Short Bike Workouts that push your limits

Disclaimer: The bulk of my bike workouts(85%) are of the long slow variety where my HR rarely gets over 140bpm.  I have a good coach who basically sets these parameters for me.  I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what I’m doing with regards to training, though I’m also the sort, who if not following a specific training plan, will tend to push things too hard just to see what happens….you know like the kid who wants to see what happens when you push a button.

2 workouts that are fun to try if you are looking to mix things up and slap you in the face.

  • Spin-Ups
    • 15 minute warm up
    • 1 minute at 90 rpm
    • 1 minute at 100 rpm
    • 1 minute at 100+ rpm
    • 30 seconds all out
    • recover for 2 min
    • Repeat 6,8,or 12 times

I did this workout several months back, and I loved it as soon as I read it.  How can you resist the “all out” part? I started wondering, “how fast can I really spin”?  To the Pain Cave we go:


During the 2 minute rest after each consecutive set I kept thinking, hmm “Can I go faster”.  I was also thinking, “man, if my back wheel comes off the trainer, I’m going straight through the garage wall”.  Turns out, ~160rpm is about as fast as I can spin….for now.  Small doses though.  I did this workout back in January, over 4 months ago.  There’s probably no need to go over 120rpms.


  • Bike Hill Repeats
    • Total Duration 1:15 min
    • 10 min warm up
    • Find a hill .25 – .50 long.  Maintain cadence of 90rpm, and keep HR no higher than mid MAF(for me 145bpm). Coast back down, and repeat.
    • 10 min cool down

Somewhere between reading through the workout and getting set up on the trainer, I forgot about the “keep HR no higher than 145bpm”, and started thinking “how many watts can I push while still maintaining 90rpm”…


Since I was on the trainer, I decided my hill was 2 minutes in duration, followed by 2 minutes easy.  I started my first hill at 220 watts and just decided to add 5 watts on every hill repeat.  I was hoping to get to 300 watts and be able to hold it for 2 min, but I really had no idea where my limits were.  As it turns out, my limit on that day was 275 watts on the 3rd to last hill.  I tried to hit 275 watts again, and just couldn’t maintain, so I dropped it back to about 260 watts and could barely hold that.  Mission accomplished…Legs were cooked and ready for a short 40 min run. 

Good times!

Here’s a really good thread on Trifuel about improving your fitness on the bike.  Good stuff here:


Thanks for Reading!


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