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Hawaii From Home: Bike Workout #5

Get ready for Hawaii from Home with this week's bike workout from coach Matt Bottrill.

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This workout from bike coach Matt Bottrill is the fifth 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 is helping to 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 workouts here involve 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 four hours in duration and targeted more at advanced athletes, while the second is two hours 45 minutes in duration and aimed more at beginners/intermediates, but you’re obviously open to tackling whichever workout you prefer.

Bottrill said: “These are tough workouts, so it’s extremely important to make sure you fuel well for this session. Aim to take on 60-70 grams of carbs per hour to help replicate race day fueling.”

Advanced Workout


25 min. @ L2 – high cadence 90-100+ RPM – start fueling here! 

Main Set

4 x 10 min. @ L3 with 4 min. @ L1/2 recovery between

4 x 5 min. @ L3 with 3 min. @ L1/2 recovery between

2 x 4 min. @ Sweetspot with 2 min. @ L1/2 recovery between

3 x 20 min. @ L3 with 10 min. recovery between


10 min. easy riding 

Beginner Workout


20 min. high cadence

Prep Set

Complete 3 rounds of:  3 min. @ L3; 1 min. @ FTP; 1 min. easy

20 min. @ L2 – high cadence 90-100 RPM

2 x 25 min. @ L3 – your choice of cadence – followed by 10 min. high cadence recovery.

10 min. @ L2 – your choice of cadence

1 x 20 min. as 30 sec. @ max effort followed by 1 min. @ L2 – cadence to suit 


20 min. easy high cadence 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

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.