Liven Up Your Indoor Training

By Kelsey – November 10, 2010

It’s almost time, bikers of Austin. Time to drag out your sweaters, gloves and, sigh, lock up your bike. Austin bikers definitely have it easier than our neighbors to the north, but we still experience a little stretch of winter, where working out outside can just be painful. And if nothing else, the sun is sinking down earlier and earlier every day, making it harder to get in an after-work ride.

If you’re bored at the gym on those days you’re forced to train inside, you’re not alone. But there are some ways to make an indoor workout bearable.

The 10- to Two-Minute Descending Ladder

Start with a 10-minute hard effort followed by two minutes of easy spinning for recovery.
Your second interval will consist of eight minutes hard effort and another two minutes of easy spinning.

Each hard set decreases in time by two minutes while increasing slightly in intensity. The easy set remains the same. The workout ends when you reach two minutes of hard effort.

Cool down and call it quits for the day.


Pyramids are a variation of the above workout. Usually pyramid workouts consist of gradually increasing periods of hard effort, then gradually decreasing these periods of hard effort.

For example, after a normal warm-up, you could go one minute hard, one minute easy, two minutes hard, two minutes easy, three hard, three easy, four hard, four easy; then descend to three and three, two and two, and one and one.

Or you may choose to keep the time element constant and gradually increase the load. For example, pick a steady cadence and go to a smaller rear cog every two minutes until you reach your highest gear, at which point you lower your gear by one cog every two minutes. (Beginners may wish to use one-minute intervals instead of two minutes.)

Surge and Purge

Do this set three times through: Five minutes in a hard gear in your normal riding position on the flats, then three minutes in your seated climbing position in an easier gear, but at a high cadence so that your speed stays nearly the same.

Try to use the high cadence session to allow the lactic acid to slowly dissipate from your muscles. Then go back to your standard riding position and the hard gear for three minutes. Spin easy for three minutes to recover before the next set.

Anaerobic Threshold

Often referred to as maximal steady-state pace, this workout will help you build your sustainable pace, which will pay off during long races and climbs.

Complete 20 minutes (or 10 sets) of the following:

One minute in a 42 x 15 gear ratio, cadence at about 110 and heart rate at 65 to 80 percent of maximum.

One minute in a 53 x 15 gear ratio, cadence about 90, and heart rate at 75 to 90 percent of maximum.

Build up to two twenty-minute sets or one thirty minute set (1:30 intervals).

This workout will build your sustainable pace. The gearing changes give you the opportunity to push up your heart rate without fatiguing your muscles. You should not feel a “burn” in your muscles if you are doing these intervals correctly.

Do these continuously for a full 20 minutes. This is a low-intensity, long-duration interval set. Simply make your gear changes and concentrate on your cadence.

As you improve, you can choose to increase the duration of the set or increase the resistance, or both.


Use the trainer to simulate climbing on steep roads. Select a gear that increases the load sufficiently to require a 15 to 20 rpm drop from your normal cadence.

Slide back in the saddle and picture yourself on a long climb. Maintain this workload until hyperventilation or leg fatigue bring your rpm’s significantly lower. Shift to a lower gear and recover completely before attempting another bout at the high resistances.

This develops leg strength and technique to push those bigger gears when the hill steepens. It is also as good idea to put a two to 4-inch lift under the front wheel to simulate the angle.


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