Hawaii From Home: Bike Workout #3

Get ready for a high-cadence effort from coach Matt Bottrill.

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This workout from bike coach Matt Bottrill is the third of six cycling workouts that are designed to lead you to your best performance for our Hawaii From Home challenge, which involves a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run over the course of Oct. 5 to 11. (Find all of the workouts here.) Bottrill is one of a panel of expert coaches who will help guide you to race week in top shape. He’s 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 you can refer to those too. See below (beneath the workout) for a full explanation of levels and their respective heart-rates and wattages. You’ll see the three-hour workout here involves some work around your sweetspot, which is the zone on the cusp of tempo and lactate threshold level (lower zone 4) based on the table below. It’s an area many athletes work heavily in, as it helps boost power without the heavy fatigue associated with higher intensity work.

This workout includes two options, one that is around three hours in duration and targeted more at advanced athletes, while the second is two hours in duration and aimed more at beginners/intermediates, but you’re obviously open to tackling whichever workout you prefer.

Bottrill said: “To control the numbers it’s best to carry this session out on the trainer—road bike or tri bike, whichever you feel you can hit the best numbers. Remember that these types of efforts in these sessions work best with higher cadence. On the last set even if the power drops off try to push the best numbers you can.”



25 min. @ L1 – get the legs ticking over
10 min. @ L2 @ cadence 90-100RPM

Main Set

Set 1:
15 min. total as 30 sec. @ L5, 30 sec. @ L1-L2 – cadence to suit your best power output (all efforts seated)

5 min. @ L1 recovery – get ready for the next set and take some food + fluid on board

Set 2:
4 x 20 min. @ Sweetspot (all in TT position if riding tri bike)
Take 2-5 min. @ L1 recovery between sets depending on how you feel


40 min. @ L2

Beginner Workout


20 min. warm-up @ L1-L2 – cadence 100 RPM

Main Set

15 min. @ Sweetspot – cadence 80-90 RPM

10 min. recovery @ L2 – cadence 100 RPM

20 min. @ Sweetspot – cadence 80-90 RPM

10 min. recovery @ L2 – cadence 100 RPM

25 min. @ Sweetspot – cadence @ 80-90 RPM


20 min. high cadence recovery

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

Matt Bottrill is a UK-based cycling coach and bike fit expert and runs — he appeared on Triathlete’s training podcast, Fitter and Faster, back in June.