Cycling Training Plan For Beginners

Cycling training plan

Cycling Training Plan

If you’re new to cycling or lack the motivation to get started, a cycling training plan will help give you the structure you need to get off on the right foot!

All you need to do is:

  • Set realistic goals.
  • Keep yourself motivated
  • Choose a cycling training plan that suits your individual goals.

This is where we come into play!
This cycling training guide is here to kindle your love for cycling and enable you to achieve your goals.

Let’s get started!

Before Starting Your Bike Training Journey

( Note: Consult a doctor before beginning any new exercise program. )

The first week is the toughest part of your bike training program. It takes some discipline to push your limits and complete your workout. Especially if you have no prior cycling experience.

To start your journey, you need to familiarize yourself with some important cycling terms.

Becoming Familiar With Training Terms

man riding road bike

Familiarize yourself with the terms below. This is key to understanding your training plan.

Aerobic Ride

The aerobic ride is the perfect way to begin your cycling training. It’s a short, low-intensity session. This builds endurance without putting much stress on your legs.

Tempo Training

Tempo training is when you start picking up the pace. It’s sometimes called “hard aerobic training,”. That means you to put in a solid effort for 20-30 minutes without stopping.
Tempo training increases your time under tension (TUT) and stimulates muscle growth.

two men riding bicycles next to a lake

Training Zones

Training zones are essential when outlining your cycling plan. There are six training zones. They are categorized by intensity.

The zones listed below range from Zones 1 to Sprint. Zone 1 is the easiest, while Sprint is the most difficult.

Zone 1 is “Aerobic Riding” & Zone 2 is “Intensity Training”

These are also called “all day” pace.

Zone 3 is “Tempo Training”

This is where you start feeling some leg fatigue, higher heart rate, and labored breathing.

Cycling between zone 3 and zone 4 is “The Sweet Spot”

Let’s call this the medium-hard level. It’s meant to push your limits and improve your endurance. But this occurs without subjecting you to lactic acid accumulation.

Zone 4 is “The Lactate Threshold”

This is when you start feeling significant leg fatigue and extreme effort. Zone 4 is essential for muscle growth and extreme conditioning.

Zone 5 is the “VO2 Max Phase”

This intense training phase requires extreme focus, rhythmic breathing, and ultra-high endurance.

Zone 6 is where you don’t hold back

Referred to as “anaerobic training,” because it develops your anaerobic capacity. Zone 6 cycling should take place in 10-20-second intervals.

Burst The burst is a “Semi-Sprint”

This is a sudden increase in acceleration for a short period of time. Cyclists use bursts when they’re going uphill or developing their endurance levels.

Sprint – a “Full Sprint” is an intense increase in acceleration

A full sprint pushes your limits beyond zone 4. The goal is to pedal as hard as you can and for as long as you can. This also causes you to reach a high-lactic acid state.
Sprints should be short, intense, and allow for adequate recovery time afterward.

Why You Need a Biking Training Schedule

weigh scale gym shoes and notebook

Many beginner cyclists start training with no schedule or goals. Having a good plan is one of the biggest challenges cyclists face.

Following through on that plan is the next biggest challenge.

Schedule your Rides and Track your Progress

A schedule will allow you to track your performance and set new goals. It’s one of the best ways to boost motivation and condition you to resist fatigue.

It’s worth mentioning that a cycling schedule isn’t carved in stone. You can adjust the schedule so it’s more tailored to your strengths and limitations.

If you can’t ride for a mile without gasping for air, then you’ll need to take things down a notch. Take the time to assess your fitness level and set some weekly goals.

Our Cycling Training Plan FREE Guide

We’ve built this cycling plan for beginners. This plan will help you build lean muscle while improving your endurance.

Week One

Our one-week training plan allows you to adapt your body to a higher workload. It will also prepare you to push your limits in the coming weeks.

