One-Hour Triathlon Workout: Over-Under Bike Session

  • By Jené Shaw
  • Published Jun 4, 2013
  • Updated Jun 30, 2015 at 12:05 PM UTC
Photo: Nils Nilsen

Every Tuesday we’ll feature a different triathlon coach’s workout you can complete in 60 mins (or less!).

This week’s bike workout comes from Dave Sheanin, a coach for D3 Multisport ( in Boulder, Colo. He says this type of over-under session teaches you to be measured and efficient when generating power. “You’re pushing into a hard effort (Zone 5–above threshold) for the ‘over’ segment. If you hammer the ‘over,’ it’s pretty tough to recover during the ‘under’ since that’s still in Zone 3/4—not recovery,” Sheanin says. “You learn some discipline from this kind of workout.”

Physiologically, he says, you’re building up lactate during the “over” and then your body needs to try to catch up clearing it during the “under” segment.  “You’re raising your threshold by doing work around your current threshold,” he says. “But if the workout called for 3–4 minutes straight of work at 110–120% of threshold (the same amount of cumulative time called for in the workout), it would feel a whole lot different!”

If you have more than an hour, Sheanin suggests pairing this trainer workout with a 25-minute transition run—run the first mile at 10K pace, jog easy for four minutes, then insert 3–6 20-second intervals with 40 seconds recovery.

RELATED – One-Hour Workout: Bike Trainer Menagerie

Over-Under Bike Session

This works fine on either a trainer or the road.

Warmup: 10-min easy spin

Main Set:

5 mins at a hard but sustainable effort. For the last 15 seconds of each minute, accelerate to an effort above threshold.

Note: Your breathing will be panting. These efforts are short enough that you might not feel them until after they’re done. Not over the top—just a strong acceleration.

5 mins of easy spinning recovery.

Repeat above set 2–3 times.

20 mins steady state mid-Zone 2 riding

Cooldown: No cooldown if you’re doing a brick run, otherwise spin easy for 5–10 minutes to complete an hour.

RELATED: A Long-Course Trainer Workout

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Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw is a contributor for Triathlete magazine, a six-time Ironman finisher and a USAT Level 1 certified coach

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