The Future of Indoor Cycling – WATTBIKE

Wattbike at LIW2014: The Future of Indoor Cycling

Wattbike Leisure Industry Week

Ahead of Leisure Industry Week 2014 we sat down with Health Club Management and discussed our unique history, how the Wattbike can help operators attract new members and look ahead to some exciting developments ahead for our company.

We’ll be launching our new indoor group cycling software at LIW2014 – Wattbike Power Cycling Studio Edition – and we look forward to seeing you there. Download our Commercial Brochure now.



How did the Wattbike come into existence?
The head of performance at British Cycling, Peter Keen – who was Chris Boardman’s coach at the time – wanted to create a new type of training bike that was unlike anything else on the market. The team at Wattbike had already built a conceptual idea of what this could look like and then began to consult with Peter to develop the end result. The product proposal came with a long wish list. The bike had to be accurate, give detailed scientific analysis, have universal appeal (from kids through to top athletes), be affordable, as well as offer an authentic ride experience that was close to an outdoor ride.

When did you launch?
After the initial discussions with Peter Keen and British Cycling it took eight years to perfect the product, launching Wattbike in the autumn of 2008. Keen had wanted an indoor bike that could test his top cyclists and also find the next generation of talent (cyclists Laura Trott and Lizzie Armitstead were both talent ID-ed on Wattbike), but it soon became apparent that the Wattbike had a much broader appeal.

From the outset we worked closely with National Governing Bodies and became involved with Olympic sports like rowing, track and field and hockey. UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport adopted the bike early on, and we’ve also grown a very large presence in the military, especially at rehab centres like Headley Court. In the past couple of years, with the explosion of indoor cycling in fitness clubs and dedicated studios, we’ve seen 100 per cent growth in sales year-on-year in this market too.

Wattbike Leisure Industry Week

What’s so unique about the Wattbike?
Unlike most indoor bikes you’ll find on the gym floor, the Wattbike has a chain, chainring and sprocket just like a normal cycle enabling the Wattbike to freewheel and match the experience of riding outdoors. Part of the Wattbike’s resistance is magnetic, but most of it comes from a wind turbine situated at the front of the bike, which is the smoothest way of applying force to the rider. It’s also calibrated exactly as it would be to a rider on the open road.

It also offers a Polar View, which is able to track the force of the left leg and right leg and evaluate how efficient and effective your pedalling is. The majority of people have imbalances in their legs, which can travel up to cause discomfort and injury in the lower back. The Wattbike is the only piece of kit that can accurately assess this imbalance.

Why would fitness clubs want a Wattbike?
It’s a very effective diagnostic tool, so it’s popular with personal trainers who can accurately measure the progress of clients. Because the Wattbike measures power so accurately, and doesn’t just depend on heart rate, it can more effectively calculate your best training zone so you get a more efficient workout. The bike can be marketed as a complete fitness test, and has six key tests built in, including VO2 Max (which is within 4 per cent accuracy of a full laboratory gas analysis).

Can it be used in a group cycle setting?
Yes of course, and with the huge boom in cycling many enthusiasts are actively looking for gyms offering Wattbikes. There are around seven million gym members in the UK and 13 million cyclists. That gives some idea of how clubs can grow their membership by attracting a whole new and loyal market.

The Wattbike comes with its own software called Power Cycling, which enables clubs to easily set up their own classes. This software calculates the right training zone for each cyclist, which means that you could have Bradley Wiggins in the same class as a complete novice and each would get an effective workout because they’re matched to their personal training zone. It’s also one of the very few pieces of gym kit that can be incorporated into a HIIT class like Tabata, because resistance can be set quickly for each member and it measures the net force applied to the pedals accurately.

Wattbike Indoor Group Cycling Nuffield Health

How can clubs ‘sell’ the Wattbike to members?
We offer comprehensive training to clubs and like to include all their sales team. It’s easy to walk past the Wattbike thinking it’s just another exercise bike. But once they know, for instance, that it’s used extensively by top England rugby and football players who can offload their weight and use it as an effective rehab and training tool, this immediately widens its appeal.

