Sub-1hr turbo trainer session: cycle strength booster

A pre-season turbo session that should lay good foundations for the year ahead


Equipment needed

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Bike, bike shoes, bike clothing, turbo trainer, towel/sweat mat, water bottle, water/energy drink, bike computer, music/DVD (for entertainment).

How to fit it in

You don’t want to do this workout the day after a hard run or ride. Try to schedule it on a day when you won’t be doing any other intense workouts. Prepare yourself for the fact your legs might be sore the following day (especially the first few times you do the session). If this is the case, just swim, spin or do a recovery run the day after – check out these recovery tips.

Big gear bonanza


10min steady spin then straight into an 8min build set, increasing your effort and cadence every 2mins. For example, start at 70% effort and 70rpm, then 75% effort/75rpm, 80% effort/80rpm, 85% effort/85rpm…

Main session

10 x 3min blocks as: 2mins @ 80% effort and 55-60rpm, then straight into 30secs 70% effort building to 100rpm and finally 30secs holding 100rpm at an easy effort.


10min easy spin.

Main benefits

Performance benefits

Winter is the ideal time to build bike-specific strength, and low-cadence work is a great way to achieve it. Think of it as laying the foundations for the season ahead. By building a good strength base now, come spring time you’ll be fit and strong enough to add in quality high-intensity efforts, which should later translate into faster bike splits when the race season arrives.

Mental benefits

This session is cheekier than it looks so you need to approach it with a positive ‘can do’ attitude. Employ some short-term goal setting to help the 10 x 3min intervals pass without too much pain. For example, “If I can get to three, then I’ve done a third of it”, “That’s five done, I’m halfway!” and “Number eight, only two left!” Mini goals like these are just as useful when racing. Learn to exploit them to maximum benefit.

Physiological benefits

The 8min build set will give your legs a taster of what’s to come and should ensure you’re well warmed up. The high-effort/low-cadence 2min blocks in the main set are designed to improve cycling-specific leg strength and give you a good aerobic workout. Holding 55-60rpm will make your quads burn, which is exactly what you want at this time of year – you’re building bike strength without too much intensity. The 30sec higher cadence efforts help refresh your legs before the next blast.

Adapt for Ironman

Increase the number of 3min reps from 10 to 12 (or 15 if you’re feeling particularly strong). Or add a 10min steady Ironman-pace/effort interval after them. Alternatively, spin down well then do a light 10min run off the bike.

Like this session? There are lots more in our Training section!

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(Image: Jonny Gawler)