Is it better to do shorter but higher intensity, or should I do fewer rides but longer and slower?

Is it better to do shorter but higher intensity, or should I do fewer rides but longer and slower?

To make it easy I’ve created two checklists for you to use to help you determine what category you fall into, long and easier, or shorter and more intense. Each of the rides below, other than the recovery rides, should also have an additional 10 – 15 minutes of warm up and cool down.

WEIGHT LOSS:
– 2- 3 rides per week of shorter more intense rides.
– 10 -15 minutes of actual work time, with Intervals lasting from 1 – 3 minutes in length at an 8 out of 10 on the perceived level of exertion scale
– 1 short easy recovery ride of 20 – 30 minutes, in a very easy gear at a very low perceived level of exertion.

Example:
10 minutes easy spin to warm up
15×30 seconds of maximum intensity effort, followed by 30 seconds to 1 minute of easy spinning to recover in-between
10 minutes easy spin to cool down

IMPROVED CARDIOVASCULAR FITNESS:
– 3 longer rides per week, at a low to moderate intensity
– 60 minutes up to 2 hrs, at 6-7 out of 10 on the perceived level of exertion scale.

Example:
10 minutes easy spin to warm up
90 minutes on rolling terrain.
5 min easy spin to cool down

MULTI DAY TOURING EVENT:
– 4-5 rides per week at a 6-7 out of 10 on the perceived level of exertion scale.
– 2 hrs up to 4 hours, depending on the length of the tour

Example:
10-15 minutes spin to warm up
2 hrs on a varied terrain, including a few climbs and some flatter portions
10 minutes spin to cool down

COMPETITIVE RACE:
– 1 longer ride per week of 3-4 hours at a 5-7 out of 10 on the perceived level of exertion scale.
– 1-2 short more intense rides per week, at an 8-9 out of 10 on the perceived level of exertion scale. With 10 – 20 minutes of actual work on these rides. These rides may be done in an interval format, with 5 – 15-minute interval segments, or a single sustained effort of 10 – 20 minutes, at 8 out of 10 on the perceived level of exertion scale.
– 1-2 short easy recovery rides, at a 4-5 out of 10 on the perceived exertion scale and 30 – 45 minutes in length

Example:
Longer ride –
15-minute spin to warm up
3 hours on varied terrain, throwing in intermittent surges of 1 – 2 minutes of increased intensity. After each surge, reduce the intensity and spin the legs at a higher cadence to allow recovery, and then move back into a moderate pace.
10 minutes easy spin to cool down

Sustained effort –
10 minutes’ easy spin to warm up
20 minutes of sustained moderate to high intensity riding. Keep this portion of the ride to a relatively flatter terrain to allow for consistency in pace and effort.
10 minutes of easy spinning to cool down

Intervals –
10-15 minutes easy spin to warm up
4×5 minute intervals
With 2.5 minutes of easy spinning in-between to recover
10 minutes easy spin to cool down

Obviously, there would be a lot more to the schedule than my few examples. However, this checklist will at least give you an idea of what and how much you should be doing according to what your goals are. Most people have very busy lives. To make the best use of the time spent on your bike, first determine what your goal is then plan your rides accordingly. In addition, stay well-hydrated and be well-fueled going into each ride.

Whatever your goal may be, get out there and have fun.

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