Get faster with intervals

You can increase your body’s anaerobic capacity, power and endurance – and your cycling speed – with some short, sharp bursts of interval training. Here’s how…

Hill speed

Climbing takes it out of you at the best of times, but this hard and fast short burst of pain will help your long-term power. Find a short, sharp hill, no more than a minute or two of climbing, and speed up as you approach, switching to larger gears and reaching your maximum speed. Power up the climb trying to maintain this, then after you’ve reached the top roll back down and repeat five times.

Sprint seconds

After warming up for 20 minutes on flat roads, sprint for 15 seconds all-out, followed by 15 seconds of gentle pedalling for recovery. Repeat this pattern for around 15 minutes or to exhaustion. By doing this you will work on improving your endurance. The hard, short intervals make anabolic changes, meaning more protein is synthesised in the muscles, making them stronger, letting you ride faster.

Power up

As little as four interval sessions can boost your power and ability to maintain higher intensity sessions. Ride 20 x one minute at peak power with two-minute recoveries between bursts. After a few weeks you should notice an improvement in your power output. If you reduce this to 10 x 30 seconds at peak power once every five minutes in the six weeks before a race or event, you should gain power without muscle weight.

Shock tactics

With these traditional interval sessions, the point is to shock your body into adaptation. They will help improve your speed while also upping your aerobic capacity. Warm up thoroughly, then perform five sets of three-minute intervals flat-out at VO2 max pace, with three-minute recoveries in between. Your recovery should still include cycling, by sitting up, pedalling softly and trying to regain control of your breathing.

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