Workout of the Week: Fast 40s

Steve Neal’s intense interval workout involves high reps and variability in rest so you can always push yourself harder in the next session.

A male cyclist with a prosthetic leg rides out of the saddle toward the camera.

This workout comes to us from cycling coach Steve Neal, who enjoys using this with athletes who are just starting a harder training block or haven’t done VO2max work in a while. “The idea is that it lets them get comfortable mentally with high-intensity work,” he says.  

The goal is to complete forty 30-second intervals at your goal five minutes of power. Neal calculates goal power as 5% above the actual five-minute power, hopefully from a recent test. You can also use your peak one-minute power from a one-minute step test to failure. 

The rest between each interval can be variable and depends on your ability. In the beginning, for example, aim to take one-minute rests as much as possible. As you get more comfortable with this workout, decrease some of the rest phases toward 30 seconds. The most important objective is to finish all 40 intervals, so take the rest when you need it. 

“I like that it allows them to have some control over the rest,” says Neal. “but also some goals to get in all the intervals.” 

Once you have accomplished 40 intervals of 30 seconds with 30-second rest, you can move to 30 intervals of 40 seconds. 

This workout can be used at any time of the year, but usually when trying to build VO2max and five-minute power. Neal suggests only performing this once a week, or twice a week if you’re a more experienced rider. 

RELATED: Steve Neal’s Ultimate Long Interval Set

Workout of the Week: Fast 40s 


15-30 min. steady riding, gradually building (the longer you can afford, the better) 

Main set 

40 × 30 sec. @ goal 5 min. power 
Rest 30 sec. to 2 min., depending on comfort 


10 min. easy pedaling