One-Hour Workouts for Cycling: Variable Gear Intervals

Indoor Cycling Trainer Workouts WBIC_spinning_400x600

Try this one-hour ride from One-Hour Workouts!

This is an idea I got from Ironman legend Dave Scott when I was a pro, and it helped make my winter indoor cycling much more tolerable. I’m very reluctant to train indoors, which is why my skin looks like a lizard’s!

There are several reasons to do this type of session indoors:

  • The variety will give you something to think about (other than how much you’re hurting).
  • It’s good to train at various intensities at various cadences so that in a race you can change cadence if the one you’re using doesn’t feel great.
  • You will be a better cyclist if you extend the range of cadence at which you’re comfortable and proficient.

You can do this session outside, of course. It may be interrupted by traffic, lights, and so on, but it can still be very effective. You’ll probably find your cadence is usually higher when going downhill or with a tailwind, lower when going uphill or into a headwind.

Variable Gear Intervals

20 min.: Easy warm-up; vary cadence and include a little time out of the saddle RPE 1

6 × 3 min.: Continuous 18-min. effort at steady pace RPE 2

3 min.: high cadence, 100–120 rpm, Go as high as you can smoothly go, but keep the effort in your steady zone.

3 min.: normal time trial cadence

3 min.: low cadence, 60–70 rpm; stand for the last half of each rep


2 min.: Easy spinning RPE 1

6 × 2 min.: Continuous 12-min. effort, alternating 1 min. moderately hard RPE 3,

1 min.: easy RPE 1

2 min.: high cadence

2 min.: normal time trial cadence

2 min.: big gear, Stand for the last half of each rep.


4–5 min.: Cruise RPE 1

2–3 min.: Stretch to complete the hour

This workout is from One-Hour Workouts, a collection of 50 swim, bike, and run workouts from top triathlon coaches that anyone can fit into a lunch hour–including warm-up and cool-down. Each of the 50 workouts in One-Hour Workouts are tightly focused on one goal so that athletes can get a quality training session in just one hour. Athletes can choose from base, tempo, or speed workouts in each sport to match their training plan’s goal for the day.