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5 Bike Sets for the Time-Crunched Triathlete

Maximize your time with these short but sharp indoor workouts to enhance your endurance and improve your power and speed.

One of the biggest obstacles we face as triathletes is training for three sports while also juggling work, family, and other commitments. The good news is that if you are short on time, you can still have a great workout without having to spend hours in your pain cave. These five bike sets below, from Rich Baker, the CEO of Wattbike, are all designed to maximize your endurance, power, speed, and efficiency in the shortest time possible. And don’t worry, they don’t need to be done on a Wattbike—all the workouts here can be done on any bike with any trainer. (While you could do these sets outside, you’ll get the most time-efficient bang-for-your-buck indoors on the trainer).

“After being cooped up indoors for several months this year, triathletes and cyclists are now realizing that indoor cycling is just as good for their training (if not better) because you can really focus on your workout without the added distractions of traffic and icy winter conditions,” Baker said. “Not only that, if you’re short on time like many of us, you can hop on the trainer for a quick blast when you have a spare few minutes without the hassle of getting ready for an outdoor ride.”

All of the workouts below list both power and RPE (rate of perceived exertion). If you don’t ride with a power meter and/or know your FTP (functional threshold power) then it’s best to use RPE throughout these workouts.

Bike Set 1: Improve Your Sustained Power

Workout time: 30 min.

Warm-up

4 min. building to a peak of 85% of FTP or 5/10 RPE

Recover – 1 min. at 55% FTP or 3/10 RPE

Main Set

Sustained Effort – 20 min. at 90% FTP or 5/10 RPE

Cool-down

5 min. at 65% FTP or 4/10 RPE

Bike Set 2: Smash Speed

Workout time: 26 min.

Warm-up

4 min. building to a peak of 80% of FTP or 5/10 RPE

Recover – 1 min. at 55% FTP or 3/10 RPE

Main Set

Interval 1 – 40 sec. at 100% FTP or 7-8/10 RPE / 20 sec. recovery at 55% FTP or 3/10 RPE

Repeat 5 times

Recover – 5 min. at 55% FTP or 3/10 RPE

Interval 2 – 40 sec. at 100% FTP or 7-8/10 RPE / 20 sec. recovery at 55% FTP or 3/10 RPE

Repeat 6 times

Cool-down

5 min. at 55% FTP or 3/10 RPE

Bike Set 3: Conquer Climbs

Workout time: 29 min.

Warm-up

4 min. building to a peak of 80% of FTP or 5/10 RPE

Main Set

Interval 1 – 10 sec. 135% FTP or 9/10 RPE / Recover 50 sec. 50% FTP or 3/10 RPE

Repeat 8 times

Recover – 3 min. 55% FTP or 3/10 RPE

Interval 1 – 10 sec. 135% FTP or 9/10 RPE / Recover 50 sec. 50% FTP pr 3/10 RPE

Repeat 8 times

Cool-down

5 min. at 55% FTP or 3/10 RPE

Bike Set 4: Burn Fat

Workout time: 30 min.

Warm-up

5 min. easy spinning at 50% FTP or 3/10 RPE

Main Set

Intervals 1 – 40 sec. at 115% FTP or 8/10 RPE / Recover 20 sec. at 50% FTP or 3/10 RPE

Repeat 10 times

Recover – 3 min. at 50% FTP or 3/10 RPE

Intervals 2 – 40 sec. at 115% FTP or 8/10 RPE / Recover 20 sec. at 50% FTP or 3/10 RPE

Repeat 10 times

Cool-down

3 min. at 50% FTP or 3/10 RPE

Bike Set 5: Enhance Endurance

Workout time: 29 min. 30 sec.

Warm-up

4 min. building to a peak of 85% of FTP or 5-6/10 RPE

Recover – 1 min. at 55% FTP or 3/10 RPE

Main Set

Intervals – 5 min. at 90% FTP or 6/10 RPE/ Recover 1 min. 30 sec. at 55% FTP or 3/10 RPE

Repeat 3 times

Cool-down

5 min. 65% FTP or 4/10 RPE