Suggested turbo sessions

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    I’ve had a couple requests to post a few of the turbo sessions we do of a Monday night. They are here to give ideas on how to use the turbo to get the most out of an hour or so, pass the time quickly and minimise the potential for getting bored!

    The key to using the turbo effectively is to target a specific component of fitness in the session, don’t mix and match. Use the hour/ 75 minutes wisely and you’ll get much more out of a session than you might think. You’ll never be able to train for a 10 or 24 hour event on the turbo but you can train specifics that you will use during that type of event and in everyday cycling.

    A suggested warm up is 5 mins easy pedalling then move into big ring, low resistance pedalling at 90rpm, go 1 gear harder for 7 minutes. 1 minute easy pedalling then 60 secs apart do 2 x 6 second max cadence rev outs seated in an easy gear. 1 minute easy then go into the main session. Always finish with a 10 minute cool down and some stretches.

    Use music or TV to keep you going (music better unless it’s a cycling DVD)

    Simple Cardio session 1

    11 minute work/ 3 mins recovery

    3 mins 53 x 19
    2 mins 53 x 17
    1 mins 53 x 16
    2 mins 53 x 17
    3 mins 53 x 19
    Or similar (1 gear jumps)
    3 mins small ring

    Repeat a further 3 times, cool down

    • This topic was modified 8 years, 11 months ago by JB.

    Strength Session 1

    Same warm up, for main session set resistance high (50 – 75% of what’s available)

    All seated (although you can alternate seated and out of the saddle for the hard gear efforts)

    3 mins big ring/ smallest sprocket, cadence 50 – 60 rpm
    2 mins 2 gears easier, cadence 70 – 75 rpm
    1 min 1 gear harder, cadence 60 – 70 rpm, accelerate last 10 seconds
    3 mins small ring, easy gear, low resistance recovery.
    repeat a further 3 or 4 times, cool down.

    There are multiple variations on this, seated, standing, altering the timings. The main focus is on leg strength not CV/ heart rate/ high cadence/ power/ or the like. The legs should feel like they are burning by the end of the main block.
    Focus on smooth pedalling in circles, not stomping up and down and rocking head and shoulders. Use the glutes rather than focus on the quads.


    Strength Up and Over the Top 1
    Same warm up, this one has periods out of the saddle, balanced over the centre of the bike, hands light on the hoods, dancing on the pedals.

    6 mins in 3rd hardest gear (resistance up to 75%). Every 30 secs or so stand for 30 to 45 secs. In last 15 secs, stand, accelerate, get on top of gear and sit down to push over the top. cadence mainly in the 60 to 70rpm range, increase to 85 – 95 in the final acceleration.
    3 mins easy gear recovery
    Repeat above effort for 5 mins in same gear, accelerate final 25 seconds
    3 mins recovery
    Repeat above effort in 2nd hardest gear for 4 mins, 2 mins recovery.
    Repeat 5 mins effort in 2nd hardest gear, standing for 60 secs x 2, accelerate final 15 secs
    3 mins recovery
    Repeat 6 mins effort in 3rd hardest gear, standing for 90 secs x 2, accelerate final 15 secs

    10 mins cool down.

    Again there are multiple variations on this, as long as the main focus in on ‘climbing’ and leg strength. Even consider raising the front wheel higher than the horizontal to simulate a slope.


    Thanks for that John. I can now look forward to “fun” in the garage while enjoying my collection of Andy Stewart CDs!

    Dougie Mudie

    the garage ? get it in the living room 🙂


    Apologies for delay in adding a couple more suggested workouts

    These 2 sessions focus on developing power (strength x speed) and long term muscular endurance. If using a heart rate monitor you want to be working at just above threshold level (varies for each individual) normally between 85 – 90% of Max HR. Recovery is kept short so there is no long opportunity for a full recovery before going again.

    These are supposed to be tough, especially the second one when you want to ease back, take a deep breath and keep going!

