Do Something Streak, Day 8: Mark Allen’s Bike Workout

Start building your bike fitness with this workout from the six-time Ironman world champion.

Photo: Getty Images

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It’s Day 8 of our Do Something Streak and to help celebrate the first week of this 30-day challenge we’ve got a workout from six-time Ironman world champion turned coach Mark Allen. Allen will be providing a workout for every Saturday of the challenge.

As with many of our Do Something Streak workouts, there are two options available here: a 90-minute ride or a 35-minute version.

Allen said: “Keep in mind that many of you are just starting to get back in shape, so keep the effort aerobic, around a RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) 3-5 out of 10.”

He continued: “The longer workout is designed to help you to begin to gain fitness on all three terrain types you will potentially encounter in a race—flat, rolling, and hilly. Each terrain type has a specific demand on the muscles. Flats require you to be in the aero position using the same muscles over and over. Learning to generate power with those specific flat riding muscles is very natural for some people and very difficult for others. But either way, once you settle into a rhythm you’ll be able to feel that power flow take over and momentum will help carry you.”

He said that rolling terrain requires a constant change of muscle groups being used. “There is not really any steady rhythm that gets put in place,” he said. “You can get really good at shifting from pushing up short rises and then carrying speed on the downward slope on the other side by doing this type of riding.”

He added: “Hilly terrain is similar to flat riding in that you can get into a climbing rhythm where you drop your cadence rate a bit and sit upright. And as with flat riding, as you gain proficiency at that you will start to feel a flow take over that enables you to be steady and strong.”

With the longer workout, you’ll ideally pick a route that has a mix of terrain, beginning with a 15-minute warm-up on flat roads, building into a steady rhythm in the final five minutes. You should then aim for 20 minutes on rolling terrain, keeping your heart rate steady. The next 10 minutes should be on flatter terrain, keeping the effort steady and riding in the aero position (if you’re on a tri bike).

The next 20 minutes should be done climbing, on terrain steep enough that you’ll need to sit up. Descend/ride easy to recover for 10 minutes, before hitting another 10 minutes on rolling terrain, and then wrap up the workout with a five-minute easy (flat) cool-down. If you’re not able to get outside to ride—or if you don’t have a mix of terrain available to you—simply break up the workout as described but vary your effort/intensity as you would if riding on the flats and/or climbing.

For the shorter workout, it’s best done on the trainer, and involves a five-minute warm-up riding at 90-95 rpm, building the effort into a steady output towards the end. You’ll then ride for 10 minutes, varying the resistance every two minutes going from a bigger gear (riding at ~75 rpm) then into two minutes at ~95rpm in an easier gear. The next five minutes should be done in the aero position (if riding a tri bike) at 85-90 rpm, before tackling 10 minutes in a bigger gear at 70-75 rpm. Round out the workout with a five-minute easy spin.

Not signed up yet for our January challenge? You can still be a part of the Do Something Streak. Just do something (anything!) for 30 minutes for 30 days. Sign up for the Do Something Streak and be entered to win three great prizes. Prizes will be picked at random a week in, halfway through, and at the end of the streak. Do something!

Mark Allen’s Bike Workout

90-minute version


15 min. flat riding

Main set

20 min. on rolling terrain, steady effort

10 min. on flat terrain, steady effort, aero if possible

20 min. climbing, increase the effort

10 min. easy/descending/recovery

10 min. rolling terrain, steady effort


5 min. easy, flat terrain

35-minute version


5 min. @ 90-95 rpm

Main set

10 min. as:

2 min. @ 75 rpm. in bigger gear

2 min. @ 95 rpm in easier gear

2 min. @ 75 rpm. in bigger gear

2 min. @ 95 rpm in easier gear

2 min. @ 75 rpm. in bigger gear

5 min. steady @ 85-90 rpm (ideally in aero position if on tri bike)

10 min. sitting up @ 70-75 rpm


5 min. easy spin

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