Workouts

One-Hour Workout: Boosting Bike Power, Control, and Cadence

Ride faster and stronger with this higher-intensity workout.

Learning to control your power on the bike is one of the most important things you can do, according to cycling coach Matt Bottrill—and this workout will help you do exactly that. It is best done on the trainer indoors (on road or tri bike) so you can give full attention to hitting the efforts and intensity.

After a smooth warm-up, gradually building the effort over 15 minutes, you’ll hit the first part of the main set: a 15-minute continuous ride, transitioning from 30 seconds of high intensity riding, followed by 30 seconds easy pedaling, 15 times through. Ride with the optimal cadence for you (likely around 85-90 rpm) and stay seated throughout.

Take five minutes recovery riding, keeping cadence in the 90-100 rpm range, and then you’ll begin the first of two 10-minute sweetspot blocks. Sweetspot refers to the power zone just below your threshold (88-94% of FTP), but for those not riding with power think of it as “comfortably uncomfortable”—a 7 out of 10 on the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale. For this first 10-minute block, ride at a higher cadence, 90-100 rpm. Take five minutes recovery and then you’ll hit a second 10-minute sweetspot block, this time riding with lower cadence, 70-80 rpm. Wrap it all up with a five-minute cooldown, aiming to keep your legs spinning at 90-100 rpm to help flush them and expedite recovery from what is a tough session.

Bottrill said: “Try to push the best numbers/effort you can throughout this workout; it’s a workout that can really help yield great fitness gains over time. It is a hard session so be in the right frame of mind to push yourself and be sure to come into without excessive fatigue from hard bike or run workouts.”

If you’re interested in learning more about riding with power and how to get the most from your power files, check out this article which includes advice and insights from Bottrill, who is cycling coach to the likes of Tim O’Donnell and Matt Hanson.

The workout below is prescribed using Bottrill’s Level 1 to Level 7 zones, which are as follows:

  • L1 = Active Recovery; <55% FTP
  • L2 = Endurance; 56-75% FTP
  • L3 = Tempo; 76-90% FTP
  • L4 = Lactate Threshold; 91-105% FTP
  • L5 = VO2 Max./Vigorous; 106-120% FTP
  • L6 = Anaerobic Capacity; 121-150% FTP
  • L7 = Neuromuscular Power; all-out!

One-Hour Workout: Boosting Bike Power, Control, and Cadence

Warm-up

5 min. @ L1 – get your legs ticking over

10 min. @ L2 @ 90-100 rpm

Main Set

15 min. continuous riding as: 30 sec. @ L5/30 sec. @ L1/2 – ride at your optimal cadence for best power output. Stay seated.

5 min. @ L1 recovery @ 90-100 rpm

10 min. @ sweetspot @ 90-100 rpm

5 min. @ L1/L2 recovery

10 min. @ sweetspot @ 70-80 rpm

Cool-down

5 min. @ L1 recovery, 90+ rpm to flush legs