Ironman bike workouts for every triathlete

Before we start with the Ironman bike workouts we’ve carefully compiled for you, allow us to clarify that not all training programs are suitable for all athletes. The same goes for workout combos, as well. As we often point out in our articles, the most important factor for maximizing athletic performance is following a personalized program, created by a specialized endurance coach. 

Be that as it may, in this article, we’ve tried to offer some general — yet science-based — guidelines that aim to improve the most important performance parameters in cycling. 

3 indicative Ironman bike workouts — and some guidelines that will do the trick

Let’s start by stating the obvious: The bike leg of a full-distance race is 180.2 km/ 112 mi. This is some serious distance, and, as such, it requires a significant amount of training load; that is, if you want to improve your performance, and do well in the race. In conjunction with the cycling techniques you’ll integrate into your training, the most important parameters for optimizing performance are the following:

  • Maximum oxygen intake (VO2max)
  • Functional threshold power (FTP)
  • The energy economy, together with the ability to oxidize fats for energy

But let’s go over these physiological indicators, one by one, just to keep you in the know; also, to get you prepared for the Ironman bike workouts we’ve listed out below each of these parameters.

1. VO2max in cycling

What is VO2max?

Simply put, VO2max is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption you can utilize during exercise.

General guidelines

The recommended intensity for your Ironman bike workouts here is about >90% HR max, at 110-160% LT, and 9-10 RPE. Generally speaking, you need to execute this exercise with a repetition duration of 10 sec–4 min. If the method is successful, it increases mitochondrial density (units of energy production in cells). What’s more, there’s an increase in VO2max, maximal aerobic velocity, and anaerobic reserve capacity.

Indicative Ironman bike workout

  • 15 min of progressive warm-up (RPE 2-4)
  • 8×3 min of high intensity (RPE 8-9), with 2min active rest between sets
  • 10 min easy ride (RPE 3-4)

2. Functional Threshold Power (FTP) in cycling

What is FTP?

In a few words, the FTP is the average number of watts that a cyclist can sustain for one hour. In cycling, the FTP is an indicator of fitness and, typically, it’s correlated with the 2nd Lactate Threshold.

General guidelines

An FTP training session can be intermittent, with active or passive rest between repetitions. Of course, you need to keep in mind that the shorter the duration of the Ironman bike workouts, the higher the intensity needs to be. As a rule of thumb, the workout intensity here is about 80-90% HR max, at 88-105% FTP, and 6-8 RPE). Its duration should be 30-90 minutes in total.

Indicative Ironman bike workout

  • 15 min of progressive warm-up (RPE 2-4)
  • 3×10 min of moderate-to-high intensity (RPE 6-8), with 3min active rest (RPE 1-2)
  • 10 min easy ride (RPE 3-4)

3. Fat Oxidation Capacity

What is Fat Oxidation Capacity?

Overall, fat oxidation capacity is the ability of the body to utilize fats more efficiently; that is, to provide the required energy for physical activity.

General guidelines

Our favorite Saturday Ironman bike workouts — or, in most cases, Sunday workouts —  are, of course, long, easy rides. Am I right, or am I right 😄? Apart from the fun part, though, these workouts are great for focusing on your cycling technique. Due to the low intensity of these Ironman bike sessions, you’ll be able to concentrate on building the required skills. For example:

  • optimal leg pull while cycling, 
  • changing gears properly,
  • the correct body position, etc. 

All in all, the recommended workout intensity here is about 65-80% HRmax, at 70-85% FTP, and 4-7 RPE. Approximately 3-6 hrs of cycling will suffice.

Indicative Ironman bike workout

As mentioned, this is a typical long ride. This means, you’ll execute an easy 4hrs ride with an effort ranging between 4-7 RPE, depending on the training phase

Taking your Ironman bike workouts to the next level

All things considered, the aforementioned Ironman bike workouts are based on general guidelines; nonetheless, they’re going to make your training more structured. Plus, they’ll prove to be especially helpful for novice athletes in Ironman
However, if you want to take your training to the next level, find yourself a certified coach. If anything, your coach will guide you through your Ironman journey, better than anyone! Furthermore, for even better results, you can use an online training platform, like Science Training, together with your coach. It will definitely streamline your training experience, and help your coach plan your annual program more efficiently.

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Ironman bike workouts for every triathlete was last modified: December 22nd, 2021 by Aris Myrkos