Can CrossFit Make You a Better Runner?

If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter you’ll know that I’ve fallen a little bit out of love with running over the last year or so, or since my stress fracture. I can’t justify or explain why, but I guess it has something to do with the fear of being rubbish, or it being really hard or painful!

Realistically though, this fear is mostly unfounded; I do CrossFit four or five times per week, where we do a little bit of running or rowing and plenty of high intensity workouts, so technically I should have enough general fitness to carry me through a short- to mid-distance run. But in practice, how does this style of training carry over to running, something people usually train very specifically for?

CrossFit for Cardio Endurance

There’s no denying that CrossFit has made me the strongest I’ve been in my life – I can do bodyweight pullups, throw 70+ kilos above my head, and pull nearly double my bodyweight off the floor in a deadlift. I’m sure, in some ways, I’m fitter too; I’ve clocked a 1:51 500m row and quite often push myself to the limits on high intensity WODs, but how does that compare to more endurance based exercise, such as running?

Georgina Deadlift

As is CrossFit’s aim, you should be capable of doing almost anything you want or need to do, simply with doing regular CrossFit classes. Taking the running example, strength work makes your muscles able to deal with the demands of uphill inclines, and to generally carry you the distance. Metabolic conditioning (met con) keeps your cardiovascular system ticking over and coping with a certain amount of lactic acid build up. And the mental toughness required to push yourself harder makes the world of difference when it comes to those moments of every race/run when you just want to give up!

By building on general strength and mobility, CrossFit is able to help make you a more efficient runner – taking longer strides, generating more power out of every step and helping to prevent damaging movement patterns like heel striking, overpronation and valgus knee collapse. I found evidence of this myself after going for a gait assessment with Asics a few weeks ago – I am now a neutral runner after years of overpronation!

The Proof is in the Pudding

Over the last year I’ve had two fairly standout moments that have made me think about CrossFit’s effect on my running performance. The first was at the Hatfield Broad Oak 10k race at the end of May bank holiday in 2015. I had signed up to run with a couple of my husband’s friends and, despite best intentions, only trained two to three times, max 3 miles, in the lead-up to the race. But even with this lack of specific training, I clocked a time only 2 minutes slower than my 10k personal best time set in 2012 (when I was marathon training).


The second standout moment was only a week ago when I managed to force myself out for a run for the first time in months. I started off feeling nervous in anticipation of a struggle round the 5k route I’d set myself, but soon realised that, actually, my pace wasn’t too bad and I was feeling pretty decent. I pushed myself for the last mile, and finished 2.5 minutes slower than my 5k PB… with NO specific training.

CrossFit x Run Training in Practice

In an effort to kick-start my running motivation I thought I’d book myself a race to give myself a reason to run. Rather than pushing myself for a half marathon distance, which would require a fair amount of training and dedication, I thought I’d go for something more realistic for my sporadic running attempts… the Vitality British 10k in London. An achievable distance, 10k pushes me to train a little, even if only to finish without hurling.

I love running in London, and I even got a training run in while attending an event with Stance Socks last week. Stance combine art with performance in their running socks (which you can buy from Whatever it Takes, Pro:Direct Running or [Kit]box), and we wore some for a tour with Alternative London of some of East London’s best street art, including Banksy, Roa and Ben Wilson, as part of Stance Socks’s European Street Art Tour. One of the finds that amazed me the most was Ben Wilson’s chewing gum art – he paints tiny little scenes on chewing gum that people have dropped on the streets, turning something ugly and thoughtless into pieces of art protected with varnish! Next on the street art tour is a run in Copenhagen on 25th May – you can keep up with the tour using the hashtag #stancerun.




I wonder if I’ll see any of Ben’s work on the British 10k course? Even without street art, the course looks particularly scenic, passing landmarks including the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Starting on Hyde Park Corner, the route takes in Piccadilly, Regent Street, Pall Mall, St James Palace, Trafalgar Square and Embankment too. Having never gotten into the London Marathon (despite many, many attempts!), it’s my only chance to really take in the sights on a run. 

In terms of training, I aim to complete just one to two runs per week… my only specific running training. My priority will be a distance run, which will amount to between 4-6 miles, and if I can fit it in, then I’ll also do a tempo run of around 3 miles. Normally, if I was to train specifically for a race, I would aim to complete a third run each week, which would be speedwork or hill based, but with CrossFit taking me to a high intensity regularly, I feel as though I could sacrifice this quite safely. Any more than three runs per week seems to be a waste to me anyway (unless you’re looking to build really high weekly mileage into your legs, e.g. for ultra training), and I’d much rather get my CrossFit sessions in for strength training, and a yoga class in for mobility.

