Training TipsStrength and ConditioningRunBike

One Hour Faster

by Will Kirousis MS, CSCS

An athlete cycles alone on a closed road. His shadow stretches long to the left of him.

Very few athletes are able to dedicate several hours on a weekday to multisport training. For people with jobs, families and lives, one hour to ninety minutes is the best most can do. This has led athletes and coaches – me included – to seek hour-long workouts that help them grow while supporting both life and athletic performance.

Why: A simple hour for getting the best fitness per time invested is precious.

What areas to focus on?

  • Many areas of performance will benefit from just one hour of focus. This article doesn’t suggest the absolute best workout for an hour on the bike – frankly, there is NO best workout for anything, and if someone tries to sell you one, run away. The best workout is the one you need now, and that changes with your situation.
  • This workout is great when you are closing in on a race, i.e. within the last 10-12 weeks before your focus race/s of the season.

What’s the purpose?

  • This session is focused on increasing your ability to sustain higher rates of work longer.

What’s the session?

  • Warm up for 10’, building from an easy Z1 to a solid Z2 level intensity.
  • Ride 15-20’ @ Z3 steadily.
  • Ride 2’ Z1
  • Ride 3’ Z2
  • Ride 4-5 X 2-2.5’ Z5 with a 1:1 work/rest ratio. Rest intervals should be EASY, walking around the grocery store level effort.
  • Cool down with about 5’ Z2 fading to 5’ Z1.

An athlete rides during the cycling portion of a race.

What can be adapted?

You’re not static, your workout shouldn’t be either:

  • This session could be shortened if needed. You could take 2-4’ off the warmup, 5-10’ off the Z3 block, do just 3 or 4 intervals, and cut the cooldown to 5’ total. This would bring the time down to under 45’! If life gets busy, some training is better than none. Don’t bail out if you can enjoy a shorter session. Instead, make the most of the time you do have.
  • If you have more time, don’t increase the intensity during this workout – there is plenty. Instead, extend the duration of the intervals. For example, you could stretch the Z3 period to 20-30’ and gain solid training time without creating a lot of added fatigue.
  • With short, intense workouts, we tend to think that harder and more tired afterward is better. Not really. Training consistency is the key to growth. Blowing your doors off on a workout creates fatigue, which can linger and often hurts consistency by forcing added downtime. So, aim to finish wanting to make one more effort. This mentality helps keep this session stimulating and not obliterating.

Have a blast with this session. Use it as a framework that you creatively build on over time. For example, extend the Z5 intervals slightly. If that becomes easy, shift the Z3 segment to the bottom of Z4. Use the concept of higher intensity later in the ride, and have fun expanding how much work you can do per unit of time!

Will Kirousis has presented and written for national and international organizations on endurance training and has been coaching triathletes and other endurance athletes for over 20 years. He’s been fortunate to help athletes achieve a range of goals, from finishing their first triathlon, to winning age group national and world championships as well as professional national championships. You can learn more about Will at or by following him on twitter @willkirousis.