Maximizing Your Gravel Bike Training

Maximizing Your Gravel Bike Training

A good coach can create a training plan that maximizes your time on your bike. This can help those key training blocks when working hard to build fitness for a long endurance event like a Haul It gravel race.


Gravel events often require pushing a bigger gear at a lower cadence to maintain traction and torque over lumpy terrain. This requires high leg strength, core stability, and upper-body stamina.

Long intervals help you build the endurance required for a long gravel race or event. Try a 2-hour ride with 3×20-minute Tempo Intervals separated by 10 minutes of recovery.

This type of workout can be done on a trainer or outside on a flat course. It’s important to remember that the length of a training ride is less important than consistency.


Many Gravel Bike Training Program feature significant elevation gain, either short and repetitive climbs or long and sustained ones. Training on varying terrain and gradients can help you get accustomed to the physical demands of these types of events.

Gravel riders must also tap into their neuromuscular capabilities for high torque efforts over extended periods to overcome obstacles and ride through variable course conditions. These workouts can be incorporated into the Build Phase with structured intervals targeted at your Functional Threshold Power.

The final component to consider when maximizing gravel bike training is endurance. Getting comfortable riding long distances is crucial for gravel racing, and a general rule of thumb is to train at 75% of your event day’s expected mileage.

Recovery Rides

Gravel events require a whole different level of fitness than pavement rides. It demands the ability to push a larger gear at a lower cadence to maintain traction over rough surfaces, requiring upper body strength and stability.

Many gravel races are also longer than equivalent road events, so endurance is a key component of training for these events. Long, conversational pace rides help you develop endurance and build a comfortable threshold for riding at that distance.

Some coaches recommend including a few Lactate Clearance Intervals (also known as Over Under intervals) in your endurance rides to help you develop the necessary power and endurance for high-torque, low-cadence efforts. These seated, high-intensity intervals are best performed on hills but can also be done on the trainer.

Endurance Rides

Almost all gravel events have some long, endurance-oriented section that can test your stamina. Getting familiar with riding at this pace is one of the best ways to prepare for your race.

On these rides, try to cover at least two-thirds and ideally three-quarters of the distance/duration you’ll be racing on your big day. This is a key factor in understanding what to expect, especially when fatigue starts to do weird things to your mind.

Also, add some high-intensity intervals and seated climbing drills on these rides. These workouts will help you build the endurance and top-end power needed when pushing into the red to catch a group or climb a steep climb. This is where a quality, custom training plan can come in handy!

Strength Training

If you join a Gravel Bike Training Membership, you may need to have more strength than you would for traditional road cycling. Including upper body and core strength training, twice weekly is important to prevent injuries and maximize performance.

If you’ve ever been bogged down in mud or deep sand or felt your tires slip on a climb in loose gravel, you know that muscling your way through a high torque, low cadence situation is key to gravel success. Muscle Tension intervals and Standing Starts are two workouts that can help develop power for these efforts.

While getting long rides in before your big event is important, consistency trumps your time on a bike in one session. Generally, you should train at most 75% of the distance of your goal race in one training ride.

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