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What is a good interval training for cycling?

What is a good interval training for cycling?

Interval training is a popular and effective method for improving cardiovascular fitness and performance in cycling. It involves alternating periods of intense effort with periods of rest or lower intensity recovery. This type of training challenges the body to work at high intensities, pushing its limits and ultimately leading to improved performance.

Benefits of interval training for cycling

Interval training offers several benefits for cyclists. Firstly, it helps to improve cardiovascular fitness by increasing the heart rate and oxygen consumption during the intense intervals. This can lead to a stronger heart and lungs, allowing cyclists to sustain higher speeds and efforts for longer durations.

Secondly, interval training improves muscular endurance and power. The high-intensity efforts target fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are responsible for generating explosive power. By repeatedly challenging these muscle fibers, cyclists can increase their overall power output and ability to generate speed.

Additionally, interval training can help to burn more calories and improve body composition. The intense efforts require more energy, leading to increased calorie expenditure during and after the workout. This can be beneficial for weight loss or maintenance goals.

Types of interval training for cycling

There are several different types of interval training that can be incorporated into a cycling workout routine. Some popular options include:

1. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT involves short bursts of maximum effort followed by active recovery periods. For example, a cyclist might perform 30 seconds of all-out sprinting followed by 1 minute of easy pedaling. This pattern is repeated for multiple sets.

2. Tabata Intervals: Tabata intervals are a specific type of HIIT that follows a 20-second intense effort followed by a 10-second rest pattern. This is repeated for 4 minutes, totaling 8 cycles.

3. Fartlek Training: Fartlek, which means “speed play” in Swedish, involves varying the intensity and duration of efforts throughout a ride. Cyclists can incorporate faster sprints, hill climbs, or increased resistance at different points during their ride.

Designing an interval training plan

When designing an interval training plan for cycling, it is important to consider individual fitness levels, goals, and available time. It is recommended to start with shorter intervals and gradually increase the duration and intensity over time.

Here is an example interval training plan for cycling:

  1. Warm-up: Begin with a 10-15 minute easy-paced ride to warm up the muscles and increase the heart rate.
  2. Main Intervals: Perform 4 sets of 4-minute intervals at a high intensity, aiming for 85-95% of maximum effort. Each interval should be followed by 3 minutes of active recovery at a lower intensity.
  3. Cool-down: End the workout with a 10-15 minute easy-paced ride to cool down and allow the body to gradually recover.

Important Note: It is crucial to listen to your body and adjust the intensity and duration of the intervals according to individual fitness levels and capabilities. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program.

In conclusion, interval training is a highly effective way to improve cardiovascular fitness, power, and endurance for cyclists. By incorporating different types of interval training into a structured workout plan, cyclists can push their limits, enhance performance, and achieve their fitness goals. Remember to stay consistent, gradually progress, and enjoy the benefits that interval training brings to your cycling journey.

“Interval training is like life: you have to enjoy it.” – Bjorn Borg

How often should I do interval training cycling?


Interval training is a popular method of improving cardiovascular fitness and performance in cycling. It involves alternating periods of high-intensity effort with recovery periods. While it is an effective training technique, many cyclists often wonder how frequently they should incorporate interval training into their cycling routine.

The Importance of Rest and Recovery

Before discussing the frequency of interval training, it’s essential to emphasize the importance of allowing adequate rest and recovery between sessions. High-intensity interval training puts a significant amount of stress on the body, and without sufficient recovery, it can increase the risk of overtraining and injury. It is recommended to have at least one day of rest or light activity between interval training sessions.

Beginner Cyclists

For beginner cyclists, it is advisable to start with one interval training session per week. This allows the body to adapt gradually to the increased intensity and helps prevent excessive fatigue or burnout. As fitness levels improve, the frequency can be gradually increased to two or three sessions per week.

Intermediate and Advanced Cyclists

Intermediate and advanced cyclists who have already established a good base fitness level can benefit from more frequent interval training sessions. Two to three sessions per week, with at least one day of rest or active recovery in between, can help to further enhance endurance, speed, and power output.

Listen to Your Body

While general guidelines are helpful, it’s important to listen to your body and adjust the frequency of interval training based on your individual needs and capabilities. If you feel excessively fatigued or experience persistent muscle soreness, it may be a sign that you need more rest between sessions.


“Quality over quantity is key when it comes to interval training. It’s better to complete a few high-quality sessions per week than to do too many and risk injury or burnout.”

What are the best HIIT intervals for cycling?

1. Tabata Intervals

Tabata intervals are a popular form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by brief rest periods. For cycling, a typical Tabata session would involve cycling at maximum effort for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This cycle is repeated for a total of 8 rounds, resulting in a 4-minute workout.

2. Pyramid Intervals

Pyramid intervals involve gradually increasing and then decreasing the intensity and duration of the intervals. For example, you could start with a 30-second sprint, followed by a 30-second recovery period. Then, increase the duration to 45 seconds, followed by another 45-second recovery. Continue this pattern until you reach the peak intensity and duration, and then work your way back down.

3. VO2 Max Intervals

VO2 max intervals focus on improving your aerobic capacity, endurance, and overall performance. These intervals are typically longer and more sustained in intensity compared to other HIIT workouts. A common VO2 max interval for cyclists is to ride at 85-95% of your maximum effort for 3-5 minutes, followed by a recovery period of 2-3 minutes. Repeat this cycle for several rounds.

4. Hill Repeats

Hill repeats are an effective way to build strength and power. Find a challenging hill and sprint up it at maximum effort for a set distance or time. Once you reach the top, take a recovery period by cycling at an easy pace downhill or on flat ground. Repeat this process for several rounds.

5. Fartlek Intervals

Fartlek intervals are a mixture of high-intensity efforts and recovery periods, allowing for more flexibility and spontaneity in your workout. During a fartlek session, alternate between periods of hard effort and easier recovery. For example, you could sprint for 30 seconds, then recover at a slower pace for 1 minute. Continue alternating between these intervals throughout your ride.

6. Sprint Intervals

Sprint intervals focus on short bursts of maximum effort, simulating race-like conditions. Find a straight, flat stretch of road or use a stationary bike with high resistance. Pedal at maximum effort for 10-20 seconds, followed by a longer recovery period of 1-2 minutes. Repeat this cycle for multiple rounds.

7. Tempo Intervals

Tempo intervals are aimed at improving your lactate threshold, which is the point at which lactic acid builds up in your muscles. Ride at a comfortably hard and sustained effort for a set duration, typically around 8-20 minutes. Take a short recovery period, then repeat the interval several times.

8. Endurance Intervals

Endurance intervals focus on building your stamina and ability to sustain a high effort over a long period. In this type of training, ride at a steady pace that is challenging but sustainable for an extended period, usually around 5-15 minutes. Take a short recovery period, then repeat the endurance interval multiple times.

“The key to effective HIIT for cycling is to vary your intervals, targeting different energy systems and aspects of performance.”

Using a combination of these HIIT intervals in your cycling training can help you improve your speed, power, endurance, and overall fitness. Remember to warm up properly before starting any high-intensity interval session, and always listen to your body to avoid overtraining or injury.


Interval training is an effective method to improve cycling performance, but finding the right frequency for your training sessions is crucial. Beginner cyclists should start with one session per week and gradually increase, while intermediate and advanced cyclists can aim for two to three sessions per week. Always prioritize rest and recovery to avoid overtraining and listen to your body’s signals for optimal results.

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