Some of us get to the midpoint of the season having never gotten out of first gear. Maybe it was the winter blues. Or perhaps it was the lack of motivation on those cold spring mornings. Or just maybe, the rest knew something you didn’t. What if you had a training plan specially tailored to you and your season’s goals? One designed to hold you accountable, providing targets throughout the year to reinforce that constant sense of progress?
EVERYONE NEEDS A PLAN
Cycling is one of the toughest sports around, and there’s no gain to be had without pain. It requires hard work and discipline, but one of the best ways to ensure you continuously improve is through some form of accountability.
A well-designed training plan will serve your needs here. Tailored exactly to your goals, it will list a series of incrementally more intense workouts and exercises to keep you on the path towards a goal.
Whatever your goals, whether setting a new PB, winning a race, or simply keeping up with those who got a winter head start, you’ll want a well-structured training plan.
5 CONSIDERATIONS WHEN DESIGNING A CYCLING TRAINING PLAN
Training plans are readily available. Some go through a coach, but many head to the Tacx Training Room. There you’ll find a list of ready-made training plans that you can follow right on your smart trainer.
Before diving in however, you’ll want to make sure that you select the right plan. Here are 5 things to evaluate before choosing one.
1. HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE TO TRAIN?
Some have too much time on their hands, while most of us have very little. Between work and family time, it’s not always easy to find the time to train. But either way, there’s a training plan for everyone that’ll provide the best bang for your training buck.
2. WHAT ARE YOUR SEASON GOALS?
It’s important to define your goals are before starting any training plan. Whether it’s a sportive, a PB, or the targeting of a major race, your season’s goal will determine the frequency, intensity and type of training you must do.
3. WHAT DISCIPLINE DO YOU WANT TO TARGET?
One of the main benefits of a training plan is that it helps to ensure you train smart. It’s important to target the right zones at just the right intensity if you want to bring about those adaptations. Ensure you select a training plan that’ll prepare you for your chosen discipline.
If you’re a time trialist or you’re training for a long mountainous sportive, then a plan with several hours of sweet spot training per week is common. If it’s your sprinting game you want to improve, then a training plan heavy in those short painful anaerobic intervals is what’s required.
Before beginning a training plan you should know your starting point. It’s important to quantify your improvements over the course of the program.
The most useful way to measure your current fitness is by using a power meter. You’ll want to quantify the capacity of the zones you’ll tax during the training plan. Depending on your discipline, 1-minute and 5-minute power numbers along with your FTP will be of particular interest.
Most training plans incorporate some testing, where every 4-6 weeks the gains are quantified and the improvements analysed. This is an important part of any training plan, and it can be immensely rewarding to see the gains manifest if you’ve worked hard.
5. PLAN TO REST
A responsibly prepared training plan will allow for sufficient rest. Many cyclists fail to recognise that the improvements in performance only come about once you have recovered. Training too intensely without recovery will do more harm than good.
Most training plans measure the training load via a metric known as Training Test Score (TSS). This is a way of quantifying the training load on your body based on your current fitness. It’s a remarkably useful metric. As you train in accordance with the plan, you’ll quickly learn how much TSS you can tolerate per week and hence avoid running into fatigue issues.
For those who really want to understand recovery, Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a very useful metric. It’s used to quantify how well you’re recovering from workouts. It measures the interplay between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of your autonomic nervous system. Once a baseline is obtained, it can give you advanced warning of any accumulated fatigue which may have negative health consequences.
With a simple heart rate strap and a free mobile app, you can begin to include this useful metric as part of your protocol.
ACCOUNTABILITY IS THE BEST MEDICINE
When it comes to training plans and holding you accountable, we’ve got your back! With our line of trainers and software solutions, we provide all that and more.
Our specially tailored plans include the BORA-hansgrohe training plan. It’ll have you taxing those anaerobic zones and maintaining that hard won base in no time. With a myriad of options available you’ll be sure to find that plan that meets your needs!
© header image: James Mitchell