So my training programme should, hopefully, look something like this:

Monday – CrossFit 6am

Tuesday – CrossFit 6am

Wednesday – CrossFit 6am, Run 6pm (or Midweek League race)

Thursday – Yoga 6pm, or Weightlifting Club 7:30pm

Friday – CrossFit 6am

Saturday – Weightlifting Club 10:30am, or Run 9:30am

Sunday – Rest day

8 Week Countdown

So now I’ve signed up for the British 10k I’m committed to racing it… I don’t want to put my foot in it by stating a goal time, but let’s just say I’m hoping to prove I can run just as fast off the back of CrossFit as I can with months and months of specific training in my legs. I have another 10k race, plus some running club midweek league races that I can do to get the timing practice in between now and race day, and 8 weeks to do it all in. Watch this space!

Are you a running CrossFitter? Have you noticed a difference in your running training since starting CrossFit? How do you think strength training helps your running? Comment below!

This post is sponsored by Vitality British 10k. Photos courtesy of Lucy Rakauskas, ContreJour Photography and Stance Socks.

Can Yoga Make You Stronger? Yoga Gym Can!

I‘m a big fan of yoga. It supports my activities in CrossFit, weightlifting and running, helps me wind down and focus, and has helped me work on flexibility in areas I hadn’t even realised were tight. But I never really thought of yoga as having the potential to make me stronger. Until now.

Step In Yoga Gym…

Nicola Jane Hobbs is a champion GB Olympic Weightlifter, Master’s in sport and exercise psychology (which I’m studying a module on right now!) and a yoga teacher. So who better to understand and link the benefits of yoga to strength and focus? Nicola identified how yoga helped her build strength in a body that was weakened by an eating disorder from her younger years, and find confidence to believe in herself. From this experience, she has written Yoga Gym – the book that aims to revolutionise the way yoga is used by combining the ancient science of yoga with modern fitness principles.

I met Nicola back in 2013, when I attended her Mind Muscle Yoga class at the BodyPower Expo and her skills as a teacher shone from the start. Since then I followed her social media channels, in awe of her flexibility, strength and control. It was there that I heard about Yoga Gym, and instantly wanted to know more and Nicola kindly arranged for me to receive a review copy before publication.

Can yoga make you stronger? @nicolajanehobbs's #YogaGym can! Find out more... Click To Tweet

Yoga Gym Revolution Nicola Jane Hobbs

Yoga Gym Revolution Nicola Jane Hobbs

So What Is Yoga Gym?

Yoga Gym is not just a book… it’s a training concept. Split into three parts, Nicola provides a thorough overview of the thought processes behind Yoga Gym, as well as the actual exercises and workouts/programme.

Part One – The Basics

Part one focuses on success stories from people she has worked with in her classes. She busts some common yoga myths, such as the misconception that yoga won’t challenge you enough, or that you have to already be flexible to start – things that might have stopped people from taking up yoga in the first place.

The Yoga Gym benefits, guidelines, diet and mindset are covered in easy-to-follow principles, which Nicola backs up with examples. I particularly liked the value of “Wise Use of Energy”, where you should match the tasks on your to-do list with your energy levels at particular times of the day – fantastic for a busy working professional/blogger!

Yoga Gym Revolution Nicola Jane Hobbs

Part Two – The Exercises

Moving on to the main chunk of the book, there are 150+ variations of yoga poses – perfect for all abilities. The poses are broken up into sub-sections, with key concepts and breathing exercises, yang poses (strengthening poses), flows, yogacises and yin poses (passive poses for relaxation). The section then finishes with hints of challenge poses, which can be explored in further detail on the Yoga Gym website.

I love how the pose pages are laid out, with a main photo of the middle-ground pose and cues for how to achieve it, plus regression (if you find the pose too challenging) and progression (to “take it up a notch”) photos and tips. I found this really inspiring to work hard to achieve the most out of each pose that I can.

Yoga Gym - Push Up

Yoga Gym - Rock The Boat

Yoga Gym - Bridge

Part Three – The Workouts

The final part of the book brings everything together into a series of workouts that form a 28 days plan, using periodisation to bring you strength and flexibility gains, while allowing down-time and recovery. The plan is based on 5 workouts per week, but can be extended over a longer duration, e.g. 10 weeks if you can only fit in a couple of workouts per week.

