Indoor Workouts For Building Muscular Endurance

Are you someone who constantly feels weak when riding hilly terrain? Are you new to cycling and don’t know where to start? If you answered YES to any of these questions then this post is for you.

For most athletes, our muscles will break down at some point in a race, but the stronger we are the less we will fatigue, or the later we will fatigue.

If we have put in the hours of training week after week, month after month then our cardiovascular system isn’t the problem, so there is no need to add more training volume. What we should add is workouts that will improve our muscular endurance.

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What Is Muscular Endurance

Muscular endurance is a combination of force and endurance, the ability of the muscles to maintain a relatively high load for a prolonged period.

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Training

Training is broken into two categories, general and race-specific training. At all times we should be training both sides to ensure that we don't under develop certain qualities or loose certain qualities that we have worked hard to develop. A good example is when we focus only on steady aerobic riding and neglect the appropriate intensity that matches the course demands, we will develop the endurance needed to complete the race, but the course demands will empty our tank.

Riding our bike in zone 2 does little to condition our body for the demands of our race. If we want to be a successful athlete, we should train more frequently in the general phase, focusing on developing endurance, but also add race-specific training at least once a week. As the goal or race season approaches focus should shift towards race-specific training while maintaining endurance that we build during the general phase.

Below are two indoor winter workouts to build muscular endurance with recommended power and RPE targets. If you’re looking for a more detailed plan, please see my free, four week plan here.

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Indoor Seated Repeats

These are essential to a cyclist’s training routine and should be performed after one to two recovery days and once or twice a week depending the training phase you are in. These sessions can help you to “feel the pedal stroke” and find the correct places to apply pressure.

Remain seated focusing on a smooth pedaling action, engage the legs through the whole pedal stroke and maintain a relaxed upper body. Use your glutes through the top of the pedal stroke, quads driving down through power phase and hamstring and calves dragging up through the back of the pedal stoke.

**It is important to let your body get back into the trainer groove. Allow 4 or 5 rides at 20 to 40 minutes of low intensity to adjust to being inside.
**Consult a coach or adjust accordingly if you have bike fitment or knee issues. If you do experience any knee discomfort during these workouts then stop immediately.

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Long Seated FTP Repetitions**

The effort of these repetitions is like a controlled time trial and is effective in boosting both aerobic and anaerobic fitness with minimal risk of over-training. The intensity of intervals is between 96 percent and 105 percent of your threshold, and your cadence should be slightly lower than preferred cadence. The effort required here is at race pace, with deep breathing and a “feel” of moderate or even greater leg fatigue.

You should be sufficiently rested or recovered from prior training. Do this workout more frequent early on and less frequent as the training progresses. Start with 5 times seven minute repetitions with only two minutes of rest between each.

Warm-up

15 minutes riding while slowly ramping up the intensity towards the end.

5 minutes of somewhat hard to hard riding

Easy riding

2 minutes

Main-set

5 x 7 minute at 95% to 105% of FTP/RPE 4-5, with 2 minute recovery/easy pedalling in between efforts.

Cool-down

10 minutes of easy riding.

As your training progresses, you should increase the duration of each interval weekly while trying to maintain the same power output.

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Short Seated Vo2Max Repetitions**

The intensity of these efforts should be between 106 percent and 120 percent of your threshold, and your cadence should be between 60 and 70 rpm. If you are not pushing above your threshold, you aren’t going to get the benefit of this workout. The effort required here should above race pace, with ragged breathing and a “feel” of strong to severe levels of leg fatigue.

You should be adequately recovered from prior training. Do this workout less frequent early on and more frequent as the training progresses. Start with 3 sets of 10 times one-minute repetitions with only one minute of rest between each. And 5 minutes of recovery between each set.

Warm-up

15 minutes riding while slowly ramping up the intensity towards the end.

5 minutes of somewhat hard to hard riding

Easy riding

2 minutes

Main-set

10 x 1 minute at 105% to 120% of FTP/RPE 6-7, with 1 minute recovery/easy pedaling in between efforts.

5 minutes of easy riding.

Repeat the sequence above two more times.

Cool-down

10 minutes of easy riding.

As your training progresses, you should add two additional 1 minute interval repeats to each set every two weeks while trying to maintain the same power output.

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The best part of adding these sessions to your training routine is that it will improve your ability to resist fatigue and produce higher speeds. Spending time developing better endurance, muscle strength and durability as well as overall speed can get you to the finish line faster.

Remember the indoor trainer can be used to help in preparation for your races, but it should not be used exclusively. Fitness and skills can be gained from structured training performed outdoors.

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