Similarly, when athlete Jessica Ennis missed the 2008 Olympic Games through injury, her coach Toni Minichiello started to use the Wattbike as a conditioning tool. However, he soon realised he could use it to assess her leg speed and power, and so it became an integral part of her training programme right up to London 2012. When Virgin Active became sponsors of the London Triathlon, it needed to offer members an effective means of training for a triathlon, and so Wattbike became its product of choice.

We also provide marketing tools for use in-club. If there’s no instructor on hand a member can pick up a training card displayed next to the bike (currently branded for cyclists, general fitness and weight management) and take themselves through a programme.

What’s new and what’s next for Wattbike?
We’re beginning to expand our training programmes, working with all the leading NGBs to find the best training methods that can be applied to the bike. If people follow these programmes, they can really get phenomenal results.

Our other big area of expansion is technology, looking at how we can best enable the push and pull of data. The Wattbike Performance Monitor is ANT+ enabled which allows users to wirelessly transfer their Wattbike session data to products and services such as Garmin, Suunto or MyZone. The next stage is looking at making our monitors wi-fi enabled, so when a person has finished their Wattbike workout they can store their data in the cloud, drawing it down again for the next workout.

In April, Wattbike’s advanced technology gained recognition at the Sports Technology Awards, where it won the award for Best Training Product and was praised by judges for its “performance indicators, real time feedback and realistic styling”. We were delighted to be recognised in this way, but it’s also important to point out that while Wattbike is a highly scientific training tool, it’s also a very intuitive machine that, quite simply, is great fun to ride. Anyone who loves riding a bike will love riding a Wattbike.

What To Eat After Cycling – Tips To Maximise Recovery

What To Eat After Cycling – Tips To Maximise Recovery

Your post-ride meal is one of the most important of the day but it’s not just what you eat and drink after a hard ride that matters but when you consume it too. Get it right and you’ll feel fired up and ready to ride again soon. Get it wrong, and your performance will drop.

After training, or a long ride, your body needs time to return to its normal physiological state. This process is dependent on rest but also on what you consume when you get off your bike.

It’s easy to think that a downing a recovery drink means you’ve got recovery in hand but to truly replenish your carbohydrate stores, as well as replacing the fluid and salts lost during training, you need more than just one drink. “You can kick start your recovery immediately after training but the process needs to continue for several hours after a ride,” says Annie Simpson, performance nutritionist at OTE Sports.


Research suggests there is a 30-minute window of opportunity in which to begin your recovery. A quick and convenient way to do this is with a recovery drink that contains both carbohydrate and protein but a combination of real food and sports nutrition works too – try 220g of beans on two slices of toast and an electrolyte drink, or a large bowl of cereal with milk and half a protein bar.

Hydration is also vital. If the ride was easy and under 90 minutes sipping a 500ml bottle of water or electrolyte drink should be sufficient to rehydrate. But if it was a long or intense session, aim to replace 100-150% of the fluid lost through sweat within one to four hours of hopping off your bike. (Work this out by weighing yourself before and after a ride – every 1/2 kg lost equals roughly 500ml of fluid.)

To continue your recovery you should eat a more substantial meal within two hours of a ride. This should include lean protein such as eggs, chicken, tuna or tofu along with complex carbs such as whole grain pasta, rice, or sweet potato and some fat – try avocado. This meal is vital for the body to replenish the carbohydrates stores used during exercise and provides amino acids and fats to help build and repair muscles.

However, says Simpson, to really speed up recovery there is some evidence that it’s better to eat little and often. Some elite athletes prefer to eat a smaller portion of protein and carbohydrates every two to three hours after a training session, particularly if they are training again later that day. They may continue this pattern for up to six hours.


  • Carbohydrate to replenish glycogen stores – 0.8-1g/kg (e.g. a 70 kg cyclist would need 56-70g of carbs – around 4 slices of wholemeal bread)
  • Protein to repair damaged muscle tissue – 20-25g (a small chicken breast)
  • Fat – a small amount of fat is thought to help promote muscle repair (half an avocado)


Alongside a disciplined nutrition strategy, sleep, rest and stretching are also vital to recovery. But it’s worth considering other techniques too.

Supplements such as Omega 3 and tart cherry juice are new recovery techniques thought to help reduce muscle inflammation and the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset of muscles fatigue).

