CTS Workout Descriptions

© 1999 Canon Sports, LLC d/b/a Carmichael Training Systems. All Rights Reserved.
 
  A workout that you will use during all your training periods is the RecoveryRide.  Even
though the temptation is there to vegetate on the couch the day following a tough
workout, use RR as an active recovery workout to jumpstart the process of repair and
regeneration.
 
RecoveryRide (RR)
 
Goal:  To speed the recovery process by riding at an easy pace at low resistance on flat
terrain.  Benefits include increasing blood flow to the muscles to help remove muscle
soreness, reducing free radical build-up that  cause muscle stress and damage.  Studies
have shown that active recovery at an appropriate pace leads to faster recovery than
complete rest. 
 
How to do it: Recovery rides  should be between 30-120 minutes in length  on flat to
rolling terrain.  Keep your pedal speed slower than normal, staying in a light gear to keep
resistance low.  Heart rate must also remain low even if you hit any hills, just slow down
and use your gears to keep the resistance low.    The key to recovery rides is to ride just
enough to engage the active recovery process but not long or intense enough to induce a
training stress upon yourself.
 
RPE: 4
HR: 50-70% of highest Field Test average
Power: 30-50% of highest Field Test average
 
 
I.  Foundation Period
 
FoundationMiles (FM)
 
Goal:  This is the cornerstone workout for your endurance training.  FM prepares your
aerobic system for continued physical adaptations developed through other forms of more
intense training.  Expected benefits include: 
•  Slow-twitch muscle fibers gain size and strength.
•  Increases capillary development.
•  Increases mitochondria, the structure within the muscle cell that produce ATP.
•  Decreases resting heart rate.
 
How to do it:  This workout, as well as other CTS workouts, is not limited to the
Foundation Period. Expect to do this workout year round.  The goal is to ride almost the
entire ride without using your anaerobic energy system. You want to stay aerobic at least
95% of the ride. This ensures that you trained your aerobic energy system and didn’t accumulate lactate within your muscles. Normally, pedal speeds range between 85-95
RPM during this exercise.  At times you may want to use lighter gears and pedal at
higher speeds during this workout. This will increase the training load on the aerobic
energy system and give you further aerobic benefits.  
 
RPE: 4
HR: 89% of highest field test average
Power: 30-50% of highest Field Test average
 
 
 
FixedGear (FG) 
 
Goal:  Riding a fixed gear has benefits that many elite cyclists enjoy.  
•  Smoother and better pedal mechanics 
•  Leg speed 
•  Leg strength
 
How to do it:  Setting your bike up as a fixed gear means you have no choice in gearing
and pedaling.  As you ride, you must pedal.  This develops a smooth pedal stroke as you
spin down hills and increases leg strength as you grind up hills.  Generally, gearing for a
fixed gear will be light (42-19, 39-16), since  this helps balance the gearing for various
types of terrain.  A fixed gear will have you work hard over a shorter period.  This means
you will spend less time on the bike and reap greater returns.  Since this training is
normally done during the Foundation Period, you are also lifting weights. CTS believes
weight training and cycling are like oil and water — they don’t mix well.   You need to
reduce one as you increase another.  A fixed gear allows greater aerobic benefits with
less time on the bike so you can spend more time in the weight room. 
 
RPE: NA
HR: NA
Power: 30-50% of highest Field Test average
 
 
PowerStart (PS)
 
Goal: To increase your muscular power to the pedals.
 
How to do it: This workout should be performed on a relatively flat section of road.  The
gearing should be very large, depending on  your level of physical development. The
PowerStart should begin at a very low speed, at a near stand still.  Jump up on the pedals,
out of the saddle, driving the pedals down as hard as possible.  Pull on the handlebars
using the leverage of the handlebars to move your body over each pedal as you drive the
pedal downward.  The PowerStart should not last longer than 8-10 pedal strokes or 8-12
seconds. This is a muscular workout and heart rate will not have time to respond.  
 RPE: 8
HR: NA
Power: NA
 
 
FastPedal (FP)
 
Goal: Better and more efficient pedaling mechanics through high speed pedaling. 
 
