This post is the culmination of a series all about why it’s good to have a structured training plan and how to go about creating your own personalised plan to fit around your cycling goals and other commitments.
You can read the previous posts here:
However, if you are ready to dive straight into planning your cycling on a session by session basis then this is the place! Basically, I’ve assembled a number of individual training sessions and arranged them into categories according to what particular aspect of improving your cycling each session addresses.
Try to plan your daily sessions bearing in mind the over arching training plan principles that we looked at in the last post. Remember that you are going to have a period of base training where the emphasis will be on building a solid foundation of strength and fitness before moving on to the build phase where you are aiming for improvement be it in speed, sprinting, stamina, hill climbing or whatever your personal goal is.
During the build phase think back to the TRIMP scores we looked at previously and remember to build in approximately 10% increase into your TRIMP score each week over the build phase. Remember also that it’s important to build in recovery times as well as a period of taper before any big event.
Each of the sessions is designed to be done after a thorough warm up and it’s equally important to do a gentle cool down after the main part of the session as well. Stretching before and after can also be a great idea to help with general flexibility and to help avoid tightness and injury. Regular cross training can also be a great idea to help with all round fitness.
You can use the sessions exactly as they are or you can of course modify the intensity to suite your particular level and then build up intensity as you improve.
The list below is by no means exhaustive (maybe exhausting!) and I have shared sessions that I myself have ridden at some point. I will, over time add others as I come across them and try them!
There are literally as many training session ideas as there are cyclists so if you have a good session that you would like to share please feel free to add it in the comments below.
Sessions to Improve Sprinting Speed
1.The Flying 40s to Enhance Muscular Endurance – Basically you’re going to fly for 40 seconds and then have 20 seconds of recovery in between. Use a medium to large gear so that you have to push quite hard to really use and build your muscles. Repeat up to ten times (according to taste!).
That’s one set above and you can do up to four, possibly five sets with five minutes of recovery speed riding in between.
2.Sprint and Recover – For this one you need a slow rolling start before sprinting off as hard and fast as possible and keeping up maximum effort for 15 seconds. Do this four times.
Recovery ride speed for three minutes and then rinse and repeat. Again you can gradually increase the number of sets as your fitness improves.
3.Standing Starts – You might feel a bit of a wally doing this in public as it involves a lot of stopping and starting and panting!
X10 standing starts with 20 seconds of maximum effort for each one three minute recovery time for each.
Sessions to Improve Technique
1.10 Second Speed Session – Trying to maintain as smooth and even pedal technique as possible pedal as heard as you can for 10 seconds at around 90 – 110rpm. Do easy spinning for 20 seconds and then repeat – keep going for between 5 and 15 minutes.
Rest for five minutes at recovery speed and then do more sets.
2.Changing cadence – In zone 3 – 60/70rpm one minute followed by one minute 100/110rpm, do this four times to total eight minutes. Six minutes recovery and then go again for three or more sets.
3.Cadence steps – This is a really good one for learning what each cadence feels like at different speeds and in different zones:
Start in zone 2 pedal smoothly and evenly at 100rpm then 100rpm, 95rpm, 115rpm and back to 110rpm. Start with 30 seconds at each speed and gradually increase.
Do the same in zone 3 and zone 4 building in a decreasing amount of recovery time in between zone sets as you get fitter.
Sessions for Better Hill Climbing
1.Push and Coast – On a moderate hill stand up and pedal as hard as you can up the hill for 30 seconds. Coast back down again and repeat this time sitting down. Alternate standing and sitting for four climbs before recovering for ten minutes. Repeat.
You can of course choose a harder hill, increase the time and number of repetitions and also decrease the recovery time as you get fitter.
2.Longer Hill Repeats – Choose a longer hill and ascend for five minutes using a gear that’s one cog higher than you would normally choose. Try to resist the temptation to stand on the pedals and remain seated whilst pedalling as smoothly and evenly as possible. Recover for five minutes as you go back down the hill and repeat. Try to aim for five repetitions.
3.Slow Pedalling with sprints – On a gradual incline pedal two minutes seated at a steady 50/60rpm. Then do 1 minute standing still steady 50/60rpm. 1 minute seated, 30 seconds standing, 15 seconds seated followed by 15 seconds standing and then recovery for five minutes.
Repeat to taste!
