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5 tips for those dreaded turbo sessions by National Champion Dan Bigham


I think the majority of cyclists would agree with me when I say I don't enjoy turbo sessions. They're both a physical and a mental challenge. My coach has set some pretty horrifying sessions on the turbo and they don't seem to be getting any easier so I thought I'd share a few strategies I've developed both physically and mentally to show the turbo who's boss.

1. Prepare yourself mentally for the session

Know exactly what the session is, what wattages you have to hit for how long. This will help you to zone out of the session plan so you can focus entirely on each interval. You know the session will be tough, treat it as a challenge and go in to it with a gritty smile. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!

2. Prepare yourself physically for the session

It may only be an hour long but don't underestimate your nutritional requirements. If you're glycogen depleted from earlier sessions then you will suffer during intervals, so ensure you've had a good amount of carbohydrates in the hours before the session.

3. Dose up

For an extra boost to get you through the toughest sessions get a good dose of caffeine in. It provides an ergogenic effect as well as a reduction in perceived exertion. Recent literature recommends 3mg per kg of body mass around 30 minutes before exercise. In TrueStart terms that's 4 grams of coffee (2 scoops / sachets / Hero bars) if you weigh 63kg.

4. Build in to each effort

You might feel super strong early on but I can promise you that the best way to get the most out of your session with minimal suffering is to build your perceived effort throughout each interval. A negative split is ideal, go out just below your target wattage (~5w) with the aim of picking it up at half way and finishing bang on target. Physiologically this is easier for your body to perform and psychologically its a great positive reinforcement to see the numbers constantly increasing! It'll teach you good pacing for races too.

5. Forget the numbers

It's all too easy to sit staring at your Garmin throughout an effort. But as everyone knows, a watched kettle never boils! I like to visualise race scenarios from the past year where I've performed really well and just imagine I'm back in that race. Time will fly and you'll get an adrenalin boost from the race scenario.  

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