How to do it: This workout should be performed on a relatively flat section of road.  The
gearing should be light with low pedal resistance.  Begin slowly working up your pedal
speed, starting out with around 15-16 pedal  revolutions per 10-second count. This
equates to a cadence of 90-96 RPM.  While staying in the saddle, increase the your pedal
speed, keeping your hips smooth with no rocking.  Concentrate on pulling through the
bottom of the pedal stroke and over the top.  After two minutes of FastPedal, you should
be maintaining18-20 pedal revolutions per 10-second count, or a cadence of 108-120
RPM for the entire amount of time prescribed  for the workout.   Your heart rate will
climb while doing this workout, but don’t use  it to judge your training intensity. It is
important that you try to ride the entire length of the FastPedal workout with as few
interruptions as possible, since it should consist of consecutive riding at the prescribed
training intensity.
 
RPE: 7
HR: NA
Power: NA
 
 
Stomps (S)
 
Goal: To increase muscular power in the saddle. 
 
How to do it: This workout should be performed on a relatively flat section of road with
a slight tailwind.  The gearing should be large, 53-12 (depending on your level of
physical development). The effort should  begin at a moderate speed (typically 15-
20mph), then while seated in the saddle  begin STOMPING the pedals as hard as
possible! Concentrate on pulling though the bottom of the pedal stroke and smoothly
stomping down during the down stroke. Keep your upper body as still as possible and let
your legs drive the pedals. The Stomps should last 15-20 seconds, with at least 5 minutes
recovery between efforts.  This is a muscular workout and heart rate may not have time to
respond.
 
RPE: 7
HR: NA
Power: NA
 
II. Preparation Period
 
MuscleTension Intervals (MT)
 
Goal: Develop cycling specific strength.  High muscle tension during the interval assists
in the recruitment of fast twitch muscle fibers, which are important during intense efforts. 
 
How to do it: This workout should be performed on a long, moderate (5-8%) climb or on
a trainer with your front wheel set on a slight incline, 4-6 inches above the normal
horizontal plane to simulate your climbing position.  Pedal cadence must be low (50-55
RPM) and the heart rate intensity is not  important (because your legs are moving slow
your heart rate will be low). Large gears (such as 53×12-15 up hill) are required to
produce the low cadence and high muscle tension. Correct form must be strictly
maintained during these intervals.  Strong  concentration is needed to keep your upper
body absolutely smooth yet relaxed while concentrating on correct pedaling form (over
the top & through the bottom of the pedal stroke).
 
RPE: 7
HR: NA
Power: NA 
 
 
EnduranceMiles (EM)
 
Goal:  This is the next step after FoundationMiles toward building an aerobic energy
system that will increase your endurance capabilities.  Expected benefits include: 
 
•  Slow-twitch muscle fibers gain size and strength.
•  Increase capillary development.
•  Increases mitochondria, structures within the muscle cells and produce ATP.
•  Increased stroke volume from your heart.
•  Improved temperature regulation.
•  Increased respiratory endurance.
 
How to do it: This workout, as well as other CTS workouts, is not limited to the
Preparation Period.  The pace during the EM workout is quicker than during the
FoundationMiles (FM) workout.  It is performed at a moderate pace, but at a higher heart
rate than the FM workout.  Use your gearing as you hit the hills to remain in the saddle as
you climb.  Expect to keep your pedal speed up into the 85-95 RPM range.  As with the
FM workout, your goal is to ride at least 95% of the ride using your aerobic system for
energy. Even though the intensity is greater the closer you get to your lactate threshold,
you are still using aerobic energy to power your cycling. 
 
