Many cyclists mistakenly think that they just need to cycle for longer to build up their endurance. If you’re serious about improving your cycling performance, then you need to focus on building your stamina the right way. These 4 workouts can help.
1. Stamina Booster for New Cyclists
If you’re a beginner, this 25-minute workout is great for testing yourself without overdoing it. Simply do an easy pedal for 2 minutes and then complete the following sets, repeating 3 times.
- Pedal at 60 RPM at your maximum energy for 4 minutes.
- Pedal at 80 RPM of your max for 2 minutes.
- Pedal easy for 2 minutes.
2. Cycling Drills for Triathletes
If you’re working on your endurance for a triathlon, drill exercises work well. Just make sure you have an energy-replacing drink on hand if you plan to work to your maximum. These drills should complement your rides, not replace them.
On an indoor trainer, put the bike into a low gear and pedal with just one foot. At the top of the stroke, focus on the “dead spot,” which is hard to push past. When your leg becomes too tired to continue, switch legs. Do this regularly, and you will see a real improvement in your endurance.
Note: If you are outdoors, you can work similarly on hill drills.
Intervals for all Levels
Most cyclists hate the thought of intervals because they are truly hard work. However, for just a little investment of time, the payoff can be exceptional. Even short intervals lasting 30 seconds burn fat, increase your VO2 max (your maximal oxygen uptake, or the amount of oxygen your body is capable of utilizing in 1 minute) and build your endurance. You’ll also notice improvement in only 2 weeks.
3. To build endurance:
Do a 15-minute easy pedal warm-up. Spin at an easy pace for 5–10 minutes to ease into the workout, and then move up to a larger gear while pedaling at around 70–75 rpm. Aim for 2–3 intervals for 15 minutes, with a 7-minute recovery break between repeats. Cool down with 15 minutes of easy pedaling.
4. To increase your lactate threshold:
Using a power meter or heart-rate monitor if you have one (or listen for controlled but labored breathing), begin with a warm-up spin for 10 minutes. Progress to 3 sets of 8-minute intervals with 4 minutes of recovery spinning in between each set. As you get better at this, you can do the intervals for longer—say, up to 20 minutes with a slightly longer recovery period of 10 minutes in between. Cool down with 10–15 minutes of easy pedaling to finish.
Part of improving endurance for the sake of riding (or racing) faster is to train for speed at a high intensity. You need to ride faster to get faster. Do the workouts above 1–2 times a week; in addition, choose from a mix of timed interval training, hill repeats or even a spin class once a week as well. Aim to ride with cyclists who are faster than you—join a club to meet new training partners who can push you—and make sure to stretch and recover well.
—By Keith Peek, owner of Eureka Cycle Sports