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Cycling Fitness Program For Beginners

Challenge yourself and complete the 4 week cycling fitness program for beginners.

Cycling Fitness Program For Beginners: Why Cycling?

By riding a bike, you are not only getting in shape, but you are staying healthy and having fun. From road cycling to mountain biking, there are many ways to enjoy cycling, all with different sceneries and experiences. Read on to learn why cycling is awesome, and how to complete my cycling fitness program for beginners!

This is a 4 week program designed to give you a good base level of cycling fitness.


cyclist-riding-road-fieldCycling Is Healthy

Cycling will get you fit, and if you follow a cycling training program, your likely to remain fit. As a result of increased fitness, your also more more likely to be healthy, as your heart and muscles will be more efficient and stronger. So aside from the fun that can be had while cycling, do it for your health!

Cycling up a hill, or riding 50 miles, burns massive amounts of calories!

Riding a bike is a relatively isolated exercise, using mostly your legs for power and balance. The isolated movement of a pedal rotation is easy on your knees, allowing you to cycle even if you have certain knee problems.

Cycling can even help people recover from knee injury, as it encourages circulation around the knee joints which helps the healing process. This physiological aspect of riding a bike is another reason why cycling is awesome, as it encourages fitness in people with limited mobility. Running, for instance, is not an isolated exercise, and involves hard impacts to the joints.

While running is very popular, when compared to cycling, its quite hard on your body. So stick to riding a bike!

Cycling Makes You Feel Better

After a hard ride, the feeling of accomplishment one gets is better than many sports can offer. The knowledge that you pushed yourself and overcame your own prior fitness boundaries is definitely a rush. This rush is helped along by naturally occurring post-workout endorphins. Also, not only can you feast on healthy, rich foods post ride, but you will feel like you earned it by working hard.

Cycling Fitness Program For Beginners: Why Should You Follow A Fitness Program?

There are many people who consider themselves cyclists, however many of those people have never done a cycling fitness program. Maybe they just started cycling, or they don’t see the benefit of a structured training program. Well, there are many benefits to following a structured training program, and it even makes cycling more fun!




Here are several reasons why following my cycling fitness program for beginners will make you faster while having more fun

  • Setting a goal, like finishing a training program, helps you stay motivated.
  • Following a structured training program makes getting fit easier and more methodical.
  • Committing to a fitness program makes you accountable, making you less likely to become complacent and skip a ride.
  • A fitness program allows you to track your fitness goals and progress more easily. Tracking your fitness is extremely fun and popular, as shown by the success of fitness apps like Strava.
  • Exercising without a fitness program is like traveling without a map. You’ll get somewhere, but probably not where you want to be. Want to be faster at climbing or the flats? Then follow a cycling fitness program!
  • Following a fitness program helps you stay healthy by making you more aware of fueling and recovery for your workouts. You’ll be eating healthier, sleeping more, and taking in more fluids.
  • After you complete a fitness program, there is a great sense of accomplishment. Overcoming a challenge like an intense, 4 week cycling fitness program is difficult, so when your done, be proud of yourself!

cycling fitness program for beginners motto

Cycling Fitness Program For Beginners: Who Is This Program For?

*Check with your doctor to ensure you are healthy enough to embark on a cycling fitness program. If you have health issues that prevent you from exercising at high intensity, then this program is not for you.

Although this is a cycling fitness program for beginners, this plan is for anyone who knows how to ride a bike, both experienced and beginner. However, to not be overwhelmed, it’s recommended that you are at least comfortable with bike handling, gear selection, and that you cycle at least once or twice a week. If you have no experience with bikes at all, go to a local bike shop and purchase one that fits you.

After you are comfortable on the bike, this usually takes couple of weeks, you should be ready to embark on this cycling fitness program for beginners. If you are already fit and have good bike handling skills, but you want to train specifically for cycling fitness, then this program is also a good fit for you. As long as you are ready to take it to your limit, and your body allows you, then you can do this training program.

There is a lot you can focus on in training, but persistence and hard work are the main ingredients for true fitness.


