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4 top tips to build more power on the bike


Interested in building more power on the bike this year? The early season is a great time to work on some crucial components that have to do with your cycling strength. Triathlete and coach Paul Duncan shares his tips to make big gains on your bike this winter.

1) Hit the gym

Strength training is a great way to build the power in your legs necessary for cycling. When designing a weight-training program, be sure it’s specific to your goals as a triathlete. A good weight training program has two phases:
Phase 1: The adaptation phase should be two to three weeks in duration. In this phase, it’s all about getting used to the movements and prepping your body for the hard work to come. Use light weights and high reps.
Phase 2: This phase should last four to eight weeks. Each week you should gradually increase weight to build intensity. In this phase, keep reps at four to six for each movement with lots of rest between.

Some athletes may also benefit from a third stage where the athlete works on sport-specific limiters. For those new to strength training, consult a coach if you want to add more strength-training to your routine. Triathletes should be aware of striking the right balance between strength work and regular training.


2) Work in the big gear

If your winter bike training is on the trainer like most triathletes in Canada, practice big gear intervals to get stronger. Start with shorter intervals and add to them as your muscles adapt. During your next aerobic ride, try these intervals with a resistance that allows you to spin at 50 – 60 r.p.m. while staying in your desired heart rate zone.

  • 3 x 1 minute at the low r.p.m, with 1 minute recovery spinning at 90 r.p.m in between
  • Each subsequent week, add 30 seconds to the interval (3 x 1:30, then 3 x 2:00)

To perform this drill while riding outside, start at the bottom of the hill, put your bike in a hard gear, and start grinding.

3) Tabata Intervals

Introduce these short but brutal intervals into your trainer sessions. Tabata intervals are great for building power because they recruit the most muscle fibers in a short amount of time. Try this workout:

  • Warm up for 10 – 30 minutes at an easy intensity
  • 8 x 20 seconds of all-out effort with 10 seconds rest between. You’ll need a good level of resistance for this. The goal is to get your heart rate as high as possible.

Tabata intervals and short and sweet should be performed at 100% intensity

4) Single Speed Workouts

As the weather warms up, take your power-building outdoors. This workout is best performed on rolling hills. Pick a single gear and commit to it for 20 to 30 minute intervals. Be careful — if the gear you pick is too hard, you’ll pay for it.
Including these four exercises in your winter and spring bike training routine will get you stronger for racing season. Remember to stay patient and increase intensity little by little each week.