    Full 15 minute progressive warm up as above

    Big ring/ reasonably hard gear (14/ 15 or 16T sprocket) resistance about a third of whats available, maybe a touch more ( 3 or 4 out of 10 on a Tacx)
    2 mins at 95+ rpm cadence, seated. Head and shoulders still, hands on drops
    2 mins recovery in easy gear, no resistance
    3 mins effort as above
    2 mins recovery
    4 mins effort
    2 mins recovery
    then back down, 3 on, 2 off, 2 on, 1 min on, 4/5 mins off to get a full recovery
    Finish with 20 secs flat out (1 or 2 gears easier than earlier efforts), 20 seconds recovery/ freewheeling or back pedal x 6 efforts.
    10 mins cool down

    2. variation of above but more focussed on threshold power
    After warm up, gearing as 1 above or 1 easier, resistance 3 or 4 out of 10
    4 mins @ 95+ rpm, hands on drops
    2 mins recovery
    5 mins effort, same gear
    2 mins recovery
    6 mins effort
    2 mins recovery then back down again, 5 mins on, 2 off, 4 mins on, 2 off, progressive cool down. This one can be used as a self test, repeat in same gear, ,cadence, resistance, same tyre pressure and bike set up. 4 or 6 weeks apart, record HR for effort in given gear and compare.


    Another variation of No 2 in the post above is to start in 1 gear harder than No 2 (big ring x 14/13T) then for the final minute of each effort period go 2 gears easier and increase cadence by 10 to 15 rpm (not a sprint simply an increase over 5 seconds or so and hold to end of minute. For this one increase recovery period if your HR does not drop down sufficiently to feel like a recovery.

    For subsequent efforts drop 2 gets easier and increase cadence in final minute each time. Always finish with at least 10 mins cool down and some stretches

    Depending on your individual ability and fitness you can also reduce the effort times by a minute each too/ or start lower and do a couple extra. As always, have an component of fitness you want to work on and a goal you want to achieve (% of time above threshold/ 60 or 75 mins session etc) Vary it up.

    More power and speed to follow in due course.


    Thanks for that John. More suffering in prospect!


    More to follow when I get a free hour if you want. I’ve also got quite a few printed off old ones from last year in my bag. Remind me to give them to you on Monday if you want. Otherwise they are in the bin when I get round to a clear out.


    Short power session
    Focus on effort/ recovery varying work:rest ratio. These are a bit more interesting than simple 15/15 or 30/30 because you have to pay more attention to the stopwatch and your body doesn’t get used to the same work and rest.

    Usual 15 mins warm up

    The in race size gear (big ring x 16, 15 or 14T), resistance 1/3rd (3/10) in saddle, hands on drops

    15 seconds hard effort at 110-120+ rpm, 45 secs rest slow or back pedal (same gear and resistance)
    20 secs hard, 40 secs rest
    25 secs hard, 35 secs rest
    30 secs hard, 30 secs rest
    45 secs hard, 15 secs rest
    60 secs hard
    3 mins recovery in an easy gear,

    Repeat 2 or 3 times more
    4 or 5 mins recovery after last set then in same gear and resistance as earlier
    20 secs flat out in saddle, 20 secs rest x 6 efforts. You should not have the energy to do another set of these!

    Cool down for 10 mins

    This workout can be varied once you have done this first one a few times to go up 15/45, 20/40, 25/35, 30/30, 45/45, 60/60 and then back down 45/45, 30/30 etc 4 mins recovery and do 2 or 3 sets only.



    Attacking Intervals / Race Winning Efforts

    If anyone wants to repeat this one, it’s a good one for effort/ partial recovery/ effort

    Usual 15 minute warm up

    The in reasonably big gear (race gear +1?) Resistance 1/3rd

    30 seconds all out attack effort (out of saddle then seated when on top of gear), high cadence
    1 gear easier for 3 mins 20, cadence 95-100rpm, then 1 gear harder and flat out ‘sprint for the line’ in final 10 secs.
    3 mins easy gear recovery.

