Long Cycle

40:40:40 to Enhance Your Long Cycle Sessions

The weekend is often the ideal opportunity to get a long ride completed.  This ride is a challenging one that I get a range of my athletes who are preparing for an event that involves a long cycle to do. Whether it is a long road race like the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge or the Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge; a long distance triathlon such as an Ironman or Ultraman (or even a half Ironman/70.3 on occasion as well); or an extreme cycle challenge like Tour Aoteroa.

The 40:40:40 session is a great workout that will give your body a range of training stimuli that it is likely to experience when riding for the long durations and enhance your future training. Before going into the detail as to why I include each of the various training intensities within this workout let me first take you through it.


  • 60min Level II WU;
  • 40min Level III;
  • 40min Level II;
  • 40min Level IV;
  • 60min Level II CD;
  • 10min Stretching

All up this session takes four hours.

The definitions for training intensities can be found in this article.

Start off with a 60 minute Warm Up (WU) at Level II.

After the Warm Up (WU) lift the intensity to Level III for 40 minutes, return the intensity level down to Level II for 40 minutes and then increase it up to Level IV for 40 minutes.

Finish off the session with 60 minutes at Level II for your Cool Down (CD) and then do ten minutes of stretching to help keep the muscles loose and aid in your recovery.

This session involves exercising at a range of intensities.

The Level II efforts are primarily used as a rest interval in the middle, as well as for the warm up and cool down. At this intensity your body will develop great efficiency with enhancements in the biochemical profile within the muscle fibres (the muscle fibre will develop mitchondria which are the powerhouses within the cells), the heart will get more efficent by developing the capacity of the left ventricle (that’s the part of the heart that pumps blood around the body) and pump more blood with each beat. The lungs get more efficient at getting the oxygen out of the air and passing it into the blood easier. All these things contribute to enhancing your endurance and your fitness.

The Level III intensity is the intensity that most century or Ironman athletes will ride at if their ride is evenly paced. Although you don’t get all the biochemical or physiological gains mentioned above at this intensity, you will still get some of these elements enhanced (just not as much as at the Level II intensity). Your body will adapt to race pace type intensity.

The Level IV intensity is your threshold effort.  Forty minutes is a long time to maintain threshold, especially having already ridden for well over two hours. This will develop your ability to process (and repurpose) lactic acid. Your ability to sustain a high intensity will be enhanced by this block of work.

If you would like further advice feel free to contact me.

I am the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant.

I specialise in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. I can be contacted at coachray@coachray.nz and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up to my informative newsletter.

Share this post so your friends can benefit as well.

For more great workouts of this nature check out my eBook Top 10 Cycle Workouts from Coach Ray.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.