6 Pro Worthy Turbo Sessions for Winter Fitness - Total Women's Cycling

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6 Pro Worthy Turbo Sessions for Winter Fitness

Looking for an indoor fitness fix? Pedal with purpose with these sessions

The Great British Winter can be harsh and sometimes you’re better off jumping on the turbo trainer and mashing out the miles indoors than facing the wind and rain.

Turbo Trainer Buying Guide

Want Shorter? 3 Sub 30 Minute Turbo Sessions 

Pedaling in a fixed position allows you to ride intervals at maximum effort, without having to worry about traffic, roundabouts and junctions, so you can place your undivided attention into the effort. Add in the fact that there’s no freewheel, and turbo training is generally considered a more time efficient form of training – with 60 turbo minutes comparable to around 90 minutes on the road if you do it right.

Doing it right means actually having a session plan, and understanding why you’re riding the intervals that you are – this means you’ll mentally commit to them more and ultimately go harder.

Everything you need to know about training with power

Everything you need to know about training with heart rate

We’ve provided a selection of example sessions below for you to pick from – some directly from pro athletes and others that we just know and love. However, before we move on, a few tips:

  • Never try to turbo train without a fan. This does not train ‘mental fortitude’, and is only really useful if you plan on competing in an event somewhere hot. All that will happen is you overheat, and this will cause your heart rate to rise higher than it would otherwise and your power output to actually drop. And it’s just really unpleasant.
  • Always start with a big bottle of water – you will need it.
  • Have a towel handy. Since you’re not moving, there’s no cooling air – the difference that makes is astounding.
  • Use a mat and a raiser block (or the Yellow Pages!) to lift your front wheel off the ground so your bike is level.

Without further ado – here are the sessions…

Katie Archibald’s ‘Points Race’ Turbo Session

Advice from the Triple European Champion

Total time:

60 minutes

Good for:

Training your ability to attack, and then keep up a steady effort. Good for crit racers who want to break away, track riders targeting endurance events (like the Points Race!) or sportive riders who want to be able to smash those five minute long hills


  • 10 – 15 minutes warm up
  • 4 x (30 seconds ATTACK 9/10 effort, 4 minutes steady 7/10 effort, 30 seconds ATTACK 9/10 effort, 5 minutes recovery)
  • 10 minutes cooling down

What Katie Said: 

“You can get so strong doing interval training on a turbo trainer. I’d say that’s where I got my first big surge to be competitive in races and to have that motivation to get better. If you’re working 9-5 and you want to get home and get some seriously hard training in – and no I’m not sponsored by a turbo brand or anything – I totally recommend turbo!”

Describing the session – she said: “So, start with a warm up. Then you’re going to ride four five minute efforts. Start each effort with 30 seconds of ‘attack’ sprinting – not max effort as you need to float into the next four minutes. Keep the effort high, and then in the final 30 seconds of your five minutes, attack again. Take a five minute break between each interval, and soft pedal – but do pedal – you can’t fall off the bike! After four intervals, cool down and that’s it!”

Read more here.

Julia Shaw’s Cadence Pyramid Turbo Session

Multiple National Time Trial Champion over 10, 25, 50 and 100 miles and Commonwealth Bronze Medalist shares her session…

Total time: 

50 or 75 minutes

Good for: 

Training your ability to pedal at a faster cadence, and thus more efficiently, and increasing your strength and power output over the slower cadence intervals


  • 10 minutes warm up
  • 5 minutes high cadence (>100, low resistance), 5 minutes low cadence (~70-80, high resistance )
  • 4 minutes high cadence, 4 minutes low cadence
  • 3 minutes high cadence, 3 minutes low cadence
  • 2 minutes high cadence, 2 minutes low cadence
  • 1 minutes high cadence, 1 minutes low cadence
  • BEGINNERS: 10 minutes cool down
  • ADVANCED: Work back through the pyramid to through to 5 minutes of each resistance again, then 5-10 minute cool down

What Julia Said: 

“I’d recommend maximum variety and maximum number distractions as long as long as they don’t stop you pedalling! Music, TV, BBC iPlayer are all good. Always have a plan for each session as this will pass the time more easily – even if its just something like alternating between high and low cadence, rather than just pedalling.”

Read Julia Shaw’s advice on the perfect ten mile time trial here and more about this session here

Emma Pallant’s Brick Session for the Triathlete or Duathlete

World Duathlon Champion gives us her pearl of a brick session…

Total time: 

65 minutes

Good for:

Those wanting to improve their ability to run well on tired legs, and gain some wattage via super short power intervals


  • Warm up: 10mins steady spin (high cadence low gear) with a few pick ups in the last few minutes to get the HR elevated for the session (high gear high cadence)
  • Main set on the bike:
    5 x 30secs HARD, 90secs spin
    2mins spin
    5 x 1min HARD, 1min spin
  • Then jump off the bike and straight into your run shoes for:
    9mins steady run, 2mins jog recovery
    6mins moderate effort, 90secs jog recovery
    3mins solid effort, 60secs jog recovery
    90secs HARD, 30secs jog recovery
    30secs BEST EFFORT
  • 10mins cool down on the bike OR 10mins jog cool down

What Emma Says:

“Brick sessions are really important – you can do a good swim, and a good bike and a good run – but you need to put them together. It’s something you can only train your body into.”

Read more in our interview with Emma here. 

You want more? A few of our ‘favourites’…

We do of course have some more up our sleeves. Here are a few of the most popular formats:

2×20: The Tester’s Go-To

Total time:

70 minutes

Good For: 

Time trial riders (also called ‘testers’), those wanting to break away and stay away in a road race, or anyone wanting to ride fast for an hour


  • Warm up for around 10 minutes with some 20 second efforts towards the end
  • 20 minutes at about 7/10 (if you’re using power or heart rate – 90-105% of FTP or Threshold)
  • 6-10 minute recovery (start with 10 minutes and reduce it by a minute each time you do this session, don’t go less than 6 minutes)
  • Another 20 minutes at 7/10 – this is going to hurt
  • Cool down for around 10 minutes

20/40 Sprints:

Total time: 

50 minutes

Good For: 

Developing top end speed – beating your mate in the sprint for the town sign on your next ride


  • 10 minute warm up
  • Three repeats of: 5 x (20 second SPRINT 10/10 effort, 40 second soft pedal), 5 minute recovery
  • 10 minute cool down

Vo2 Pyramid:

Total time: 

60 minutes (well – 58 minutes!)

Good for: 

Quite a lot like Katie Archibald’s session, power over 3-5 minute duration, with the goal of breaking away and staying away, getting over that hill, or just developing power and strength that can later be carried through over longer duration


  • 10 minute warm up
  • 3 minute effort at around 8/10 – the most you can sustain for this duration, 3 minute recovery
  • 4 minute effort, 4 minute recovery
  • 5 minute effort, 5 minute recovery
  • 4 minute effort, 4 minute recovery
  • 3 minute effort, 3 minute recovery
  • 10 minute cool down

We hope you enjoy these sessions! Turbo training is a great way to increase your fitness in a way that fits into your life easily and we’re sure you’ll reap the benefits.

You might also like: 

Turbo Trainer Buying Guide

7 Tips to Staying on Track with the Turbo

Sub 30 Minute Turbo Sessions 


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