Category Archives: cycling

Workout Wednesday – Bike Power Hills

Welcome to Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I  post a new Triathlon specific workout. (for free, What a Country!) If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (kidding)

A couple weeks ago,  I was racing on the hilly but fun bike course. The sun was out, and t was beautiful morning. My legs were feeling good and pumping out the watts. Two more miles to go to the turn around, I am  crushing it. The hills on the course aren’t so bad. Then right before the turn around, I came up on a pavement wall. Suddenly, I staring up a .25 mile climb at 15%. I switch the the small chain ring, and grind my way up the hill. By the top of the hill, my heart rate was around 1000bpm, and my legs were Jello. Luckily, we turned around and came right back down the hill, so I had time to recover and then crush the rest of the course. (Also, I hit 46 mph on the downhill, waahooo!)

That hill exposed  a weakness in my recent cycling training. I’m lacking in hill power. Power hills are short intense efforts that keep your speed up on a hilly course. Power hills differ from long sustained hills, as they require pure leg strength. Increasing that leg strength requires short intense efforts with adequate rest. Think of it as doing squats on your bike. Working on power hills is also a win-win, as it will make you stronger on the flats.

Now let’s get to work:

Power Hills:

Warm up

  • 5 Minutes easy spin
  • 5 X  @70 Effort 1 min/1 min rest

Main Set

  • 5 X standing 1 min/1 min rest – of each min rep 1st 30 secs @70%/ 2nd 30 secs @85% effort
  • 3 min easy spin
  • 3 X standing 2 min/ 1 min rest – of each 2 min rep 1st min @60%/ 2nd min @80% effort
  • 3 min easy spin
  • 6 X standing 30 secs/ 1 min rest @85%

Cool Down

  • 10 min easy spin

This workout is best done on a trainer or stationary bike. Set the resistance heavy enough to make it challenging, but still be able to maintain a cadence above 60 rpm. Build into each rep, and focus on finishing strong. This workout is great for flatlanders is best done every couple of weeks. Work it into your program and you will be powering up the hills like a freight train.

Workout Wednesday – Cycling Overspins

Welcome to  Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I will post a new Triathlon specific workout. If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (kidding)

Bike trainer

This week workout is Cycling Overspins.

This is a fun workout.  Overspins are essentially sprinting with a light gear. The benefits are better pedaling efficiency and higher cadence. This workout forces you to increase your cadence beyond your normal range. Working at a higher cadence will strengthen those fast switch muscles that smooth out your pedal stroke.

During the workout focus on making good circles with your legs. Push and pull all the way through the stroke. If you are doing it correctly your upper body will be relatively still and your legs will be spinning fast. Imagine you are a duck swimming on a lake, calm on the top, and swimming away under water.

This workout should be performed on a spin bike or trainer. Aim for 20-30 RPMS faster than your normal cadence. If you normal cadence is 80 RPMS try to maintain 100-110. Set the resistance light, just enough to keep your speed under control.

This workout is not very taxing to your legs or cardio. It can be done at the end of another workout or on a scheduled easy bike day. I suggest putting on your favorite loud fast tunes and enjoying the workout.

Overspin Workout

  • Warm up 5 min
  • 3 X 1 min @ 60%/30 secs rest
  • 5 X 30 secs @(+20 RPMS)/ 30 secs spin easy
  • 4 min steady @ 60% effort
  • 3 X 1 min @(+20 RPMS)/ 30 secs spin easy
  • 4 mins steady @ 60 % effort
  • 5 X 30 secs @(+20-30 RPMS)/ 30 sec spin easy
  • 10 min cool down

Here’s great video explaining the basics of pedaling mechanics.


Workout Wednesday – Progressive Brick

Welcome to another edition of Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I will post a new Triathlon specific workout. If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (kidding)

Brick Workout

Today’s Workout – Progressive Brick

A quick intro: A BRICK is a bike to run workout. The purpose of these workouts is to work on your transitions from the bike to run. It’s a good idea to fit in a few of these sessions to your triathlon training cycle. Don’t get carried away, and think you have to do these workouts all of the time. It is better to work on biking and running individually, and sprinkle in some bricks.

BRICK workouts are also a great chance to practice your transitions. Set up a mini transition area in your driveway, and treat the workout like a race simulation.

Here’s the workout:

Bike – 30 mins

  • 5 min warm up
  • 3 X 5 min race effort (80%)/ 2 min easy spin.
  • 4 min moderate effort (60%) – Work on quick pedal strokes

Then immediately after transition to run.