Other research points to a more individual approach. After all, no two cyclists are the same. Biomarkers (short for biological markers) are biological indicators that can be measured to build a picture of a person’s biological state. They can shine a light on an individual’s nutrition, hydration status, muscle status and potential risk of injury, which can allow athletes to fine-tune their recovery to suit their individual needs.

Annie Simpson is a performance nutritionist at OTE Sports. For more information on OTE Sports and their range of sports nutrition and healthy snacks visit OTE Sports.


“Nutrition and Athletic Performance” (2016) American College of Sports Medicine

Research Source: Rawson, Miles & Larson-Meyer (2017) Dietary Supplements for Health, Adaption & Recovery in Athletes, International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism.

Research Source: Lee et al (2017) Biomarkers in Sports and Exercise: Tracking Health, Performance and Recovery in Athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Riding the Spring Classics

Riding the Spring Classics

The arrival of daffodils means one thing in the cycling calendar – the Spring Classics. Steeped in cycling history, these prestigious one-day races are spectacular to watch but grueling to ride. An ‘all or nothing’ test, conquered only by the hardest of men and women, the Spring Classics are known for pitting riders against leg-pulverising climbs and teeth-chattering cobbles. Add in northern Europe’s worst conditions – driving rain and sleet, snow, streams of mud, walls of dust and some crazy distances (Milan-San-Remo is 291 km, or 185 miles) – and you’ll see why these races are notorious.

The Spring Classics can be roughly separated into two groups: the cobbled Classics and the Ardennes Classics, with the addition of two Italian races – Milan-San-Remo (which dates from 1907) and the relatively new Strade Bianche.


Riding a Classic demands a superhuman effort based on stamina and top-end power. The pace is high for many hours and negotiating the short-sharp bergs, murs and perilous pavé requires the peloton to put in max effort, after max effort.

Most Spring Classics are World Tour races as well but they can often be far more entertaining than the back-to-back days of The Tour – there’s no tomorrow to make up for a bad day, and it’s common for single riders to outwit even the biggest and most organised teams.

Former British road race champion Lizzie Deignan (née Armitstead) won The Tour of Flanders, in 2016. She says, “The demands of a Classic can be very different to a summer race or stage race – you’re battling the weather conditions and narrow roads, as well as other riders and teams. Tactically you have to be flexible and ready to respond fast because the race scenario can change in an instant. It only takes a change in wind direction or road surface to turn things on their head.”

The best Classics riders are the puncheurs, riders who excel on rolling terrain, love short, sharp climbs and have best bike handling skills – take Cancellera, Sagan and Merckx. To win you need experience, luck and great form, in equal measure. One mistake and you can wish the podium goodbye.


The Classics are seen as test of form. As the pros emerge from their winter hibernation they are generally in great shape. “Winning a Classic is so hard because you have to beat the best, at their best,” says Deignan.

She adds, “Because these races present a unique challenge, the training is very specific. Most of the race winning moves come from an attack, or a short climb, sometimes on cobbles”.

To prepare for these races requires plenty of time spent doing short, intense efforts (of one to five minutes) and working around your threshold. Heart rate and max power are less of a consideration because the purpose of classics training is to push yourself to the limit – they are the ultimate test of strength, power and mental toughness.


 “Riding a spring classic is great fun. The racing is always highly pressure and aggressive. I thrive during tough conditions and the spring classics certainly offer that. There are always large enthusiastic crowds, we sometimes miss that in races later in the season,” says Deignan.

“My natural talents are in riding repeated short, intense efforts and being able to recover quickly between them. I love the back to back short climbs in classics. The longer mountain type climbs are less suited to me as they rely on sustained power without recovery.

 “My favourite spring classic was the Tour of Flanders in 2016. Every day in training prior to winning, I had dreamt about doing it. The win was especially sweet because I won in the rainbow jersey. Both results felt like pipe dreams at the start of my career. I only won by a couple of centimetres and I was actually having ‘bad’ day but it was sheer will and determination that got me over the line first.”

Pavé: French word for cobblestones. The cobbled sections of  races such as Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders are infamous.

Berg: Belgian word for ‘a climb’. The names of the hill used in Belgian classics almost always end in ‘berg e.g. the Koppenberg, the Paterberg

Mur: Dutch word for wall. These are short and very steep climbs such as the Mur de Huy – the definitive climb of La Flèche Wallonne.

