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The Key CTS Cycling Workouts


The cycling workouts described below are the foundation of an effective training program, and are used throughout CTS training plans and with coached-athletes. Before utilizing these workouts in your training program, we recommend you complete the CTS Field Test and calculate your proper training zone intensity ranges. You can find the CTS Field Test instructions and training zone calculator here.


Rate Of Perceived Exertion Chart

RPE (1-10 SCALE)INTENSITYBREATHING RATE
5EasyComfortable breathing
6ModerateRhythmic breathing, not labored
7UncomfortableDeep and labored
8HardDeep and labored, faster than high-end aerobic
9Very hardShort and rapid, only a few words
10Max EffortShort and rapid, single word

Recovery Miles

RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION: 0-4

ZONE: RECOVERY

HEART RATE: 0-68% OF THRESHOLD HR

AVERAGE POWER: 0-54%  OF THRESHOLD POWER

TYPICAL DURATION: 30-60 MINUTES

A Recovery Miles ride is like taking a walk on your bike. They key is to keep the intensity low enough to engage the active recovery process but not long or intense enough to elicit any training stress.


Foundation Miles

RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION: 4-6

ZONE: ENDURANCE

HEART RATE: 69-83% OF THRESHOLD HR

AVERAGE POWER: 55-75%  OF THRESHOLD POWER

TYPICAL DURATION: 60 MINS-6 HRS

A Foundation Miles ride could be simply described as an easy endurance ride where others would call it "base miles". The intensity of this ride is centered in your Endurance zone. It is hard enough to elicit a cardiovascular response, but at a low enough intensity where you can stay nearly completely aerobic. Riding in this intensity will enhance your body's ability to use fat as a fuel source. Your goal is to spend 90% of your ride within the intensity range.


Endurance Miles

RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION: 5-7

ZONE: ENDURANCE

HEART RATE: 69-94% OF THRESHOLD HR

AVERAGE POWER: 63-87%  OF THRESHOLD POWER

TYPICAL DURATION: 60 MINS-4 HRS

For an Endurance Miles ride the simple instruction is "go ride your bike". Endurance Miles rides are moderate intensity aerobic training and span both Endurance and Tempo zones. The intensity range is so wide to accommodate changes in effort level resulting from uphill’s, downhill’s, headwinds, tailwinds, stop signs and stop lights. You should spend 90% of the ride should occur within the target intensity range, and expect the intensity factor (IF) to fall somewhere in the middle of the power range.


Fast Group Rides/Race Simulations

RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION: 5-9

ZONE: ALL (ENDURANCE, TEMPO, THRESHOLD, VO2 MAX, ANAEROBIC CAPACITY)

HEART RATE: 84-94% OF THRESHOLD HR

AVERAGE POWER: 76-90%  OF THRESHOLD POWER

TYPICAL DURATION: 60 MINS-3 HRS

Fast Group Rides and Race Simulation are unstructured, high intensity rides that work across all your energy systems. You do not have follow a specific power or heart rate intensity for these rides. These kinds of rides help you put all the training together and compete with your peers in the group, or take an opportunity to go out on your own and attack your favorite Strava segments or try to PR on your favorite loop. You may end up with intensity in all ranges from Endurance to Anaerobic Power, but the average intensity factor (IF) will most often fall somewhere in Tempo (76-90%)


Aerobic Tempo Intervals

RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION: 6-7

ZONE: TEMPO

HEART RATE: 84-92% OF THRESHOLD HR

AVERAGE POWER: 76-85%  OF THRESHOLD POWER

INTERVAL DURATION: 30 MINS-120 MINS

INTERVAL TOTAL VOLUME: 30 MINS-120 MINS

Tempo intervals focus effort on lower end of your Tempo zone. It is at an intensity that is just above your aerobic threshold but still well below lactate threshold (FTP). This kind of effort feels fast and requires you to keep pressure on the pedals, but is moderate enough that you can sustain for a long period of time.


Sweet Spot Tempo Intervals

RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION: 7-8

ZONE: TEMPO AND THRESHOLD

HEART RATE: 84-92% OF THRESHOLD HR

AVERAGE POWER: 93-96%  OF THRESHOLD POWER

INTERVAL DURATION: 20 MINS-60 MINS

INTERVAL TOTAL VOLUME: 40 MINS-90 MINS

Sweet Spot Tempo intervals (formerly called "Tempo" by CTS) works in that sweet spot of intensity between the top of your Tempo zone and bottom of your Threshold zone. Training at this intensity will help you develop better sustainability of your threshold power and time to exhaustion at threshold (FTP).


Steady State Intervals

RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION: 8-9

ZONE: THRESHOLD

HEART RATE: 95-100%OF THRESHOLD HR

AVERAGE POWER: 96-100% OF THRESHOLD POWER

INTERVAL DURATION: 10 MINS-30 MINS

INTERVAL TOTAL VOLUME: 30 MINS-60 MINS

Steady State intervals focus directly on improving your lactate threshold power (FTP). These intervals are done in the top half of Threshold just below and right up to your threshold power (FTP) or heart rate. These are strenuous intervals that take a lot of focus to sustain, but are the most specific and effective training to increase threshold power (FTP).