Yoga Gym Revolution Nicola Jane Hobbs

Nicola uses a combination of different modern training concepts, including intervals, supersets, Tabata, peripheral heart action (PHA) training (a new one to me!) and a traditional yoga concept of yin for relaxation.

I love how each workout has a purpose – whether it’s to challenge the lower body with intervals, or complete a full-body-blast with PHA training. The workouts are well-thought-out, and take the questioning out of putting together the exercises in sequences that will work… though of course there’s no reason why you can’t make up your own workouts too!

Where to Buy

Yoga Gym is out today (17th December)! You can buy your copy from Amazon for less than the price of a single yoga class in London! It would also make the perfect Christmas gift for the yogi in your life!

My Yoga Gym Challenge

I’m going to aim to take on Nicola’s 28 day plan, but spreading the workouts out over more weeks to try and fit it all in with my existing training. I’m really interested to see how far I can come along in each pose, and what strength and flexibility I gain from it. Keep up with my progress in the new year using the hashtag #ftcyogagym, or the official book hashtag #yogagym.

Will you be joining in the #YogaGym revolution? @nicolajanehobbs new book is out now! Click To Tweet

And in the meantime, I will be continuing to watch Nicola’s own progress on Instagram, where she posts the most amazing challenging poses and flows.

Yoga Gym - Thread The Needle

Yoga Gym - Triple Down Dog

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Yoga Gym for free. As always, my opinion is my own and not affected by items gifted to me. This post contains Amazon Affiliate links – if you make a purchase through clicking this link I will receive a small commission, but the price you pay is not affected. Affiliate links help contribute towards the cost of running this website. To find out more about my policy on this and other matters, see my Disclosure page.

2015 Training Diary – Week 39

This week started out a bit lazy, but then picked up towards the end, finishing up with three workouts in the end – all pretty tough! I’m definitely starting to cut the excuses, and actually I think just training “for fun” and doing what I fancy is really helping. I even managed to pluck up the courage to do some box jumps!

On the downside… I ripped my hands, booooo. I’ve had blisters before, but never ended up with a rip, but this time they just gave up on me. Luckily it didn’t bleed, but it was sore as hell and I had to scale my workout after it happened, but then I guess you’re not a fully fledged CrossFitter until you’ve ripped your hands! Luckily, I wrote a post about how to look after your hands for CrossFit, so I know what to do!

Week 39: 21st to 27th September 2015

Monday – Rest day. I jumped on the computer pretty much straight after work and got my Training Diary written up, as well as scheduling some posts ready for writing later in the week… needless to say I only got one of them published! We’re really hitting the busy stages of wedding planning right now and time just doesn’t seem to be something I have a lot of!

Tuesday – Rest day. I headed into London for a work meeting in the morning. I work in London once or twice a month, but whenever I do I always take advantage of the food options on offer. This time I chose to have lunch from the new LEON that’s opened round the corner from my office… then continued to be ribbed for how much my lunch cost for the rest of the day. What can I say – I eat a lot!

In the evening I met up with Elle for some drinks with the people from HEAD bags. To celebrate the #revival of their classic 1980s St Moritz and Monte Carlo bags they ran a competition for one lucky, and talented, designer to have their design go into production as a limited edition bag. The top three designs were “Adorned Iris,” “Red + Grey” and “Living Water.” They were all brilliant designs, but my favourite was Adorned Iris, with it’s bold print and statement colour.

The winner was Living Water, by Sophie Dixon. The print was altered from a photo of the surface of the sea, taken from underwater, and is inspired by sustainable fashion. The bag will go into production and will be available for purchase in the New Year.

And the @HEAD_bags winner is... check out the gorgeous bag here! Click To Tweet

Wednesday – CrossFit 6am. A late night home meant takeaway pizza for dinner last night… the, erm, perfect fuel for CrossFit at 6am?! We started with some skills practice, working on our weakest rig element. Mine is definitely kipping pull ups – despite getting my first one months ago, I still can’t consistently string them together. Joel pointed out that my hips may be the problem, so at least I have something to focus on when practising.

