Fitness & Nutrition

Three training sessions to convert winter miles into summer form

How to transform your form ahead of a summer of sportives and road races

With the arrival of summer, and with it those long evenings and warm weather we’ve all been dreaming of, it’s time to get ready for those big events you have planned over the months ahead. The same events that kept you motivated all winter.

In this article we are going to look at some key training sessions to convert the work you have done over the winter and spring into race-ready form, so you can hit your summer events, whether they be criteriums, sportives or group rides, at full gas.

– How a polarised training plan could transform your fitness –

Hopefully by now you have managed to get a good amount of training under your belt and are relatively fit. This means you are coping fine on longer rides and are recovering well from sessions, but you are possibly still missing that last few per cent compared to last season. Or perhaps you are looking to knock a few more seconds off on your favourite Strava segment.

If you want to convert your winter training into red-hot summer form, try these intervals sessions

To work on that last few per cent – the bit that matters when it comes to transforming general fitness into razor-sharp form – you need to be doing some hard interval sessions, as they give your body a really strong stimulus to improve, rebuild and grow stronger. When you do an interval session, especially one where you really have to go all out to complete the interval, you are working on how well you can convert the oxygen you are taking in into power on the bike.

– How to train with a power meter –

All those long miles over the winter will have built up a strong cardiovascular system and the likelihood now is that you can supply your muscles with plenty of oxygen, but you aren’t quite getting every last watt available out of burning that same oxygen.

These sessions should help you to hit top form so you can smash your summer events. Some of these sessions refer to your training zones to ensure you are working at the right intensity. You can read one of my previous articles to find out how to set your zones.

VO2 Max intervals

  • Warm-up for 10 minutes
  • 3 x 5 minutes in zone five
  • 5 minutes recovery between intervals
  • Cool down

This is a tough session but a really good one to help with those short hill efforts, so common in UK road races and sportive. Try and maintain an effort level you can just about sustain for five minutes. Remember, as you build form, this level will increase, so take that into account if you are riding with a power meter. The last 30 seconds of each interval should feel really hard and your breathing rate should be very high.

– Six things you know to know about… VO2 Max –

You can also play around with the length of the intervals but stay in the 3-6 minute range to maximise the benefit. You can also increase the number of intervals if you want to make it even harder. Start with 3 x 5 minutes and go from there.


  • Warm-up for 10 minutes
  • Two sets of:
    20-second sprint, 20-second recovery – repeat for 10 minutes
  • 10 minutes recovery between efforts
  • Cool down

This is a great session to improve how quickly you are able to recover from short efforts. As a result, it’s also really popular among cyclo-cross riders as it replicates the effort in ‘cross nicely – but it can provide benefits for any sort of event. This session really focuses on how much power you can put out for the oxygen you are taking in – and that is of benefit to any type of rider.

– Six things you need to know about… recovery –

Once you become comfortable with this one you can try increasing the amount of power for each 20-second burst or you can increase the number of sets.

Twenty second intervals are great to improve how quickly you are able to recover between efforts

2 x 15 minutes in zone four

  • Warm-up for 10 minutes
  • 2 x 15 minutes in upper zone four – 15 minutes recovery between efforts
  • Cool down
  • This session is for the time trialists out there.

Training just above threshold is a great way to really improve your threshold power –  arguably much more so than ‘sweetspot’ training, as long as the efforts are long enough. This session will help you improve the power you can hold in any length of time trial.

– Six things you need to know about… sweetspot training –

Once the session becomes too easy, why not try adding an extra effort or increasing the length of each effort to 20 minutes? The key is to keep the efforts relatively long (more than 12 minutes) and try to stay above threshold power for as much time as possible within the session. So if 2 x 15 minutes is too easy, why not try 3 x 12 minutes, then move on to 2 x 20 minutes, then 3 x 15 minutes etc.

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