Workout of the Week: Bike over-unders

Each week I share a swim, bike, run, plyometric or strength workout from my training. Give it a shot and leave your feedback in the comments.

This bike trainer session has quickly become one of my favorites. (It’s easy to do outdoors too.) Over the past few weeks, I did this session at least once a week. It’s simple, but extremely effective. The goal is to train your cycling functional threshold power, or FTP. This your maximum sustainable Craig_0196power output (in watts) for 60 minutes. Renowned exercise physiologists such as Dr. Andrew Coggan believe FTP to be one of the best predictors of cycling performance. After a solid, 20-minute warm up, you modulate 10% over and under (hence the session’s name) your FTP. For example, if your FTP is 250 watts, your power for “over” intervals should be around 275 watts. “Under” intervals are at 225 watts. If you don’t know your FTP, a simple 20-minute field test will give you a good sense. I also suggest retesting on a regular basis.

Don’t worry if you don’t own a power meter. Here’s a crude alternative using just your gearing. Find your “sweat spot.” This is a challenging gear, but one you can hold for about 60 minutes. Another way to think about it is to ask yourself what gear did you use the most during your last Olympic distance triathlon. That’s your sweat spot. For the “over” intervals, click into the next larger gear. For the “unders” click into the next smaller gear.

20 minute warm up

10x [2 minutes @ 10% over FTP /

2 minutes @ 10% under FTP]

5 minute cool down




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