Making hills easier with midweek rides

If you don't have an indoor set up, or want to make better use of the longer days and good weather, what should you be doing on your midweek rides?

The best way to make faster easier and feel stronger on the hills is to do interval sessions. They help increase your power and make you a stronger cyclist. The most efficient way to do interval sessions is on an indoor set up. They give you complete control over the duration of the efforts, follow structured workouts, and allow you to completely recovery between intervals, without worrying about falling off your bike!

But don't worry, you can still do intervals even if you don't have an indoor trainer set up. Now is the time of year your cycling club or group may be start putting on (or you finally feel like joining existing) midweek rides, and this could be just what you need to boost your speed on your long weekend rides and events.

Here's my suggested plan (assuming you have a 28 day menstrual cycle):
Week 1 (from the day you start menstruating)

Workout 1: 4 X 20 second sprint effort

Workout 2: 3 X 2 minute hard effort

Week 2

Workout 1: 6 X 20 second sprint effort

Workout 2: 3 X 3 minute hard effort

Week 3

Workout 1: 4 X 4 minute hard effort

Workout 2: 2 X 10 minute hard effort

Week 4

Workout 1: 4 x 1 minute high cadence, low resistance

Workout 2: 2 X 10 minute hard effort

Further progression: Over the following 4 weeks increase the number of repetitions of sprint intervals to 10 in week 2, and 10 minute intervals to 3-4 (if you have time) or 2 x 15 minute efforts in weeks 3 and 4.

The interval durations are guidelines. You may need to make on the fly adjustments depending on your route and surroundings, i.e. please do not put yourself or anyone else in danger on public byways.

  • Don't expect to get the intervals right on the first few attempts. You will get to know how hard you can push for the duration of the interval, and what gears to use.
  • Choose a quiet route and/or a quiet time, or even better, find a traffic free circuit
  • If you join a group ride you could incorporate some sprint efforts by dropping off the back, then sprinting back to the group. Please let people know you're doing this! 
  • Hill repeats are brilliant for these types of intervals. Get to know your local hills. Is there a short sharp ramp for those 20 second sprints? Or a longer climb for the 5 minute intervals?
  • Rally your cycling buddies to join you! Then you will all benefit whilst also having some fun
  • Try adapting your commute route so that you can safely incorporate some intervals

    Don't forget, all this hard work needs to be supported with optimum nutrition. If training in the morning ensure you have a good breakfast first. Do not attempt these workouts on an empty stomach, where your body will be in a fasted state over night. Doing this could result in you actually losing strength as your body turns to break down muscle fibres to fuel your efforts. Always have protein or BCAAs within 30 minutes. No, really, ALWAYS!! 

    Hard training is wasted if not backed up with good nutrition. If you are still having regular periods (or periods regulated with a contraceptive pill, or on bio-identical HRT) then aim for 30g of protein post workout. If you are Peri or Post Menopausal then you need 40g. That's right, 40g of protein. Why so high? Estrogen is an anabolic hormone, that is: it helps us to build muscle and strength. When we are perimenopausal our hormone levels randomly fluctuate, so there will be times where you need extra protein to trigger muscle growth and strengthen existing muscle fibres. Once we are post menopause our Estrogen has been completely replaced with another type of Estrogen (Estradiol) that is 10 times weaker and less effective. Flooding our body with protein post workout, specifically Leucine, is essential for us to maintain our muscle mass and stay strong.

    When you do these types of sessions consistently, backed up with great nutrition, you will notice a decrease in your recovery time between efforts, such as climbing, and also, on your long rides, that faster has become easier.

    I hope this helps!

    Don't forget to tag me in your rides! #veloqi #fasterfitterhealthierhappier

    P.S. If you are doing a century ride this summer, I've written a guide, just for you! Click here to download