Sessions to Build Power and Endurance
1.Power Intervals – 2 minutes of threshold power intervals followed by 2 minutes of easy spinning recovery in between – do for 8 repetitions.
2.Tabata Intervals – Based on research by the Japanese exercise scientist Izumi Tabata, good for building muscle and developing stamina and intensity…..sprint as hard as possible for 20 seconds, coast for 10 seconds and then repeat 6 – 8 times.
3.Low cadence Intervals – Do this at a cadence of 70-75rpm and in HRZ 3 using a high gear – x2 15 minute intervals pushing hard at a low cadence divided by 5-10 minutes of faster easy spinning recovery.
4.High gear intervals – A bit of a variation on above:
10 mins 80rpm easy gear
5 mins 60rpm high gear
10 mins 90rpm low gear
5 mins 60rpm high gear
10 mins 80rpm low gear
Sessions to Increase Your Threshold
1.Fast Cadence Repeats – In zone 4 with a cadence of 120rpm do 3 30 second efforts with 30 seconds recovery between each effort.
2.Up and Down Intervals – one minute VO2 (zone five), one minute threshold (zone four), one minute tempo (zone three), one minute threshold (zone four), one minute VO2 (zone five)
Seven minutes recovery (zone one) in between each set.
3.Sweet and Simple Intervals –
3×30 seconds HRZ 4 at a cadence of 90+rpm with 1 min recovery speed in between
6×20 seconds HRZ 4 at 110rpm+ 20 seconds recovery speed in between
Sessions to Help With Weight Loss
1.Pre Breakfast Ride – This doesn’t have to be particularly long or strenuous but a strong coffee followed by a pre breakfast ride will burn off fat. Make sure that you follow this with a healthy well balance breakfast.
2.Energy Session –
2×7 minute HRZ3efforts with five minutes steady riding HRZ2 in between each effort followed by:
Five minutes steady riding HRZ2 then:
3×2 minute hard efforts HRZ5 with three minutes recovery HRZ1 between each effort
Five minutes recovery HRZ1
4×30 second maximum efforts HRZ5 with one minute recovery HRZ1 between each effort
Sessions to Build Speed and Stamina
1.Sweetspot Intervals 2×20 minute sweetspot efforts divided by fifteen minutes recovery in HRZ 1 between efforts. Sweetspot is the area at the top of HRZ3 and bottom of HRZ4. You can also incorporate some brief out of the saddle sprints into this work out to make it tougher.
2.Pyramid Intervals – each effort should be at threshold HRZ4 and recovery in HRZ1. Do one minute of effort followed by one minute of recovery. Then two minutes of effort followed by two minutes of recover etc building all the way up to five minutes of each before working your way back down to one minute of each.
3.20/40s – A really well known session where you do 20 seconds of hard sprinting followed by 40 seconds of recovery for a set of 5 repeats. Between each set have five minutes of recovery and rinse and repeat.
4.More Sweet-Spot Intervals – A slight variation on the above in that you do 5 mins sweetspot followed by 1 minute of recovery. Alternate sweetspot efforts of five minutes each with one minute of recovery. You can reduce the time of the efforts or increase them according to your fitness level.
5.Ten Second Pyramid Pushes – This one’s a bit like pyramid intervals apart from the fact that you are going to do ten second maximum efforts followed by ten second recovery. Increase to 20 second etc etc all the way to 50 seconds and then back down again.
Sessions to Improve Endurance
To a certain extent endurance is endurance and the point is to build endurance in HRZ 2 as a base of fitness however, to alleviate the monotony (!) there’s some examples of endurance rides with a bit more variety below. You can obviously alter the times and timings to suite your particular level of fitness.
1.Endurance With Sprints – First hour is just endurance HRZ2 and no higher. Second hour 2×20 minute sweetspot efforts divided by 15 mins recovery. Third hour do ten second sprints every 10 minutes with recovery speed in between.
2.Endurance with Threshold Pushes – First hour is just endurance HRZ2 and no higher. Second hour 2X 10 minute HRZ4 efforts with five minute recovery in between. Third hour 5 mins in HRZ3 followed by five mins HRZ4 with five mins recovery in between and repeat.
3.Endurance With Tempo and Threshold – First hour is just endurance HRZ2 and no higher. Second hour do x2 20 minute Tempo intervals with 15 mins recovery and then in hour 3 do ten minutes of alternating one minute low followed by one minute of high HRZ4 the 15 mins of recovery and repeat.