Cycling Fitness Program For Beginners: The Science

There are many things to work on while out training on your bike. However, in recent times, science has discovered many physiological processes that can be targeted for increased performance. Things like your lactate threshold, functional threshold power, strength, and even aerodynamics can all help you become a better cyclist.

Lactate threshold

The point at which acids accumulating in your muscles during a workout overcome your body’s ability to neutralize them through lactate production. If your muscles start to burn, this is due to the your current lactate threshold.

Aerobic vs Anaerobic

Aerobic exercises primarily utilize the cardiovascular system. Anaerobic exercises primarily utilize your skeletal muscles, like your arms and legs. Cycling involves both aerobic and anaerobic exercises, however its primarily an aerobic activity.

Functional Threshold Power (FTP)

The maximum effort level that is sustainable for a certain period of time, usually one hour. By knowing their limits, endurance athletes can utilize their FTP numbers to better pace themselves over long distances.

Aerodynamics

The relationship between moving air and solid objects moving through it. By utilizing modern knowledge of aerodynamics, we can become faster on the bike. Things like bike fit, posture, and tight clothing can all contribute to higher speeds through aerodynamic efficiency.

Hypertrophy

The building of new skeletal muscle resulting from anaerobic exercise. Weight training, or cycling up a hill, are examples of anaerobic exercises that result in hypertrophy.


Cycling Fitness Program For Beginners: The Methodologycyclist training laboratory

Many methods abound on how to increase cycling performance, but there are some foundational training methods that almost all cyclists can agree upon. All these training methods are designed to increase your body’s performance gradually, so you wont see any benefits right away. As with any sport, persistence is crucial. So as long as you adhere to the training principles outlined in the following training methodology, your hard work will be rewarded with extreme fitness.

Hard ride

A hard ride consists of keeping your power output just above the line of being comfortable. At around 60-80% of your functional threshold power, you should be able hold this pace for at least 1 hours.

Make sure to warm up for 15 minutes by spinning at a higher cadence and keeping it below 50% ftp. You can do this ride on a climb, the flats or any terrain. Just make sure you are working hard.

Pace yourself. You should not be able to hold a conversation with someone while riding at the required intensity for a “hard ride”, as your body will need all the oxygen it can get.

This ride will increase your functional threshold power and lactate threshold. By riding hard, you will force your body to adapt to the new stresses and become stronger.

Easy ride

An easy ride means to keep your effort level just at the line of being comfortable. You should be able to converse with others while riding at this intensity, but make sure you are at least sweating. You can sprint over smaller hills, but keep the overall effort easy to medium difficulty.

You can do this workout on a climb or any other terrain as well. Just make sure that you get into a rhythm, and don’t let yourself go too hard. This ride should last for no more than 2 hours, depending on your fitness level.

These rides will help you recover from difficult days in the saddle, as well as give you a chance to work on your overall riding technique and body positioning for better aerodynamics.

Endurance ride

This ride consists of you keeping your intensity level below 40% ftp, preferably right around 30% effort. You don’t want to sprint up hills during these rides, as you need to preserve the glycogen in your muscles for the long ride ahead. During an endurance ride, you want to go at least 35 miles, or ride for at least 3 hours.

Make sure to plan your route accordingly, you can even do loops around a city or town. Make sure to plan ahead and find places to refill your water bottles when they are running dry.

These rides help increase your functional threshold power and your ability to pace yourself. By training for long distances, your body will also become more efficient at using and storing glycogen from carbohydrates, giving you increased overall endurance and fitness.

Intervals

Doing intervals breaks up the monotony of long rides, forcing your body to adapt to new and unique exercises. Aside from the climbing-interval session, all the interval workouts should be done on relatively flat or rolling terrain. This gives you the ability to finely tune your efforts for the task at hand, such as sprinting.

Also, its hard to do sprint intervals up a climb. So plan your route accordingly for the type of intervals you’ll be doing.

During interval training, you will isolate certain areas of both your anaerobic and aerobic system. You might increase your sprint power, or even your speed up climbs. Any weaknesses you may have in your cycling fitness or technique will show up during interval training.

