Advanced Cycling Workouts

Advanced Cycling Workouts

As you become more fit and your cycling skills improve, you may find yourself wanting to move on to more advanced workouts that focus on a certain type of riding or on building specific cycling skills. The workouts in this article are designed to take your cycling to the next level.

Workout Plan 1: Pro-Level Performance

This workout plan was developed by pro cyclist and coach Josh Horowitz, and is designed to get you into pro-level, race-day shape.46 But don’t worry; you don’t need to be a pro to complete this workout. In fact, as Horowitz puts it, one of the biggest strengths of this plan is that it can “get just about any rider into the best shape of their life”.

This workout plan is broken down into three four-week phases, for a grand total of 12 weeks:

Phase 1

WEEK 1

MON
TUES
 WED
THURS
FRI
SAT
SUN
Day off, or very easy recovery ride in Zone 1
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 2-3 sets: 30-second sprint as hard and fast as you can pedal, followed by 5-minute recovery ride in Zone 2
- cool down for as long as you need
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 2 sets: 10 minutes in Zone 4, shift into difficult
gear so that
your RPMs are low (around
50 if you’re keeping track), pedaling with steady pedal stroke, upper body completely still, focusing
on keeping full tension in your leg muscles throughout the entire interval; followed by 10 minutes of recovery in Zone 2
- cool down for as long as you need

- endurance ride; use your experience to gauge how long you want to ride, just make sure it’s challenging enough to push your endurance up a notch


- recovery ride at slightly lower pace and intensity than other days this week
- include 10 minutes in which you pedal in Zone 2, but in
a relatively easy gear so that
your RPMs are higher than your usual cadence (around 100 RPM if you’re keeping track)
- endurance ride; use your experience to gauge how long you want to ride, just make sure it’s challenging enough to push your endurance up a notch
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- 30 minutes at Zone 3, maintain a smooth, steady, and consistent pace the entire time (if you track RPMs you should be around 60-65)
- cool down for as long as you need


Read more at Horowitz, Josh. “A Sample 3-Month Training Plan for Cyclists.” Active.

WEEK 2

MON
TUES
 WED
THURS
FRI
SAT
SUN
Day off, or very easy recovery ride at Zone 1
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 4 sets: 30-second sprint as hard and fast as you can pedal, followed by recovery ride at Zone2 for 5 minutes
- cool down for as long as you need
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 2 sets: 10-minutes at Zone 4, shift into difficult gear so that your RPMs are low (around 50
if you’re keeping track), pedaling with steady pedal stroke, upper body completely still, focusing on keeping full tension in your leg muscles through- out the entire interval; followed by recovery ride at Zone 2 for 10 minutes
- cool down for as long as you need
- endurance ride; use your experience to gauge how long you want to ride, just make sure it’s challenging enough to push your endurance up a notch
- recovery ride at slightly lower pace and intensity
- include 10 minutes at Zone 2, shift into relatively easy gear so that your RPMs are high (around 120 RPM if you’re keeping track)
- endurance ride; use your experience to gauge how long you want to ride, just make sure it’s challenging enough to push your endurance up a notch
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- 40 minutes at Zone 3, maintain a smooth, steady, and consistent pace the entire time (if you track RPMs you should be around 60-65)
- cool down for as long as you need


WEEK 3

MON
TUES
 WED
THURS
FRI
SAT
SUN

Day off, or very easy recovery ride at Zone 1

- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 5 sets: 30-second sprint as hard and fast as you can pedal, followed by recovery ride atZone2for5 minutes
- cool down for as long as you need
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 3 sets: 10-minutes at Zone 4, shift into difficult gear so that your RPMs are low (around 50 if you’re keeping track), pedaling with steady pedal stroke, upper body completely still, focusing on keeping full tension in your leg muscles throughout the entire interval; followed by recovery ride at Zone 2 for 10 minutes
- cool down for as long as you need
- endurance ride; use your experience to gauge how long you want to ride, just make sure it’s challenging enough to push your endurance up a notch
- recovery ride at slightly lower pace and intensity
- include 10 minutes at Zone 2, shift into relatively easy gear so that your RPMs are high (around 140 RPM if you’re keeping track)
- endurance ride; use your experience to gauge how long you want to ride, just make sure it’s challenging enough to push your endurance up a notch
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- 50 minutes at Zone 3, maintain a smooth, steady, and consistent pace the entire time (if you track RPMs you should be around 60-65)
- cool down for as long as you need


WEEK 4 – RECOVERY WEEK

Complete 3 rides. You choose how long the rides are, but be sure that 70% of your ride is in Zone 1 and the other 30% is in Zone 2.

