Tempo plus

tempo-plusAim of Session

To introduce quality endurance blocks within a longer ride and then offer a neuromuscular challenge when fatigued. A useful stepping stone for riders who have to perform maximum efforts at the end of rides, for example a finishing a sprint in a road race.

Session description

WARM UP: Spend 10 to 15 minutes in zone 2 in addition to session duration
MAIN SET: Ride in mid range of zone 3. Finish ride with 10 x 1 min 'fast pedals' (1 min recovery in between efforts), go as high as you can with that cadence!
COOL DOWN: Ease off with 10 mins of zone 1/2 not included in session time


Similar responses to a normal zone 3 ride (see other 'tempo' sessions). Completing these fast pedal efforts after a block of zone 3 will increase the stress on the body compared to a zone 2 session using fast pedals. The zone 3 work will have stripped back a fair proportion of your glycogen stores, so when it comes to recruiting the fast twitch fibres to bring up contraction speed, the stress is higher.

Application for the Rider

It is not uncommon for a cyclist to need high intensity bursts towards the end of a race - and this session is a good way to move the rider towards attaining that ability: a period of time in the carbohydrate itensive zone 3 before firing up the fast twitch fibres maximally contraction speed wise. This session can be placed in a training cycle before the 'tempo burst' session, as it uses increased contraction speed with no load rather than requiring any muscular force. The fast pedals will feel harder after the zone 3 work than they will when placed in a zone 2 effort.

Practicalities and tips!

  • This session can be carried out on the road or turbo. If on the road, make sure you find a suitable quiet place to use the fast pedal technique. If indoors on the turbo, take care to position yourself  - as the fast pedal work may rock the turbo excessively.
  • Use no load for the fast pedals i.e. your smallest gear - the focus is simply on the highest cadence you can achieve
  • Take care to keep the motion controlled. Keep good form, and ensure your knees / thighs are parallel to the top tube

Evaluation of the session

  • As with all zone 3 sessions, did you find the middle of the zone for power and heart rate?
  • Was the power / heart rate relationship similar throughout?
  • What was your peak cadence in the fast pedals? Were you able to maintain it for a minute each time? Was it repeatable across the 10 reps?
More in this category: « Tempo Tempo bursts »