RPE: 5
HR: 91% of highest Field Test average  Power: 45-73% of highest Field Test average
 
 
Tempo (T)
 
Goal:  Strategically placing tempo workouts  into your training program has many
advantages:
•  Greater comfort while cruising on rolling terrain. 
•  Better fuel utilization during long races or rides.
•  Increased capacity for more intense workouts. 
•  Better power at moderate intensities.
•  Increased muscle glycogen storage capacity.
•  Improved free fatty acid oxidation, which spares muscle glycogen.
•  Increased mitochondrial development, structures within the muscle cells that produce
energy.
•  Improved aerobic efficiency.
 
How to Do It: Pedal speed should be low.  Try a 70-75 RPM range while staying at the
prescribed heart rate intensity.  This helps increase pedal resistance and strengthens leg
muscles.  Also try to stay in the saddle when you hit hills during your tempo workouts.  
This adds more pedal resistance and readies the connective tissues and supporting muscle
groups before training heads into more explosive workouts.  It is important that you try to
ride the entire length of the tempo workout with as few interruptions as possible – tempo
workouts should consist of consecutive riding at the prescribed intensity to achieve
maximum benefit. 
 
RPE: 7
HR: 88% +3BPM of highest Field Test average
Power: 81-85% of highest Field Test average
 
 
SteadyState Intervals (SS)
 
Goal: Increase your lactate threshold by training at the edge of your aerobic/anaerobic
threshold. 
 
How to do it: This workout can either be performed on the road with a long steady
climb, hills or flat terrain.  The training intensity is at your individual lactate threshold
(LT) and it is critical that you maintain this  intensity for the length of the SS Interval. 
Interruptions during the interval limit the adaptations from this workout.  Pedal cadence
for SS intervals while climbing should be 70-80 RPM, and flat terrain cadence should be
85-95 RPM.  Maintaining the training zone intensity is the most important factor, not
pedal cadence.  Focus on continuous riding for  the length of the prescribed interval.  
SteadyState intervals are meant to be slightly below your individual time trial pace, so
don’t make the mistake of riding at your time trial pace during the SteadyState intervals. 
RPE: 8
HR: 92% +3BPM of highest Field Test average
Power: 85-90% of highest Field Test average
 
 
ClimbingRepeats (CR)
 
Goal:  Increase your climbing lactate threshold by training at the edge of your
aerobic/anaerobic threshold. 
 
How to do it: This workout should be performed on the road with a long steady climb. 
The training intensity is at your climbing individual lactate threshold (LT) and it is
critical that you maintain this intensity for  the length of the CR.  Your climbing lactate
threshold heart rate is slightly higher than your individual lactate threshold heart rate on
flat terrain, since you are involving more muscles while climbing than on flat terrain. 
Since more muscles are being used, more blood is required for these muscles, hence a
higher heart rate. Pedal cadence for CR intervals while climbing should be 70-85 RPM. 
Maintaining the training intensity is the most  important factor, not pedal cadence. It is
very important to avoid interruptions while doing these intervals. Focus on continuous
riding for the length of the prescribed interval. Recovery time between the CR is
normally 5-15 minutes. 
 
RPE: 9
HR: 95% + 3 BPM of highest Field Test 
Power: 95-100% of highest Field Test average
 
 
PowerIntervals (PI)
 
Goal: To increase power output during short intense efforts.
 
How to do it: This workout should be performed on  an indoor trainer because of the
controlled environment allowing for a better comparison from one session to another. It
can also be performed on a relatively flat section of road.  
 
The gearing should be moderate, but pedal cadence must be high (110 or higher).  Take
one minute to build up to the desired training zone, then maintain this intensity for the
remaining interval.  It will be during the last two minutes of each interval that will
develop your maximum aerobic capacity.  If you  have to, shift into a lighter gear to
maintain the cadence, but don’t let the intensity of the interval drop.  With a high
cadence, your heart rate will remain extremely high and you will train your body’s ability
to deliver oxygen to the muscles. Recovery between intervals is easy spinning. 
 Among the athletes who use this interval session are Lance Armstrong and George
Hincapie.  Since the addition of this workout to Lance and George’s training programs,
CTS has seen them further develop their extraordinary ability to attack on steep hills late
in races when everyone else is gasping for air.
 
