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Single-Sport Focus: 4-Week Bike Training Plan for Triathletes

Matt Bottrill has five key areas of focus (and corresponding workouts) that will help you break through on the bike.

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A single-sport block can have innumerable benefits, especially during the off-season. This is your four-week bike-specific plan. (See swim and run at the bottom.)

Matt Bottrill is a world-renowned bike guru, cyclist, and coach who works with pro triathletes like Tim O’Donnell, Matt Hanson, and Justin Metzler. He runs U.K.-based Matt Bottrill Performance Coaching, and he works with cyclists and triathletes of all levels—beginners to elites. He’s given options for three, four, or five workouts per week, as your schedule and fitness level allows, but Bottrill said you’ll get the most bang from this block if you can try for four or five bike sessions per week.

Bottrill has five key areas of focus (and corresponding workouts) that will help you break through on the bike:

  • Pedal effectiveness: Working on your pedaling is important, particularly if you’re not from a cycling background. If you can learn to drive through the whole phase of the pedal stroke, then your riding will increase in efficiency.
  • Sweet spot riding: This refers to riding at 87–93% of FTP (functional threshold power—i.e., the best effort you can hold for an hour) or, if not using power, then ride at a moderate effort. Sweet spot riding helps to build your endurance and sustainable power, but also burns lots of glycogen, so refuel immediately after.
  • Endurance riding: This typically refers to Zone 2 riding (56–75% of FTP—or, in plain English: it’s easy to breathe and hold a conversation). Think of these rides as building your engine and foundation for the season ahead.
  • Overgeared strength work: This refers to riding at a low cadence (mostly 50–60 RPM), which helps to stimulate muscle fibers to increase strength, endurance, and torque.
  • Microbursts: This refers to a “full gas” effort, no control of power—just unleash it—either standing or seated, whichever position gives you the best output. Ideally, you’d hit one session per week in each of these areas during your bike-specific single-sport focus, but if five bike workouts are too many, then Bottrill recommends focusing on them in the same order of priority listed above.

Note: Only main sets are listed below. All workouts should include a warm-up and cool-down of your choice.

Training Plan PDF

KEY

PE: Pedal Effectiveness | SS: Sweet Spot Riding | END: Endurance Riding

OG: Overgeared Strength Work | MB: Microbursts

DAY 1 DAY 2 DAY 3 DAY 4 DAY 5 DAY 6 DAY 7
1 PE: 12 x 2 min. focused pedaling;

1 min. recovery

SS: 10 min. @ SS, 10 min. recovery, 10 min. @ SS END: 2.5 hrs. OG: 5 min. as 30 sec. standing, 30 sec. seated. 5 x 5 min. low cadence, 3 min. recovery MB: 4 x (30 sec. full gas, 4.5 min. Z2) 10 min. rest 20 min. @ Z3
2 PE: 12 x 2 min. focused pedaling;

1 min. recovery

SS: 15 min. @ SS, 10 min. recovery, 15 min. @ SS END: 3 hrs. OG: 5 min. as 30 sec. standing, 30 sec. seated. 4 x 8 min. low cadence, 2 min. recovery MB: 4 x (30 sec. full gas, 4.5 min. Z2) 10 min. rest 20 min. @ SS
3 PE: 4 x 4 min. focused pedaling;

2 min. recovery

SS: 20 min. @ SS, 10 min. recovery, 20 min. @ SS END: 2 hrs. OG: 5 min. as 30 sec. standing, 30 sec. seated. 8 x 3 min. low cadence, 2 min. recovery MB: 4 x (30 sec. full gas, 4.5 min. Z2) 10 min. rest 10 min. @ FTP
4 PE: 3 x 10 min. as 1st @ 70-80 RPM, 2nd @ 80-90 RPM, 3rd @ 90-100 RPM SS: 25 min. @ SS, 10 min. recovery, 25 min. @ SS END: 3 hrs. OG: 5 min. as 30 sec. standing, 30 sec. seated. 3 x 10 min. low cadence, 5 min. recovery MB: 10 x (30 sec. @ Z5, 30 sec. easy) 10 min. recovery 30 min. @ Z3

The Importance of Single-Sport Focus Training

4-Week Swim Training Plan

4-Week Run Training Plan