We then moved on to the WOD, which was a partner WOD split into two parts. Part A was:

10 minute max calorie row

every 2 minutes – 5 burpees in unison

We had to alternate time on the rower so that we each spent a roughly equal amount of time rowing. Part B was 6 minutes to find:

5RM shoulder to overhead

With one bar between us we had to be clever about how much weight we went up by each time. I worked with Donna and we got 113 calories on the rower, and a combined shoulder to overhead weight of 80kg. I really enjoyed this WOD as the format was more like a competition WOD… something I don’t get to take part in because of my flexibility issues!


Thursday – Rest day. I had quite a lot of work to do today and ended up finishing a little late so we just spent the evening resting.

Friday – CrossFit Gymnastics Session 6pm. I decided to go along to gymnastics again tonight. It’s a great opportunity to work on some of my most weak elements, as well as train with other people. We did a warm up of shoulder dislocations (not as bad as they sound!), walk outs (focusing on keeping our hips stead) and hollow rocks. My lower back always lifts off the floor after 15-20 seconds or so of hollow hold so I know this is something I need to work more on.

After that we moved on to some kipping toes to bar practice. We started with the beat swing, then adding in the knees, and finally trying to go for full toes to bar. Like kipping pull ups, toes to bar is one of my weaker areas and I just can’t seem to string them together. But, with coach Tom’s help I managed to get alternate toes to bar and knees to elbow going for quite a few reps… and I even managed to string two toes to bar together! Right before my hand ripped.

We then did a 10 min partner AMRAP of:

10-15 ring push ups

10 bar rollouts

And then a short WOD, which was a 10 minute EMOM of:

3 toes to bar (adding one each round)

10 lunges

I scaled to hanging leg raises as swinging with my ripped hand was just impossible! But I managed to get all the way through to 12 reps in the final round.

Saturday – Rest day. I had my final dress fitting before the wedding this morning and took my maid of honour with me so she could have her bridesmaid dress altered too. We stopped and had brunch after (2 egg, 2 bacon, beans and toast… in case you’re wondering!) and then I headed home to tidy up round the house and get some bits and pieces. I finally managed to pick up the screws I need to put my TRX x-frame in the wall so I can’t wait to get that up and be able to do more exercises with it at home!

Sunday – Gym 9:15 am. Darren and I were off to Lakeside today to do a little bit of holiday shopping (don’t want to forget about the honeymoon in all the craziness of wedding planning!) so we both went to the gym in the morning but did our own things. After a quick warm up I did:

3 x 12 curtsy lunges / 10 jumping lunges (each leg)

Box jumps to failure

3 x 12 bent over row / cable flyes (each arm)

Assisted pull ups to failure

3 x 8 bench press / 8 t push ups

Staggers push ups to failure

3 x 2 turkish get ups / 8 windmills

Sit ups to failure

I really enjoy doing supersets, and found that the “finisher” after each superset was a great way to really test my muscle endurance after a tough pairing. I’ll definitely train like this again to really get a sweat on and a quick, but hard workout.

Supersets are great for a quick, but hard workout - try this full body session... Click To Tweet

What have you been up to this week? If you keep a training diary I’d love to read it – please feel free to link below in the comments!

Mileage Tracker

Weekly Miles: 0 miles

Running Total: 194.8 miles

2015 Fitness Goals Progress

Goal Target/Date Progress
Running Twice per week 14 out of 39 weeks
Inversions Unsupported hand/handstand (end Q1) Can hold unsupported… just need to work on confidence
Pullups 5 strict (end Q2) Allllllmost one strict (nose height!)
Squat Depth Below parallel (end Q4) Air squat 3/4 depth
Clean & Jerk Body weight (end Q4) 60/72.5kg… slowly getting there!
Snatch 2/3 body weight 40/47.5kg

2015 Training Diary – Week 36

This week was the run up to my hen night. I’m lucky in that my bridesmaids organised so much for me so I didn’t have to do too much, but the prep I did have to do seemed to take over and I didn’t get much else in at all. Along with all of that, I also felt really tired and in need of a rest. Altogether this meant little-to-no exercise.

I can’t help but feel as though I’m turning to excuses far too easily though. Since injury I’ve lost motivation to get up early, favouring a lie in instead, and evening workouts have never really been my thing, unless I’m going with my fiance. Has anyone else found it hard to get back motivated after injury? Accepted the most trivial of excuses?

