Improve your aerobic capacity with Manon Lloyd's time trial efforts

This GCN training session is great for time trial and endurance riders looking for longer efforts. Push through the pain and get your sweat on!

Clock08:30, Monday 8th April 2024

Time trialling is one of the toughest disciplines in cycling that requires a rider to maintain a high level of effort for long periods of time.

To perform well in time trials, a rider needs a strong aerobic engine, which also has benefits for virtually every type of riding. In this workout, ex-pro and GCN presenter Manon Lloyd will guide you through a 35-minute session with the aim of boosting your aerobic capacity.

It is a great session for racers looking to test themselves through longer high-intensity efforts. After a warm up, you'll get into some long, high-intensity blocks of riding. It's not going to be easy, but if you can keep at it, this kind of training is going to develop your muscular endurance and work your aerobic engine.

From cadence drills to anaerobic sessions, check out GCN’s full library of indoor cycling workouts

What is aerobic capacity?

Our bodies fuel exercise through two methods. The first is aerobic, which uses oxygen, while the second is anaerobic, when the body burns glucose in the muscles. Aerobic exercise can be sustained for longer periods of time, while anaerobic exercise is only possible in short bursts.

The point at which a rider jumps from aerobic to anaerobic exercise is known as the VO2 Max. This is a rider’s aerobic capacity, when the body has reached the limit of the amount of oxygen it can process.

How do cyclists train their aerobic zones?

Aerobic capacity, or VO2 max, is a key indicator of a cyclist’s physical ability. It's about how good the body is at delivering oxygen to the muscles. In simple terms, it’s about how big our engine is.

Improve your aerobic capacity with workouts like this one, and you’ll be able to ride harder and push harder on the pedals without slipping into your anaerobic zones. Simply put, it’ll make you more efficient and improve your endurance.

There are multiple ways to tune your aerobic system. Longer high-intensity efforts like this will make your aerobic system more efficient and improve fatigue resistance. VO2 max workouts are also a great way to raise the ceiling of your aerobic capacity, meaning you’ll be able to ride harder before you reach the anaerobic zone.

Indoor cycling workout details

  • GCN instructor: Manon Lloyd
  • Indoor workout duration: 35 minutes
  • Indoor training type: Aerobic workout with long, high-intensity efforts
  • Fitness difficulty: This is a hard workout for time triallists and those who want to build a big aerobic engine
  • Benefits of this indoor cycling workout: Improving your aerobic capacity and engine, build endurance, build fatigue resistance

Warm up on your indoor trainer for nine minutes

We're doing a longer, more gradual warm up for this session, starting with a couple of minutes at a 2/10 effort, and building up steadily to 6/10. Take a couple of minutes to spin the pedals and recover, then it's on to the main session.

'Cadence' text over an image of cyclists training in the gym with a red overlay

Blocks of high-intensity riding for the main session

This session consists of two 10-minute blocks at 8/10, with a three-minute recovery period in between. Those 8/10 efforts should hurt, so make sure you push hard, feel the burn and get the best cardio workout you can.

Top Tip

Don't get too excited with your first effort. Set a cadence that feels comfortable to you. Your first effort will be the benchmark you'll need to sustain throughout the workout, so don't use all of your energy on the first push.

Step 3: Time for a steady warm down

Give your legs and lungs a chance to recover with three minutes of easy riding. Bring down the intensity and just spin the legs on your exercise bike. Active recovery is the best way to shake out your muscles after an intense cycling workout like this. After a few minutes, you're done.

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