Sub-1hr bike session: power-boosting quad killer

A super-tough cycle workout that will help build strength and power. You've been warned...

Triathlete on a turbo trainer

Are you looking to build your bike strength and leg power? Get ready for 60mins of pain courtesy of this session from Emma-Kate Lidbury…


Equipment needed: bike, bike shoes, bike kit/clothing, helmet, glasses, energy drink, bike computer, turbo trainer (for indoors).

Performance benefits: if done correctly, this session will translate to greater power as well as improved endurance. Being able to push the pace through an 8min interval, recover and then repeat can really lead to some significant bike fitness gains. In time, you should see an improved capacity to ride at or near your maximum for longer. Come race day, this will pay dividends.

Overgeared intervals


10min steady ride.

Main session

4 x 8min intervals, increasing effort and pace every 2mins so the final 2mins are at a strong maximal effort. As you increase effort through the interval, decrease your cadence while increasing resistance by either changing gear or increasing the level on the turbo. For example, 90rpm-80rpm-70rpm-60rpm. Spin easy with high cadence for 2mins between repeats.


10mins easy, high cadence.

Main benefits

Mental benefits

This session is not for the faint hearted and requires the right mental approach. Treat it not just as a physical workout, but as a psychological one, too. What coping strategies will you have in place halfway through each interval to ensure you keep pushing? Force your brain to do as much work as your body to really reap the benefits of all aspects of this session.

Physiological benefits

Overgeared work is a great way to build bike-specific strength and this session ticks every box. By increasing your effort through each 8min interval, you’re pushing and boosting your aerobic and anaerobic endurance. By turning a bigger gear as your effort increases, you’re forced to pedal as hard and as efficiently as possible, providing a challenging workout for your heart and lungs as well as all the key cycling muscles. Sensible pacing is vital.

How to fit it in

To really extract the most from this session, you need to hit it fresh, so avoid doing any intense sessions the day before. You should factor in some recovery time after this workout as that’s when the training adaptation begins. Listen to your body and if you feel tired the next day, make it an easier one.

Adapt for Ironman

Do this session in the latter stages of a longer ride so your legs already have a few miles in them. Alternatively, try a double ride day and do a longer, steadier ride in the morning then a shorter session later on which includes these intervals.


For lots more bike workouts head to our Training section