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Bike workout: Increase aerobic power

When spring rolls around and race season is looming, triathletes will be looking to find more of their high-end aerobic fitness. For a time-crunched triathlete, fitting in the volume required to maintain durability throughout the half to full Ironman distance races is difficult.

Rachel McBride at the 2018 Super League Triathlon in Penticton. Photo: Super League Triathlon Penticton

Related: How to add some spice to your weekend long ride

Speed workouts on the bike can be overlooked by triathletes who focus more on threshold or steady-state efforts, as these lower intensity efforts offer more race-specific stimulus to the body. While it’s true that there is little need for being a great sprinter in long-distance triathlons, workouts that challenge aerobic power can quickly improve VO2 max.

Incorporating power efforts into your training is simple but the effort required for a full VO2 max effort is challenging.  Instead of starting your aerobic power training with four times four minutes all out with full rest, try three times six broken into 15 seconds hard/15 seconds float with three minutes rest. Breaking the efforts down into shorter intervals gives you short mental and physical breaks which can help you maintain your focus and achieve higher quality work. After two to three weeks, increase the length of the interval to eight to 10 minutes, increasing the rest from three to four minutes.

Ben Kanute accelerating out of a corner at Super League Triathlon Singapore in 2019. Photo: That Cameraman/ Darren Wheeler/Super League Triathlon

These intervals are equally effective running, so you could try replacing some of your kilometre repeats at interval pace with shorter 15/15 seconds fartlek sessions to see if you can maintain higher quality throughout the workout.

Related: 5 tips to improve your 5K and 10K run times off the bike

Aerobic Power 15/15 intervals:

After a good warm up, start the interval by accelerating constantly for 15 seconds, then ride steadily in the same gear for 15 seconds and repeat for six straight minutes. Perform the entire interval in the same gear. Try to hold 90 to 95 rpm during the acceleration. Rest completely in an easy gear for three minutes, then repeat two more times.