As a new cyclist you’ve probably wondered to yourself, why can’t I get faster? I ride my bike a lot and can go longer than I could when I started. But why, you may ask, am I not getting any faster? As with most endurance sports, putting in the volume will increase your endurance, or ability to go for longer periods of time. And of course, you will see some improvement in speed but in order to really go faster, you need to practice cycling at faster speeds. Here are five great workouts that can help build your cycling speed.
1. Go for a Ride with Someone (or a Group) Faster than You. I know group rides can be scary, but by pushing yourself to hang on the back wheel of a faster cyclist, you can work on becoming faster yourself. The keys for this workout are that both you and those in your party communicate and have a plan. When drafting, it’s crucial that you stay close enough to the person in front of you, but be mindful not to hit their back wheel. For a specific workout try cycling for 20 miles and taking turns pulling at the front. Match the strongest person’s speed but don’t sprint – keep the pace hard, but even.
2. Speed Intervals! A wise person once said, “If you want to ride faster, you have to ride faster.” These will hurt, but they have been proven to make you faster. Start with a good warm up of about 10 to 15 minutes. Then do 1 to 2 minutes of fast cycling followed by 1 to 2 minutes of recovery. Repeat these for about 20 minutes.
3. Strength Intervals. In order to build strength which will translate into speed, ride in a medium to large gear and push hard for 30 seconds. Recover for 10 seconds and then repeat five to six times with about three minutes of rest in between.
4. Hill Repeats. Find an incline and charge up it as fast as you can for 30 seconds. Try alternating between seated and standing climbing. Repeat this about five to six times with the downhill being your recovery. The climbing adds strength and speed and when you return to flat roads you’ll be that much stronger.
5. Add in plyometrics. Doing plyometrics exercises, such as box jumps and jump squats will help you strengthen your legs for that explosive power. Build these into your regular strength training regimen. For the squat jumps, stand with your legs a little wider than hip distance apart and sit back like you would sit into a chair.
Then, using your arms for added propulsion jump up explosively. Start with two sets of 10 and build as you get stronger.
In order to ride your very best, mix up the above workouts throughout your training and you’ll see results. Enjoy the ride!
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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