Triathlete Challenge: At Home Bike Workout #1

Kick off the Triathlete Challenge: At Home with this workout from cycling coach and expert Matt Bottrill.

This 90-minute workout from bike coach Matt Bottrill is the first of four cycling workouts that are designed to lead you to your best 40K time trial, which will be one part of the virtual Olympic distance “triathlon” challenge (a 15-minute strength circuit, 40K ride, 10K run) at the end of the month. 

Bottrill is a world-renowned bike guru, cyclist, and coach who works with pro triathletes such as Tim O’Donnell, Tim Don, Matt Hanson, and Justin Metzler. He also works with the Lotto-Soudal pro cycling team as time trial bike fitter and planner. 

Throughout these workouts, Bottrill uses Levels 1 through 7 (listed as L1, L2, etc.) to determine effort or RPE. If you prefer to train by power or heart-rate then he has those listed too. See below (beneath the workout) for a full explanation of levels and their respective heart-rates and wattages. 

This first workout is 90 minutes in duration and includes a mix of intervals that are 15 seconds, 60 seconds, and seven minutes in length. 

Bottrill says: “These intervals are designed to help maximize your 40K time trial performance. This is a solid session and you have to be mentally prepared to hurt yourself. Remember that the mind is stronger than the body—you just have to want it!”

Triathlete Challenge: At Home Bike Workout #1


5 min @ L1
15 min @ L2

Main Set

Repeat x3
3 x 15 sec L7 sprints (maximum effort) with 4 min L1 recovery between efforts

4 min L2—cadence to suit

Repeat x3
1 min @ L6 with 4 min. L1 recovery—choose cadence to suit best power

4 min @ L2—cadence to suit

Repeat x3
7 min @ L4 with 5 min L1 recovery between sets


10-12 min relaxed riding

Explanation of Exertion Levels

1 ACTIVE RECOVERY (VERY LIGHT ACTIVITY)  Hardly any exertion, but more than sitting down < 55% <68%
2 ENDURANCE (LIGHT ACTIVITY) Feels like you can maintain for hours. Easy to breath and carry conversation  56-75% 69-83%
3 TEMPO (MODERATE)  Breathing more heavily. Still somewhat comfortable but slightly challenging  76-90% 84-94%
4 LACTATE THRESHOLD (FTP, Functional Threshold Power)  Breathing more heavily. Still somewhat comfortable but notably more challenging 91-105% 95-105%
5 VO2 MAX (VIGOROUS)  Borderline uncomfortable. Short of breath, can speak but not sentence   106-120% >106%
6 ANAEROBIC CAPACITY (VERY HARD ACTIVITY)  Very difficult to maintain exercise intensity, can barely breath and can only speak a few words   121-150% N/A
7 NEUROMUSCULAR POWER (MAXIMUM EFFORT)  Feels almost impossible to keep going. Completely out of breath. Unable to talk  N/A N/A