The Benefits Of Training With A Plan

The Benefits Of Training With A Plan

We recently highlighted our top 10 cycling challenges for 2018 to inspire you for the New Year. If you’ve already signed up for an event this year, you may be wondering where to start with your training. Here, we explain how using a training plan will help you achieve your goals:

  • The benefits of following a training plan

  • When and how to start your training

  • How to get the most out of your training plan

The benefits of following a training plan

Whether you’re a beginner cyclist who has just signed up for your first sportive, or you’re a seasoned cyclist looking to improve, a training plan can bring many benefits including:

  1. Performance improvements: The number one reason most people follow a training plan is to improve their performance. Whilst you may be a regular rider or commuter, a sportive or challenge requires a new level of effort and endurance which a training plan can develop.
  2. Structure and consistency: In a world where work, family and other commitments are eating away at your training time, a training plan offers structure and easy to follow sessions that slot seamlessly into your daily routine.
  3. Take the stress out of training: Having to think about what you’re doing each time you train and how it fits into your goal of completing a sportive can be stressful and time consuming. Following a training plan takes the stress away and saves precious time.

When to start training

The best time to start training will depend on your goals. If you are training for an event on a  specific date, work backwards to figure out when you should take up a training plan.

Whilst summer events may seem far away, winter and the off season provide an opportunity to create a solid foundation which you can build upon as your event moves closer. Our new 12 week base training plan follows a polarised training model, where 80% of training is low intensity and 20% is high intensity. This has been proven to be an effective training method for endurance events.

As you move closer to your goal, you should start thinking about event-specific training. A 12 week training plan will help you build the strength, threshold and endurance required to get through the challenge. We’ve launched four new 12 week training plans to help you get to the start line of your event in the best possible shape, click the links below to find out more and download the plans or visit ‘Plans’ on the Wattbike Hub to ride the sessions in real time:





Top tips to get the most out of your training plan 

  1. Don’t play catch up. If work or life takes over one week, don’t try and squeeze in missed sessions as you risk fatigue and injury. If you miss more than three sessions in a week, go back and start the week again.

  2. Listen to your body. If you are feeling particularly tired or sore, take some time out before getting back into the plan.

  3. Eat a balanced diet. Roughly 60% carbohydrates, 25% protein and 15% fats, plus a good mix of fruit and vegetables for their vitamins and minerals.

  4. Stay hydrated. Dehydration reduces performance and prevents recovery.  Aim for two litres of water per day, plus 600-800ml extra for every hour of exercise.

How To Set Achievable Cycling Goals For The New Year

How To Set Achievable Cycling Goals For The New Year

Whilst the thought of New Year’s resolutions and goal setting may sound overrated, defining what you want to achieve is an extremely powerful process that will help you stay motivated and grow as an athlete.

Goals will help you work harder, be more focused, and overcome setbacks. If you’re still not convinced that you need to set goals for the New Year, here we explain the importance of goal setting and how to create achievable goals:

Why set goals?

  1. Goals provide focus  – with family, work and technology vying for our attention, it’s sometimes challenging to know where to focus your time and resources. Goal-setting will help you to focus your attention on your priorities.

  2. Goals help you maintain motivation – goals encourage you to keep going. They enable you to see the bigger picture and give you motivation to take the steps to get there.

  3. Goals make you accountable – goals help you move from thought to action. Rather than talking about signing up for that sportive, it’s better to make the sportive concrete which means you’ll have to put together a training plan to ensure you get there.

  4. Goals help you become a better cyclist – they are designed to take you out of your comfort zone, push the boundaries of what you thought you could achieve.

  5. Goals give you clarity – creating and manifesting small goals can help you achieve a much larger life vision; for example, completing a local sportive could contribute to your vision of one day completing an Olympic distance triathlon or a multi-stage ride in the Alps.

How to set achievable goals 

Now that you know the importance of setting goals, it’s time to commit and set yourself a goal for 2018. One popular method of goal-setting is ensuring every goal you set is SMART. The example below sets out how to create SMART goals:

Anthony, a keen cyclist who currently rides 25 miles 2-3 times per week has set the following goal “I want to ride 100 miles.”

Let’s check how Anthony’s goal measures up against the SMART scale:

S – is it specific? No, it doesn’t mention when, where or how he is planning to ride 100 miles.

