So now we know why Isolated Leg Training is important. How do you do these intervals properly? Here are some responses to feedback I often receive.
Where do I do these intervals? I do my best to avoid the trainer. ILTs are one of the few workouts that need to be done on a stationary bike. Pedaling with only one leg is certainly awkward and potentially dangerous. Let's try to avoid getting hurt before the season begins. Also, save yourself the strange looks as you pedal down the road like an amputee.
Am I supposed to get this sore? Proper warm-up is crucial. We are going to be using some new muscles during the workout. It may be early in the season. The muscles may have gotten used to some time off or reduced intensity. Warm up the legs thoroughly to avoid muscle strains and excessive soreness the next day.
What do I do with my other leg? Unclip one foot and put it on a piece of furniture or on the trainer near the rear axle. Pedal with one leg for 20-60 seconds. You should be at your normal or higher cadence as you begin the interval. Your cadence will slow as you fatigue.
Is it supposed to be this difficult? Think about smooth circles. DO NOT drive the pedals down and rely on momentum to bring it back up to the top. That defeats the purpose of the workout and is cheating. Push down, pull back, pull up, push forward....Repeat.
How much resistance should I have? If you are unable to get to 20 seconds, reduce the resistance or shift to an easier gear. If you are able to get to 60 seconds and continue, you need to increase resistance or shift to a harder gear.
I feel sloppy. Not only are you recruiting muscles, they have to contract at the correct moment to work in harmony. The sloppiness or choppiness of the stroke is due to a lack of coordination of these muscles. This will improve with practice. If this continues, use less resistance. Allow the muscles to get used to the new movement before increasing intensity.
I'm totally confused by the timing of the intervals. One complete interval consists of riding with each leg. Then return to using both legs and regain a rhythm before beginning the next interval. Right, Left, Rest, One...Right, Left, Rest, Two...Right, Left, Rest, Three. Use a stopwatch or bike computer to coordinate your intervals and keep track of how many you have done. I do one minute with each leg followed by one minute with both legs, starting a new interval every three minutes.
How often or how long do I have to continue these workouts? This is usually asked by those who are struggling and need it most. My workouts build upon one another each month or so. If you skimp now, I will make you pay for it later. Next month, I will be pounding you with seating climbing intervals. You will be using these recruited muscles, driving the pedals at a lower cadence, concentrating on spinning circles and remaining relaxed. After that we move on to seated climbing with explosive bursts or sprints as you approach the top of hills. It won't get easier.
I hope this adds value to your ILT workouts. Early in your training, it is time to gain form, strength, and set the foundation for future workouts. As always, do not hesitate to ask questions and provide feedback. I enjoy the opportunity to help.