Phase 2

WEEK 1

MON
TUES
 WED
THURS
FRI
SAT
SUN
Day off, or very easy recovery ride at Zone 1
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 2 sets:
15 minutes riding up a steady but not steep incline, pedaling hard, fast, and steady as if you are doing a time trial, remain in Zone 4; followed by 10 minutes recovery in which you head back down the grade and cruise at Zone 2
- cool down for as long as you need
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 2 sets:15 minutes riding up a steady but not steep incline, pedaling hard, fast, and steady as if you are doing a time trial, remain in Zone 4; followed by 10 minutes recovery in which you head back down the grade and cruise at Zone 2
- cool down for as long as you need
- endurance ride; use your experience to gauge how long you want to ride, just make sure it’s challenging enough to push your endurance up a notch
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- recovery ride at slightly lower pace and intensity
- include 20 minutes at Zone 2, shift into relatively easy gear so that your RPMs are high (around 100 RPM if you’re keeping track)
-endurance ride; use your experience to gauge how long you want to ride, just make sure it’s challenging enough to push your endurance up a notch
-
-warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 2 sets: 15 minutes riding up a steady but not steep incline, pedaling hard, fast, and steady as if you are doing a time trial, remain in Zone 4; followed by 10 minutes recovery in which you head back down the grade and cruise at Zone 2
- cool down for as long as you need


WEEK 2

MON
TUES
 WED
THURS
FRI
SAT
SUN
Day off, or very easy recovery ride at Zone 1
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 2-3 sets: 15 minutes riding up a steady but not steep incline, pedaling hard, fast, and steady as if you are doing a time trial, remain in Zone
4; followed by 10 minutes recovery in which you head back down the grade and cruise at Zone 2
- cool down for as long as you need
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 2-3 sets: 15 minutes riding up a steady but not steep incline, pedaling hard, fast, and steady as if you are doing a time trial, remain in Zone 4; followed by 10 minutes recovery in which you head back down the grade and cruise at Zone 2
- cool down for as long as you need
- endurance ride; use your experience to gauge how long you want to ride, just make sure it’s challenging enough to push your endurance up a notch

- warm-up, 20 mins.

- recovery
ride at slightly lower pace and intensity
- include 20 minutes at Zone 2, shift into relatively easy gear so that your RPMs are high (around 100 RPM if you’re keeping track)

- endurance ride; use your experience to gauge how long you want to ride, just make sure it’s challenging enough to push your endurance up a notch
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 2 sets: 15 minutes riding up a steady but not steep incline, pedaling hard, fast, and steady as if you are doing a time trial, remain in Zone 4; followed by 10 minutes recovery in which you head back down the grade and cruise at Zone 2
- cool down for as long as you need


WEEK 3

MON
TUES
 WED
THURS
FRI
SAT
SUN
Day off, or very easy recovery ride at Zone 1
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 3 sets: 15 minutes riding up a steady
but not steep incline, pedaling hard, fast, and steady as if you are doing a time trial, remain in Zone 4; followed by 10 minutes recovery in which you head back down the grade and cruise at Zone 2
- cool down for as long as you need
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 3 sets: 15 minutes riding up a steady but not steep incline, pedaling hard, fast, and steady as if you are doing a time trial, remain in Zone 4; followed by 10 minutes recovery in which you head back down the grade and cruise at Zone 2
- cool down for as long as you need
- endurance ride; use your experience to gauge how long you want to ride, just make sure it’s challenging enough to push your endurance up a notch
- recovery
ride at slightly lower pace and intensity
- include 40 minutes at Zone 2, shift into relatively easy gear so that your RPMs are high (around 140 RPM if you’re keeping track)
- endurance ride; use your experience to gauge how long you want to ride, just make sure it’s challenging enough to push your endurance up a notch

- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 3 sets: 15 minutes riding up a steady but not steep incline, pedaling hard, fast, and steady as if you are doing a time trial, remain in Zone 4; followed by 10 minutes recovery in which you head back down the grade and cruise at Zone 2
- cool down for as long as you need


WEEK 4 – RECOVERY WEEK

Complete 3 rides. You choose how long the rides are, but be sure that 70% of your ride is in Zone 1 and the other 30% is in Zone 2.

Phase 3

WEEK 1

MON
TUES
 WED
THURS
FRI
SAT
SUN
Day off, or very easy recovery ride at Zone 1
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 2 sets: pedal on flat ground at your absolute maximum Zone 5 for 3 minutes (if you’re tracking RPMs this interval needs to be between 100 and 130), followed by 5 minutes of very slow and easy recovery
- cool down for as long as you need
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 3 sets: pedal on flat ground at your absolute maximum Zone 5 for 3 minutes (if you’re tracking RPMs this interval needs to be between 100 and 130), followed by 5 minutes of very slow and easy recovery
- cool down for as long as you need
- endurance ride; use your experience to gauge how long you want to ride, just make sure it’s challenging enough to push your endurance up a notch
- recovery ride at slightly lower pace and intensity
- include 10 minutes at Zone 2, shift into relatively easy gear so that your RPMs are high (around 100 RPM if you’re keeping track)
- endurance ride; use your experience to gauge how long you want to ride, just make sure it’s challenging enough to push your endurance up a notch

- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 4 sets: pedal on flat ground at your absolute maximum Zone 5 for 3 minutes (if you’re tracking RPMs this interval needs to be between 100 and 130), followed by 5 minutes of very slow and easy recovery
- cool down for as long as you need

 


WEEK 2

MON
TUES
 WED
THURS
FRI
SAT
SUN
Day off, or very easy recovery ride at Zone 1
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 5 sets: pedal on flat ground at your absolute maximum Zone 5 for 3 minutes
(if you’re tracking RPMs this interval needs to be between 100 and 130), followed by 5 minutes of very slow and easy recovery
- cool down for as long as you need
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 6 sets: pedal on flat ground at your absolute maximum Zone 5 for 3 minutes (if you’re tracking RPMs this interval needs to be between 100 and 130), followed by 5 minutes of very slow and easy recovery
- cool down for as long as you need
- endurance ride; use your experience to gauge how long you want to ride, just make sure it’s challenging enough to push your endurance up a notch
- recovery ride at slightly lower pace and intensity
- include 10 minutes at Zone 2, shift into relatively easy gear so that your RPMs are high (around 120 RPM if you’re keeping track)
- endurance ride; use your experience to gauge how long you want to ride, just make sure it’s challenging enough to push your endurance up a notch
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 6 sets: pedal on flat ground at your absolute maximum Zone 5 for 3 minutes (if you’re tracking RPMs this interval needs to be between 100 and 130), followed by 5 minutes of very slow and easy recovery
- cool down for as long as you need


WEEK 3

MON

TUES

 WED

THURS

FRI

SAT

SUN

Day off, or very easy recovery ride at Zone 1
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 6 sets: pedal on flat ground at your absolute maximum Zone 5 for 3 minutes (if you’re tracking RPMs this interval needs to be between 100 and 130), followed by 5 minutes of very slow and easy recovery
- cool down for as long as you need
- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 6 sets: pedal on flat ground at your absolute maximum Zone 5 for 3 minutes (if you’re tracking RPMs this interval needs to be between 100 and 130), followed by 5 minutes of very slow and easy recovery
- cool down for as long as you need
- endurance ride; use your experience to gauge how long you want to ride, just make sure it’s challenging enough to push your endurance up a notch
- recovery ride at slightly lower pace and intensity
- include 10 minutes at Zone 2, shift into relatively easy gear so that your RPMs are high (around 140 RPM if you’re keeping track)
- endurance ride; use your experience to gauge how long you want to ride, just make sure it’s challenging enough to push your endurance up a notch

