Three Interval Sets To Improve Speed On The Bike

Coach Gordo Byrn provides three sets that specifically address the limiters that he sees most often when working with athletes.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Coach Gordo Byrn provides three cycling sets that specifically address the limiters that he sees most often when working with athletes.

1. To improve your performance on the flats, do Big Gear Intervals

Try 5×8 minutes in a big gear with 2-minute spinning recoveries.

Aim for 60 RPM in your TT position.

Use a threshold effort, where you build to a burning in the legs then back off a touch.

Keep your head up when riding fast!

RELATED: At-Home Time-Efficient Strength For Cycling

2. To improve your ability to boost effort then recover at race pace, do 12/3s

Alternate 12 minutes at race-specific intensity with 3 minutes one zone up (if you’re racing Ironman, do your 3 minutes at half-Ironman race pace).

Olympic-distance athletes can build to 45-minute sets (3×12/3 continuous), 70.3-distance athletes can build to two 75-minute sets (5×12/3) and iron-distance athletes can build to two 90-minute sets (6×12/3).

Most athletes overestimate optimal bike effort, so start a little easier than you think you need to.

For an added benefit, change your cadence in the middle of each 12-minute segment. For example, alternate 92/60/92 RPM for each 4-minute chunk.

RELATED – Ironman Workouts With Chris Lieto: The Bike

3. To improve your intensive aerobic ability, do Lactate Threshold (LT) Intervals.

LT intervals are intense, aerobic efforts where you can hear your breathing but do not feel burning in the legs. A monthly 40-minute LT test serves as a good benchmark to track fitness.

Aim for a cadence of 92 RPM, build your effort gradually and stay just below the point where you feel burning.

For the technically minded, 80–85 percent of functional threshold power (FTP) is optimal, and you should cap your heart rate at 8 BPM under FTP heart rate. With experienced athletes, the duration of LT benchmarking can increase up to 2.5 hours (use very sparingly).

Gordo Byrn is the founder of, the co-author of Going Long and a past champion of Ultraman Hawaii.

RELATED: Top Indoor Workouts To Improve Your Cycling This Winter

Trending on Triathlete

Jan Frodeno Reflects on His Final Ironman World Championship

Immediately after finishing 24th place at his final Ironman World Championships, the Olympic medalist (and three-time IMWC winner) explains what his race in Nice meant to him.