Weekly Workout: Low Cadence Strength

Professional triathlete Justin Park shares a workout to help develop strength while on the bike that can be done on flat terrain or while on a trainer.

This session is typically done during the first and second phases of base building, where the primary focus is on the development of aerobic capacity. This workout can be performed on any flat terrain, but is also ideally matched with the consistent pedaling on a stationary trainer. Therefore, it is a great workout to utilize every 7-10 days in the winter months, when the cold weather requires athletes to remain indoors.

The difference in the workout between the first and second phases of base building consists of the use of "accelerations," where you incorporate a small amount of very high-intensity work as you attempt to increase your cadence in your existing gear to further enhance strength and power development. The use of accelerations should begin after you have performed the initial workout at least three times.

The Workout

Depending on ability, current level of fitness or available time, you can go through the main set 1-2 times. Just be sure to take the recovery portion very easy to allow for proper intensity during the work intervals. Feel free to use either heart rate or power (if you have access to it) for your training zones used during the workout.

Warm up with 20-30 minutes of easy spinning, and include 4 x 1-minute easy resistance at a high cadence (100-115 rpm) with 2 minutes easy between each. Then move into the main set:

  • 1 x 12 minutes @ 60-70 rpm in Zone 3
    -- in the second phase, incorporate an acceleration up to 90 rpm (in the same gear) for 15 seconds every 5 minutes
  • 1 x 6 minutes easy spin in Zone 1
  • 1 x 15 minutes @ 60-70 rpm in Zone 3
    -- in the second phase, incorporate an acceleration up to 90 rpm (in the same gear) for 20 seconds every 4 minutes
  • 1 x 6 minutes easy spin in Zone 1
  • 1 x 10 minutes @ 60-70 rpm in Zone 3
    -- in the second phase, incorporate an acceleration up to 90 rpm (in the same gear) for 30 seconds every 3 minutes

Cool down with 10-15 minutes of very easy spinning. Once into the second phase of base building, you can incorporate a 20-30 minute easy (optional: 5 minutes at 10K pace in the middle) after cycling to begin your transition into running off the bike.

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