The only thing worse than grinding out hours of indoor cycling training in the winter is doing so without seeing any results come the spring. So make sure your winter work brings real performance gains by tackling these brutally effective training sessions recommend by former hour record holder and time trial specialist Alex Dowsett, from the Katusha-Alpecin cycling team.
For the workouts you’ll need to know your cadence, power output and ideally your own personal power zones too. You can try to replicate the power Dowsett puts out in his workouts, though that’s probably not a smart idea unless you are a very accomplished rider, so scale it back according to your own ability.
Sets 6 Time 6min Cadence 50RPM Power 350W Rest 4min
If you’re looking to increase your strength during the winter, you can keep your workouts pretty simple. Not easy, of course, but simple.
“During the winter months a lot of the training is strength-based,” says Dowsett, “which means big gears and any variation of multiple minutes on followed by not so many minutes off.
“It’s important to do it with a really big gear, a really low cadence and a high resistance. For example: six minutes on, then four minutes off at 50RPM and 350W. I would typically take that on for an hour, so six rounds in total.”
1A Sets 6 Time 30sec Effort Sprint Rest 0sec
1B Sets 6 Time 3min 20sec Effort Zone 4 Rest 0sec
1C Sets 6 Time 10sec Effort Sprint Rest 6min
“This one is really tough,” says Dowsett, ominously. “It starts off as a 30-second sprint, which is disgusting, but then you go straight from that into 3min 20sec of zone 4, so for me that’s 400 watts. And then you round that off at with a ten-second sprint, then six minutes’ rest. Do a total of six sets.
“It is hideous. You finish the 30-second sprint absolutely full of lactate. You can’t sprint for 30 seconds – it’s actually a 15-second sprint, then ten seconds of hanging on and five seconds of crying. And then you have to try to bring that back. You can’t rest. You have to then bring that power down gradually to 400W and then sit there. The ten-second sprint to finish is just sprinting on tired legs which you’d do on a regular basis.
“It’s like replicating a breakaway – you attack, then you settle in, and then you might have to sprint again.”
Reps 8 Time 2min Power 530W (adjust for your level) Rest 2min
Heads up – this workout is certainly not one for the faint-hearted.
“It’s miserable,” says Dowsett. “Just horrendous, absolutely horrendous.
“It’s two minutes on, three minutes off. I don’t know how the watts are worked out, but it’s trying to hold 530W for two minutes, then three minutes’ rest. And you do that a maximum of eight times.
“If you get to a point where you can’t maintain the power, you stop and do one minute on, three minutes off at the same number. I’ve never managed more than four lots of two minutes.”