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Three 90-Minute Trainer Workouts to Cure the Offseason Blues

By Susan Kitchen | Oct. 28, 2014, 1:42 p.m. (ET)

Postseason or offseason has arrived. This is the training cycle following your last race of the year. Temps are getting cooler, the days are getting shorter, and many triathletes are turning to the bike trainer, a great tool to execute a solid workout, free of traffic lights, cars and worrisome weather. With a trainer, it’s just you, your bike, and a healthy dose of motivation. Rather than viewing your trainer workouts as a dreaded chore in the pain cave, think quality over quantity to make the most of your trainer time.

In the offseason, training stress is low, but it’s important to remember that quality winter training sessions establish the foundation for your next season. Focus on developing cardiovascular endurance, improving pedal stroke efficiency and building up bike-specific strength, and you’ll come into spring strong — and ready for a great season.

Here are three 90-minute bike workouts that will bring you into the upcoming race season well equipped. Note: Adjust these workouts as needed to suit your schedule and cycling ability.

Workout No 1: High Cadence Intervals/Efficiency

Focus: Intervals at low power, high cadence, with a focus on smooth pedal strokes and a relaxed upper body. The gear should be easy but not too easy that you are bouncing in your saddle.

Warm-up

  • 15 minutes easy spin (Heart Rate Zone 1-2 at a cadence of 90 revolutions per minute)
  • 4 x 45 seconds hard/45 seconds easy
  • 5 minutes easy spin (HR Zone 2 at 90 rpm) 

Main Set

  • 3 x 3 min, 3 x 2 min, 3 x 1 min, 3 x 30 sec., 3 x 1 min, 3 x 2 min, 3 x 3 min
  • Intervals at 100-115 rpm (HR Zone 2)
  • 1 min easy spin between each interval at 90 rpm

Cooldown

  • Easy spin to 90 minutes total in Zone 2 with good form and fluid pedal strokes

Workout No. 2: Strength and Muscle Recruitment

Focus: Intervals at the slowest rpm you can hold seated with even and controlled pedal strokes, balanced recruitment and even tension on the chain.

Warm-up

  • 15 min easy spin (HR Zone 1-2 at 90 rpm)
  • 5 x 1 min spin up/1 min easy (spin up at 100+ rpm in easier gear)
  • 5 min easy spin (HR Zone 2 at 90 rpm)

Main Set

  • 8 min, 6 min, 4 min, 2 min*
  • Intervals at 60-65 rpm
  • 2 min easy spin between each interval at 90 rpm

Cooldown

  • Easy spin to 90 min total in Zone 2 with good form and fluid pedal strokes

*Once you have mastered this main set, add 2 min, 4 min, 6 min, 8 min, or start with 10 min

Workout No. 3: Progressive Intervals

Focus: Progressive building interval efforts to facilitate pacing, sharpen focus and build functional threshold power (FTP).

Warm-up

  • 20 min easy spin (HR zone 1-2 at 90 rpm)
  • 4 x 1 min intervals (1-4 descending pace from Zone 3-5)
  • 30 seconds easy spin between intervals
  • 5 min easy spin (Zone 2 at 90 rpm)

Main set

  • 3 - 6 x [5 min at Ironman pace, 4 min at half-Ironman pace, 3 min at Olympic pace, 1 min at max power]
  • 2 min easy spin between each 13 min interval at 90 rpm

Cooldown

  • Easy spin to 90 min total in Zone 2 with good form and fluid pedal strokes

Always remember to bring two bottles of water or electrolyte fluid with you to trainer workouts. Plan to drink one 24-ounce bottle each hour, so bring two for workouts lasting longer than 60 minutes.

Susan Kitchen, MPH, RD, CSSD, is a USA Triathlon Certified Coach and owner of Race Smart, LLC, a nutrition and coaching practice. Personally, she competes in endurance sports from the marathon to full Ironman. To contact Susan, email susan@racesmart.com or visit racesmart.com and on Facebook at Race Smart.

To get a customized metabolic efficient nutrition plan, contact Susan Kitchen, MPH, RD, CSSD at susan@racesmart.com.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.