Regimens: Workouts in No Time Flat

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, July 1995

Regimens: Workouts in No Time Flat
By Mark Jannot

You bet interval training hurts--all the more reason to get it over with at the lunch break, when office obligations force you to keep things brief. Here's a high-intensity training sampler of workouts that are designed to be completed in about 40 minutes. Remember that the point of interval training is to get used to exercising at higher speeds, so you'll have to spend some portions of each workout at 75 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate. If you don't own a heart rate monitor, then just make sure that your peak efforts are between cannot-hold-a-conversation and flat-out-sprint levels. Last, don't get gluttonous about speed work. One interval session a week is all you need to make a positive impact on your fitness.


  • One to 1.5 miles; easy warm-up
  • Four one-minute intervals (or about 300 yards per repeat)
  • Three-quarters to one mile; easy cool-down
This workout may not seem like much, but the above is just a start: You should slowly increase the number or the duration of the intervals--or both--each week. Lengthening the sprints by 5 percent and adding one repeat per session is plenty. As for recovery periods, always give yourself twice as much time as the interval itself for easy jogging.


  • 300 yards; easy warm-up
  • 200 yards; easy kicking
  • Eight 50-yard intervals; gradually build speed on the even intervals, go easy on the odd intervals. Begin each repeat every minute and 15 seconds.
  • Four 100-yard intervals; gradually build speed with every interval. Begin each repeat every two minutes, 30 seconds.
  • Six 50-yard kicking intervals; begin each repeat every two minutes
  • 500 yards; alternate between a hard and easy pace on each 50
  • 200 yards; easy cool-down
The times allotted per repeat should ensure that you aren't gasping at the start of the next effort. Once the recovery periods seem too generous, you should shorten them.


  • Two to three miles (or ten minutes); easy warm-up
  • Four four-minute intervals on flat terrain, pedaling at 95-120 rpm, or four four-minute hill intervals on rolling terrain or medium-steep inclines, pedaling at 80-95 rpm
  • One to 1.5 miles (or five minutes); easy cool-down Recover after each interval with three minutes of slow riding. Gradually lengthen the speed work in time or number of reps each week, and try riding from in the saddle, where most riders find it easier to pedal at high cadences.

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