RPE: 10
HR: NA
Power: 100-250% of highest Field Test average (some intervals may be higher than this
range)
 
OneLegged Pedaling (OL)
 
Goal: Better pedaling mechanics are developed with this interval.  Expect increased
power over top dead center and through bottom dead center of the pedal stroke.  
 
How to do it: This workout is best performed on an indoor trainer.  The length of each
interval is the amount of time spent pedaling per leg.  This workout should be performed
at a moderate intensity level – don’t try to pedal too hard while doing this interval,
because injury could occur.  While pedaling, visualize scraping your toes through the
bottom of the pedal stroke, like you are trying to rub mud of your shoes.  Over the top of
the pedal stroke, push your pedal forward just before you reach top dead center.  You will
begin to adapt to better pedaling slowly, but you will need to continue to focus on correct
pedaling throughout the entire year.  One interval of OneLegged pedaling is typically 30-
60 seconds, and you can expect to perform 3 intervals per leg before having a rest period
of 5-10 minutes.  Normally, there will be 2-4 sets during one workout.  
 
RPE: 6
HR: NA
Power: NA
 
 
III. Specialization Period
 
SpeedIntervals (SI)
 
Goal: To develop speed and power for repeatability.
 
How to do it: This workout should be performed on a relatively flat section road with a
slight tailwind to enhance your top speed during the efforts.   
The gearing should be moderate but pedal cadence must be high (110 or higher).  Speed,
power and accelerations are the key elements, not heart rate.  This workout builds up
high levels of lactic acid, lactate tolerance trains your body to dissipate and buffer lactate. 
Normally, CTS limits the length of this interval to one minute or less. Speed training is
very stressful on the body and needs to be performed with great care.  During weeks you
perform speed intervals you should reduce  your overall training hours to encourage
recovery from the speed intervals.  If you have to, shift into a lighter gear to maintain the cadence, but don’t let the intensity of the  interval drop.  With a high cadence, you will
train your body’s adaptation to high speed efforts. Recovery between intervals is easy
spinning.   Recovery time between SI is  limited in order to build repeatability and
recovery. 
 
RPE: 10
HR: NA
Power: NA
 
 
FlatSprints (FS)
 
Goal:  Sprints develop acceleration, pure and simple.  Sprinting improves the
effectiveness of your fast-twitch muscle  fibers and improves your body’s ability to use
the high-energy adenosine triphosphate (ATP) stored in your muscle tissues.
 
How to do it:  Sprints are always performed at 100% maximum output.  On flat terrain,
you should be rolling along at a moderate speed (15-22mph depending on your stage of
development) in a light gear.  Jump out of the saddle, accelerating the entire time, then
return to the saddle after a few seconds, focusing on maintaining high pedal speed with
smooth and efficient form for the entire sprint.  These sprints should be 8-10 seconds in
length. Full recovery between sprints is very important to allow for rebuilding of ATP in
the muscles and to ensure a quality sprint workout.  Normally, 5-10 minutes allows for
enough recovery before adding another sprint to your workout.  
 
RPE: 10
HR: NA
Power: NA
 
 
HighSpeedSprints (HSS)
 
Goal:  HSS sprints develop your top end power  and speed. This type of sprinting
improves your maximum peak power.  Since  it is performed slightly downhill at high
speed and pedal cadence, the power demands will be huge due to the aerodynamic drag
associated with beginning sprints at high speed.  
 