Take these seriously, interval training should be the most painful type of training you do on the bike


Cycling Fitness Program For Beginners: The Dietpasta pesto tomato

Macronutrients: nutrients required by your body in large amounts

Diet is one of the hottest topics in fitness, as there are countless ways of manipulating your food intake for aesthetic or performance benefits. However, overcomplicating your diet can lead to burnout. Fitness is a lifestyle not a fad. For any workout program or diet to work, you need to be persistent. The more complicated your diet is, the more likely you will stop doing it after a while. So keep it simple, and follow my tips for making your diet work for you.

A diet rich in healthy nutrients will help your body recover and grow stronger from your intense training programs.

Stay Hydrated

Not being properly hydrated can have many negative effects on your performance while cycling. When you are dehydrated, your body cannot dissipate heat fast enough, leaving you with fatigue and other symptoms. Other symptoms of dehydration include nausea, cramps, confusion, and general malaise. So before, during and after your ride, make sure to drink plenty of water.

You don’t need to chug gallons of water before every ride, just drink to your own thirst levels. If you feel your mouth getting dry during a ride, it might already be too late. So take a sip of water whenever you have even the slightest feeling of thirst in order to stay on top of your hydration game.

Get enough carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are crucial for endurance athletes like cyclists. They are the fuel that our body uses to power our skeletal, cardiac, and organ muscles. Without enough carbohydrates, you can experience things like fatigue, impaired brain function and anxiety. With a diet high in healthy carbohydrates, you can expect an increase in your performance levels, as well as a better attitude and brain function. 

Roughly one hour before your cycling workout, consume a meal with around 60 grams of carbohydrates, as well as plenty of water.

Get enough protein

Protein is a very important macronutrient that helps our muscles rebuild themselves after things like anaerobic exercise. However, some people think you need massive amounts of protein to build and maintain muscle. In reality, the amount of protein naturally occurring in a balanced diet should be more than enough.

I for one eat around 70-100 grams of protein a day, and have been able to increase my strength and muscle mass. As long as you consume protein rich foods like soy or beans with every meal, you will get plenty of protein for muscle recovery and strength.

There is evidence that if you are over 60, a high protein diet could be beneficial. If your over 60, the general consensus is to consume around 1 gram of protein per kilo of bodyweight.

Fruits and Vegetables

Due to the high intensity of cycling, you need to stay on top of every aspect of your nutrition, so eating enough fruits and vegetables is extremely important. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals that help sustain energy and focus throughout the day. Not only do they taste good, but fruits and veggies also help you maintain a healthy immune system, preventing illness that can put a halt to any training program.

Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables in your diet to avoid vitamin deficiency.

Essential macronutrients and examples

*I’m a vegan, so I can only recommend Vegan foods. However, a diet rich in carbohydrates and less saturated fats like the vegan diet is easy on your digestive system. If you want to burn through fat like a hot knife through butter, go vegan.

Here are the main macronutrients you should keep track of, as well examples of food with high concentrations of that particular macronutrient. Aim for a balance of protein, carbs, and fats. 

  • Protein: beans, seitan, tofu, spinach, chia seeds, protein powder
  • Carbohydrates: rice, sugar, oats, fruits, pasta, bread, gels, energy bars, energy drinks
  • Fats: olives, vegan butter, avocado, coconut oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds, hazelnut butter
  • Vitamins & Minerals: green leafy vegetables like broccoli and spinach, dark fruits like blueberries and dates, meal replacement shakes like Spiru-tien.

Example mealsvegan burger chives

Food to take on a ride -example for a 3 hour ride: 3 gels, 1 energy bar, 1 energy drink.

Breakfast meal example: oatmeal, blueberries, hazelnut butter, protein powder, chia seeds, hemp seeds

Lunch meal example: rice with seitan, broccoli and curry sauce

Snack meal example: salad with avocado, pecans, cranberries and Caesar dressing.

