More Than Our Story

Triathlon Tips: Unlocking Your Speed

A triathlete on his bike.
A triathlete on his bike.

Table of Contents

Biking: Part 3

Cycling isn’t just about pedaling hard; unlocking your speed on the bike involves a combination of smart physical training, technique improvement, equipment optimization and most importantly, adequate nutrition, hydration and rest. Here are some detailed strategies to help you get faster on the bike:

Unlocking Your Speed

Physical Training

  • Increasing Your Aerobic Capacity: Aerobic capacity is the maximum amount of oxygen the body can utilize during intense exercise. By pushing your body harder you will increase your aerobic capacity. The following are techniques for increasing your aerobic capacity.  
    • Long/Endurance Rides: Incorporating long, steady rides at a moderate pace will help build your aerobic base essential for sustained speed. Aim for at least one long ride per week, gradually increasing the distance.
    • Interval Training: Incorporate high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to improve your VO2 max and overall speed. Try sessions of 30 seconds to 4 minutes at high intensity, followed by equal rest periods.
    • Hill Repeats: Climbing hills builds strength and power, which translates into faster speeds on flat terrain. Find a local hill and incorporate hill repeats into your weekly routine.
  • Strength Training: By targeting key muscle groups and incorporating weight training into your routine you’ll become a faster, stronger cyclist. Some benefits of strength training include:
    • Increased Power: Stronger muscles generate more power, especially in your legs and core, leading to faster speeds.
    • Enhanced Endurance: Building muscle endurance helps you maintain high speeds over longer distances.
    • Improved Injury Prevention: Strengthening your muscles, tendons, and ligaments reduces the risk of injuries.
    • Improved Efficiency: A strong core and upper body improve stability and bike handling, making your pedaling more efficient.

Tips for Effective Weight Training

  • Warm Up: Always warm-up to prepare your muscles and prevent injuries.
  • Progress Gradually: Increase weights gradually to avoid overtraining and injuries.
  • Maintain Proper Form: Focus on good form to maximize benefits and reduce injuries.
  • Combine With Cycling: Integrate weight training with your cycling for best results.
  • Recovery: Allow adequate time for muscle recovery with rest days and proper nutrition.

Key Muscle Groups for Cyclists:

  • Legs: Strong legs are crucial for cycling power. Focus on exercises like squats, lunges, and leg presses that strengthen your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
  • Core: Building a strong core and lower back enhances stability and power transfer. Incorporate planks, Russian twists, and leg raises into your routine to help increase your strength and speed.
  • Upper Body: Strong shoulders, chest, and arms help to maintaining posture and bike handling.

Weight Training Exercises For Cyclists:

  • Squats: Squats target the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, lower your body until your knees are vertical, and return to standing. Use weights for added resistance. Aim for 3 sets of 10 reps.
  • Deadlifts: Deadlift strengthens the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and core. Stand with feet hip-width apart, bend at your hips and knees to lower the barbell, and then lift it by extending your hips and knees. Aim for 3 sets of 10 reps.
  • Lunges: Lunges work the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core. To do a lunge, step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about 90 degrees, and push back to the starting position. Aim for 3 sets of 10 reps per leg.
  • Leg Press: Leg Presses target the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. To do a leg press, sit on the leg press machine, place your feet shoulder-width apart on the platform, and push it away by extending your legs. Aim for 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
  • Bulgarian Split Squats: This exercise improves your balance and targets quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core. To do it, place one foot on a bench behind you, lower your body by bending the front knee, and push back up. Aim for 3 sets of 10 reps per leg.
  • Planks: Planks strengthens the core, shoulders, and back. To do a plank, hold a push-up position with your body in a straight line from head to heels. Try for 3 sets of 30-60 seconds.
  • Russian Twists: This exercise targets the obliques and improves rotational strength. To do this exercise sit with your knees bent and feet off the ground, lean back slightly, and twist your torso side to side while holding a weight. Aim for 3 sets of 20 twists, 10 per side.