- warm-up, 20 mins.
- complete 6 sets: pedal on flat ground at your absolute maximum Zone 5 for 3 minutes (if you’re tracking RPMs this interval needs to be between 100 and 130), followed by 5 minutes of very slow and easy recovery
- cool down for as long as you need 


WEEK 4 – RECOVERY WEEK

Complete 3 rides. You choose how long the rides are, but be sure that 70% of your ride is in Zone 1 and the other 30% is in Zone 2.

Workout Plan 2: Increase Your Endurance

This workout plan is based on the work of Hunter Allen, founder of Peaks Coaching Group and co-author of Training and Racing with a Power Meter. Designed to boost your endurance, this routine will prepare you to complete extra long rides such as 100-mile “century” rides, long distance multi-day tours, and other epic rides.

In this routine, you will complete the following ride two times during the week, and then round it out with one 3-5 hour ride on the weekend.

WHAT TO DO
INTENSITY
 HOW LONG
1. Warm-up
Zone 1, building up to 2
15 minutes
2. Hold steady for an extended interval at high intensity
Zone 4
20 minutes
3. Recovery interval at smooth and easy pace
Zone 2
10 minutes
4. Repeat steps 2-3 once more, for a total of 2 full sets
30 minutes

5. Settle into a steady cruising speed.

Throughout this 60-minute cruise, mix in 4-6 high-in- tensity intervals, based on your ability

Zone 2-3

Zone 5

60 minutes

High-intensity intervals should last for 3 minutes, followed by an easy 3 minute recovery

6. Steady and brisk pace
Zone 2-3
30-90 minutes, depending on ability
7. Cool off by riding at an easier pace
Zone 2
15 minutes


See: Arthurs-Brennan, Michelle. “How to build your cycling endurance.” Cycling Weekly. February 2, 2019.

Workout Plan 3: Boost Your Speed

If you’ve fallen in love with pedaling at high speeds and you want to take it up a notch, interval training is the key. As per Cycling Weekly’s Hannah Reynolds, “the fastest way to increase your average speed is to train at speeds above it.”

And to make the transition to higher-than-usual speeds, Reynolds suggests high-intensity interval training, as “this allows you to cycle for short bursts at speeds above your usual average pace and then slow down and recover before going fast again.”

Please note that effective speed training will be very difficult if you don’t have a bicycle computer to tell you exactly how fast you’re going. For that reason, we strongly recommend installing a computer if you want to focus on boosting your speed.

To increase your average speed, complete the following ride three times weekly, along with at least one other ride of your choice. Be sure to give yourself two or three days off to recover. Note: The first step in this workout plan is determining your average speed. The best way to do this is to begin recording how fast you go during the rides you’re currently doing. Once you get a sense of how fast you’re capable of riding, and what your average speed looks like, it’s time to dive in to your speed-building workout.

WHAT TO DO
 INTENSITY
HOW LONG
1. Warm-up
Zone 1, building up to 2
15-20 minutes

2. On flat ground, shift up to a slightly harder gear so that your cadence stays the same while your actual speed increases dramatically. Continue speeding
up until you’re going 3 mph faster than your current average speed.

The next time you do this ride, try to go 4 mph faster than your average. Then shoot for 5 mph faster. Continue pushing yourself to go a little bit faster on each subsequent ride.

Zone 4-5
2 minutes

3. Shift back to an easier gear for a recovery interval at a smooth and easy pace

Zone 2
5 minute

4. Repeat steps 2-3 three or four more times, depend- ing on ability

21-28 minutes

5. Cool off by riding at an easy pace

Zone 2

15 minutes


See:
Reynolds, Hannah. “How to cycle faster and increase your average speed.” Cycling Weekly. May 12, 2019.