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The Most Important Bike Workout You Should Master to Make You a Faster Cyclist

Becoming a faster cyclist is a crucial goal for triathletes, as the bike leg is often the longest portion of a race and offers the greatest opportunity to cut down overall times. While there are countless training strategies and workouts available, focusing on one key session can yield significant improvements in your cycling performance. This article introduces you to the most important bike workout you should master: Threshold Training.

What is Threshold Training?

Threshold training revolves around the concept of your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) or lactate threshold. This is essentially the highest power output you can sustain for an hour. Training at or near this intensity improves your body’s ability to process lactate, thereby enhancing endurance and speed over time.

Why Focus on Threshold Training?

  1. Efficiency Improvement: Training at your threshold increases your efficiency, allowing you to maintain higher speeds for longer periods without fatiguing.
  2. Power Boost: It enhances your power output, a direct contributor to cycling speed.
  3. Mental Toughness: Threshold sessions are challenging, helping build the mental toughness needed for race day.

The Workout: Threshold Intervals

Warm-Up:

  • Start with a 15-minute easy ride, gradually increasing your heart rate.
  • Include 3-5 minutes of dynamic stretches off the bike to loosen up.

Main Set:

  • 2×20 minutes at FTP with 10 minutes easy riding in between.
  • Maintain a steady effort, aiming for a 7-8 on a perceived exertion scale of 1-10.
  • Focus on maintaining a consistent cadence, preferably around 85-95 RPM.

Cool Down:

  • Finish with a 15-minute easy spin to help your muscles recover.

Tips for Mastering Threshold Training

  1. Know Your Threshold: Use a power meter or a heart rate monitor to find your FTP. There are several tests and calculators available online to help you determine this.
  2. Consistency is Key: Incorporate this workout into your weekly training schedule. Consistent effort will yield the best results.
  3. Listen to Your Body: Threshold training is demanding. Ensure you’re well-rested and hydrated before attempting these intervals. If you’re feeling overly fatigued, it’s better to skip a session than to risk injury.
  4. Focus on Form: Pay attention to your cycling form throughout the workout. Keep your upper body relaxed, grip light on the handlebars, and ensure your pedal stroke is smooth and efficient.
  5. Progress Gradually: As you adapt, increase the duration or intensity of the intervals slightly. However, more is not always better; quality trumps quantity.
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Threshold training is a powerful tool in a triathlete’s arsenal. By incorporating this session into your routine, you’ll develop the speed and endurance necessary to shave precious minutes off your bike leg. Remember, while this workout is highly effective, it’s also part of a balanced training plan that includes endurance rides, recovery days, and cross-training. Mastering threshold training will not only make you a faster cyclist but also a stronger competitor across all three disciplines of triathlon.

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