Best tri bike training tips

Take on 2015 armed with the seven best tri bike tricks we’ve learned in the last year…

1. Watch your hips on the bike

“An open hip angle [on the bike] produces more power. There is no point building an aero position if it closes the hip. As the torso angle becomes more acute it’s essential to move the hip forwards relative to your bottom bracket. It’s typical for the knee to advance in front of the pedal spindle. Shorter cranks and a cleat position that’s positioned behind the ball of the foot can both help preserve an open hip.”

Phil Cavell,

2. Try half-hour hill HIIT

“Find a hill you can go up for 30 seconds, or use an exercise bike on which you can change the resistance immediately. Start off in a low gear so you can accelerate up the hill quickly enough and shift up during the sprint to keep it at the highest output you can achieve. You’ll start to slow down but that’s fine, just keep going as fast as you can. A four-minute recovery allows the muscles to restock their phosphocreatine levels, meaning that each sprint can be done with maximum power. Do three minutes steady warm-up, then 30 seconds flat out followed by four minutes easy riding.”

Dr Niels Volaard, physiologist.

3. Double up on the turbo

“If you cannot get out for a long weekend ride, try doing a double day on an indoor trainer. It’s not as bad as it sounds! Start with a morning session of 30 minutes riding at 70-80% of your maximum heart rate. Then take a few hours rest and repeat the session, building up slowly to an hour eventually. Double days can be mentally tough, but they really bring on your fitness.”

Eamonn Deane, coach and former professional cyclist.

4. Swap for a shorter crank

“If you drop your crank length from 175mm to 170mm that means that at the bottom of the pedal stroke your foot is now 5mm closer to the seat. This means you can now raise your seat by 5mm to give the same leg extension as before. This in turn means that your knees are further away from hitting your chest. So you can now lower your handlebars and still have ample clearance between your knees and chest. Bingo. Your drag coefficient just got lower and you will likely go faster for the same power output.”

Garth Fox, coach and sport scientist.

5. Reduce your frontal area

“When it comes to riding faster, the biggest area for improvement is minimising the drag created by your body position. Getting a perfect position on the bike from an aerodynamic point of view is very hard, but thankfully almost every rider who’s not Bradley Wiggins can make some relatively easy changes that will improve their position. Get someone to take a head-on picture of you on your bike (or on a turbo trainer) and see how you can reduce your frontal area. Get your elbows and shoulders tucked in, try to get your head a bit lower and so on. It’s actually pretty simple, it’s free and it can be very effective. Just try to make sure that the position you adopt doesn’t compromise the power you’re producing.”

Michael Hutchinson, elite time triallist.

6. Try a world champion’s power session

“I thought that I was pretty good at training by feel, but especially when it comes to intervals I realised I’m not. It is way better to do your intervals with a Quarq power meter. I often started way too hard and then my power dropped too much. On easy rides, it is better to set a goal like: don’t go over 200W average. You could also see progress much better than without a power meter.

I really love to do a power meter session on the home trainer. The main set is: 1min at 580W, 1min @200W; 2min at 480W, 1min 30secs at 210W; 3min at 440W, 2mins at 220@; 4mins at 400W, 2mins 30 at 230W; 5mins at 380W, 3mins at 240W; 6mins at 360W, 3mins at 250W; 7mins at 340W, 4mins at 260W; 8mins at 330W, 4mins 30secs at 280W. It does not look that hard but you fall off the bike if you are not fit.”

Sebastian Kienle, Ironman world champion.

7. Vary your bike training

“A ride performed when fresh offers a different stimulus to when the same ride is done with tired legs. Typically it’s useful to use pre-fatigue to help develop endurance and to use freshness to develop power. So a cycling-specific weights session the night before a long endurance ride can amplify the training stimulus.”

Garth Fox, coach and sport scientist.