Skip to main content

Tour de Form – Get Fit with these Four Pro-Level Workouts

Wattbike Atom
(Image credit: Wattbike)

Indoor training is great because it is safe, easy, and efficient. No need to worry about cars, stoplights, flat tires, or daylight – indoor training is the perfect avenue to fitness for busy people like you and me. Smart bikes take the convenience up a notch. No need to take out a skewer, slap on a bike, or struggle through the calibration process; with a smart bike, you just get on and go. It’s as simple as that. 

Wattbike is one of the leading manufacturers in the smart bike world, and in July 2020, they launched the next generation Wattbike Atom, their latest addition to the indoor smart bike market. The next generation Atom connects to Zwift, TrainerRoad, and numerous other virtual cycling apps, where you can compete against others, or create your own custom workouts on the perfect tool for solo suffering.

The Tour de France made its roaring return this month, not only inspiring generations of future bike riders, but also millions of everyday people looking to get back on the bike and get fit. In less than an hour a day, here are four pro-level workouts to help you do exactly that. 

1. Over/Under Intervals

  • Warm up: 10 minutes easy (<60% FTP)
  • Intervals: three sets of 12-minute intervals of 1 minute “Over” (115% FTP), 3 minutes “Under” (90% FTP); 5 minutes rest (<55% FTP) in between sets
  • Cool down: 5 minutes easy (<50% FTP)

Over/Under intervals challenge both the anaerobic and aerobic systems by forcing you to ride above your FTP for a short period of time, and then learning to “recover” at what is still a very high workload of 90% FTP. This tough set of intervals also simulates race-like conditions better than almost any other workout because there is no rest period – only between sets, of course. Similar to riding through-and-off in a pace line, or holding position in the pack as it accordions up and over a hill, you always have to be on the gas, but with a refreshingly varying effort that challenges both the legs and the mind. 

Image 1 of 2

Wattbike Atom

(Image credit: Wattbike)
Image 2 of 2

Wattbike Atom

(Image credit: Wattbike)

2. Sweet Spot Intervals

  • Warm up: 10 minutes easy (<60% FTP)
  • Intervals: four sets of 8-minute Sweet Spot intervals (88-97% FTP); 4 minutes rest (<55% FTP) in between sets
  • Cool down: 5 minutes easy (<50% FTP)

Sweet Spot training is unique because it targets the aerobic system in a way that is far less damaging than threshold or VO2 Max intervals. Training in this Sweet Spot middle-ground promotes a number of physiological adaptations such as increased lactate threshold and increased VO2max, but is also repeatable. Whereas threshold and above workouts are much more taxing, both physically and mentally, requiring one or two days of rest afterwards to fully absorb the workload. 

Experienced riders can work up to 40-60 minutes total of Sweet Spot in a given session, with rest periods lasting about two-thirds the length of the work periods. 

3. The Rønnestad Protocol

  • Warm up: 10 minutes easy (<60% FTP)
  • Intervals: three sets of 13 repeats of 30-seconds hard (115% FTP), 15 seconds easy (<50% FTP); 3 minutes rest (<55% FTP) in between sets 
  • Cool down: 5 minutes easy (<50% FTP)

The Rønnestad protocol first came about in a study at the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, where they showed that the above protocol – a triple set of micro-Over/Under intervals – was more effective at improving VO2 Max than more traditional VO2 Max interval workouts such as 4x3min at 115% FTP. This intricate protocol has been shown to significantly improve peak aerobic power output, cycling economy, and physiological efficiency in just 30 painful minutes. 

Wattbike Atom

(Image credit: Wattbike)

4. Sprint‌ ‌Progression‌ ‌Intervals‌ ‌

  • Warm up: 10 minutes easy (<60% FTP)
  • Intervals: three sets of 9-minute progressions from endurance to an all-out sprint; 5 minutes rest (<55% FTP) in between sets. Progression: 3 minutes endurance (70% FTP), 3 minutes tempo (86% FTP), 3 minutes sub-threshold (98% FTP), 20-second sprint 
  • Cool down: 5 minutes easy (<50% FTP)

By building fatigue prior to the sprint, this interval set simulates more race-like conditions as opposed to a sprint workout focused on going from zero to full gas. It’s never easy at the end of a group ride or race, and this workout simulates those conditions with an effort similar to a lead-out. Starting from a few kilometers to go, the pace builds and builds until the group is strung out in a single line. The sprint comes at the end of the progression, when the legs are already screaming in pain and bursting with lactate. The most painful workouts are often the most rewarding, and this interval set is at the top of the list.