When it launched in 2008, the Wattbike quickly became the go-to indoor bike option for elite cyclists. Fast-forward to 2023 and it is now widely available for us mere mortals to ride too, with the Wattbike Atom a popular pick for home users linking the bike to apps like Zwift.
Better yet, the Wattbike has been adopted by athletes outside of cycling, showing that anyone can use the program to supplement their training routine. With that in mind we asked the team at Wattbike if they could recommend Wattbike workouts for running, cycling and team sports, and they duly delivered.
Below you’ll find a workout for each of those categories recommended by a Wattbike expert, as well as four more sessions suitable for common gym-goer goals. Some of the workouts use your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) as a way to gauge effort levels. This is something you can ascertain on a Wattbike using the dedicated 20-minute test in the Wattbike Hub app.
Wattbike Workout For Runners
This workout is recommended by running coach and Wattbike ambassador Emma Kirk-Odunubi (who’s previously contributed a strength training workout for runners to Coach), and it’s perfect for runners aiming to improve endurance and maintain speed during the second half of a race.
“One of the things runners aspire to in races is negative splits,” says Kirk-Odunubi. “That is starting a race slower and getting faster over time. This Wattbike workout does exactly that, with your FTP% increasing during short intervals with enough rest to reset and go again.”
Warm-up: Go from an easy to moderate intensity.
Intervals: 3 x 3min efforts (each effort split into six 30sec blocks, each block harder than the last, peaking at 105% FTP) with 3min recovery at 55% FTP.
Warm-down: ramp down allowing your heart rate to fully recover.
To progress this ride when you repeat it, you can either reduce your recovery time between blocks of intervals or increase the intensity of the blocks. So in week 2 you could start your first block at 85% and push up to 110% FTP.
This workout is on the Wattbike Hub app as New Workout.
Wattbike Workout For Cyclists
Alex Dowsett, former pro cyclist and Wattbike ambassador (who has previously contributed a turbo trainer workout to Coach), has created this 45-minute session that involves doing a range of efforts of different lengths, using your FTP to gauge the intensity.
“This workout is a 45-minute blast, hitting all the necessary zones and testing everything from your sprint to your endurance,” says Dowsett. “I think people will enjoy it because there’s very little repetition and there’s always something new to think about with upcoming intervals.”
Warm-up: 10min at 50% FTP
Effort: 10min at 90% FTP
Effort: 45sec at 105% FTP
Intervals: 4 x 6sec efforts at 135% FTP with 1min recovery at 40% FTP
Ramp: 7min going from 85% to 115% FTP
Recovery: 3min at 40% FTP
Ramp: 4min going from 90% to 115% FTP
Warm-down: 2min at 40% FTP
This workout is on the Wattbike Hub app as Bike Racers Mixed Session.
Wattbike Workouts For Team Sports
Nic Gill, head of strength and conditioning for the New Zealand men’s rugby union team, partners of Wattbike, picked this interval workout as a great option for people who want to train for team sports on the bike.
“Most team sports require athletes to repeat high-intensity efforts of different distances and durations and typically with a short rest,” says Gill. “This workout is all about developing and maintaining the ability to produce maximum power, recover fast, and do it again! This peak power produced on a Wattbike is closely related to sprinting on the field, so it’s a great way to enhance your performance on the park.”
Rather than FTP, this workout requires you to gauge your effort out of 10.
Warm-up: 1min at 3/10 effort, 1min at 4/10, continue building, finishing with 7/10 in the 5th minute.
Easy spin: 60sec
Block 1: 5 x 10sec wind-ups. Increase your cadence and load over the five reps. For example do the first rep at 90RPM, 6/10 effort, then the second rep 100RPM, 7/10 effort, and so on.
Easy spin: 60sec
Block 2: 10 x 4sec max effort sprint with 26sec rest between reps.
Easy spin: 60sec
Block 3: 5 x 6sec max effort sprints with 24sec rest between reps.
Wattbike Workout For Gym-Goers
Building up your endurance when you have less than an hour to spend on the exercise bike can be a tough task, but it is possible, and this 40-minute session called Eat The Elephant is a great place to start. The workout starts with a seven- to eight-minute warm-up, then goes into a solid 30 minutes at a moderate intensity well below your functional threshold power (or how hard you can go for somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour), followed by a warm-down until the time is up. You won’t fall off the bike a broken man like you might after a savage intervals session, but the endurance benefits of the sustained effort will become clear when you breeze through your next sportive.
“This is a time-efficient aerobic endurance training session that is primarily about cultivating a deeper aerobic base,” says Adam Daniel, master trainer for Wattbike. “It includes all the physiological adaptations inherent in long, steady, low-intensity riding like improved fat metabolism, better oxygen delivery and glycogen conservation, lower heart rate at higher power outputs, and improved work efficiency.
“When done regularly this session will also mean you’ll require less food, especially carbohydrate, to fuel your effort during your events.”
You can find the Eat The Elephant workout on the free Wattbike Hub app and if you link it to the Wattbike you’re using, you’ll be guided through the workout to ensure you’re working at the correct level throughout.
Maintain an average power output and cadence for 30 minutes. Record the average power and total distance covered.
“This is a staple cycling session for cardiovascular endurance,” says Andy Birch from Virgin Active Gyms, which features Wattbikes. “As your body gets used to the demands of this session it will become more efficient at supplying your muscles with oxygen. So if you start to find that it becomes easier, don’t gloat. Instead, increase your power and aim to cover a greater distance to keep your cardio climbing.”
Form tip: “Use the Wattbike’s Polar View display to perfect your cycling technique,” says Birch. “If it displays a figure of eight or peanut shape you’re losing power through your pedal stroke. Imagine there’s mud on the sole of your shoe. Now with each downward stroke try to scrape that mud off. This will engage your hamstrings and should make the display look more like a sausage shape.”
Goal: Fat loss
Intervals of 20 seconds sprinting and 40 seconds recovery for 20 minutes. For each sprint period aim to maintain an average power output (similar to maintaining a speed on a regular exercise bike).
“High intensity interval training (HIIT) kicks your metabolism into overdrive,” says Birch. “It increases EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption)—or what’s sometimes referred to as ‘afterburn’ —resulting in an elevated fat loss state for up to 24 hours after you finish your workout. The greater the intensity, the longer your body burns fat.”
Form tip: “If you’re having to engage your upper body to drive through the stroke you may have too much resistance,” says Birch. “If you’re bouncing in the saddle, there may be too little resistance.”
Four 300m sprints as fast as possible with one minute of rest between each. Record your maximum power output on each sprint.
“You won’t be able to maintain your maximum speed for long but these short bursts of all-out power will have a similar effect to weight training,” says Birch. “They’ll cause a surge in your human growth hormone and testosterone levels and increase the number of fast-twitch fibres in your leg muscles. The result: stronger, more powerful quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves.”
Form tip: “Use the Polar View display to make sure you’re cycling evenly with each leg and not over-reliant on one,” says Birch. “Aim for a 50:50 balance for even muscle development. And resist standing out of the saddle as this takes the tension away from your legs and reduces the muscle-building benefit of the session.”
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
- Sam RiderContributor