Run – 10 mins

  • 2 min 70% of race effort – Work on quick turnover/ Control your effort.
  • 4 min 80% of race effort
  • 4 min full race effort.

Some points of emphasis for this workout:

  1. This workout should be moderately difficult. Don’t kill yourself with effort. The idea is to control your effort and heart rate.
  2. Work on quick pedal strokes ~80-90 RPM on the last set before the transition. This will get your legs primed to run.
  3. Resist the urge to go out too fast on the start of the run. When you start running after the bike, you will feel slow, but it is just your brain tricking you.
  4. Many athletes start the run too fast and blow up. The run portion of this workout builds in intensity to race effort. Focus on controlling your effort. On race day you will have better control of your effort for a more even and faster run.

Workout Wednesday – The Leg Chiseler

Happy Wednesday! Welcome to another edition of Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I will post a new Triathlon specific workout. If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (HAHA)

This week’s workout – The Leg Chiseler

Chiseled Legs

There are two factors that determine how fast  you can push on the bike. These are your lungs and your legs. Your legs and lungs work together to produce power, but a weakness in either system will become a limiting factor. I experience this every winter winter when I train for a marathon and neglect  bike training.  When spring comes, and I get out on the road, I have the engine of a Corvette, and legs like a Smart Car. Leg strength is the key to increasing your speed, riding better in headwinds, and climbing. For those of your with some vanity, these workouts will make your go sticks more chiseled.

This workout  consists of on and off bike training designed to increase muscular strength in the legs. While these intervals can be intense, the focus is to get that burning sensation in the legs, not max out heart rate. Load up the tension, so your legs are working harder than your cardio. Aim to keep your cadence around 40-60 RPMs under tension. Ideally, this work should be done on a trainer or spin bike. That way you can control the amount of tension, and there are no interruptions.

On to the workout:

The Leg Chiseler

  • Warm up – 10 mins – easy spin
  • Warm up – 3 X 1 min/30 secs off
  • Main Set – 3 min climb increasing tension every minute (Heavy tension RPM – 40-60)
  • Get off bike and do 20 air squats
  • Easy spin 2 min
  • Repeat Main Set 4-6 times
  • Cool down 10 mins Easy Spin

This workout should be difficult, but know your limits. If you need a bit of extra rest between sets, take it. This type of workout is best scheduled with a rest day or easy day after. Leg strength work scheduled once every week or two, will be enough to see significant improvement. Remember to maintain the best pedal stroke possible. Focus on pushing and pulling the pedals and making circles. For more info on good pedaling mechanics.

Photo Credit:

Monday Mantra – Best Day of My Life

Merry Monday! Let’s do this! We all could use a bit of motivation to get rolling on Monday. On Mondays, I like to share a Mantra or short inspirational message. If the message resonates with you, use to motivate yourself in training or life. Do you have your own awesome Mantra? Please share it below in the comments.

Best Day

Today’s Mantra:

 “Best day of my life”

This is one of my personal favorites. If you say this to yourself, and really mean it, you can’t help but feel better. This works fantastic in races. When you are really suffering, open up a big smile, and say “this is the best day of my life.” You may feel silly saying this as snot is running down your face, and you feel like road kill. If you are healthy enough to be out doing what you love, it is the best day of your life. Can each new day be your best day? I think so, if you want it to be.

Triathlete Resolutions vs. Reality

The new year is a great time for new beginnings. It’s time to break bad habits, and make this the best year ever. As with every facet of life, we have resolutions for our triathlon season as well.  Just like the eager early year gym goer, who gives up by Feb, our best intention-ed resolutions fall away into the road side ditch.

Original_ Buttermilk_Pancakes

Here’s some well meaning resolutions versus reality for most triathletes.

  • Resolution: This year I will do less racing!
  • Reality: I’ll cut out that hot/hilly/expensive race that I didn’t PR. The other ten races were enough.
  • Resolution: I am going to do more swim training! (If I had a nickel for everytime…)
  • Reality: I was getting to the pool way more, until I realized, swimming is only 18% of my race. I can only save like a minute with all of this extra training. I’ll just run more instead. 
  • Resolution: I’m going to train less, and spend more time with the family!
  • Reality: I just saw my training partner’s plan and I need to increase my training 20% to keep up. I can’t let him/her get faster than me. 
  • Resolution: I’m going to clean up my diet!
  • Reality: I’ll only have 6 pancakes after my long run, instead of the IHOP endless stack. (Yumm Pancakes!)
  • Resolution: I’m not going to drink, I’m going on the wagon!
  • Reality: You cross the line at a 5k/10k/HM/Marathon, and the first thing you ask, “Where’s the beer tent?
  • Resolution: I’m going to do more strength and core work!
  • Reality: I don’t want to bulk up, and go over my ideal racing weight.
  • Resolution: I going to stay injury free!
  • Reality: It only hurts when I run fast.
  • Resolution: I’m going to hire a coach!
  • Reality: Do you see how much they charge? I’ll get new race wheels instead, that’ll make me faster.
  • Resolution: I’m going to volunteer for a race!
  • Reality: If I have to get up that early, I’m going to race * Consider keeping this resolution as races always need volunteers, and you will have a great time.

