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One-Hour Workout: Power to the Pedals

Ramp up your VO2 max, anaerobic capacity, and neuromuscular power - and have fun while you're doing it.

Because triathlon is an endurance sport, most triathletes don’t tend to spend much time working on maximal power on the bike. But doing so—with a workout like this one—can really bring benefits to your VO2 max, anaerobic capacity, and neuromuscular power, all of which are critical to race fitness and performance. But the real reason to do maximal workout efforts? They’re a lot of fun!

This workout, from coach Taylor Thomas, focuses on your Functional Reserve Capacity (FRC), which is the amount of work you can produce above your FTP (Functional Threshold Power). Thomas said: “This becomes a very important area to develop when we begin to address race fitness and potential limiters. It addresses VO2 max, anaerobic capacity, and neuromuscular power. Think of it like a battery. Once your battery starts to die (you get tired), how much more energy can you produce and how quickly can that battery replenish itself?” 

This workout helps you replenish that battery more quickly and efficiently. It needs to be tailored to your goals, strengths, weaknesses, ability, and experience, but the efforts should always be above your FTP—and rising, so come to it ready to work and ready to have some fun.

Thomas added: “This workout is focused on maximal short duration power like you’d experience in a sprint, or in a surge in a race or group ride.”

Start with at least a 20-minute warm-up at 45-55% FTP or a 3-4 out of 10 on the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale. It can be helpful to work in a few short 10-15 second efforts above FTP to “prime” the body for the effort to come and clear lactic acid from the legs. 

The main set involves six rounds of 45-second intervals at 145-150% FTP (RPE 10/10—max effort!) with three-minute recovery spells between each one. Thomas said: “These are hard and should be very challenging! If you can’t hit these exact percentages that’s OK. The intent is what’s important, and this skill takes time to develop. Work to increase the frequency of the intervals over time.”

Wrap up the workout with 20 minutes of easy riding at 45-55% FTP, really focusing on bringing your heart-rate and breathing rate down and recovering from an intense session.

One-Hour Workout: Power to the Pedals

Warm-up

20 min. @ 45-55% of your FTP or RPE 3-4/10, including a few 10-15 sec. efforts above FTP.  

Main set

6 x 45-sec. intervals @ 145-150% FTP or RPE 10/10; 3-min. recovery between each @ 40-50% FTP or RPE 3-4/10.

Cool-down

20 min. @ 45-55% FTP or RPE 3-4/10.

Taylor Thomas is the founder and head coach of Thomas Endurance Coaching. He’s a dedicated endurance athlete with over two decades of experience as a competitive athlete. His background includes both road and MTB racing, multi-sport disciplines, and ultra-distance running and cycling events.

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