Four short but effective autumn cycling workouts

Quick routines to get through before you run out of light

Training during autumn? Try these workouts

As the days get shorter and time is of the essence, sports scientist Garth Fox gives you four sessions to squeeze in some quality work before it gets dark.


Ranging from just 45 to 90 minutes, you can reap quality benefits from these focused sessions. Make sure to do the Threshold and Power workouts when you are well rested, as they are intense.

Strength Endurance – 90 mins

Warm up by spinning in an easy gear on the flat for 10 mins. Then do 2×30 mins separated by 10 mins easy spinning.

The first 30 mins are done at a cadence of 10 to 15rpm lower than you’d normally select, the second at a cadence of 10 to 15rpm higher than usual. Each 30-min block is done at the same ‘tempo’ intensity (high level, but below anaerobic).

Cool down with 10 mins easy spinning. The key is to keep both efforts level and cadence constant whether on flat, uphill or downhill. This will build strength, endurance and leg speed.

Threshold Boosting – 60 mins

Warm up by spinning an easy gear on the flat for 10 mins. Gradually ramp up the effort level over the next 10 mins and include a few short surges, pushing the burn even higher.

Now go for three eight-minute intervals at your threshold intensity (very uncomfortable but just about sustainable) separated by two-minute easy spinning recoveries. Cool down with 10 mins easy spinning. It’s important to ensure you meter out your effort over each interval and from the first interval to the last.

There is no benefit to blowing up before the session is complete.

Power and Pedalling Efficiency – 45 mins

High-intensity interval training is a fabulous means of getting good bang for your buck with very limited training time. Just a handful of these sessions will significantly improve your ride power.

Warm up with 15 mins of easy spinning on the flat, then do two 10-minute blocks of 10 seconds maximal effort in a medium gear, followed by 20 seconds easy recovery. Continue this pattern until the first 10-minure block is done, then spend 10 mins easy spinning before nailing the next 10-min block.

Cool down with 15 mins easy spinning.

Active Recovery – 30 mins

An active recovery session is essential for flushing the metabolic waste products out of the system. Just spin the pedals for 30 minutes on the flat. Don’t climb up any hills. Don’t go into the big chainring. Leave your ego behind. If a hill is involved, no matter how gently you climb it, the session will have been too hard.

Don’t push your heart rate out of Zone 1, but do try to do this session outside rather than on a turbo trainer. Before you know it, winter will be here and then you’ll be doing more and more training indoors. Get out while you can!