Progressive Pyramid Cycling Training Session

A classic off-season training session for cyclists (1.5-2 hours) where you aim to top out at Sweet Spot in the last 15 minutes. As winter training progresses and you approach early spring you would top out at threshold or super threshold making it a very demanding session. Perfect for training indoors on the turbo (or a static spin bike with power) or outdoors if the weather permits; if you’re training indoors on the turbo, simply shorten the warm-up.

I have had excellent feedback on this session from the cyclists I coach who have felt great benefit from it. Ideally you need to use power (watts) on the bike as an accurate way to measure intensity, either through a power meter on your turbo trainer setup or using a Wattbike or equivalent which provides power readings. Establishing your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) is also key as this gives you a reference point to estimate the watts for each element of the training session.

If you don’t have access to a power meter then you can use a heart rate monitor, although this is not as effective as your heart rate will drift upwards especially when indoors. For this particular session heart rate would start @ 70-75% Max HR then 75-80% and finishing just under 85%  of your Threshold Heart Rate. Make sure you know your accurate heart rate zones – although the standard 220 minus age formula is useful as a rough guide, it usually leads to lower than normal training zones as most athletes tend to have higher than average maximum heartrates.

Progressive Pyramid Cyclists’ Training Session

  1. Warm-up: 30 min rollout including
    • 8 min as 40 sec @ 100-110% of Functional Threshold Power (FTP) / 20 sec easy during second half of warm-up
  2. Main Set: 60 min progressively building power including
    •  25min @ Light Tempo Watts (75-80% FTP)
    • 20 min @ Medium Tempo Watts (80-85% FTP)
    • 15 min @ Sweet Spot Watts (90% FTP)5 min very easy
  3. 5 min very easy
  4. Rest of ride easy

Variations of this session include one with higher levels of progression and a Mini Progressive Pyramid.

For more information on Functional Threshold Power (FTP) and Training Zones, see the TrainingPeaks Threshold article or Joe Friel’s blog.

Looking for a gym in Glasgow with bikes that measure power (watts)? Check out the Matrix IC7 bikes at Glasgow University’s Stevenson Building in the West End or Village Gym at Pacific Quay in Glasgow. You can also also find Wattbikes at a number of Glasgow Club Sports Centres: the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome at Emirates Arena in the East End, Glasgow Club Bellahouston & Scotstoun Leisure Centre.