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Cross Training Workouts to Improve Your Cycling Fitness

While you have to ride a bike to get better at riding a bike, you can speed up your gains with these metabolic conditioning workouts. They are time effective, require little or not equipment and will increase both cardiovascular and muscular endurance.

Unlike traditional strength training that will usually have more rest than work, with these workouts get a synergistic effect as you are getting more of a muscular and cardiovascular improvement than you would doing them separately. Metabolic conditioning workouts give you much more bang for your buck as long as you are willing to put the work in.

The reason they work so well is that by taking a 2 or 3 functional movements and do them in repeating circuits with no rest, you are providing training stimulus to both the muscles and the cardiovascular system. You become stronger, your anaerobic threshold increases and your ability to work hard for long periods improves. Combine this with the fact that full body exercise that has a lot of lactic acid and creates a large oxygen demand, triggers your body to increase growth hormone and testosterone production.

These hormones decrease as we age so increasing you levels naturally will improve recovery, increase energy and find it easier to cut body fat. And Ladies, don’t worry, the amount of increase of testosterone in your bodies isn’t enough to grow a mustache. It will just improve your athletic performance.

I have adapted these workouts from the principles developed by the Crossfit training system. There approach is to use a broad range of functional movements performed at high intensity to build fitness for all athletic endeavors. The key to getting the most out of these workouts is to learn how to do the exercises properly, push hard and get it done as quick as you can.

Take the workouts outlined below and add them to your program every two to four days depending on what your doing on the bike and time of year. Rotate through the workouts so you do each one before you start over at the first. This will mean that you won’t repeat a workout within a three week period at the minimum.

Unless otherwise stated each Metabolic Conditioning workout is done as close to uninterrupted as possible. If you have to take a break because you can’t do all the repetitions in a row, keep is as short as you can and get back at it. Don’t rest between exercises or rounds either if you can manage it.

If the workout says “For Time”, start a stop watch at the beginning and get the work done as fast as you can while still keeping proper form for the exercises. Record your times, so when you do this workout again you can compare your time and track your progress.

Metabolic conditioning workouts can be create in almost infinite variety. The Crossfit recipe of functional movements, performed in varied combinations at high intensity creates a unique stimulus that improves all areas of your cycling fitness.

Here is just a sample list of Metabolic conditioning workouts. An easy thing to do is do two to three of these workouts a week working your way through the list.

These workouts have a unique element to track progress. Either time, number of rounds or total reps. Always track your score from each workout so when you do it again you can look back and see your progress.

Weights specified are targeted towards elite athletes. Experiment with the weights so you use a weight that is appropriate for your fitness level.


“For Time”

Time the workout, trying to get the listed work done as fast as possible. To accomplish this rest as little as possible, do the reps as fast as possible with good form and transition quickly to the next exercise.

“As many rounds as possible”

Perform as many circuits of the listed exercises and repetitions as possible in the time allotted.


These are intervals done 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated 8 times per exercise. Do as many reps as possible during the 20 second work intervals. Your total reps are your score for this workout. Tabata intervals also are very effective on the bike.

Workout Menu

MC 1

As many rounds as possible in 20 minutes

- 5 pullups
- 10 Pushups
- 15 Air Squats


3 rounds of 21-15-9 reps for time

- Deadlifts 135 lb
- Box Jumps
- Pullups


- 5 rounds for time
- 15 pushups
- 15 dumbell swings 35lb


For time

- 50 pullups
- 50 box jumps
- 50 Pushups
- 50 dumbbell swings 20 lb
- 50 dumbbell pushpress 20lb
- 50 sumo deadlift high pulls

MC 5

- 10 rounds for time
- 10 deadlifts 135lb
- 10 knees to elbows

MC 6

For time

- 5 km time trial on trainer

followed by

- 10 pullups
- 20 pushups
- 50 Squats
- 20 pushups
- 10 pullups
- 50 Squats

followed by

- 5 km Time Trial


As many rounds as possible in 20 minutes

- 5 burpees
- 10 lunges
- 15 situps


3 rounds for time

- Deadlifts 135lb
- Pushpress 35 lb dumbbells

MC 9

- Tabata intervals (20seconds hard/10 second recovery X 8 repeats)
- Pullups
- Boxjumps
- Pushups
- Squats


For Time

- 100 Dumbells Swings
- 100 Squats


- 5 rounds for time
- 15 knees to elbows
- 15 dumbell thrusters

MC 12

- 3 rounds of 21-15-9 reps for time
- Dumbell Thrusters
- Pullups

If you do three workouts per week, you’ll repeat these workouts once every 4 weeks. This gives you enough time to notice a big improvement between sessions.

It’s in you to become a better cyclist. Helping you get there is my goal. Equipment, riding skills, fitness and nutrition all have to be dialed in to reach your potential. To take your next step on that journey visit http://www.cyclecambridge.com

About Mark Carrington

Keen cyclist and cycle tourist. Ridden by bicycle across Australia 7 times and crewed Race Across America. Experienced randonneur participated in Paris Brest Paris in 2007

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