Workout of the Week: 20/40 Team Pursuit

Grab two cycling buddies and get ready for a high-octane group ride.

Three female cyclists in a pace line

Lindsay Golich is a coach and sports physiologist for the U.S. Olympic Committee. When she told Fast Talk about this team pursuit workout, Trevor Connor and Chris Case had to try it for themselves—and as they attest, it hurts.

“I enjoy it because I know that the reward you get from doing this really high-intensity type of effort is really exciting,” says Golich.

She puts track cyclists through this session in preparation for the team pursuit, but it can benefit road cyclists, too, and doesn’t have to be done on a track. Just grab a couple riding buddies and find a flat stretch of road to ride for 4 minutes. Alternatively, you can do this workout solo by targeting 100-125% FTP during the 40-second intervals.

RELATED: Q&A with Lindsay Golich

A team pursuit workout isn’t just about the effort, but also how to work well in a group. So, it’s critical your pulls are exactly 20 seconds. It’s also critical to make sure you don’t accelerate as you pull through and force the rider behind you off your wheel. When done right, each rider will pull for 20 seconds and draft for 40 on every rotation.

“A type of workout like this can be really impactful,” Golich explains. “Because you’re looking at top end, you’re looking at that anaerobic capacity, and [functional reserve capacity.] And it’s an area that I find a lot of endurance athletes don’t tap into enough.”

This is meant to mimic race effort, so the best time to perform this team pursuit workout is earlier in the season or ahead of your next competition. But Golich warns it’s not meant to be done frequently or too close to race day. “It’s not a primer session,” she says. “You want to make sure you have ample recovery on the back end.”

Workout of the Week: 20/40 Team Pursuit


15 min. @ 65-75% FTP

Main set

3-5 × 4 min. team pursuit as 20 sec. on/40 sec. off

How: In a group of three, ride in a pace line at time-trial effort with the lead rider around 150% FTP for 20 seconds. After 20 seconds, the lead rider drops to the back of the line and drafts while the other two riders rotate through each of their 20-second pulls.

Spin 4-5 min. between sets


15 min. easy riding