6 effective indoor training sessions for cyclists
If you train indoor with programs such as Zwift you are not the only one often overwhelmed by the workout choices. When in fact, the science is rather simple, while many workouts you can find online are actually way too hard and not productive to follow if you want to improve your performance.
In the following we introduce a small collection of the most common and effective trainings for aerobic and anaerobic training. While aerobic workouts help you improve your endurance performance and ride longer, anaerobic workouts help you increase your FTP.
Always add warm-up and cool-down phases to each session (5-10 minutes each).
Pay attention to not train too hard over the period of one week. During a week you should spend a maximum of 20% of your training in high intensity zones (based on your heart rate), 80% should be spend with low intensity efforts.
We also recommend to take a rest week every 10-12 weeks.
Easy Endurance / Recovery
Easy ride with a fast and comfortable cadence. Ride 30-40 minutes in your Z2 (60-75% FTP) for endurance or higher Z1 (50% FTP) for pure recovery.
You can mix in some short tempo increases to add some variety to this workout.
Zwift Workout Example: https://whatsonzwift.com/workouts/zwift-racing-plan/week-1-2-fast-and-easy
This Workout consists of 3 x 10 min at 75-90% of your FTP, with 5 min rests in-between (50% FTP).
You ride three to four sets of 5-minute intervals alternating between 5 minutes “Over” your Sweet Spot (96% FTP), and 5 minutes “Under” your Sweet Spot (88% FTP). No rest in between sets.
It helps to build up your aerobic engine. Ideal for building overall fitness, and for climbers and time trialists targeting sustained race efforts.
Zwift Workout Example: https://whatsonzwift.com/workouts/less-than-60-minutes-to-burn/sst-short
HIIT: Short Intervals
Intervals are one of the most effective ways to improve your VO2max and FTP.
Aim for 2 sets of 10 x 30 seconds efforts at 130-180% of your FTP, always 30 seconds rest in-between at 50% FTP.
Zwift Workout Example: https://whatsonzwift.com/workouts/back-to-fitness/week-12-2-microbursts-10-20-30
HIIT: Long Intervals
An alternative is to do longer intervals, e.g. 4 x 4 minute efforts at 105-115% of your FTP, up to 5 x 8min. 4 minute rest in-between at 30-50% of your FTP.
Zwift Workout Example: https://whatsonzwift.com/workouts/gcn/flat-out-fast-tt-efforts
Ride two sets of five times alternating between 30 seconds “Over” your FTP (115% FTP), and 2 minutes “Under” your FTP (99% FTP). Add 10 minutes rest (50% FTP) in between the sets.
This session is perfect for punchy race preparation – steep climbs, mountain bike racing, or cyclo-cross – when you are required to surge above threshold for short periods of time, and then settle back into a hard but sustained threshold effort.
Zwift Workout Example: https://whatsonzwift.com/workouts/zwift-academy/month-3-session-21-over-under-session