by: Richard League – Bike Person
Occasionally, I overhear someone at the store asking how to build cycling strength. Of course, there are many answers to this question, and many ways, depending on your goals, to go faster on a bike. But one way that is proven effective and can be done by anyone at any fitness level is the Tabata Interval. Now that most of us have resigned ourselves to indoor training for the next few months, this is a good one to do periodically during the “base” training period because the efforts and the rest intervals are short. And because it’s such a short exercise, it’s great for those of us who don’t always have an hour or two to train with.
As with any indoor training ride, put a fan on. Trust me on this one, this will greatly increase your comfort once you are warmed up.
Warm Up: Ride for ten minutes minimum, twenty if you have the time, spinning an easy gear.
Workout: You can sit or stand for the effort. Pick a gear you can turn at high (120 rpm or more) speed and go all out. Full Gas. Light up the afterburners for twenty seconds. Recover for ten seconds. Repeat eight times, for a total of four minutes.
Cool Down: Spin easy for AT LEAST five minutes, preferably ten, to re-oxygenate your muscles. Thank the gods of pain for visiting you this day.
Notes: You will find that you need progressively easier gears in order to sustain a twenty second effort. If you barely got through the last one, you did them the right way.
Not enough pain for you, Tough Gal/Guy? Add a second set of intervals. But really, if you are doing this one correctly you won’t need or want to.
If you don’t like training at home or don’t have the room or your spouse/significant other/children simply will not put up with your noisy, sweaty, training self, consider joining up with our partners at Wisconsin Indoor Cycling. They welcome your sweat.
This workout is named after Dr. Izumi Tabata who lead a study titled “Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2 max” in 1996. Tabata found that these very short but very intense efforts produced a substantial gain in both the VO2 max.(amount of oxygen uptake) and the anaerobic capacity (ability to work in oxygen debt) of the test subjects. If you’re feeling particularly nerdly, you can read the study abstract here.