Coach's Column with Alison Dunlap: Winter Trainer Rides That Make You Feel The Burn
are your favorite trainer workouts
that winter is upon us it is time to become friendly with the trainer
again. If you get to ride outside all
the time during the summer and fall, the switch to riding the trainer can be
painful and unwelcome. If you are one of
those "time crunched cyclists” as Chris Carmichael calls it, you probably spend
a lot of your time on the trainer anyways and the winter months won’t be much
different. Whatever level you’re at,
whatever event you’re training for, there are lots of "fun” workouts you can do
on the trainer. "Fun” is relative of
course because many of these workouts involve painful amounts of lactic
Workout #1 Lactate threshold/Vo2 ramping intervals: If you have very little time to ride and want
to get the most out of your time on the trainer, then this workout is one of my
favorites. It is "short and sweet”. But it is also quite painful. I also use power on the trainer which I
think makes a huge difference in the entertainment value. Start a good movie and off you go.
5 minute warm up
10 minute ramping effort. My lactate threshold is around 220 watts. I start this 10 min effort at 150 watts. Every minute I increase by 10 watts so the
last minute of the effort is at 240 watts. Pick a range that starts in your endurance zone and finishes above LT.
5min LT/Vo2: I
start at 210 watts. Every minute I go up
by 10 watts and finish at 250 watts.
5min LT/Vo2: Start
this second effort at 220 watts and finish at 260.
5min LT/Vo2: Start at 230 watts and finish at 270.
5min LT/Vo2: Start
at 240 watts and finish at 280. This
last interval will be more of a Vo2 effort.
5min cool down and you’re done! 43 minutes total time with 30 minutes of
intensity. Not bad.
Workout #2 Vo2/anaerobic power: These are short intense intervals that are
done in a pyramid fashion.
10-15 minute warm up
90sec on at Vo2 intensity, 90sec off
75sec on at Vo2, 75sec off
60sec on at anaerobic power, 60sec off
45sec on at AP, 45sec off
30sec on at AP, 30sec off
15sec sprint, Done!
5 minute recovery
I would do 4-6 of these early in the winter and then 6-8
as you get fitter.
20 minute cool down.
Workout #3 The Hour of Power: This workout came from my good friend Jay
Gump of Incline Training. This is
another one of those "get the biggest bang for your buck” workouts. It is done either at tempo or your sweet spot
(steady state) power. I wouldn’t do this
at your lactate threshold because the recovery time is too short.
15 minute warm up
10min at tempo, 2min recovery
Repeat 5 more times for a total of 60 minutes of
I would do 4x10min on 2min off the first week. Your second week you could go to 5x10 and the
third week you can do the hour of power; 6x10. Then do a 15 minute cool down.
Workout #4 Microbursts: This is a pure anaerobic power workout and is
quite painful. Don’t do this until you
have a decent amount of fitness and intensity in your legs. If you’re not training or racing (like me)
then you can do this workout whenever you like. It’s fun and the time goes by quickly.
15 minute warm up
2x3min Vo2 efforts with a 3min recovery. This gets the legs opened up.
The 10 minute microburst starts with a 10 second sprint
followed by a 20 second recovery. Then
another 10 sec sprint, 20 sec recovery and so on for 10 minutes. Each sprint is a max effort best done in the
drops. The challenge of this workout is
getting the power adjusted up and down fast enough on your indoor trainer. If you’re using heart rate, just know that HR
won’t respond fast enough in 10-20 seconds so don’t use it as a gauge of
intensity. If you don’t have power,
perceived exertion is going to be your best bet. Rollers might work better if you’re an
extremely good bike handler and feel confident you won’t sprint off into the
couch or fireplace. You could also make
these a little longer; 20 second sprint,
40 second recovery.
Take a 10 minute recovery after each microburst. I would start with one 10 minute effort your
first week and work up to 3x10. Then do
a 15 minute cool down.
Obviously there are many other trainer workouts you can
do. Get creative and have fun with
it. Don’t look at the trainer as
something evil lurking in your basement. It is a valuable tool and can be very effective in the winter when it is
10 degrees outside with a foot of fresh snow on the ground.
Alison is a superstar in the
sport of cycling. She competed in two
Olympic Games, won the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, the UCI World Cup
Overall, and is the holder of thirteen US National Championships in road, MTB,
and cyclocross. Since retiring in 2005
Alison has been working full-time coaching cyclists and running skills camps
and clinics. She is a USA Cycling Level I coach, a certified Professional
Mountain Bike Instructor out of Whistler, BC, a Wilderness First Responder, and
a very proud mom to her 3-yr-old son, Emmett.
Alison is a Colorado native and lives in Colorado Springs with her