Gear intervals

gear-intervalsAim of Session

Sets of all-out sprints in progressively bigger gear separated by easy spinning, simulating accelerations needed for group racing

Session description

WU: Start with 10 mins zone 2 if required, add this to the session duration

MS: One interval = 3 x 12s sprint, one in small gear, one in medium gear, one in big gear; 30s between each. 5 mins easy spinning before repeating interval (1 set = 3 intervals). Advanced riders aiming for 2 x 3 sets i.e. 18 x 12s

CD: add 10 mins of spinning onto session duration if required


As with all sprint sessions, the main aim is to encourage maximal force development and fibre recruitment. Working for 12s at a time will require use of the anaerobic energy systems to produce power. With greater recovery time (twice as much time as the work) replenishment of the anaerobic 'stores' should be complete. Working in different gears will allow the rider to work on their peak force generation at different contraction speeds - so working across the whole range of muscle fibres (slow and fast twitch fibres are recruited across low to high cadences).

Application for the Rider

Being able to sprint across the whole range of gears is a useful attribute for road racers and mountain bikers; especially if racing on varied terrain and having to react to other riders accelerations.

Practicalities and tips!

  • Depending on your experience level and ability to produce muscle torque, chose appropriate terrain to do this session. If you need assistance, work on a downhill; if you require more resistance, work uphill
  • Remember each gear you use, and be consistent across intervals and sets
  • For a variation on the session, you can do these sprints seated, or out of the saddle
  • Lever the handlebars as you intiate the sprint, keep your head up
  • You will probably 'rev out' at the end of the 12s - don't shift gear however tempting!

Evaluation of the session

  • Compare your peak power across small, medium and big gears
  • Compare your peak power across each interval
  • Make the same comparisons for the average power over the 12s sprints
  • Which gearing was the best for peak; and average power? How might this be useful in races?