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Endurance Cycling – 3 Workouts to Build Cycling Endurance

Some people are fast. Others are good at distance but they don’t do it quickly. To be fast on long rides you need to develop both endurance and power. If you are missing either you will slow or not make it to the finish. Here are 3 workouts that will help you be fast and let you go the distance.

Extensive Threshold Repeats

Threshold Repeats are used by cyclists of all levels to improve their Functional Threshold power(max 60 min power) but for endurance cyclists I throw in a twist. The standard Threshold Repeat is 20 minutes steady at you threshold power. Usually people do one or two of these in a workout. For endurance cyclists we build more repeats. Start with two time trials of 20 minutes at your threshold power. If you don’t have a power meter it should feel like you are working very hard but if you went harder your legs would blow up. Your threshold is your hardest sustainable power for 60 minutes so breaking it into 20 minutes blocks with 5-10 minutes of easy riding between makes them mentally easier to accomplish.

Each week add 10 minutes so the second week would be 2 X 20 minutes and 1 X 10 minutes. The third week would be 3 X 20 minutes. Following smart training principles, make the fourth week easier and start building again in the fifth week where you would do 3 X 20 minutes and 1 x 10 minutes. These are very taxing workouts but they build speed, aerobic capacity and muscular endurance.

Build to a maximum of 8 repeats in a single workout. The power may drop slightly on the last few efforts but the perceived exertion should stay the same. Over time you will be able to keep the average power up for all the intervals. This is an effective way to build your sustainable speed for long distances.

Velmax Stack Workout

These intervals are 30 second hard efforts(135% of Functional Threshold Power) with 30 second recovery. The typical workout will 20-40 repeats. Velmax intervals are very effective for building threshold power and repeatability of hard efforts. When you stack them into a longer workout you have one the will really increase fatigue resistance. The way to do one of these workouts will be to ride 60-120 minutes in the aerobic to tempo range and then do 30 Velmax intervals. In a stack workout you hit multiple systems to get a bigger over all workload in less time. You will find these really hard but again hard work is where the gains come from. Incrementally increasing the number of hard efforts in a workout will build the capacity to go strong even late in an event.

Aerobic Endurance Blocks

These are multiple days in a row of long rides in the Aerobic and Tempo zone. Over the course of 3-4 days you will do 9-16 hours of riding. This would be hard to do often with most peoples schedule but if you plan it once every 3-4 weeks you can usually rearrange your schedule for that few days. You will get a big increase in aerobic endurance and recovery ability from block like this.

After each of these rides make sure to get 120-150 grams of carbohydrates in the 3 hours after the ride to replenish your glycogen stocks for the next day. Spread the intake out with 80 grams of carbs and 20 grams of protein in the first hour after riding.

A block would look something like this:

Day 1 – 3 hours steady aerobic

Day 2 – 4 hours aerobic with 20 -40 minutes in the tempo zone

Day 3 – 4 hours aerobic with 20-40 minutes in the tempo zone

Day 4 – 4 hour group ride with hills and fast paceline work

Day 5 – 20 minute easy recovery ride

Day 6 – Rest

Day 7 – 60 minute aerobic zone


As you can see with these workouts, they are more than just riding long periods of time. Each workout has a goal and you will see more progress than just putting in more time. With the first two workouts, you don’t want to do either of them more than once a week. With hard work come the need for hard recovery. Too much of a good thing is still too much.

It’s in you to become a better cyclist. Helping you get there is my number one goal. Equipment, riding skills, fitness and nutrition all have to be dialed in to reach your potential. To take your next step on that journey visit http://www.cyclecambridge.com


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