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With winter a distant memory and spring slowly but surely becoming something resembling summer, thoughts inevitably turn to a season of sportives, racing and long rides with, fingers crossed, the sun shining.
We all have ambitions of riding fast this summer and, after a long winter of training, where slow and steady base miles are largely the order of the day to build endurance, now is the time to up the intensity.
There’s something for everyone, depending on your objectives this summer: hill repeats for riders training for a sportive with lots of short sharp climbs, threshold intervals to perfect your breakaway riding, sprint drills, a high-intensity calorie burner, a sweet spot session to prepare for long Alpine climbs, and cadence drills.
All six sessions can be done on the road and specify the intensity according to Andy Coggan’s power and heart rate zones, based on a percentage of threshold power or heart rate – the maximum pace you can sustain for an hour. You can find a full table of Coggan’s zones here. If you don’t train with heart rate or power then the table also lists a perceived rate of exertion.
That’s enough of the science, here are six sessions to ensure you’re first over the line this summer.
James says: ”This session is perfect when training for a sportive with lots of short sharp climbs. This session would be perfect, for example, when training to ride the Tour of Flanders sportive, or a UK sportive with similar climbs in quick succession. When climbing such famous climbs as the Koppenburg and Paterberg you have no choice but to go hard from bottom to top.
“Therefore the goal of this session is not only to increase your five-minute power but also to improve your ability to recover between efforts. If you are using a power meter you should aim for no more than an eight per cent drop in power between the first and the last effort.”
Twenty minutes warm-up – a slow progression from zone one, through zone two, with the last five minutes in zone three.
Stephen says: ”Every cyclist, young and old, has had the pleasure (or displeasure) of riding in a breakaway with fellow sufferers in an attempt to forge a gap that will take you to the finish line with a chance of a win or perhaps you have simply jumped away from your training group hoping to get the best seat in the café before the others arrive.
“No matter the reason for this effort the principals of your development stay the same – boosting your threshold and ability to go slightly ‘over’ your threshold and slightly ‘under’ your threshold as you take turns in the pace line and keep up the speed of the group.
“One of the best ways to develop your threshold, which is an essential objective to all endurance cyclists, and also your ability to go over/under your threshold, is using specific pace/intensity changes during a tailored interval session. This is normally done at an elevated effort than that which you would ride in a breakaway but the adaption and development brought by such training sessions see great gains in not only your threshold riding but your three to five minute maximum power.”
James says: ”This session works on the two aspects of sprinting individually and then puts them together.
“The first sprints work on muscle power and torque production – how hard you can push on the pedals. The second sprints work on leg speed – how quickly you can turn the pedals. Both the first and the second set of sprints work on muscle activation and the number of muscle fibres that your body can fire at once – the more fibres the quicker and the stronger the force through the pedals.
“The aim of the third set of sprints is to put the two elements together and work on your sprinting speed. It is important to remember that sprinting isn’t only about pure power but also about technique. Work on sprinting as smoothly as possible and trying not to waste precious energy by moving your bike wildly from side to side.”
To really make the most out of your ability and time to train why not use our expert coaches to build your fitness and make each turn of the pedal count towards your goal. Focused and objective training based around your lifestyle with expert coaches will see you reach a new level of fitness never before achieved.