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Spring has sprung at last and the sun is finally strong enough to dry up the roads. With rising temperatures, it’s time to build the intensity out on the bike. If you want to be a stronger, fitter and faster cyclist this summer, now is the time to dig deep and dive into some lung-busting intervals.
Endure the Efforts
After three months of slow and steady base miles over winter, it is now time to dig around for the power last seen on the finish line at the final autumn criterium. The best way to get your legs back to their powerful best is interval training. After a long period of cycling at low intensity, trying to keep your heart rate between 50% and 70% of its max, your legs can be quite lethargic. But as the weather warms up, efforts become a lot easier as clothing becomes lighter and easier to adjust. During interval training you should find your body temperature fluctuates between the high intensity efforts and recovery, so it’s important to carry the right kit to manage the extremes. Try layering with Endura arm and leg warmers priced at £14.99 and £22.99 respectively.
Training for the ‘Race of Truth’
Time Trial (a.k.a ‘Race of Truth’) intervals can range from 3 mile efforts (approx. 10 minutes) to a full 10-mile Time Trial simulation. The purpose of this training is to improve pacing and your working aerobic capacity. The aim is to gradually increase your heart rate to the point that you are right on the aerobic anaerobic threshold; which is typically around 90% of your max. heart rate. These efforts are great if you are pressed for time, as you can do a handful of intervals during an hour’s ride and have a good amount of rest in-between. As these sessions are of a short duration, most of your fuel should be taken on beforehand. However, a carbohydrate energy drink and emergency gel Torq should sustain your energy levels throughout the ride.
Sprint Towards Success
Sprints are a great way to improve the fast twitch muscle fibres in your legs which contract to push the pedals around faster at the highest intensity. This is a simple workout for developing torque and raw power, and can be done in a variety of ways. One method is standing start sprints where you do a 10 second effort from stationary every 3 minutes and repeat 6 times. Alternatively, you can find a slight descent which gradually flattens out where the aim is to sprint with a cadence of over 100RPM. Like the standing start sprints, you should hammer it for 10 seconds before taking 3 minutes of easy recovery.
An Uphill Battle
Hill repeats are used by Tour De France champions and Track cyclists alike because of their versatility, in that it combines a mixture of the time trial efforts and the sprint efforts. Furthermore, due to the different position you find yourself in because of the gradient it gives a workout for the whole leg if done right. Find a hill that takes about 3-5 minutes to ride up and repeat four times with 15 minutes of gentle riding in between. As you get stronger, increase the number of reps or the effort you put into the climb.
Off the Bike
After performing these efforts, recovery is of vital to repair any muscle damage. Efficient recovery requires concentrated protein sourced from lean meat, fish and eggs, or a recovery shake from Torq. After focussed recovery, you will be able to perform better during your next session, and better performance in training equals a greater chance of achieving your cycling goals.
Sometimes doing these intervals will literally be a pain in the backside, as they are designed to push you to your limits. But that’s why they’re important to do, because a goal that’s worth achieving is one that pushes you to that mighty vomit-inducing height of lactic acid build up. It's better to put up with burning legs and lungs in training, than to have the heartache of just missing your goal etched forever in the memory.