Week 36: 31st August to 6th September

Monday – Gym 11am. Today was the August Bank Holiday so Darren and I hit the gym together. We worked on chest and tricep exercises, doing:

Chest fly

Dumbbell chest press

Lat pullovers (for the chest stretch)

Incline chest press

Skull crushers

Dips (though I had no strength for these by the end!)

I’ve been enjoying working on specific body areas and training slightly more traditionally for a change – it’s also good to be getting in some varying planes of motion from what I’m used to doing in CrossFit – I’m hoping this will help to protect me from injury going forward.

Do you include conditioning exercises to complement your #crossfit training? Why not?! Click To Tweet


Tuesday – Rest day. We had a busy evening of wedding planning and jumped straight into that after dinner. I was later to bed than I hoped though – a theme for this week!

Wednesday – Physio 5:30pm. This was my first appointment for a couple of weeks. Joe seemed pleased with my progress, and told me I could step up my training even more, perhaps even adding in some short distance running (up to 400m), which is great news. However, because of my slow (and low frequency) return to CrossFit, there are still some things I haven’t tried out… like box jumps so I’m nervous to try the higher impact work. I’ve never really been this neurotic before! Joe told me to take it one step at a time and only do what I feel comfortable doing. He booked me in for another few weeks’ time.

Thursday – Rest day. I got back late from work after having some bits to finish off and then got ready for doing dinner. It’s Darren’s stag do tomorrow so he spent the evening getting things ready for that.

Friday –  Rest day. I had a half day at work today so that I could do some last minute bits ready for my hen night tomorrow. I did some wedding shopping and then drove to my bridesmaid’s beauty salon to have my nails done for the weekend – one thing I’ve enjoyed about giving up sports massage is the ability to have my nails done! Who said a CrossFit girl can’t have nice nails?! 😉

Saturday – Hen night! Today was my hen night. We left fairly early to get to the train station to get into Stratford for the first part of the day… life drawing! We’d booked a session with Hen and Stag Life Drawing, which was so much fun – we giggled from start to finish as they gave us different challenges to do, including drawing specific body parts, and playing a game of “pin the penis on the drawing”.

Life drawing: a brilliantly different way to celebrate a hen night! Click To Tweet

We then headed into central for lunch at All Bar One, where I was overwhelmed with gifts and party bags full of fluff and games! My friends and family were all so generous.

After lunch was a quick (or not-so-quick!) change and then on to cocktail making at Revolution vodka bar, where we learnt the tricks of making a good cocktail and roared with laughter at games and competitions. A series of shots in a row finished me off temporarily, but then I returned to party and we moved on to Steam and Rye to dance the night away.

I had such a great time with my friends and family, and just want to say a very public THANK YOU to them all, especially my lovely Maid of Honour and Bridesmaid, for making it such an enjoyable day and night!

Sunday – Recovery… waking up with a hangover, we headed to a lovely cafe for breakfast before getting the train home. Arriving home, my fiance and his dad had been busy laying turf in our nearly-finished garden. It was so nice to be home – after two nights away (the longest we’ve spent apart since moving in together nearly 4 years ago) I’d really missed Darren.

Vegetarian breakfast… with bacon.

What have you been up to this week? Have you had a busy week too? If you keep a training diary I’d love to read it – please feel free to link below in the comments!

Mileage Tracker

Weekly Miles: 0 miles

Running Total: 194.8 miles

2015 Fitness Goals Progress

Goal Target/Date Progress
Running Twice per week 14 out of 36 weeks
Inversions Unsupported hand/handstand (end Q1) Can hold unsupported… just need to work on confidence
Pullups 5 strict (end Q2) Allllllmost one strict (nose height!)
Squat Depth Below parallel (end Q4) Air squat 3/4 depth
Clean & Jerk Body weight (end Q4) 60/72.5kg… slowly getting there!
Snatch 2/3 body weight 40/47.5kg

Trade Secrets of a Personal Trainer

SuspensionWritten by Steve Barrett, a personal trainer with over 20 years’ experience, the Trade Secrets of a Personal Trainer series is an all-encompassing guide for resistance training. Barrett is a well-respected fitness industry expert, and as well as being a personal trainer he is a presenter and leading fitness brand consultant. These books should be in every fitness professional’s collection if they want to be at the top of their game. In fact, the books are so well written that anyone wanting to get the most out of their gym kit should check out this series.

Books in the Series

There are currently four books in the Trade Secrets of a Personal Trainer series:

Book Overview

Each of the books focuses on the need to make exercise achievable, effective and sustainable, and Barrett sums this up with the use of his S.A.F.E. method; all moves in the books are Simple, Achievable, Functional Exercises.

