Cycling Session

Sunday Smart-Trainer Session – Robin Tullett’s Pyramid Endurance Workout Four

For longer distance events such as an Ironman or Ironman 70.3 spending training time at both threshold and tempo intensity is beneficial, as it is likely that you’ll spend some portion of the cycle leg at these intensities (more time at tempo than threshold). This workout is a great test that gives you a great training stimulus. Don’t attempt this workout unless you are well-rested. Treat this as a race simulation, use your race bike and practice your nutrition.

Each Sunday, I’ll post a Smart-Trainer Session that you can do in about 60 minutes to enhance your cycling. See a previous post about training intensity (Levels) to know how hard to work. If you are working directly with Coach Ray, he will, in most cases, prescribe either a Power Zone or Heart Rate Zone to work within if you are training with these tools.

The inspiration for this session comes from a workout in an article by Robin Tullett in an old issue of the now-defunct Triathlon & Multi-Sport Magazine. The issue was probably from 2003 or 2004 as it has an advert that mentions Felicity Abram as the World Junior Champion which she won in the 2003 ITU World Championships.

Robin Tullett’s Pyramid Endurance Workout Four

  • 10min WU Level II;
  • 1min Level IV, 1min Level III;
  • 2min Level IV, 2min Level III;
  • 3min Level IV, 3min Level III;
  • 4min Level IV, 4min Level III;
  • 5min Level IV, 5min Level III;
  • 6min Level IV, 6min Level III;
  • 7min Level IV, 7min Level III;
  • 8min Level IV, 8min Level III;
  • 9min Level IV, 9min Level III;
  • 10min CD Level II;
  • 10min Stretching

Start the workout with a ten-minute warm-up (WU) riding at Level II, maintaining a cadence between 80 & 90 rpm.

This workout is more of a ladder than a pyramid as we start out riding for one minute at Level IV (but don’t be tempted to go too hard as there is plenty more to do later so pace yourself and hold back on the reins). Keep your cadence between 80 and 90 rpm. After that minute drop your intensity to Level III for a minute also keeping your cadence between 80 and 90 rpm.

Next up is a two-minute rep at Level IV with your cadence between 80 and 90 rpm. Follow that with two minutes at Level III.

Then three minutes at Level IV, followed by three minutes at Level III.

By now you are probably noticing the pattern. Each rep gets a minute long and the recovery segment (if you can call it that) at Level III is the same duration as the proceeding segment at Level IV. Keep building the duration of each rep until the last rep of nine minutes each for Level IV and then Level III. The cadence for the whole workout is between 80 and 90 rpm.

Complete a Cool Down (CD) for ten minutes at Level II.

Finish with ten minutes of stretching to assist with your recovery.

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

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

I specialise in assisting first-timers and recreational athletes in achieving their sporting goals. I can be contacted at and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up for my informative newsletter.

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