some of the same strength objectives). The design of the session is another I've adapted from Chris McCormack's MaccaX12 program.

15 minute warm-up

9 minute holding about a 90-95 cadence in a moderate gear
1 minute recovery

The subsequent intervals use the following time pattern, while increasing the gear each interval and trying to hold the same cadence. The last interval should be on one of the biggest gears (if not the biggest).

8 minute / 2 minute recovery
7 minute / 3 minute recovery
6 minute / 4 minute recovery
5 minute / 5 minute recovery

5 minute cool down


Brick Workouts
I've mentioned the benefits of brick workouts before, or doing a run session immediately following a bike session so as to try and simulate "running off the bike" as you would in a race. Coming from a running background, I've made a concerted effort this off-season to try and improve on the bike, particularly to ensure I have enough in the tank for my strongest of the three triathlon disciplines. I've found that the run segments don't necessarily have to be long as long as your consistent with including them. That's where the improvement lies.

20-25 minute warm-up

3-4x 5 miles at race pace

5-10 minute spin at a slightly higher gear to get the legs turning over and primed for the run

2-3 mile run at close to goal pace immediately following the bike session


In the fourth and final part of this series I'll be sharing a few of my favorite strength training exercises. I've regularly incorporated strength training for years, sometimes for different goals, but it's nonetheless proved invaluable for strength (obviously), but also endurance and injury prevention. Stay tuned. 

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