The premise of S.A.F.E. is that all moves develop stability, strength or power, or a combination of these, and that this is achieved via a progressive approach that is suitable for you (or your client’s) current fitness level – as determined by the “Assess It, Don’t Guess It” fitness test given in each of the books. Barrett believes that the well-known saying “Don’t run before you can walk” should be applied to resistance training, with the walking phase being stability, the running phase being strength and the jumping phase being power.

Barrett describes how to find your “starting point”, the process of goal setting, and the fitness checklist (incorporating mobility, flexibility, muscle recruitment and strength), and advises that clients should “learn it, then work it”; meaning that before diving straight into difficult workouts and developing strength, power and speed, the client should work on stability.

Each of the books includes an FAQ section and a short section on Technique and “Grips”, with the Suspended Bodyweight book detailing the “touch points”, advice on distance from the anchor point, “V/F angle” and stance, and the Kettlebell book including grips, like “rack” and the “swing”.

The Moves

The moves in the Trade Secrets books are presented as a portfolio, with each move given a name, with an associated picture and instructions. Each move is also given Barrett’s very own “Tricks of the Trade”; a nugget of information to help you get the most out of the move.

The exercises are broken into sections, with warm-up moves, strength and conditioning moves, and a set of complementary stretches. The Suspended Bodyweight strength and conditioning moves are kept as one section, because the difference between stability, strength and power is more in the client’s position and speed rather than the exercise itself, while the Kettlebell moves are further broken down into the relevant aims.

Following the portfolio of moves, Barrett provides a variety of workouts that can be followed depending on your (or your client’s) goals. There are 15, 20 and 30 minute options, and within each time choice there are also options for stability, strength or power workouts.


Overall, the Trade Secrets of a Personal Trainer books are informative, clear and concise. As a frequent user of suspension training systems (like TRX) and kettlebells, even I found plenty of new moves in these pages, and the extra tips and tricks make this book a hugely valuable resource for anyone looking to get the most from their chosen piece(s) of gym kit, not just for personal trainers.

Where to Buy

You can order any of the four books in the series from £13.49 via the Bloomsbury Publishing website here.

Ditchling Beacon Hill – I Will Do This, Part 1

Starting Torrey Pines Hill, Southern CA.

Guest post from Gary Hawkins, Founder of Ride Fit™ and Tilda Loftin, Ride Fit™ Coaching Advisor and Co-Owner of Vital Effort Fitness.

While the Ride Fit™ ( team members spend much of their riding time perched on a turbo trainer testing our virtual indoor cycle training videos, occasionally we do venture out on the road.  It was during one such outdoor adventure, as we climbed Scripps Poway Parkway (a well ridden Strava segment in Southern California) that the group conversation turned away from things local and several of us reminisced about our riding days back in England.  One of the group mentioned the upcoming London to Brighton ride and his trepidation before his first attempt at climbing the notorious Ditchling Beacon Hill, the only really difficult climb on the ride.  Perhaps, as you read this you’re in the same position.  It’s four weeks to go, your entry is confirmed, you’re a half decent rider and you’ve been training but the thought of that hill still fills you with dread.

While the hill is just shy of a mile in length, with an average grade of 9% it represents a real challenge.  A profile of the climb can be found on Strava,  Assuming you don’t walk up, and many will, this 440ft climb is going to take between 7 to 14 minutes depending on your ability.  Elite athletes will be aiming for around 5 to 7 minutes.

In Part 1 of this article we address strength training and a four-week training plan targeted at final preparation for the London to Brighton ride and a successful ascent of Ditchling Beacon Hill.

Strength Training

Strength training will not only benefit your general health but it will also increase your cycling performance.  Strength training will increase your muscle mass and more muscle mass will generate more power and get you up that feared hill faster. Another good reason to do some strength training is that cycling is a non-weight bearing sport and strength training has been shown to prevent osteoporosis in later life.

We recommend you do weight training 2 – 3 times a week for 20 – 30 min.  Do 8 – 15 repetitions in 2 – 3 sets all year around. Target fewer repetitions and heavier weight if you need to build primarily strength and the more repetitions and less weight if you want to build primarily endurance.