Day 1 – Getting Started ( 60 Minute Ride )

  • 5-minute warm-up – Take time to stretch & limber-up
  • 60 minutes aerobic ride (zone 1 and 2)
  • 10-second bursts every 10 minutes

Go easy on yourself and don’t push your limits yet. Even if you feel like going beyond an hour, it’s best to allow for active recovery and not strain your muscles.

Day 2 – Rest ( Don’t skip rest days )

  • Resting up is a critical part of your plan! I know you’re eager to keep going, but don’t skip the resting days & intervals. They are as important as the activity of cycling.

Day 3 – Hitting the Sweet Spot

  • 5-minute warm-up
  • 30-minute aerobic ride (zone 1 and 2)
  • 15-minute tempo training (zone 3)
  • 10-second burst every 5 minutes

You should be hitting the sweet spot (between zone 3 and 4) by your second training session. Focus on your breathing. Concentrate on getting through the 15 minutes without stopping.

Day 4 – Rest ( Reminder: don’t skip rest days )

  • Rest is a critical part of the plan!

Day 5 – Building Endurance ( 90 Minute Ride )

  • 5-min warm-up
  • 60-min aerobic ride (zone 1 and 2)
  • 30-min tempo training (zone 3)
  • 10-second bursts every 10 minutes of aerobic riding
  • 5-second sprints every 10 minutes of tempo training

Day 5 is usually very taxing both mentally & physically. Beginners will experience relentless muscle fatigue. You may also struggle to keep your breathing steady.

Don’t be disappointed f you can’t finish Day 5 training. Even if you finish 50% of the training, you’ll be surprised how much improvement you’ll see the following week.

Day 6 – Rest ( Don’t skip rest days )

  • Rest is a critical part of the plan!

Day 7 – Pushing Your Limits ( 105 Minute Ride )

  • 5-minute warm-up
  • 60-minute aerobic ride (zone 2)
  • 30-minute tempo training (zone 3 and 4)
  • 15-minute aerobic ride (zone 1 and 2)
  • 10-second bursts every 5 minutes of aerobic training
  • 5-second sprints every 10 minutes of tempo training

Day 7 takes you out of your comfort zone and pushes your limits to the extreme. This prolonged high-intensity training will improve your endurance exponentially!

Cycling Training Plan for Beginners

two women riding road bikes downhill

Skipping recovery intervals is the most common mistake beginners make. You must give fatigued muscles time to recover!

3 Week Micro-Cycle Plan

The micro-cycle involves three weeks of high-intensity training. This gradually builds up in difficulty.

The fourth week is for complete physical and mental recuperation.

Once you feel you’re responding well to the micro-cycle, you can move to the stepped model approach. We’ll cover this below.

What Is a Good Cycling Training Plan?

A good cycling training plan requires three things:

  • Having realistic goals
  • Allowing adequate recovery times
  • Gradually increasing the intensity

Once you’re done with your one-week training schedule, we recommend using a stepped model approach in the upcoming weeks.

Stepped Model Training

A stepped model consists of a mix of low and high-intensity workouts. These workouts involve one week of rigorous training followed by one week of lighter workouts.

Each high-intensity week should aim to be a little harder than the week before. The low-intensity week should remain consistent to allow for better physical and mental recovery.

How Do I Write a Cycling Training Plan?

woman writing a cycling training plan in notebook

As you progress, your body will get used to the training routine. As a result, you’ll need to start adjusting the plan according to your progress.

Listen to Your Body!

Writing a good cycling plan needs one vital element: listening to the needs of your body.

Adjust Your Plan as Needed

If you start training and notice your muscles getting sore before the session is over, then you may need to scale back the amount of time you ride.

As you progress, assess your daily and weekly performance. You can start adding some higher-intensity exercises to your plan.

How Long Is a Good Cycling Workout?

man using a stopwatch to time a lap

A good cycling workout differs from one cyclist to another. As a general rule, a good cycling workout should take at least 30 minutes.

