Five turbo training sessions

Try these five sets of our favourite turbo trainer workouts, and take your biking to the next level.

9875-e1fbebb-e1fbebb.jpg

Legendary cyclist Graeme Obree is quoted as saying that the first thing he’d rescue from his house if it was on fire would be his turbo trainer. 

Advertisement

While most of us probably don’t have the same zealous devotion as him – many would happily see the damn thing go up in flames – there’s no disputing its value as a training tool, especially during the winter months. 

Try these five sets of our favourites turbo training sessions, and take your biking to the next level this winter.

Session 1: single leg pedalling drills (26mins)

Technique session to develop a smooth, even pedal stroke. Can be used as an extended warm-up for other sessions or as a recovery workout.

Warm-up

5mins Easy spinning in smaller chainring and middle sprocket on the cassette.

Main set

  • 1min: clip out your weaker leg and rest it on a stool. Pedal one-legged, shifting down, if needed, to maintain 80-100rpm
  • 1min: spin with both legs
  • 1min: repeat the ‘dog muck drill’ with the other leg
  • 1min: spin with both legs
  • 1min: go back to the original leg and this time concentrate on the top of the pedal stroke by throwing the knee over the handlebars and by pushing the toes forward in the shoes
  • 1min: spin with both legs
  • 1min: repeat ‘knee over handlebars’ with the other leg
  • 1min: spin with both legs
  • 8mins: repeat main set

Cool-down

5mins easy spinning.

Next page

Session 2: threshold booster (41-65mins)

This session is designed to raise lactate threshold and your ability to perform near it.

Warm-up

5mins spinning while increasing gearing/resistance, followed by 5mins of 10secs sprint and 50secs recovery.

Main set

3-6 x 5mins with 3min recoveries. Shift to the big chainring and work hard for 5mins (aiming for a heart rate 15-25 beats below your maximum or, if using power, FTP).

At the end of 5mins, drop to the small chainring, drop the resistance and spin easy for 3mins. Repeat this work/recovery cycle for three to six reps depending on ability.

Cool-down

10mins easy spinning.

Next page

Session 3: stairway to heaven (42mins)

This is great for building hill strength, as well as mental toughness.

Warm-up

10mins easy spinning, including some 10-20sec seated sprints in the second 5mins. 

Main set

3 x 6mins of ascending difficulty with 2min recoveries.

Select the big ring but with a moderate sprocket. For example, 22t. Resistance should be at about a third of your turbo’s maximum. Ride moderately hard. 

After 3mins, shift up two gears and try to maintain the same cadence for a further 2mins. Finally, shift up another two gears and ride hard for a minute out of the saddle. 

Drop to the small chainring, drop the resistance and recover with easy spinning for two minutes. Shift back to the big ring but this time perform the ‘3mins, 2mins, 1min’ sequence with two more clicks of resistance. 

Recover for two minutes again and then work through the ‘3,2,1’, again cranking it up by two clicks.

Cool-down

10mins easy spinning.

Next page

Session 4: cassette double pyramid (53-57mins)

Develops sustained climbing strength and pacing.

Warm-up

10mins easy spinning.

Main set

33-37mins of effort (depending on whether 9- or 10-speed groupset) in ascending and descending 1min increments. Zero your trip computer and select a fairly heavy resistance along with your bottom gear. 

For example, 39 x 25. Ride sustainably hard, remembering you’ve got a long drag ahead and it’s going to get harder before it gets easier. Every minute shift up one gear all the way through the block. 

By the time you’re at the 12t, you’ll barely be turning the cranks. Keep going until you’ve been up and down the entire block twice. How far did you cover? Try to beat it next time. 

Cool-down

10mins easy spinning.

Next page

Session 5: kitchen sink (60mins)

A bit of everything packed into an hour. Pedalling technique, leg speed, strength, power and sustained effort. 

Warm-up

10mins easy spinning.

Main Set

10mins spin-ups. With resistance and gear fairly low, stay seated and spin up to maximum cadence. Hold the cadence up to 30secs and recover at an easy spin for the rest of the minute. 

10mins mixed climb. Crank up the resistance to high and find a gear that allows you, when working fairly hard, to maintain 80-90rpm. 

Climb seated for 1min and then, having clicked up a couple of gears, climb out of the saddle and keep alternating.

10mins big gear sprints. Recover spinning easily for 1min at the end of the climb, and then select high resistance and a big gear. From a standing start, sprint out of the saddle to get on top of the gear and then sit down and maintain the sprint. It should be a 100% 30sec effort. Rest completely for 90secs between efforts. 

10mins time trial. At medium resistance and gearing that allows you to work hard, but sustainably, at 90-100rpm ride a consistent 10mins. Try to make your effort constant without any tailing off.

Advertisement

Cool-down

10mins easy spinning.