Threshold is a key predictor for cyclists.  Whether you’re a roadie, an MTB rider or a triathlete, improving your threshold power is your best avenue to improve your fitness and your results.

What is threshold?  You’ll see many terms out there; such as lactate threshold, aerobic threshold, anaerobic threshold and others.  The functional definition I use is simply how hard you can ride for 1 hour (as defined by power output and/or average heart rate) at an all-out Time Trial race-pace effort.

Improving threshold really means two things:

  1. Improving your power output (which is the key for any cyclist….riding longer at a higher wattage), and
  2. Increasing the time you are able to ride at this level.

Improving threshold power and duration required dedicated work right at this level.  The intervals are long and the work load is high.  It takes a tremendous amount of effort (both mental and physical) to complete these intervals, but the payoff will be great.

Here’s a great workout you can use to improve upon your threshold:WARMUP:

5 minutes spin

3 x 1 minute “fast pedal” drills (110+ rpm), each followed by 1 minute easy spin recovery

5 minute sub-threshold effort.  This is warm-up only, so don’t overdo the effort.  The purpose is to warm up your muscles and open blood vessels, not to have you tired out for the main part of the ride.

5 minute easy spin recovery


3-4 x 8 minute intervals at your current threshold.  If you train with power, your target is to ride at 91 – 105% of your Functional Threshold Power (FTP).  If you train with Heart Rate, your target is to reach and maintain 95% – 105% for the entire duration.  Note that heart rate lags effort, and that your heart rate may take up to 5 minutes to reach this level.  Meter out your effort accordingly.  The more thorough warmup you had, the quicker your heart rate should climb, so your warmup is very important to this workout.

Recovery interval between the hard efforts should be 2 – 4 minutes, depending on your fitness level.

Cadence should be your self-selected cadence, but strive for 85-95 rpm.

NOTE:  You should complete a ride similar to this once per week.  As your fitness level improves, increase the length of your intervals.  Start out at 3 x 8, then progress to 2 x 10, then 2 x 12, 2 x 15 then 2 x 20 for highly advanced riders.

NOTE:  You can also include some cadence work in this ride by changing cadence every 3-5 minutes.  For example, you could ride 3 minutes at 85 rpm, then increase to 90, then 95 then back down.  I’ve mentioned several times the importance of cadence changes.  So double the benefit of this tough interval workout be including cadence changes as well.


10 – 15 minutes or more of easy spinning.  You can end the workout there, or you could continue building your aerobic base by additional riding in z2-3 (endurance/tempo)

Train smart and train hard!

Please contact me with questions or if you’d like to work together in order to help you achieve your goals.

Coach Bob