I know these are just generalizations, and none of these will apply to you.

What are your triathlete resolutions, and how do you plan to keep them?

photo credit: michelle@TNS via photopin cc

Monday Mantra – “This is What I DO!”

Happy Monday! Let’s do this! We all could use a bit of motivation to get rolling on Monday. On Mondays, I like to share a Mantra or short inspirational message. If the message resonates with you, use to motivate yourself in training or life. Do you have your own awesome Mantra? Please share it below in the comments.

This week’s Mantra:

“This is What I DO!”


I heard this mantra on a podcast over the weekend, and it resonated with me. When racing or training gets really difficult, and you want to quit, remind yourself, “This is what I do!” You decided to take on this challenge, because it’s who you are. The pursuit of this goal is part of your identity, and this is where you are supposed to be right now. It’s a great mantra to bring you back to the present, and trust your training.

Some Examples:

You’re out for a 10 mile run, and it starts pouring rain two miles in. You could turn around or you can finish the run, because “This is What You DO”

Life throws a sick child, extra work, and terrible weather at you, but you still get in your weekly training, because “This is What You DO!”

At your “A” race of the season, you are on PR pace, but starting to fade. You can slow down or you can power though. Remember all of the training and effort you put into this race. You are crushing this race, because “This is What You Do”

I run, because “This is What I Do”.

I ride, because “This is What I Do”.

I swim, because “This is What I Do”.

I succeed, because “This is What I Do”.

Step Out of the Pain Cave – 5 Tips for Better Indoor Cycling Workouts

I wake up at 6am for the normal 7:30 group ride. I go to the window, its still pitch black dark, and 35F outside. This is where the will power wanes, and the excuses kick in. Do I really want to put on all of that cold weather gear, and freeze my tail off for 2 hours? I could go back to that warm bed, and ride later, which turns into never.

When mother nature turns down the thermostat, and shuts the lights off early, its time to switch to indoor cycling workouts. You don’t want to lose all fitness in those finely chiseled legs, earned by riding all summer. With some quality time spent cycling indoors, you can maintain some of that fitness. Indoor cycling can be incredibly boring. Don’t view it as a sentence to a dull sweaty prison. Instead, here’s some tips to get the most out of your indoor sessions:

Leg Speed

1. Keep it short – 

Quality over Quantity is the key for effective indoor work. Interval work is the best bang for your buck. Quality interval workouts will keep up your cycling fitness, without sitting on the trainer for hours at a time. A well planned session should only take 45 minutes.

Example Interval Workout

2. Spin Class – 

If you like to others around to keep you motivated, try a spin class. Most classes are under an hour and offer plenty of intensity. The great thing spin class is you don’t have to plan your workout, just show up and ride. Be careful not to over do it with intensity, if you are in your off season. When I go to class, I will modify the workout to fit my current goals.

3. No Pain Cave – 

I see people post pictures of their pain cave, the dungeon where they ride their trainers. Dark damp basements, smelly garages, and one guy I saw riding  in an old bathroom. If you are really into the suffering thing, I guess that’s ok. Since riding a bike going nowhere is already mentally tough, I like to be as comfortable as possible. Find a place where you are comfortable, that’s not too hot or cold. Be sure to have a fan, and plenty of water. You spouse may not want you riding in dining, but you on’t have to suffer next to the boiler.

4. DJ Handbar –

Be your own DJ, and have a great playlist. Great music will motivate you, and help you turn your brain off. Its also fun to play music games during the workout. You can sprint the choruses, and spin during the verses. Also, you can increase tension every time the singer repeats a phrase. Mix it up and jam out.

5. Drills

On a trainer you don’t have to worry about cars, loose dogs, or falling over. This is a great time to work on pedaling drills. Pedaling drills help you develop a stronger, smoother stroke. They emphasize one aspect of the stroke, so you can concentrate of firing those muscle groups.