How to do it: Sprints are always performed at  100% maximum output. On a slight
downhill, you should be rolling along at  a high speed (30-35mph depending on your
stage of development) in a large gear.   Jump out of the saddle, and accelerate. Upon
reaching top speed, return to the saddle and focus on holding your top speed the entire
length of the sprint interval. Maintain good form, and focus on maintaining high pedal
speed in a smooth and efficient form for the entire sprint.  These sprints should be 8-12
seconds in length, and full recovery between sprints is very important to allow for
rebuilding of ATP in the muscles and to ensure a quality sprint workout.  Normally, 10-20 minutes allows for  enough recovery before adding another sprint to your workout. 
Pedal speed is high for these sprints, 110+ RPM. 
 
RPE: 10
HR: NA
Power: NA
 
 
HillSprints (HS)
 
Goal:  These  sprints develop strength and power for uphill accelerations. This type of
sprinting improves your maximum peak torque and leg strength. Since this sprint is
performed uphill, speed and pedal speed remain lower than normal. 
 
How to do it: Sprints are always performed at 100% maximum output. On a flat road
leading into a steeply pitched uphill, you should be rolling along at a moderate speed (15-
20mph depending on your stage of development) in a moderate-to-light gear.  As you hit
the hill, jump out of the saddle, stomping on the pedals as hard as possible. The
resistance will be increasing as you head up the hill.  Stay out of the saddle for the entire
sprint, which will increase the stress on your lower back, butt muscles and triceps.  Focus
on holding this top speed for the entire length of the interval. These sprints should be 8-
12 seconds in length, and full recovery between sprints is very important to allow for
rebuilding of ATP in the muscles and to ensure a quality sprint workout.  Normally, 10-
20 minutes allows for enough recovery before adding another sprint to your workout.
 
RPE: 10
HR: NA
Power: NA
 
 
RaceSimulation (RS)
 
Goal:  This workout simulates the demands that occur in races.  You will be bouncing
between using all energy systems to maintain the intensity of the workout. 
 
How to do it: This workout is best performed during a club/group ride. Riding with a
group tends to push you to new heights of intensity and simulates the same demands of
racing.  During the ride, there should be a series of various lengths of accelerations
followed by slower riding, sudden attacks, increasing tempo on climbs and random
attacks and counterattacks.  Generally, CTS will not prescribe a large volume of RS
training.  Since this simulates a race situation, you will need plenty of recovery time
following one of these workouts. This type of training is prescribed year round, not just
during the specialization period.  During the preparation period, expect the length of the
RS training to be short, 15-60 minutes. Pedal cadence should match those of a race, 80-
110 RPM depending on the terrain and intensity.  
RPE: 10
HR: NA
Power: NA
 
 
HillAccelerations (HA)
 
Goal:  This workout simulates the acceleration demands that occur in hilly races.  This
workout builds power and climbing speed  while riding at your individual lactate
threshold.
 
How to do it: This workout is best performed on a long, moderate climb. When using a
trainer, you can achieve the same climbing position by raised your bike’s front wheel 4-6
inches above the normal horizontal position.   This position simulates your climbing
position so that you will use the same muscle groups as when you are climbing. 
 
Begin a long climb and slowly increase the  training intensity till you reach your lactate
threshold, then maintain this effort for the prescribed time. As you approach the top of
the climb, attack out of the saddle with a  hard but controlled effort, increasing your
acceleration the closer you get to the top of  the hill.  Normally, these accelerations are
performed during the last 500 meters of the climb. Every 100 meters of this effort your
intensity should be growing until you are nearly at your maximum heart rate during the
last few meters of the hill. 
 
RPE: 9
HR: 95% + 3BPM of highest Field Test average
Power: 95-100% of highest Field Test average
 
 
 
SpeedAccelerations (SA) 
 
Goal:  This workout simulates the acceleration demands through various power output
levels that occur in races.  By increasing your gearing for each sprint, you are also
increasing the resistance for each sprint and gaining greater power output. 
 
