How to Get Stronger on the Bike

As part of my USA Triathlon coaching certification, I am required to take a number of courses throughout the next two years in order to maintain my status. I recently attended a webinar on how to get stronger on the bike and it was so interesting I thought I would share with you on the blog.

Dr. Tyrone Holmes was the guest speaker. He provided tips on getting stronger on the bike. He said, “There are only three ways to increase power — increase gear size, increase cadence and increase gear and cadence.”

Here are some of the tips on getting stronger on the bike:

  1. Ride in Bigger Gears – Making it harder makes you work more efficiently. Try using the bigger gears while maintaining your cadence at 90rpms.
  2. Ride uphill (do hill repeats!) – This will help with muscular endurance. Make sure to ride different hills.
  3. Ride into the headwind (No one likes it but it makes you stronger.)
  4. Use block training – this means training two or three days hard. For example, you may do 3×12 min hill intervals with 5 min recovery on day 1. On day 2, you do 10 1 min sprint intervals with 2 min recovery. And, on day 4, it’s a 1-hour active recovery.
  5. Follow the 75% rule – 75% of all of the training should be 75% below your maximum heart rate. So keep these easy.
  6. Train in your sweet spot – this is your highest average power you can sustain for one hour, also called functional threshold power (FTP).
  7. Ride Long – ride long to increase training volume and stress.
  8. Push through a personal barrier – do something you wouldn’t normally do. For example, if you normally ride 3 hours, ride 4 hours.
  9. Change your patterns – don’t do the same workout all the time, change it up!
  10. Ride a mountain bike – just try it on the street or a park. Mountain bikes are heavier and because of this, it will take more effort, which will make you stronger.

Everything in cycling is based on your FTP. Here are your zones:

1 – Active recovery – lower than 55% your FTP

2 – Endurance – this is 56 – 75% of your FTP

3 – Tempo – 76-90% of your FTP

4 – Lactate Threshold – 91 – 105% of your FTP

5 – VO2 max – 106 – 120% of your FTP

6 – Anaerobic capacity – 121 – 150% of your FTP

To find out what your FTP is, do a test for 20 minutes. Zwift has one that is incorporated into the program and will calculate for you. But if you don’t have Zwift, then try this:

  1. Warm-up for 10 minutes.
  2. Then, ride as hard as you can for 20 minutes.
  3. What is your average power for 20 minutes?
  4. Take that number and multiply by 0.95 to find your FTP.

According to USA Triathlon, you should try to do these tests at least once every month or so to see if you have improved.

Once you have your FTP, you can easily figure out your zones and try the 10 steps to improve your cycling.

Any thoughts, leave down below.