Workouts

One-Hour Workout: Dede Griesbauer’s Big Gear Bike Session

Build your bike-specific strength and power with this session from a record-breaking Ironman champ.

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Ironman champion Dede Griesbauer knows a thing or two about building bike strength—just last month she broke the bike course record at Ironman Cozumel with a time of 4:30.21 and, aged 51, continues to prove that age is no barrier to athletic success. This week’s One-Hour Workout is one of Griesbauer’s favorite trainer sessions that features a main set of three rounds of strength work combined with short efforts at (or near) your FTP (Functional Threshold Power).

You’ll begin with a 10-minute warm-up, around RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) 4/10, building to a 6-7/10 by the end of the warm-up. Griesbauer said: “Try to lift your cadence in a lighter gear in order to get your heart rate up without taxing your legs too much.”

It’s then time for a short primer to set to help load the legs for the main set ahead: you’ll hit three rounds of 20 seconds hard (105-110% FTP or RPE 9/10) into 40 seconds recovery. Spin easy for two minutes then the main set is all yours.

The main set features some big gear work with what Griesbauer calls “some FTP toppers.” She said: “We’re looking to load the legs with some good strength work here, then top it off with short efforts at or near FTP. If it’s early season, maybe aim for 90% of FTP, and as fitness builds shoot for FTP—then even harder as your fitness progresses.”

There are three rounds of intervals involved, with the first eight minutes all at 85% of FTP (RPE 7-8/10) with a cadence drop every two minutes. You’ll go: two minutes at 75 RPM, two minutes at 20 RPM, two minutes at 65 RPM, then two minutes at 60 RPM. Take 30 seconds to spin easy at 95 RPM then go straight into the final two minutes at or around your FTP at your race cadence.

Griesbauer believes the big gear work is great for focusing on pedal technique, saying: “Think about making good contact with the pedal all the way around the pedal stroke, so kicking the toe through the top, and pulling the heel through the bottom as well. Some might like to do the eight-minute effort in ERG mode or equivalent so the resistance is put on you as opposed to fumbling with finding the right gear.”

You’ll pedal 2.5 minutes easy between rounds and then cool down for six minutes, to bring it to the hour.

Griesbauer added: “I like this session because it’s a good strength building session with the low cadence work and a chance to focus on pedal technique. It also challenges the legs with short efforts that get the heart rate up for just a bit. As you repeat the session, you can increase the load on the low gear work as well as your target for the two-minute topper, so it’s an easy set to progress as well. Happy riding!”

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One-Hour Workout: Dede Griesbauer’s Big Gear Bike Session

Warm-up

10 min. @ 55% – 75% FTP (or RPE 4/10 building to RPE 6-7/10)

Prep set

3 x (20 sec. @ 105-110% FTP or RPE 9/10; 40 sec. @ easy)

Main set

3 x rounds of:

8 min. @ 85% FTP (RPE 7-8/10) with cadence as: 2 min. 75 RPM; 2 min. 70 RPM; 2 min. 65 RPM; 2 min. 60 RPM

30 sec. easy spin @ 95 RPM

2 min. @ 100% FTP (RPE 8-9/10) @ race cadence

Spin easy 2.5 min. between rounds

Cool-down

6 min. easy

Get more 60-minute sessions from top athletes and coaches around the world in our One-Hour Workout archives.