How to do it:  The workout should be performed on flat terrain with a tailwind, or it can
also be performed on a indoor trainer.  You will do 3 sprints in one set followed by 3-5
minutes of easy spinning for recovery between each sprint and 10 minutes of easy
spinning between each set.  Each sprint in  the set should be fifteen seconds in length. 
Plan on doing 3-4 sets total.
 
Sprint 1. Start off in your small chain ring and the17 or 16-tooth cog in the rear.  While
rolling along at a moderate pace but below 15 mph, jump up out of the saddle, using your
arms to pull hard on the handlebars and  focus on pulling up on the pedals with your hamstrings.  Quickly you will have spun out the gear, then return to the saddle focusing
on maintaining high pedal speed. Keep  your upper body smooth, your hips shouldn’t
rock, and keep your head up as you drive to the end of the sprint.  
 
Sprint 2.  The same as sprint one but increase your gearing to your big chain ring and
17- or 16 cog.
 
Sprint 3. The same as sprint two but increase your gearing to your big chain ring and 15-
or 14 cog.
 
 
 
OverUnder Intervals (OU)
 
Goal: To develop lactate tolerance and buffering capability in order to build power at
intensities just above lactate threshold.
 
How to do it: This workout should be performed on a relatively flat section road or on an
indoor trainer.  The gearing should be moderate and pedal cadence should be high (100
RPM or higher).  Slowly bring your intensity up to lactate threshold heart rate.  Maintain
this heart rate intensity for five minutes then increase your heart rate intensity to the level
prescribed.  Hold this intensity for the prescribed interval then drop your intensity back to
your lactate threshold heart rate. You will continue this pattern of riding at your lactate
threshold, increasing to above lactate threshold and returning to lactate threshold, for as
many times as listed. 
 
This workout builds up high levels of lactic acid.  Working in this way trains your body
to dissipate and buffer lactate, also known as increasing your lactate tolerance.  Normally
the limit of the length of the interval above your lactate threshold to two to three minutes,
while the intervals at your lactate threshold are normally five to ten minutes long. 
Lactate threshold training is very stressful on the body and needs to be performed with
great care.
 
RPE: 9
HR: 92% +3 BPM of highest Field Test average 
Power: 85-90% of highest Field Test average
 
DescendingIntervals (DI) 
 
Goal: To increase anaerobic power, lactate tolerance and repeatability during short
intense efforts.
 
How to do it: This workout should be performed on an indoor trainer because of the
controlled environment, and to offer a better comparison from one session to another. It
can also be performed on a relatively flat  section of road.   The gearing should be
moderate but pedal cadence must be high (110 or higher) during each interval. Attack each interval as hard as possible. Jump out of the saddle as you begin the interval and
build speed as the interval continues.  If you have to, shift into a lighter gear to maintain
the cadence, but don’t let the intensity of the interval drop.  With a high cadence, your
heart rate will remain extremely high and you will train your muscles for high power and
repeatability.  Recovery between intervals is easy spinning. Recovery time between
efforts is limited so that you will never fully recover between intervals.  Heart rate
intensity is not prescribed because the interval is a maximal effort.  There are seven
intervals in one set and the recovery time between intervals is the same length as the
maximal effort of the interval.  Recovery time between DI sets is 10 minutes. Normally
expect to do 2-3 sets total.
 
The following DI workout is only an example of how a DI workout is structured. 
 
One set consists of the following efforts with 120 seconds between each interval. 
 
•  120 seconds maximal effort followed by 120 seconds recovery spinning
•  105 seconds maximal effort followed by 105 seconds recovery spinning
•  90 seconds maximal effort followed by 90 seconds recovery spinning
•  75 seconds maximal effort followed by 75 seconds recovery spinning
•  60 seconds maximal effort followed by 60 seconds recovery spinning
•  45 seconds maximal effort followed by 45 seconds recovery spinning
•  30 seconds maximal effort followed by 30 seconds recovery spinning
 
RPE: 10
HR: NA 
Power: NA
 
© 2007 Carmichael Training Systems, Inc. All Rights Reserved.