Sub-1hr session: Top-end tune-up

Hit the turbo trainer and supercharge your top-end and recovery capabilities with this intermediate-level workout


Are you worried about losing your hard-won bike strength now that winter’s here? Try this turbo trainer session for intermediate-level athletes and you’ll supercharge both top-end power and recovery capabilities in less than an hour.

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Even one 5 x 20sec set is worthwhile, which, with a warm-up and cool-down, is only a 25-30min workout. You can also incorporate these types of efforts into a long ride or your commute.

For this workout you’ll need: a turbo trainer, gym bike or rollers (rollers are best for additional balance and bike-handling benefits).

Top-end tune-up


15mins building through zones 1-2. 5mins as 10secs@120rpm, low gear/10secs easy riding

Main session

3 x [5 x 20sec max sprint efforts with 40sec recoveries]. After completing the final sprint in the set, recover by spinning easy for 5mins.


5mins easy spinning, followed by a stretch.

Main benefits

Performance benefits

These ‘20/40s’ improve your ability to sprint, recover and sprint again – essential for cyclocross success as you’ll be doing this out of every twist and turn on the course. In the main set, make the session count by aiming to reach a maximal sprint effort of 120rpm after 10secs of effort.

Mental benefits

Triathlon bike legs are almost always solid, even efforts, but this session will prove to you that you have the capability to perform multiple stop-go efforts.

Physiological benefits

High-intensity intervals such as these have received a lot of attention recently, but can trace their origins back to a 1996 study by Dr Izumi Tabata.

His and subsequent studies have not only shown the expected gains in anaerobic capacity and anaerobic threshold, but also, more surprisingly, significant gains in aerobic capability too. This means that this workout will improve both your high-end and endurance fitness.

Adapt for Ironman

As suggested above, make these efforts part of longer bike rides or, if you’re travelling or short of time, as a top-up workout.

(Images: Jonny Gawler)

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For lots more bike workouts head to our Training section