Over Unders

RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION: 9

ZONE: THRESHOLD

HEART RATE: 100-105% OF THRESHOLD HR

AVERAGE POWER: 96-105% OF THRESHOLD POWER

INTERVAL DURATION: 8 MINS-20 MINS

INTERVAL TOTAL VOLUME: 30 MINS-60 MINS

Over Unders are Threshold based intervals that cross from under your FTP (96%) to just over your FTP (105%). These demanding intervals are great race specificity for paceline riding and time trialing.


Climbing Repeat and Time Trial Intervals

RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION: 9

ZONE: THRESHOLD

HEART RATE: 101-105% OF THRESHOLD HR

AVERAGE POWER: 101-105% OF THRESHOLD POWER

INTERVAL DURATION: 6 MINS-15 MINS

INTERVAL TOTAL VOLUME: 24 MINS-45 MINS

Climbing Repeats and Time Trial intervals work at the top of your Threshold zone. The goal of these intervals is to work right at the edge of your Anaerobic Threshold. These intervals are very demanding and effort level should be maximal sustainable for the duration.


Hill Accelerations

RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION: 9-10

ZONE: THRESHOLD AND VO2 MAX

HEART RATE: 101-105% OF THRESHOLD HR

AVERAGE POWER: 101-120% OF THRESHOLD POWER

INTERVAL DURATION: 4 MINS-10 MINS

INTERVAL TOTAL VOLUME: 24 MINS-45 MINS

Hill Accelerations are great race specificity training. While these intervals are Threshold based they finish with a strong effort that will take you in to VO2max. Doing these are great practice for punching over the top of a climb to drop your competition. The first half of these intervals starts at the top end of FTP power (100-105%) a sustained effort, and finishes with a surge at VO2 (120%) for the final 30s-1min.


Power Interval

RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION: 10

ZONE: VO2 MAX

HEART RATE: 101% + OF THRESHOLD HR

AVERAGE POWER: 106-120%  OF THRESHOLD POWER

INTERVAL DURATION: 2 MINS-5 MINS

INTERVAL TOTAL VOLUME: 15 MINS-20 MINS

Power Intervals improve your maximal aerobic power and VO2 max (aerobic capacity.) To be most effective, these intervals should be performed at near maximal intensity for the duration. Focus on high cadence to keep the cardiovascular demand high in these intervals.


Speed Intervals

RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION: 10

ZONE: VO2 MAX AND ANAEROBIC POWER

HEART RATE: 101-105% OF THRESHOLD HR

AVERAGE POWER: 121-150%  OF THRESHOLD POWER

INTERVAL DURATION: DURATION OF SETS 4-8 MINUTES

INTERVAL TOTAL VOLUME: 15 MINS-20 MINS

Speed Intervals are very short intervals with short recovery. Interval duration is typically 20-40 seconds with recovery at half of interval duration. Examples are 40/20s and 30/15 that are repeated in sequence for a specific duration. These intervals start as glycolytic Anaerobic Power intervals, however with the short recovery these will stress the aerobic system maximally and work heavily in VO2 max. These intervals are good for race specificity for mountain bikers, cross racers, and crit riders. However, they can be used by any athlete to increase neuromuscular demands of VO2 max training.


Anaerobic Power Intervals

RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION: 10

ZONE:  ANAEROBIC POWER

HEART RATE: NA

AVERAGE POWER: 121-150%  OF THRESHOLD POWER

INTERVAL DURATION: 30 SEC-90 SEC

INTERVAL TOTAL VOLUME: 4-8 REPS

Anaerobic Power Intervals are always performed at 100% maximum output. These intervals rely on the glycolytic energy pathway which provides energy very quickly, but is also depleted very quickly (under 2 minutes). These intervals improve your Functional Reserve Capacity and require full rest between intervals in order to ensure you are working anaerobically. When too little recovery is given between intervals this you will tend to rely more on aerobic energy production than anaerobic.


Neuromuscular Power Interval

RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION: 10

ZONE:  ANAEROBIC POWER

HEART RATE: NA

AVERAGE POWER: MAX

INTERVAL DURATION: 8 SEC-10 SEC

INTERVAL TOTAL VOLUME: 5-10 REPS

Neuromuscular power intervals are short sprint efforts that rely on stored energy in the ATP/ PC energy pathway. These intervals are always performed at 100% maximum output. These intervals improve your neuromuscular recruitment of fast twitch muscle fibers and will develop your Pmax (peak power). Full recovery between sprints is important to allow time for ATP to be regenerated in the muscle. When too little recovery is given between intervals this kind of work switches from maximal anaerobic to an aerobic.


Google Sheet Training Zone And Workout Intensity Calculator

After completing the CTS Field Test, You can use the following Google Sheet template to calculate and save your workout training zone intensity ranges.

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CALCULATE YOUR WORKOUT ZONES