Cycle Training Made Simple

‘National team coaches in Norway coaching the best cross country skiers in the world who have huge VO2max values were saying working at threshold was ‘too much pain for too little gain’.

Stephen Seiler
@StephenSeiler
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Stephen_Seiler

Before you start reading we would like to to direct you to Stephen Seiler’s work on polarised training. This explains some of reasons why what we are about to say is a logical, simple and pragmatic approach to training.

Three Simple Steps

Before we start, let us first admit that finding the correct training method is much more complicated that what we are about to tell you. However, if you are new to designing your own training program, this is a great place start.

1 decide how much time you really have to train, it does not matter how much time you have three hours or ten hours, but first you must decide how much time you want to dedicate to training. Once you have done that you need to split your time 80/20. So for a ten hour week you a looking for a split eight hours and two hours. If you are training as little as three hours then the split should be 2 hours and 1 hours (65% and 35%).

2 you are going spend 80% of your time at low intensity training, this means easy riding. What do we mean by easy riding we mean Zones 1 and 2 of a five zone model. In simple terms below 75% of you maximum heart rate. If you have the time we would suggest at least one long endurance ride of two to three hours at less than 75% of your maximum heart rate. If you really are in zone 1 or 2, you should not see a big drift in the heart rate. The HR you have after 15 minutes should be the same as at 60 minutes.

3 for the remainder of the time somewhere between 10% and 20% of your time you are going to spend your time working at very high intensity, or at least engaging on workouts that incorporate high intensity. By high intensity we mean mat more 90% of your max heart rate. If you are familiar with FTP and you have a known FTP we mean 105% to 130% of FTP as a minimum. Realistically we are recommending two or three interval workout lasting between 20 minutes and 60 minutes. A workout will incorporate a warm up, intervals and rest periods, and a cool down. Seiler recommends that the best workout protocol is 8 mins high intensity with 2 minutes rest in between. The athlete learns to self regulate these intervals through trial and error. However, 8 minutes is really hard for a novice or beginner, so we are going to offer two simple workout protocols for you to try:

Two High Intensity Workouts

Workout One

  • 10 mins warm up, ramp up to 90% of your max heart rate or close to your FTP
  • three 15 second sprints with 45 seconds between each sprint. Sprint as hard as you can
  • 5 minutes very easy soft pedalling
  • Complete four 4 minute intervals with 2 minutes rest between intervals. The intensity of the four minute interval should be such that another minute at that intensity would be almost impossible. In terms of FTP somewhere between 100 to 120% of your FTP. 105% is a good starting point.
  • Do not go to hard in the first interval, get a feel for what you can manage.
  • Adjust the intensity as you progress through the intervals.
  • These are meant to be very hard, so you do need to learn to suffer, but if you cannot complete the interval, adjust the intensity.
  • 10 minute cool down

Workout Two

  • 10 mins warm up, ramp up to 90% of your max heart rate or close to your FTP
  • three 15 second sprints with 45 seconds between each sprint. Sprint as hard as you can
  • 5 minutes very easy soft pedalling
  • Complete twelve 1 minute intervals with 30 seconds rest between intervals.
  • The intensity of the one minute interval should be such that it very difficult to complete more than eight of these intervals. Once you find that the power is really dropping off and you cannot maintain the intensity, stop and cool down.
  • The ambition is twelve intervals, but do as many as you can without completely blowing up.
  • It is insanely difficult to complete 12 intervals at 130% of FTP, so do not expect to complete 12. If you easily complete 12 you are not working hard enough.
  • 10 minute cool down

Strength Training

While not essential, we would recommend incorporating strength training into your training program. The best place to learn about strength training is to follow the guidance from British Cycling. If you are new to strength training start with the How To. Also make sure you start with low weight and allow at least four weeks to adapt to the exercises before you move on to higher weights.