3 Indoor Cycling Workouts Targeted to Your Event Goals

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This is a period of the year when athletes have a lot of motivation to train, but don’t always have great weather for outdoor training. Fortunately, you can accomplish a great deal with targeted indoor cycling workouts, often in a fraction of the time – and with a fraction of the clothing – compared to outdoor rides. Depending on what you’re preparing for, here are some essential workouts you should be doing:

For the Early-Spring Racers: ThresholdLadders
If you live in an area where racing starts in March, then you should already be incorporating structured workouts and hopefully you’ve already been doing aerobic and lactate threshold workouts. To get a bump in speed while still primarily targeting your lactate threshold power, try ThresholdLadders. Each 12-minute interval starts with a 2-minute max effort then transition to 4 minutes at ClimbingRepeat intensity and then to 6 minutes at SteadyState Intensity. (Click here for a free download containing CTS training range calculations.) The first two minutes of the effort causes a spike in blood lactate, and then over the next 10 minutes you continue riding slightly below your lactate threshold intensity. Overall, these intervals help develop the ability to sustain a powerful effort while processing lactate and reintegrating it into aerobic metabolism for energy. You can do these on your own or with the Threshold Power video download, which features this workout.

Workout: 66 minutes total time
10min Warmup
3x12min ThresholdLadders, 6min easy spinning recovery between intervals
8min Cooldown

For the Summer Endurance Riders: SteadyState/ClimbingRepeats
If you’re going to be doing short races in the middle of the summer, or you have late spring/summer endurance goals like the or Leadville 100 or Copper Triangle, then this a great time to build a foundation with SteadyState and ClimbingRepeat workouts. Outdoors you’d be doing more Tempo and Endurance paces, but if you’re going to be indoors then we need to step up the intensity so you can accomplish sufficient workload in less time. Both SteadyState and ClimbingRepeat intervals are variations on a lactate threshold workout, with ClimbingRepeats being slightly more difficult. These intervals are long and steady, and frankly not that sexy. They make up for their lack of sexiness with heaps of effectiveness, though. To make them more interesting check out the Epic Climbing video download, featuring race footage from the USA Pro Challenge.

Workout: 85 minutes total time
10min Warmup
4x3min PowerIntervals, 3min easy spinning recovery between intervals
4minutes easy spinning recovery after the PowerIntervals
4x8min SteadyState, 4min easy spinning recovery between intervals.
8min Cooldown


For the Short Attention Span Crowd: Big Power
A lot of athletes are able to do their longer intervals (like those above) outdoors on the weekends, and struggle to stay engaged with those types of efforts indoors. For those athletes who need quickly-shifting intensities in order to help stay focused on the trainer, you still need to make sure the workout has a real training purpose beyond creating a puddle of sweat or leaving you too weak to climb the stairs from the basement. The workout below is exceedingly hard, but it’s also great for developing power at VO2 max. Why bother building high-end power this early? Because a rising tide lifts all ships, and when you lift the high end of your aerobic capacity it increases your capabilities at all lower intensity levels, too.

Workout: 60min
10min Warmup
3 sets of 5x :40/:20 Intervals (40 seconds max effort at 100+rpm, 20 seconds easy spinning, repeat for five 40-second efforts), 4minutes easy spinning recovery between sets.
4minutes easy spinning recovery after the 40/20 Intervals
8x1min PowerIntervals, 1min easy spinning recovery between intervals
8min Cooldown

The workout above is not identical to the workout in the Max Power video download, but it’s similar. Other Train Right videos that feature quickly-shifting intensities include Epic Intervals, Race Power, and Speed Intervals (Brand New!).

Chris Carmichael
CEO/Head Coach
Carmichael Training Systems

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Comments 2

  1. Pingback: 3 Powerful Sprint Workouts Every Cyclist Should Include in Their Training - CTS

  2. Gents,

    I´d like to take the opportunity after reading this interesting article, to ask a question regarding CTS training zones that I can´t understand after reading your book “Time crunched cyclist”.

    In the copy I got the training zones are divided into these field test power %:

    Endurance: 45 – 73
    Tempo: 80-85
    SS: 86-90
    CR: 95-100
    PI > 100

    What happens with intensities between 73 – 80 and between 90-95? Isn´t there any training in those zones? Or is it rather a mistyping in the book as I believe?

    I´d appreciate some clarification otherwise it is not possible to take any profit from your books or artices like this one as training zones look inconsistent.



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