M – is it measurable? Yes, it states 100 miles which is measurable and proof of whether he achieved the goal or not.

A – is it agreed? Anthony has agreed to this goal, but has he gained buy-in from other people related to his goal? This might include his coach, family, spouse or social group. Telling people about your goals will help you stick to them.

R – is it realistic? Given that Anthony is already a regular cyclist, this goal seems achievable with hard work. Whether a goal is realistic for you will depend on your starting point and how fit you are.

T – is it time appropriate? Anthony has not created a timely goal as he hasn’t stated when he’s likely to ride his 100 miles. Setting a specific timeframe to achieve your goal is key. Use it as an anchor to track back and assess the time you’ll have to prepare.

We’ve found that Anthony’s original goal falls short on a few areas, so let’s recreate it using the SMART method:

“I want to ride 100 miles in under 6 hours at the Great Notts Bike Ride on 26th June 2018.”

Using the SMART method has transformed Anthony’s goal into one which holds him accountable, and motivates him to put steps in place to achieve it.

Take the first steps to achieving your goal with one of our dedicated training plans.

Indoor vs Outdoor Training: How To Find The Ideal Balance

Indoor vs Outdoor Training: How To Find The Ideal Balance

With winter chills almost upon us and dark nights creeping ever closer it’s time for many cyclists to start thinking about how they are going to train over the winter. At this time of year many questions come up like ‘is indoor training more effective than outdoor?’, ‘how often should I be out on the road?’ and ‘how do I get the perfect balance between indoor and outdoor training?’ We answer some of these questions in our guide to training indoors vs outdoors:

Why train indoors?

We all know that indoor training is an efficient way of utilising cycling time and is especially useful for busy professionals who may be getting home in the dark. But what are the specific benefits of indoor training?

The reason many cyclists head indoors when the clocks change is to avoid the cold weather, darkness and traffic. Training indoors negates the need for bright lights and winter woolies.

A session on a Wattbike is constant, with no stop-start traffic to contend with. This constant effort also makes indoor training time efficient. Simply put, you can ride for a shorter amount of time indoors whilst achieving the same effort and output as you would on the road during a longer session.

One key benefit of training indoors which can help you make significant gains is the opportunity to focus on pedalling technique. Measuring your pedalling out on the road is almost impossible, but bring things indoors and it becomes easy, thanks to the Wattbike Polar View and Pedalling Effectiveness Score.

Why train outdoors?

Whilst we are obviously advocates of training indoors, we also realise the importance of training outdoors too.

Even with excellent virtual training tools available, indoor cycling can’t precisely replicate the feeling you get when you discover a beautiful new cycling route or when you beat your friend on the cafe sprint.

Whilst indoor training removes distractions like traffic to give you an efficient ride, it also removes terrain and with it the need to use different muscle groups. Training indoors all the time can result in some muscles being overworked whilst others are underworked. To fully optimise your training, consider riding a few outdoor sessions with varied terrain to ensure all your muscle groups are being used effectively.

Finally, there are a few aspects of cycling which you simply can’t learn from training indoors, like how to ride in a group for example. This is especially important if you have set you sights on sportives or competitive races for the coming season, without knowing the rules of the road and how to descend within group you could put yourself and your fellow competitors in danger.

Finding the ideal balance: Indoor training vs outdoor training

Both indoor and outdoor training have numerous benefits and we recommend that you include both within your training. Many of our training plans include an indoor session and an equivalent outdoor session, giving you the opportunity to mix up your sessions and still achieve your goals.

But what is the perfect balance of indoor vs outdoor training? If you’re completing 5 sessions per week, we’d recommend 3 – 4 indoor sessions during the week, with 1 – 2 outdoor sessions when time (and weather) allows during the weekend.

Wattbike Performance Insights


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Time trials are ridden at a hard, but sustainable pace. To improve your physical performance, you need to increase the power you can sustain. A well-paced time trial is a skill that can be learnt but it requires practice, go out too hard and you will fade toward the end, take it too easy at the start and you won’t achieve the best time you are capable of.

Prepare For The Haute Route With Wattbike

Following recent expansion of the Haute Route Series, we have stepped up our relationship to become Series Official Supplier. Click the link below to get your free Haute Route training plan.