The main focus should be on your lower body and core but a few upper body exercises for general fitness can also be added.  Our favorite exercises include:

  • Lower body exercises – Squats, lunges, heel raises, hip adduction/abduction;
  • Core exercises – Plank, side plank, crunches, back extensions, hip raises;
  • Upper body exercises – Seated row, lat pull-down, chest press, biceps/triceps.

Four Week Training Program

The program below is a four week program developed for your lead in to the London to Brighton ride.  The program requires that you have a good base already, can ride about 3 hours and have done some form of speed work and hill repeats.

The program includes a long ride, hill repeats, speed work and a steady ride. The workouts can be done on any day but make sure you are well rested before the speed workout and the hill repeats. If you can, avoid doing the hill workout and the speed workout on consecutive days.

Week 4 is a taper week in which the intensity and distances are lowered to prepare you for ride day.

Workout 1 Workout 2 Workout 3 Workout 4
Week 1 Speed workout10 x 90sec, Effort 8-9

30sec rest between segments

Hill Workout4 x 3min seated, Effort 8-9

2 min rest

Steady Ride45min, Effort 7 Long Ride3 hours Easy, Effort 6

2 x 5min Hill, Effort 8

Week 2 Speed workout8 x 2min, Effort 8-9

60sec rest between segments

Hill Workout3 x 3min seated, Effort 8-9

3 x 3min standing, Effort 8-9

2 min rest between segments

Steady Ride60min, Effort 7 Long Ride3hours Easy, Effort 6

3 x 5min Hill, Effort 8

Week 3 Speed workout8 x 2min, Effort 8-9

60sec rest between segments

Hill Workout3 x 4min seated, Effort 8-9

2 x 3min standing, Effort 8-9

2 min rest between segments

Steady Ride60min, Effort 7 Long Ride3hours Easy, Effort 6

2 x 5min Hill, Effort 8

Week 4 Speed workout8 x 90sec, Effort 8-9

30sec rest between segments

Hill Workout2 x 2min seat, Effort 8-9

2 x 2min standing, Effort 8-9

3 min rest between segments

East Steady Ride60min, Effort 5 RIDE DAY

Below are further details regarding each workout.

Effort Levels:
  • 5 – nice and easy;
  • 6 – working but very comfortable.  Easy to hold a conversation;
  • 7 – Effort you could sustain for about one hour or more. Also, commonly known as Functional Threshold Power (FTP) – the maximum power you can maintain through an hour’s effort. You can comfortably hold a conversation;
  • 8 – Pushing Hard, difficult to hold a conversation;
  • 9 – You’re really working hard, extremely difficult to hold a conversation.
Speed Workout:
  • Warm up 20 min and cool down for at least 20 min;
  • This is a hard workout and your legs will scream.  Listen to your body’s signals and stop if you experience any joint pain;
  • Make sure you actively recover between the intervals;
  • Best done on a flat road or on your turbo trainer.
Hill Workout:
  • Warm up 20 min and cool down for at least 20 min;
  • Best done on moderately steep hill outside – get the feeling of being on the road;
  • Make sure you keep good form (see above);
  • Actively rest between the repetitions;
  • Pick a gear that allows you to keep 65-85 rpm.
Steady Ride:
  • Warm up 10 min and cool down at least 10 min;
  • Keep a good steady pace;
  • Best done inside on a turbo trainer.  Perhaps, use a suitably timed Ride Fit workout like Hola Madrid, Spin Around Madrid, Alpine Challenge or Un Paseo En Bicicleta Perfecta to provide a variety and make your workout time go faster.
Long Ride
  • Keep an easy, yet steady pace;
  • Make sure you hydrate and eat similar to race day;
  • Multiple loops around a lakeside (flat) bike path are excellent.  Simulate the hill climb by selecting significantly higher gearing, maintain your cadence and sprinting;
  • Do a full body stretch after the ride.

Look out for the second part of this article, where we will present a few tips that might help you further with the hill climbing challenge that awaits you, perhaps even remove the dread and put a smile on your face.

 About Ride Fit™

Making exercise enjoyable, entertaining and goal-oriented is essential to keep people coming back for more. Ride Fit™ (, an exciting series of virtual indoor cycle and elliptical training videos, provides just such an environment for two of the best types of cardio workouts available – indoor cycling and elliptical exercise. To provide the most realistic virtual workout experience possible, Ride Fit™ videos are shot from the first person perspective using bike-mounted video cameras. Users will experience, as closely as can be achieved in an indoor environment, actually being there on the road.