Whether you are cycling with a race in mind, be it a triathlon or a Gran Fondo, or if you are cycling for fitness, the question that usually presents itself, is, “How can I become faster on the bike?”
As with most activities, one generally becomes better at it with practice. However, if you are merely riding your bike for leisure then you will more than likely not gain any speed. But fear not, if you truly want to increase your speed there several ways to do it.
The first way is to implement intervals, or short bursts of speed. These intervals can start as small as one to two minutes at a time with one to two minutes of recovery in between. These bursts of speed don’t need to be an all out effort. You can go about 65% of your max speed to start with. Don’t go all out so that you can do more than one.
With these intervals, you are teaching your legs and lungs to operate under more stress and this leads to both a stronger cardiovascular system, as well as a stronger muscular system in your legs.
After you’ve tried shorter intervals, increase them in time and vary the intensity from 65% of your max effort to a full out effort on the last one.
Here’s an example of a simple interval you can do without a lot of fancy equipment. Warm Up for 10 minutes at about 50% of your maximum effort.
Complete a set of five times 2:00 minutes at 65% of your maximum effort with a 1:00 minute recovery in between.
That recovery speed is about 40% of your maximum effort.
After the intervals are complete, cool down at about 45% of your maximum effort.
The workout above can be shortened or lengthened based on your fitness and can fun to do with a friend on stationary bicycles.
In addition to intervals, you can do a tempo workout that is a little longer than intervals in that you hold a faster pace for anywhere from 20 minutes to about an hour. This pace should be one you can sustain for the length of time that you choose. It’s also not all about but it should be uncomfortable and you should be breathing hard.
Start this type of bicycling workout with a warm up and add in a cool down afterward too.
If you have done all of the above and have some money to invest in a power meter for your bicycle, this tool can be another great way to get faster.
Beth is a running and triathlon coach from Florida who began her journey through health and fitness as a high school swimmer. After leading an unhealthy lifestyle while in college she made changes to get back in shape. Since then, she's completed numerous marathons and triathlons and finished her first full Ironman in 2014. She's also a freelance fitness writer and blogger. Her passion is fitness in all forms, though she enjoys running and swimming the most, and she believes in doing what makes you happy and healthy.
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