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If you have completed a few sportives already this year, you might be thinking about how to step up your game and challenge yourself even further. That’s where multi day rides come in.

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Breakaway Basics – Identifying The Attack And Making A Break

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Visit the new look website at WATTBIKE.COM

Wattbike’s Top Tips: Looking At Lizzie’s Season Ahead, Plus Your Guide To Functional Threshold Power

Off Season Training And Looking At The Road Ahead

Lizzie Deignan: Off Season Training And Looking At The Road Ahead

With the infamous classics season underway and some of the sport’s toughest, most unforgiving courses in the calendar still to come, how has Wattbike Ambassador Lizzie Deignan fared through a long winter of training, post Olympics?

Set against the additional weight of expectation that will inevitably come with competing in front of home crowds, friends and family as the Tour de Yorkshire rolls in at the end of the month, we asked Otley’s star cyclist how she’s feeling about the year ahead.

Last year was extraordinarily busy for so many athletes. How’s the off-season training been going and how are you feeling about your 2017 racing campaign? 

The off season was busy as it always is post Olympics. I got married and enjoyed spending time with family and friends. I had a couple of low points in the winter but making sure I planned mini breaks and warm weather camps got me through those times. The return of my training partner, Tiffany, from Australia was also a boost. It’s nice to have somebody to meet and keep me company on the long rides. There are areas which I had hoped would go better in training. I was unfortunate with illness and injury but I was patient and I came out of the winter well. I’m excited about 2017.

You snapped a picture training on the Wattbike on a stormy day at home in Monaco –complete with bobble hat! How has the Wattbike been an advantage to you over the winter? 

I was wearing an Irish flag bobble hat – it’s my husband, Phil’s! I have a World Champs bobble hat too, but the stripes belong to Amalie now so my hat has been retired to the wardrobe, for now at least!

The Wattbike has been an advantage because I’ve been able to use it during bad weather but also for specific sprint sessions. It’s unusual to find a flat road here that isn’t busy with traffic so I can create some real quality sessions on the Wattbike, in safety too which is a bonus.

The Wattbike is designed to replicate the feeling of riding on the road, which is an advantage because riding outdoors isn’t always possible or what’s best for training progression. Why do you think it’s important for cyclists to think about structuring some indoor training and measuring it over the winter?

Using the Wattbike for specific training is the best way to go when time and motivation in the winter can be limited. Measuring your progress with power can be really motivating. Tangible improvement is the most exciting part of my training. The Wattbike enables you to be time efficient, after a 10 minute warm up you can be straight into a quality session without having to consider darkness or traffic.

Last year was huge by comparison with your series of wins in the early season, a hilly course in Rio, capped by a superb rainbow jersey-winning performance in the women’s team time trial and of course…..your wedding!  What are your key objectives for this year by comparison on the bike?  

My key objectives are different to previous years. I am focused on the Ardenne classics. We have two new races and they are exciting as they don’t quite suit me on paper but they are a new challenge and I need that. The Tour de Yorkshire goes off the back of that week so fits nicely in terms of an objective – of course I would love to win on home roads. The World title is again one of my biggest goals.

The Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team has progressed quickly to the top of world cycling, and the team says the victory last year at the World Team Time Trial which you helped to win, fulfilled a long-held dream for the team overall. What do you love most about riding for the team? 

Its impossible to only give one answer. Every rider on the team is so driven. I enjoy being surrounded by a group of women who work so hard for their dreams and it’s inspiring to see the progression of some of my team mates. Building a team that works so well together is difficult, but whatever it is we seem to have got it. We trust each other and commit to the team winning no matter which rider we put on the top step. Our staff are passionate and committed to giving us the best opportunities and most of all we have an awful lot of fun, we collectively love cycling!

Are there any races that you’re particularly looking forward to this year?

I’m really excited about the Tour de Yorkshire. I know the route from training and it’s really tough, but it means my potential of being able to win is much higher. That would be so nice in front of friends and family at home.

You can count on us to be cheering you from the sidelines – we’re really looking forward to seeing you on your home turf again. Why is the event so special to you?

It’s an opportunity to show my family and friends the sport I love. We are still lacking the TV coverage we need in women’s cycling so it’s great that they can watch me without travelling too far. Yorkshire is hosting the 2019 World Championships, and the sport is really popular at home so there is always a great atmosphere at races.

