Mixing Up Monotony: My 3 Favorite Workouts

As athletes we are really good at doing things that are a little uncomfortable. We constantly motivate ourselves to get out of the door in the cold, to push through challenging intervals, and to endure long rides. Sure, sometimes we might have to do workouts that we don’t enjoy in the moment, but we are thankful we did in retrospect.

I think it’s so important to find the fun in what we do, though. What if we can achieve the same goals, but make the workouts more interesting at the same time? Yes, there is a time and a place for those long and boring threshold intervals, but there is also a place to add some spice. I think it’s really important to mix things up to keep ourselves entertained. When we enjoy what we are doing we are often more motivated and when we are motivated, we can usually push ourselves harder. So it’s a win, win, right?

This week I wanted to share with you 3 of my favorite types of workout to help get your own creative juices flowing and to help you spice up your own training.

1. Criss Cross Intervals

Most people probably know this type of workout as the traditional over/under workout. In the traditional workout you might spend 2 minutes above threshold, then 2 minutes below threshold and switch back and forth for 10 or 20 minutes.

Criss Cross Intervals are the same concept, but allow for more flexibility and creativity. In Criss Cross intervals you can make the workout criss cross back and forth between any zones you want in order to achieve the purpose of the workout.

For example, you might do 4 minutes @ Sweet Spot Intensity (88-95% threshold) follow by 2 minutes @ Tempo Intensity (76-84% threshold) and you might continue that pattern for 30 or more minutes. You can make these intervals as simple as 2 minutes hard, 1 minute easy or much more complicated by switching between multiple zones and different time durations.

I love this workout because you can structure it a lot of different ways to achieve the same goals. You can adjust the intensities to meet the needs of most any workout and it’s very interesting so it’ll keep you entertained.

2. 30/30s or Tabata Intervals

30/30s are 30 seconds all out with 30 seconds of recovery repeated as many or as few times as you see fit. Tabata intervals are 20 seconds all out, with 10 seconds recovery, repeated as many times as you see fit.

I really enjoy these workouts because they can mix up the monotony of base training. Base training and threshold season is classically flooded with lots of longer interval sets. Since 30/30s and Tabata Intervals have such short recovery, they still help to increase threshold and FTP while allowing an athlete to get out of the saddle and sprint. These are very challenging workouts, but because everyone’s best effort is individual to them, these types of workouts can be completed by everyone.

3. Hourly Intervals

In the base season, sometimes you’ll spend hours just riding. You might do all of your intervals in the beginning of the ride and then spend a long time pedaling to just put the time in. Sometimes those rides drag on a lot longer because you don’t have any intervals to focus on.

I like when I can split up a longer ride with intervals throughout. For example, maybe in the first hour I have a tempo interval, in the second hour I have a sweet spot interval, and in the 3rd hour I have an FTP interval. That way I have something to focus on throughout the whole workout.

Another fun option is to just sprinkle some sprints in throughout the ride to help break the time up. For example, I might complete an acceleration every 15 minutes throughout the ride. This just keeps my mind active and my legs firing while still achieving the endurance and aerobic integrity of most of the ride.

Keep it Fun!

Riding your bike is fun! Don’t be afraid to try new workouts or to mix and match different interval sets and ideas. Sometimes intervals can be intimidating and sometimes they can be the motivation that you need in order to let the hours tick away much more quickly.


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