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Cycling to a fitter you

Spinning bike fitness class








With the Tour de France well underway and a summer here in the UK that is perfect for cycling, here is a guide to getting cycle-fit for any cycling challenge that may come your way.

The golden rule of cycling

Frequent short, intense training sessions are more effective to increase your fitness levels than long, infrequent bicycle rides. Research shows that any gains in cycling fitness are only maintained or improved with frequent cycling training. Just seven days without cycling will see you lose your cycling fitness, ideally you should be cycling every three-four days.

Interval training sessions are a great way to improve fitness and can be carried out on the road or in the gym on static bikes.

How to burn fat in a cycling HIIT session

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is time-efficient training which involves many repetitions of short, high-power sprints in a relatively short workout. 

If you are doing a HIIT workout on a turbo trainer it’s essential to use a direct-drive trainer to prevent the rear wheel from slipping. The action and effort required to do an effective HIIT workout is very aggressive. The bikes in the Outlooks Gym are more than up to the task.

The trainer also needs a strong, stable base that provides a high degree of resistance so that you’re not shaking your rickety old turbo trainer to bits! This brings the added benefit of allowing you to sprint out of the saddle and incorporate more muscle groups into your workout. Something such as the Tacx Neo is ideal for this session.

HIIT workouts are great for weight loss as well as speed training as there is a prolonged after-burn effect with HIIT and the much higher total amount of calories burnt per hour make it the training of choice for the time-crunched athlete who wants to shed a few kilograms.

An effective form of cycling training

The use of static bikes or turbo trainers provides riders with a quick and effective way to train. The lack of freewheeling down an incline means every pedal stroke counts and there are no junctions, roundabouts or pot-holes to distract you from an intense work out.

There are numerous cycling training sessions that you can do on a turbo trainer, it is simply a case of finding the training that best suits your current needs.

Here are a few examples:

Russian steps training session

These are 100 per cent all-out sessions followed by steady recovery. Each set is 8 minutes and DO give yourself time between each set to recover as this is tough.

15 seconds sprint, 45 seconds recover
30 secs sprint, 30 seconds recover
45 seconds sprint, 15 seconds recover
60 seconds sprint, 60 seconds recover
45 seconds sprint, 15 seconds recover
30 seconds sprint, 30 seconds recover
15 seconds sprint, 45 seconds recover

Sprint training session

This set takes 35 minutes and is great to add onto the end of a session. The long recovery ensures the body’s energy system is fully recovered before the next all-out sprint.

15 second sprint, 2 minute, 45 seconds recover
Repeat 10 times per set, then have 5 minutes recovery

Threshold efforts cycling training session

Chose a gear big enough to push but one that you can keep on top of, keeping a cadence of around 90-100rpm. During recovery spin your legs out in a lower gear.

10 minutes – 75-80 per cent of maximum heart rate (MHR)
5 mins recovery
2 x 5 min effort – 80-85 per cent MHR (1 minute between efforts)
5 min recovery
3 x 2 min effort – 85-90 MHR (30 sec recovery between each)
5 min recovery
6 x 1 min effort – 90-95 per cent MHR (30 sec recovery between each)
5 min recovery

Cycling is as easy as getting on a bike, but to really get the most from your cycling training, make sure your sessions are frequent and intensive.