30 minutes is the least amount of time to increase your fitness levels and riding distance. For beginners, sticking with 30-minute training sessions is a perfect start. Maintaining this for the first 3-4 weeks can ease your body into a solid routine.

The most important thing is not to push your limits too far, too soon. It’s okay to struggle with a ten-minute ride at first. After this, you should start seeing improvements!

How Far Should a Beginner Cycle?

Focus on Time of Ride Instead of Distance

If you’re just starting out, you should focus on how long you can cycle (amount of time), rather than how far you go.

Limit your training to 20-30 minutes per session, and take every other day off.
As you get fitter, we recommend you extend the duration of the training session. This is better than increasing the intensity at first.

This will allow you to quickly build up endurance and avoid getting injured. Going too hard on your upper leg and calf muscles can cause injuries. The last thing you want is to get injured, as that would put a quick stop to your exercise routine.

Slowly Increase Intensity

Once you can cycle non-stop for 60 minutes, you can start increasing the intensity. Then you can consider cycling over 15 miles per hour.

Timed rides further develop your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles. This enables you to push your limits and go for higher-intensity sessions.

Cycling Training Plan 100 Miles

two women on bicycles taking a water break

We talked about setting realistic goals earlier. Smaller goals help you achieve more challenging ones later on. This is why you should not plan for a 100-mile ride unless you’ve been training for two to three weeks at least!

If a 100-mile ride proves to be too challenging, try to hit a 50-60 mile ride before setting a new personal record. Jumping from a ten-mile to 100 miles too soon can lead to burnout & frustration.

Once you’re able to do 50-60 miles in a single ride, the jump from 60 to 100 becomes more realistic & manageable.

Ride with A Partner

100-mile solo ride can be challenging & exhausting. I recommend you check out local cycling events group rides. Click here for cycling clubs by state.

These events usually have many local cyclists. Some encouragement helps you get the 100-mile mark with some support. It can also enable you to meet other cycling enthusiasts who are at the same level as you.

If you prefer to ride solo make sure you have a plan just in case.

Bring Supplies with You on Longer Rides

man and woman riding road bicycles

Be sure to bring these items in a cycling backpack for longer solo rides:

  • First aid kit
  • Bike mounted water bottle with plenty of water!
  • Healthy snacks to keep up your energy ( Trail mix, granola bars, etc )
  • Fully charged cell phone
  • Flashlight
  • Reflective cycling gear
  • Headlight & tail light
  • Backup battery for charging your phone
  • Basic bike repair kits and tools

Tips for Cycling Success

Here are some of the most important tips to keep in mind before going for the 100-mile challenge.

  • Start small and gradually work your way up
  • Expect four to five hours of non-stop cycling
  • Focus on low-intensity riding
  • Plan your route carefully, and plan where you will take your breaks
  • Make sure you get ample rest before taking this on
  • Start early in the day – Don’t attempt to ride at night
  • Check the Weather – If the weather forecast looks bad, don’t ride that day!
  • Look for other cyclists to join you – Miles can pass easier with company
  • Make sure you let friends & family know your plan and route
  • Planned start & end times
  • Exactly where you’ll be cycling

The Wrap-Up

Many overly-eager cyclists start with high-intensity training and no real plan. Not only do they get discouraged easier, but they also put themselves at a higher risk of injury.

Remember, slow and steady wins the race! Don’t be hard on yourself and focus on planning ahead and developing good habits to start.

If you haven’t trained before, a physiotherapist can help you set realistic goals and get acquainted with the motions and what to expect.

What’s Next…

If you enjoyed this article, go check out 11 Benefits Of Cycling For A Healthy Body & Mind!

Happy Cycling!

About Informed Cyclist
Michael Rogers
I’m Michael, a cycling fanatic and the founder of Informed Cyclist. I started this site to give back to the sport I love! My mission is to bring the very best cycling advice & know-how to my readers. I hope you enjoy this site as much as I love working on it. I put a lot of heart & effort into it!