Technique Improvement

  • Pedaling Efficiency: Pedaling efficiency can be broken down into two distinct categories:
    • Smooth Pedal Stroke: Aim for a smooth, circular pedal stroke to maximize power output. Think of pulling up on the pedals as well as pushing down.
    • Cadence: Find an optimal cadence, typically between 80-100 RPM, that allows you to ride efficiently without fatiguing too quickly.
  • Bike Handling Skills: How well you handle your bike directly translates into  how much speed you can gain and maintain, some disciplines related to bike handling include:
    • Cornering: Practice cornering to maintain speed through turns. Enter and exit wide to maintain momentum.
    • Descending: Improve your descending skills to safely maintain high speeds downhill. Focus on aerodynamic body positioning and braking techniques.
  • Aerodynamics: Speed is all about aerodynamics. Dialing in these things can reduce your drag and in turn increase your speed.
    • Body Position: Maintaining a low, aerodynamic position on the bike when riding fast reduces drag and increases speed.
    • Clothing: Wear tight-fitting, aerodynamic clothing to reduce drag and reduce wind resistance.

Equipment Optimization

  • Bike Fit: Get a professional bike fit to ensure your bike’s setup maximizes your power output and comfort, preventing injuries and enhancing performance.
  • Bike Maintenance: Keep your bike in good condition with regular tune-ups and maintenance checks. Ensure your tires are inflated to the optimal pressure for your weight and riding conditions.
  • Upgrade Components: Consider upgrading to lighter and more aerodynamic components, such as wheels, frames, handlebars and helmets, to help reduce weight and drag, and improve speed.

Nutrition and Hydration:

  • Balanced Diet: Maintaining a proper balanced diet and adequate nutrition is key while expending energy. As your primary energy source for high-intensity efforts, ensure you intake enough carbohydrates to fuel your rides. Also make sure to include plenty of protein and healthy fats for recovery and sustained energy
  • Hydration: Make sure you drink plenty of water before, during, and after your rides to stay hydrated, help regulate your temperature, and help maintain your energy levels.
  • Electrolytes: Make sure to consume enough electrolytes (tabs or drink form) to prevent cramping during long rides.

Mental Strategies:

  • Goal Setting and Visualization: Set specific, measurable and realistic time-bound goals help you stay focused and motivated. Visualize successful rides and overcoming challenges to build confidence and improve performance.
  • Stay Motivated: Track your progress in a training log to monitor improvements and stay motivated. Also consider joining a team – riding with others can provide motivation, competition, support, and it’s more fun!

Rest and Recovery:

  • Rest Days: Allow time for your muscles to recover and rebuild. Ensure you have at least one or two rest days per week.
  • Sleep: Ensure you get enough quality sleep to aid in recovery and performance. Aim for 7-9 hours per night.


Implementing these strategies and incorporating weight training can significantly improve your speed, endurance, efficiency and overall performance. Remember, consistency is key, and every ride is an opportunity to improve. So get out there, pedal hard, lift hard, and enjoy the ride!

Picture of Daniel


Daniel is an extremely curious person, a wealth of random knowledge and facts. Extremely passionate about a vast array of interests ranging from health to history, science to athletics, everything culinary and the list goes on. Trust us, you would want to be on his team for Trivial Pursuit. Daniel is also years into his battle with brain cancer. He experienced a seizure while on a Zoom call at work in late 2020 and quite literally, his life changed within minutes. After his operation he started to talk about his story but had always known it was more than just him. From then, More Than Our Story became a PROJECT that has evolved into the starting point it is today.

Related Articles

Each month we focus on one aspect of the three disciplines, swimming, biking and running, and provide updates on our race season along the way.

Bob Knuckey, 75-year-young, endurance athlete extraordinaire became a 2-time, age-group IRONMAN world champion this year in Nice, France.

Stephen shares his story of grit and determination of how he battles multiple sclerosis and his journey to becoming a three time IRONMAN.

How triathlon helps maintain my positivity, gives me a sense of accomplishment, a supportive community, and has helped me come to terms with my illness.

Greg Robertson shares about his enthusiasm for triathlon, his ambassadorship for the Somersault race series and his goals for 2023 and beyond.