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Turbo Trainer Cyclocross Tabata Interval Workouts For Cycling

Updated on January 13, 2015
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Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. He is also a keen cyclist as well as being a lover of the Derbyshire Dales and Peak District.

Short turbo trainer tabata intervals for maximum training effect

All cyclists know that training on a turbo trainer during the cold, dark winter months can be boring. Long slow steady pace intervals are great for our endurance however they start to wear us down mentally and they don't fully address the training requirements for cyclocross. Psychologically we look forward to our weekends or days off when we can get out and ride in the great outdoors- however you can use the turbo trainer to quickly improve your cyclo cross and road racing performance in a short space of time.

Micro Intervals have been around for a number of years and have been used to great effect by many professional cyclists as part of their cycling training programs. The rise of the Personal Trainer and fitness coach has seen them integrated more into the mainstream as often these professionals are aiming to achieve maximal results for a client in a relatively short space of time. Tabata Micro Intervals can help you get fitter and stronger on your bike while saving you time in the process- great for winter cyclocross training.

Use micro/ tabata interval training for road cycling and cyclocross performance

Tabata intervals can help improve your road and cyclocross performance
Tabata intervals can help improve your road and cyclocross performance | Source

The key benefits of micro intervals for cycling

Long intervals drag on and a cyclist starts to lose their optimal body form as a result of tiredness. During micro-interval training it is possible for a cyclist to stay more mentally and physiologically focussed.

Tabata Micro-intervals help develop solid form on the bike

Micro-intervals force the body to adopt a position of core stability and strength- this further developing the structural core function of an athlete.

Tabata intervals strengthen the core muscles

By riding at or above race pace the body becomes accustomed to high intensity cycling. Therefore the body is more ready to deal with the immense stresses of racing (cyclocross, road racing, mountain biking, track racing or whatever discipline you perform)

Micro-interval training prepares the body for race scenarios

Micro-interval training for road cycling performance

Use micro-intervals to improve your cycling performance
Use micro-intervals to improve your cycling performance | Source

The Tabata Protocol. Micro Intervals

Izumi Tabata, an exercise physiologist previously found that interval training with 20 seconds hard interval efforts at near maximum followed by 10 seconds easy recovery repeated over 4 minutes over time led to increases in VO2 Max capacity in tested subjects when sessions were repeated four times a week when compared to state state exercise in a placebo group.

This has over time become known as the Tabata protocol and has been taken up as a technique for performance development by many sports coaches and personal trainers over a wealth of endurance based sports like cycling, running and swimming.

Cyclocross Racing- Belgian style

Cyclocross Racing- Belgian style with the Lion of Flanders in the background
Cyclocross Racing- Belgian style with the Lion of Flanders in the background | Source

Micro-interval sessions to develop your cycling performance

Micro-intervals have been used by professional road racers as a great way to build cycling power and develop the ability to recover quickly. This suits a road racer as short powerful efforts often needed to forge breakaways or stay with the leaders as the pace goes up high.

Many professional road cyclists use a tried and trusts session involving 40 seconds flat out efforts followed by 20 seconds easy recovery repeated in four sets of 10 repetitions.

Other variations on Micro Interval workouts include

10m seconds hard effort followed by 20 seconds easy

30 seconds hard effort 30 seconds recovery

Ideally you should be aiming for at least 3 sets of five minutes or more to ensure you have sufficient training stimulus for performance improvement.

It is recommended to perform micro-interval workouts for cycling on a turbo trainer due to the ability to regulate effort. You could also perform them on a relatively flat criterium/ cyclo cross circuit which will simulate race situations of following wheels and sprinting out of corners.

Do you use Tabata Intervals as part of your cycling training?

Do you currently use tabata intervals to improve your cycling performance?

See results

Have micro-intervals worked for you in your Cyclocross training or Road Racing

Please let us know in the comments below.

What micro interval sessions do you use for road or cyclocross? Where do you think they help?

And any advice you have for fellow cyclists,

Good luck in your next race, CyclingFitness


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