    The above is repeated 4 more times, then cool down

    This session can be altered or progressed in subsequent sessions by adding or removing a minute in the sets to vary length of effort. Recovery can be adjusted up and down as appropriate (1 or 2 minutes less than work set). Increase final sprint to 15 seconds. Max 6 sets. If you can do more you have not been working hard enough.


    • This reply was modified 8 years, 10 months ago by JB.

    Lactate Shuttle session

    Intended to build up lactic acid in the legs then back off intensity just a little bit to train body to use lactic acid elsewhere. It’s similar to training just above and just below the lactate threshold to seek to raise it for a given HR or power output

    Usual 15 mins warm up, possible even 20 mins for this one (1 gear harder for 8 mins, 2 mins easy then 3 x 6 sec rev outs 1 min apart, 2 mins easy)

    Big ring 14 or 15T sprocket, resistance low/medium (2 or 3/10?)
    On fast cadence effort aim for 115 +/- 5 rpm, lower cadence effort 2 gears easier at 90rpm +/-5 rpm

    30 secs fast/ 1 or 2 gets easier 30 secs slower, 1 or 2 gears harder and;
    45 secs fast / 45 secs slower
    60 secs fast/ 60 secs slower
    90 secs fast / 90 secs slower
    2 mins fast,
    2 mins 30 secs recovery in an easy gear, low cadence.

    Always fast in the harder gear, slower in the 1 or 2 gears easier.

    Repeat above but adjust gearing to start 1 gear easier, still adjusting cadence 30/30, 45/45 etc

    Repeat above 30/30, 45/45 etc in original starting gear again

    Cool down 10 mins.

    If you feel that you can add in another set then you’ve not been working hard enough or are a machine!


    Power steps / changing cadence

    Usual 15 mins warm up

    Start in 2nd or 3rd hardest gear, low/ medium resistance – 20 or 30%
    3 mins in above gear, cadence 90 rpm
    2 mins 1 gear easier, cadence 95 rpm
    1 min 1 gear easier, cadence 100+ rpm
    3 mins easy

    You should look to be up at threshold HR / intensity after 60 secs or so.

    Repeat above twice more, same starting gear but feel free to adjust required as maintaining the target cadence is more important than maintaining the gear.

    This session can also be used to work with power by setting your target watts or just above threshold watts and hitting it at each cadence by adjusting gearing or resistance on a trainer with power function.


    John, My turbo has died so I might not be there on Monday (3 March) unless I can find one to borrow, or I might give us all a laugh by bringing my rollers. I thought I should give you a heads up in case you might need me to open up the hall.


    This weeks speed session

    Simulated Team Pursuit/ Team Time Trial

    this session is a speed focus (leg speed), resistance and gear lower to encourage a very high cadence. This is not a power workout although it could be, done in a harder gear with some resistance on.

    Usual 15 mins warm up then in a reasonably easy gear that you can turn at high cadence (small ring/ middle of the block or big ring near the top) resistance at 0 or 1)

    On the drops, from a very slow start pedal hard and at a high cadence (130 – 150rpm) for 20 seconds, reduce cadence to 110+ rpm for 40 seconds (no resting) repeat 20 secs fast/ 40 secs not so fast three more times
    Rest / recover for 2 minutes and repeat above. Rest 2 mins then repeat 20/ 40 5 times in total. 3 mins rest, 20/40 5 times agin, 3 mins rest, 20/40 4 times and cool down.

    This is not as easy as it may first appear as you must be pedalling at a very high cadence and keeping rest/ recovery short.

    If the 20/ 40 is a little too tough the session can be adapted to 15 secs at very high cadence/ 45 secs at high cadence and repeated 3 or 4 times rather than 4 or 5 times.

    Speed is the key – leg speed not back wheel speed.

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