5 Killer Cycling Workouts

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5 Killer Cycling Workouts

So you don’t have a lot of time, but you still want to make progress. As cyclists, we tend to think it’s not worth doing short workouts because our goals are to ride fast for many hours.

Okay, here’s the trick from less time training to get the most gains. Hard to go. I don’t mean picking up the pace a little bit, but I’m really going tough. Sprints, hill assaults, other difficult intervals and circuit exercises that require a lot of oxygen and produce a lot of lactic acids.

The cumulative oxygen debt will overwhelm the anaerobic and aerobic energy systems which will lead to improvements in both.

High-intensity cycling and off-the-bike cross-training exercises often increase the body’s growth hormone and testosterone levels, resulting in better body function without cheating.

When we age these hormones decline so it will aid fat loss, regeneration and growth of new red blood cells by spiking them up with exercise.

It will literally turn back the internal clock of your bodies, helping you to feel and act younger. Not bad for short workouts like that.

Sufficient of the preamble. You read that because you want results, so on to the workouts.

You’ll want to warm up at least 10 minutes before doing the workout because of the duration of my workouts. As you get fitter, for optimal performance you will need a longer warm-up, but a quick one will do to reduce the chance of injury from trying to cold these workouts.

Tabata Interval Blocks

The basic interval of Tabata is becoming well known. The basic premise is simple, repeated 8-10 times, 20 seconds hard/10 seconds. 8 repeats is a block of 4 minutes.

If you’re pushed for time, do a fast warm-up and then 10x 20 seconds of hard sprints with 10 seconds of easy pedalling between the reps. This is a 5-minute workout. Don’t be fooled by the length of time. Even the fittest competitor will have an excess of training if each phase is performed at maximum effort. Because of the intensity level, this is best done on an indoor bike trainer. I did it outside, and I loop it all over the road at the sixth or seventh interval.

If you have a little more time to work with, then I recommend that you do a few blocks. After you have warmed up, do 8x Tabata intervals (4 minutes) then a 4-minute recovery and do it again.

Two blocks of Tabata intervals overload just about every system in the body, and it takes only 12 minutes. As you get fitter, you should try adding another package when you want a big training load.

20 minute Time Trials

Some of you might be familiar with threshold repeats of 20 minutes. These are an intensity level up. You can do them indoors or out, but if you find outdoors a 20-minute long climb to a headwind for the lucky people living in the mountains or level terrain.

You don’t want a break from the terrain so try to find a road that doesn’t have downhills. The rest is quite straightforward. In 20 minutes, cover as much distance as possible.

A variation of these I use for my customers is a time trial of 12-15 km as it takes about 20 minutes for most fit cyclists. If you picked the right pace your legs will burn, but you can barely keep the pace going all the way. Because lactic acid accumulates faster than your body can absorb it, it really hurts the last 5 minutes.

This will increase your aerobic capacity and boost your ability to process lactic acid. These are really good for getting a sense for pace if you do time trials in competition as well. Go out too hard and blow up your legs. Go too easy and you’re not going to be as quick as you can.

Mini Velmax Intervals

Velmax intervals are a simple but effective workout for 25-40 repeats that we usually do. In this scenario, you’re going to do 20 to suit the mini in the time limit. If you don’t have a power metre, the cycles are pretty simple 30 seconds at 135 per cent threshold power or 8-9 out of 10 perceived exertion.

The time for recovery is 30 seconds. So at the beginning of every minute, you go hard and recover within 30 seconds. It’s pretty easy to keep track of how tired you are.

The first few are complicated but doable. Everyone after that gets harder until the last few feel like their legs will fall off. While you have to recover properly between this type of workout, if you put in an honest effort, they really bring results quickly.

Full Body Circuit Workouts

Sometimes without equipment, you consider yourself, but you still want to get a workout. At occasions, certain types of exercises will be used to support the rest of the body.

Some muscles are hard hit by cycling, but others are neglected. It will affect your performance on the bike if you lack muscle endurance in the core and upper body. A strong core can make the pedals both seated and stand more efficient. While I’m showing you two exercises, when it comes to programming cross-training workouts, there are almost endless possibilities.

You’ll need nothing more than a pair of stupid bells to do these workouts. I suggest a set of 20 lbs for guys and a set of 10 lbs for ladies. Do a Google search for “CrossFit workouts” or do a search for the name of each exercise if you don’t know how to do the exercises. Most of the exercises include YouTube.com videos.

A few suggestions on how to do them before we get to the cycling workouts. Do each exercise in order and start at the beginning once you’ve been through one circuit until you’ve completed the number of rounds you’ve scheduled. The goal is to get the workout done as quickly as possible while keeping the workouts in good shape.

Unless you have to rest, don’t rest. This type of workout will have a lot of lactic acids and will cause you to huff and puff. That’s a good thing. That type of exercise leads to increased growth hormone and testosterone output in your bodies. For those of us over 30, these hormone levels are decreasing. The rise would result in easier burning of fat, faster recovery and increased performance.

Workout 1

3 rounds

20 Thrusters

20 Sumo Deadlifts

20 Burpees

Workout 2

3 rounds

10 Curls Dumbbells

20 Dumbbell Swings

30 Bodyweight Squats

Work at your own pace when you do the above workouts for the first time. Give yourself between workouts for at least 48 hours. Every time you do them, try to improve your time. These are hard but efficient. This can be done in as little as 6 minutes depending on your fitness level.


By counting every minute and overloading the system, with very little time spent training, you can get great results. As a rider, if you concentrate on winter quality with a longer, mild ride once or twice a week, you will see a major improvement as the spring comes around. The lack of time is merely an excuse.

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