We can’t leave without asking….how’s married life going with Mr Deignan, and should we expect some off-camera competitiveness through the race season? 

Married life is great thank you! Me and Phil are both fairly unusual compared with other professional athletes – our competitiveness is only for the bike. Off it I would like to think we are both pretty laid back!

And, will the bobble hat be making any more appearances? 

Ha ha! Maybe when I race in Belgium!

How And When To Start Building Sprint Into Your Training

How And When To Start Building Sprint Into Your Training

APRIL 21, 2017.

Sprint training benefits nearly every type of rider. Even if your goal is a hundred mile sportive and you are very unlikely to ever find yourself sprinting for a finish line there are still clear reasons why it would benefit your fitness.

For a start, sprint training, 30 seconds of all-out effort followed by 4.5 minutes of recovery has been shown  to have similar benefits to endurance training. So sprint training is a time efficient way of building your endurance for long events.

When you sprint you recruit more of your muscle fibres to provide the maximum power to the pedals. For less intense efforts not all of your muscle fibres need to be engaged, so it could be said that sprinting hits the spots that other training misses. One single maximal sprint will engage nearly all of your muscle fibres but research has shown during repeated sprints your central nervous system regulates muscle fibre recruitment to limit fatigue. This still means that a series of sprint efforts will hit more fibres than a steady ride.

Sprint training also has a positive effect on your bike handling skills, reaction times and alertness. If you ride at one moderate pace for most of your training you can start to feel sluggish and slow to respond, sprint training is a wake-up call your body might benefit from.


Image courtesy of Hotchillee

When should you start sprint training?

Sprint training is high intensity and as such it requires recovery time between sessions. For this reason, some coaches will not advocate sprint workouts during a base building phase. However as sprint training has been shown to have a positive benefit on your endurance there is an argument for including at least one session a week, particularly if you are short on training time, throughout the year.

If sprinting and speed is your target, then increase the number of sprint or interval sessions you do in the pre-competition phase of your training as you reduce the moderate intensity volume to allow more time for recovery.

If you are new to sprinting or high intensity efforts, then you are likely to get some muscle soreness and stiffness after your first few sessions which is totally normal. However, sprinting does increase the load on your ligaments and tendons so if a pain is sharp or located in one specific area, rather than a generalized ache, make sure you get it checked out.

How to integrate sprints into your training

There are three key types of sprint training, these can be added into longer endurance rides or sessions on their own.

Power Sprints – from a slow start

This helps you to develop explosive power from a slow speed. Good for attacking, standing starts or on a climb.

Get into a big gear and roll slowly till you are almost at a standstill. Either in or out the saddle accelerate and hold it for 20 seconds or until you start to spin out. Ease back into an easier gear and spin for 5 minutes. Repeat up to 8 times.

Super Speed – sprinting from an already fast pace.

If you are sprinting against other riders, then chances are you will already be moving fast. This helps you to accelerate to get the gap.

Use a safe downhill slope to increase your speed, when you get close to the bottom of the hill shift gears and increase your cadence to accelerate. Keep the speed up as you hit the flat, or bottom of the next hill if it is a rolling stretch of road.

Tabata style sprints – repeated high speed efforts with little recovery

One sprint is seldom enough in a race situation. This will help with repeated sprints out of corners or if you have to go again to make an attack stick.

Sprint hard for thirty seconds, then pedal easily for thirty seconds, repeat 5 times. Make sure you don’t stop pedaling between efforts, you need to maintain momentum to keep the speed high.  Recovery spin for 5 minutes. Repeat up to 5 times in a session and follow with a good cool down. This session is best suited to indoor training on turbo or Wattbike.

Hannah ReynoldsWritten by Hannah Reynolds

Hannah is proof that you don’t need to be good at racing to pin on a number, just enthusiastic. She has ridden some of the world’s toughest sportives including the Haute Route Alps, La Marmotte and Megavalanche – the famous downhill mountain bike race.

When she’s not on the bike, Hannah is a freelance writer and journalist and former Editor of Cycling Weekly and Cycling Active. She is co-authour of France en Velo and Bloomsbury publications Fitter, Faster, Further and Get on Your Bike.