3 Indoor Trainer Power Workouts to Improve Your Cycling

Jess Adam

By LifeSport coach Jessica Adam

There will be few power meters on wish lists this Christmas! Power meters are a serious investment on top of all the other gadgets and devices you want and need for triathlon training. However, paired with your heart rate data they provide some of the most accurate and useful information available for you to pore over when you download data after your ride. A power meter can tell you your effort level as soon as you take your first pedal stroke and ensures you are working within the energy system intended in your workout. A power meter can measure the output of your muscles at work and provide instant feedback and guidance for effort. A power meter can also help you monitor your recovery rides, a truly useful tool for making sure you are staying within recovery zones during those sessions. While heart rate measurement provides beneficial training data, the variance due to day to day changing conditions of weather, dehydration, fatigue, drift, and other factors can add a little bit of guesswork to determining power. Data from power output is the simplest and most effective way to build your bike strength and reduce your bike times. To learn riding with a focus on power, here are three power workouts you can do on your indoor trainer this winter. During these sessions, get used to watching your power (Watts) and how it fluctuates for different levels of intensity. This is an excellent way to get used to your new tool and where your current strength is. It’s ok if you don’t have a power meter to start, as you can base it on perceived exertion for now. For perceived exertion use Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) 0-5 from easy to hard as your gauge.

WORKOUT 1. Power for the pass

This workout will help you build strength to absorb the surge required to pass.

Warm Up: 15’ easy spin

5 x 1’ (1’ recovery spin) Build through the minute, making each 15 seconds a harder gear.

Main Set: 2 x 10’ (5’ recovery) Pedal as hard as you can for 15 seconds in a gear you can push 90 to 110 rpm with effort (RPE 4), then spin easy for 45 seconds. This gives you one 15 second surge each minute for 10 minutes. Challenge yourself to hold power or slightly increase during surges over the set. RPE

Cool Down: 15’ easy spin at 90-100 rpm

WORKOUT 2. Power for TT’s

This workout is great for any triathlete and teaches consistent power for time trial efforts.

Warm Up: 10 minute easy spin

4 x 30” left leg only, 60”both legs and increasing cadence by 15”, 30”right leg only, 60”both legs and increasing cadence by 15”.

Main Set: 5 x 2’ (2’ recovery) Ride fast and hard, (RPE 3-4/5) for 2 minutes. Watch your power and maintain consistent power for the set.

Cool Down: 15’ easy spinning at 90-100 rpm

WORKOUT 3. Power Bursts

This workout is designed to provide the power needed to surge or break away from a pack and will build general leg strength.

Warm Up: 15’easy spinning then 4-5 x 30” (1’) big gear pulls to prepare legs. Big gear: put bike in large ring and a big gear to decrease cadence to 60-70 rpm. Ride smooth powerful circles.

Main Set: 10 x 30” (30”). Start by spinning at a cadence around 65 to 70 rpm. Shift to your big gear and while seated, pedal as hard as you can until you reach 90 + rpm. (RPE 4-5/5)

Cool Down: 15’ easy spinning at 90-100 rpm

These workouts are designed to increase your power output on the bike but remember that training with a power meter is not just about pushing hard. Ride with finesse and pay attention to smooth cadence, technique and being relaxed. Be aware of power during your everyday training and you will learn to become a better cyclist. For example, use your power meter to ensure you are building endurance or recovering at the right intensity during those sessions. This information is just as important and useful as the maximum wattage you can generate on the bike. Over time, you should be able to build your watts by using specific workouts, but that won’t happen unless you see the appropriate recovery wattage as well.

LifeSport triathlon coach Jessica Adam has been a coach in Victoria, Vancouver and now resides in the Toronto area. She loves to share her years of experience with beginner triathletes and also experienced triathletes that are trying new distances like ½ IM or IM for the first time. She coaches athletes online all across the country.

If you are interested in working with Jess, write Jess@LifeSportCoaching.com