For access to all of our training, gear, and race coverage, plus exclusive training plans, FinisherPix photos, event discounts, and GPS apps, sign up for Outside+.
Every Tuesday we’ll feature a different coach’s workout you can complete in 60 min (or less!).
This week’s strength-building bike workout comes from USAT Level I coach Maria Simone of No Limits Endurance. “I like to assign this workout for athletes who need to develop more power generally (who doesn’t want more power?) and/or athletes who will be racing on hilly courses,” Simone says. “These types of big gear workouts can be especially helpful for athletes who don’t have access to hills, yet want to reap some of the strength benefits that come from climbing.”
When doing big gear workouts on a trainer, Simone warns, be careful and listen to your body—it can challenge the knees a bit.
For those new to this type of workout: “Big gear riding means you put your bike in the big ring and carry a heavy enough gear to match the effort level specified by the workout. Your cadence should be about 60-65 RPM for the big gear sets.”
This workout can be adapted for both intensity and duration. For riders with more big gear experience and/or training goals that require a bit more intensity, the effort can be increased to 80–90% of max. If you want to go longer, this pyramid can be extended up to 90 min, doing 10 min intervals, and starting at 5 min big gear, 5 min easy spin, then 6 min big gear, 4 min easy spin, and so on up the ladder until you get to 10 min big gear. This extended workout is a challenging ride, especially when you get to the last two sets. Again, the intensity can be adjusted to your specific training purpose, working aerobically, or building to threshold.
10 min easy riding, cadence 90+ RPM
5×1 min single leg drills, done as: 30 seconds left leg, 30 seconds right leg
10 min build to 75–80% of max (based on HR or power)
1 min big gear, 75–80% of max effort
4 min easy spin, 90+ RPM
2 min big gear, 75–80% of max effort
3 min easy spin, 90+ RPM
3 min big gear, 75–80% of max effort
2 min easy spin, 90+ RPM
4 min big gear, 75–80% of max effort
1 min easy spin, 90+ RPM
5 min big gear, 75–80% of max effort
10 min easy, spinning out the legs.