The Fab Four: Hurtbox Sessions

This is the second of 4 blog posts based on my experiences at Hurtbox, an indoor cycle training facility based in Southampton. You can view Part 1 here, as well as at

Four weeks in and four sessions down. I’ve enjoyed the routine of visiting the Hurtbox studio every Monday and having a different type of session thrown my way. Here’s a breakdown of the sessions I’ve completed:

2 x 6min, 2 x 5min, 2 x 4min with a 3 minute recovery between each interval and 3 mins between the different sets. Sounds simple but from the image below it was a little more ‘spiky’ than suggested! It seemed to resemble repeated silhouettes of Bart Simpson’s hair!

After Coach James’ walkthrough during our 10-15 minute, we were into the first 6 minute interval. Rather than this being just a straight, ride hard for 6 minutes it had a little bit more nuance in it. Every 30 seconds we were either progressively pushing harder from 88 to 94% or coming back down the other side to 88%, before going back up again.
This gave it a bit of a rollercoaster feel, giving that little bit more before dropping over the other side. Unfortunately it wasn’t as easy as just easing down as I still had to keep the legs moving to maintain the correct intensity.
The longer 3 min recovery after the first 2 intervals was very much needed. It gave me time to notice how the KICKR keeps the resistance at just the right level so that you are always having to put the effort through the pedals whether that’s at 60% or 90+%.
The next two blocks were shorter at just 5 and 4 minutes respectively but with each set the high point was raised up to 96% and finally to 98%. That little bit extra to reach for was really tough but I just about managed it, working hard to sustain my pedal stroke at a good cadence.
I think this is where these sessions will really help as I hope to get more efficient riding at that higher intensity. As the session was ending I was getting better at remembering to use my glutes and hamstrings through the whole pedal stroke to get the maximum out.
I think ‘legs of jelly’ would be a more suitable name once you’ve done this session
It was Coach Ant’s turn to put me through my paces on Monday morning with this leg burner. I’d raced Salisbury 10M the day before so knew I was going to feel whatever was thrown at my legs.
5 lots of 5-6min intervals but longer recoveries than last week (4 minutes each time) because the intensity was going to be that much higher, with everything ridden over 100%.
What was great about this session was the opportunity to focus on technique. In the first 5 minute effort the goal was to ride at around 90-100RPM. Unfortunately I don’t have a cadence tracker on the bike so had to use the cues of other rider’s pedal strokes and their cadence indicators on the screen to give me an idea of how fast to spin my legs. Keeping the high cadence felt very natural with the high intensity the interval was ridden at.
However, during the next effort the goal here was to ride at a very slow cadence (60-70) as if climbing up a very steep climb. This was such a stark difference to the previous interval, everything seemed to slow down and it began to feel like I was slowly grinding the pedals round and round. These were tough and I had to focus to maintain the intensity at this slow spin cycle! Coach Ant was on hand to help with keeping it all together; relaxed shoulders, push and pull on the pedals.
On the 3rd interval we went back to the faster cadence riding (yess!) before the slower stuff again (nooo!) on the next. Once my legs completely stopped on the 4th interval but a quick back pedal and I was back into it. It was interesting to notice how my breathing would change during the slower cadence efforts, as I focused on deep breaths. sounding a bit like a human steam engine puffing away.
Eventually we reached the last interval where we had a choice of riding a fast or slow cadence. Naturally I wanted to keep to the fast cadence as I knew I found it much easier but I couldn’t help switching in the last 2 minutes to a slower cadence; as they say you should always work on your weaknesses!
Feeling the post Easter egg burn

Dropped in on this Easter Monday Special with plenty of others joining in. The more people in the session the better as there are others to talk to during the recoveries and having someone else riding with you keeps you motivated to work hard.

Not that there was always time to chat. 5 lots of 6:30min intervals with a twist. The first 30 seconds of each interval were ‘sprints’ before dropping into 6mins of tempo.
It was challenging work getting the legs spinning hard and quick enough to reach the high intensity (160% of FTP) during the sprints, and even tougher knowing you couldn’t just back off once the sprint was over. The post sprint tempo was really challenging so it was good that the intensity dropped down during each set from 95 to 90 to 85% of FTP.
A really enjoyable session that was challenging but didn’t leave me feeling completely dead on my saddle. I was quite easily able to go out for another 60mins of easy riding along Western Shore and Hamble in the Bank Holiday sun. It felt very similar to how I feel after tempo running sessions where I know I’ve worked hard during it but still have enough energy and feeling in my legs to run at an easy pace for a short while afterwards.
Looking back I can see how the sprint, tempo combo is a great training method as the sprint pushes your muscles hard and then you’re forced to hold a strong intensity with tiring limbs. I’ve run plenty of tempo runs with uptakes in speed during the end or sandwiched between bouts of tempo, but never at the start. Perhaps it might be worth trying in a future running workout!
I’m not actually sure what DATUM means but looking back on this session it might stand for:
Use your legs properly on the bike
Maybe you need some rest the day after a Half Marathon race
Lots of 2 minute intervals in this session working beyond my FTP so a real tough one to get thrown into the day after running a Half Marathon.
The effort compromised of 1 minute riding hard at 120% followed by a gradual drop to 110% before a 2 minute recovery and repeat. After a couple I knew I was in for a hard time; I could hold the 120% for that first minute but my legs just didn’t want to play ball once I reached that halfway mark. Perhaps it was my head thinking the interval was over in a way and the dropping to 110% was easy. Big Mistake.
Once I’d finished the first set of intervals I realised that I was struggling to hold the intensity needed in the session so asked for my FTP to be reduced slightly. Coach Sam was quickly able to change my settings for the session so whilst the time of the intervals didn’t change the effort I needed to put into the peddles was made slightly easier. It’s a great feature for when you’re not quite feeling in your best condition and of course it goes either way you’re feeling on top form.
A great quartet of sessions so far; I’m looking forward to the next few weeks and seeing what variety of challenges come over the next fortnight. I’ll be checking back in here to update everyone on my progress soon!


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