Here’s some drills to make you pedal smooth like butter.

Tired of the Sticky Mess? – 5 Tasty Alternatives to Energy Gels

Energy gels are great. They provide quick energy in a easily digestible form, all in a nice little package. If you do endurance training they are your best friend at first. Then they kind of turn into that cousin that you really don’t like, but you have to see at family functions. Consuming too many gels will make you tire of the flavor, leave you a sticky mess, and make your stomach do back flips.

Below are five tasty alternatives to energy gels for long workouts.:


1. Black Strap Molasses – Molasses is the OG energy gel. For one serving, it has 80 calories, 21g of Carbohyrates, 10mg of sodium, and more potassium than five bananas. That’s a perfect mix of calories, carbs, and electrolytes, and it also tastes fantastic. Molasses can be kind of a mess to eat on the fly. It’s best to eat pre-workout, or bring it along in a flask. If you’re from the south you have probably sopped some molasses with a biscuit. That method is probably not practical or healthy during exercise.


2. Sweet Potato – I have to admit, I am a sweet potato addict. Sweet potatoes are delicious, and full of simple and complex carbs to fuel for workout. They’re also cheap and easy to prepare. Throw a couple in the oven the night before, cut into quarters length wise, lightly salt, and wrap in foil. Their messiness factor is low, and they are relatively easy to eat on the go.


3. Almond butter – If you like peanut, then you’ll love almond butter. Almond butter has all of that great nutty taste without the the bad omega 6s. It has 80 cals per serving and is lower in carbs and sugars than gels. If you are watching your carb intake this is a great choice. Look for small packets, like these from Justin’s. They are mess free, and super convenient.


4. Raisins (Dried Fruit) – I know this is an obvious one, but it has to be on the list. Raisins are easy to carry, keep for a long time, and full of unprocessed carbs. Raisins have saved me from a bonk in the middle of nowhere multiple times. If you are working on dropping some weight be careful with raisins and dried fruit. They are pretty much fruit candy, and it is easy to over indulge.


5. Rice Balls – Dr. Allen Lim made these popular by serving them to the Radio Shack riders during the Tour a few years ago. They are essentially sushi rice with other ingredients throw in. My favorite are the the Blueberry Chocolate variety. To prepare the rice balls you need to channel our inner baker and get in the kitchen. The extra effort is worth it. The rice balls are tasty, easy to carry and will keep for a few days refrigerated. If you want to be the most liked rider at you local ride, whip up  a batch, and hand them out before the ride. The others riders will be so thankful, you won’t even have to pull through.

Recipe for Blueberry Chocolate Rice Cakes

Workout Wednesday – Work Horse of Bike Fitness – Tempo

Happy Wednesday! Welcome to another edition of Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I will post a new Triathlon specific workout. If you like the workout, fit it into your training plan for the week. If you don’t like the workout you’re crazy, all of my workouts are brilliant pieces programming. (HAHA)

This week’s workout – Bike Tempo


In the past few weeks, we have covered cycling leg strengthpedaling mechanics, and cycling intervals. Now it’s time to pull together that strength and efficiency with tempo efforts. Tempo efforts are just long intervals. The key is to perform them at the correct intensity. Tempo intervals should be done at 80% effort, your breath and heart rate will be slightly elevated. At this work rate you are working just below your lactate threshold. Be careful not to exceed that 80% effort, as you will be entering the red zone, and working a different energy system.

Tempo workouts are in that sweet spot of training where you are working endurance and speed at the same time. These sessions simulate race effort, but at shorter intervals, so you don’t wreck your legs. Remember, effective training sessions should be done hard enough to get benefits, but leave you able to do the next session. (Check your self, before you wreck yourself.)

Tempo work can be done indoors or outdoors. If riding outside, be sure to have enough road to complete your interval without stopping. Once you get your self in the correct zone, it is much easier to maintain than restart.

On to the workout. This workout is programmed for an athlete how has been riding for at least six months. Feel free to add or remove intervals to meet your goals.

Bike Tempo Work I

  • Warm up I – 10 min Easy
  • Warm up II – 3 X 1 min on/30 secs off
  • Tempo Effort I – 2 X 5 min @ 80% / 90 sec res
  • Easy Spin – 2 min
  • Tempo Effort II – 2 X 10 min @ 80% / 2 min rest
  • Easy Spin 2 min
  • Tempo Effort III – 5 min @ 80%
  • Cool down

Give it a go! If you use this interval in your training, please leave a comment, and let us know how it went.

Happy Training!

photo credit: Tom Gill. via photopin cc