Are you looking for explosive power, or perhaps longer endurance on climbs? Then cycling pyramids is the way to go as you will work in a variety of training zones. (See The Beginners Guide to Power, where we explain Coggans zones.) You can add a pyramid to a longer ride, or do a specific pyramid ride on the turbo trainer. They are proven, and are used by Pros and amateurs alike, as they are highly effective physiologically – if you choose not to do any other form of cycle training, these are the way to go!

Explosive power

Below is a basic pyramid workout. Here’s how it will improve your explosive power. Essentially the ‘pointy end’ of the pyramid is the explosive power end. The interval of 30 seconds to a minute at full throttle, followed by the same in rest, will give you the ability, in a race, to complete the last sprint even when you have very little left in the tank. For mountain bikers too, the ability to get through a particularly tricky rocky section in an event, without it completely sapping your energy is hugely beneficial.  These small bursts of power, working in zone 4-5, promote the adaption of the fast-twitch muscles for short-term muscular endurance.

Endurance power

The slightly lower intervals, of 3-5 minutes will develop longer-term muscular endurance, which is particularly useful for long climbs, windy sections on the road and time trials, where the power is zone 3. 


Outdoor pyramid

This is designed to add to a longer ride: Do one per ride, until you start to feel fitter and then add another.

  1. Warm-up for 10 minutes in zone 1-2
  2. 1 minute at zone 3
  3. 1 minute rest, just spinning the legs in zone 1-2
  4. 2 minutes at zone 3
  5. 2 minutes rest
  6. 3 minutes at zone 3
  7. Continue your ride

Turbo trainer pyramid

The important thing here is to pace the effort so there’s no drop-off. So, when you need these different intensities in a race, you’ll have them at your fingertips;)

Look for HRZ/PZ 4 on the sprints, and HRZ/PZ 1 for the rest periods.

  1. 20 minutes warm-up
  2. 1 minute at threshold power, zone 4-5
  3. 1 minute rest
  4. 2 minutes at threshold power, zone 4-5
  5. 2 minutes rest
  6. 3 minutes at threshold power, zone 4-5
  7. 3 minutes rest
  8. 4 minutes at threshold power, zone 4-5
  9. 4 minutes rest
  10. 5 minutes at threshold power, zone 4-5
  11. 5 minutes rest
  12. Now for the really hard bit! Work backward through the same set.
  13. Take a 10 minute, well-deserved rest!

With both, if you are wanting this new power for a time trial, work in a race position.

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