Dinner meal example: Boca Burger on a sesame vegan bun with vegan mayo, onions, pickles, and vegan cheese with a side salad of romaine lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, olive oil and vegan ranch dressing


Cycling Fitness Program For Beginners: The Training

If you want to explore the cycling mecca of Colorado, check out my article on the best cycling routes in the state!

cross country mountain biker

 

 

 

 

Cycling Fitness Program For Beginners: Week 1

Day 1: Hard ride: 15 min warmup, 1+ hours at 50% perceived intensity. Finish with a cool-down spin of around 15 minutes.

Day 2: Hard ride 15 min warmup, 1+ hours at 60% perceived intensity. Finish with a cool-down spin of around 15 minutes.

Day 3: Rest

Day 4: Easy ride: 15 min warmup, 1+ hours at 40% perceived intensity. 5 minute cool-down spin.

Day 5: Hard ride 15 min warmup, 1+ hours at 60% perceived intensity. Finish with a cool-down spin of around 15 minutes.

Day 6: Rest

Day 7: Rest


Cycling Fitness Program For Beginners: Week 2

Day 1: Easy ride: 15 min warmup, 1+ hours at 40% perceived intensity. 5 minute cool-down spin.

Day 2: Intervals: Sprint training– Warm up for 15 minutes, rest for two minutes. Intervals: sprint for 25 seconds, rest for 1 minute, sprint for 15 seconds, rest for 1:30, sprint for 10 seconds, rest for 2 minutes. Repeat this one time.

To finish off, do 12 second sprints at the start of every minute for 5 minutes. Finish with a cool-down spin of around 15 minutes.

Day 3: Rest

Day 4: Intervals: Sprint training– Warm up for 15 minutes, rest for two minutes. Intervals: sprint for 25 seconds, rest for 1 minute, sprint for 15 seconds, rest for 1:30, sprint for 10 seconds, rest for 2 minutes. Repeat this one time.

To finish off, do 12 second sprints at the start of every minute for 5 minutes. Finish with a cool-down spin of around 15 minutes.

Day 5: Easy ride: 15 min warmup, 1+ hours at 40% perceived intensity. 5 minute cool-down spin.

Day 6: Rest

Day 7: Rest


Cycling Fitness Program For Beginners: Week 3

Day 1: Endurance ride +35 miles, or 3+ hour ride. Finish with a 15 minute cool-down spin.

Day 2: Easy ride: 15 min warmup, 1+ hours at 40% perceived intensity. 5 minute cool-down spin.

Day 3: Intervals: FTP/Lactate threshold training– warmup for 15 minutes, rest for 2 minutes. Intervals: 4 minutes at 80% intensity, 6 minutes at 90% intensity,  rest for 2 minutes. 100% intensity for 10 minutes. Finish with a cool-down spin of around 15 minutes.

Day 4: Rest

Day 5: Rest

Day 6: Hard ride: 15 min warmup, 1+ hours at 70% intensity. Finish with a cool-down spin of around 15 minutes.

Day 7: Easy ride: 15 min warmup, 1+ hours at 40% intensity. 5 minute cool-down spin.


Cycling Fitness Program For Beginners: Week 4

Day 1: Intervals: FTP/Lactate threshold training– warmup for 15 minutes. 4 minutes at 80% perceived intensity, 6 minutes at 90% perceived intensity. Rest for 2 minutes. 100% perceived intensity for 10 minutes. Finish with a cool-down spin of around 15 minutes.

Day 2: Intervals: Climbing training– warmup for 10 minutes. While cycling up-hill, 1 minute at 100% perceived intensity, rest for 2 minutes. 1 minutes at 90% intensity, then 1 minute at 100% perceived intensity. 3 minutes rest. Then a 3 minute effort, at 80% perceived intensity. Rest for 2 minutes. 2 minutes at 100% perceived intensity, 2 minutes rest. 2 minutes at 100% perceived intensity, 2 minutes rest. 2 minutes at 100% perceived intensity, 2 minutes rest. Finish with a cool-down spin of around 15 minutes.

Day 3: Rest

Day 4: Endurance ride +35 miles, or 3+ hour ride. Finish with a 15 minute cool-down spin.

Day 5: Easy ride: 15 min warmup, 1+ hours at 40% perceived intensity. 5 minute cool-down spin.

Day 6: Rest

Day 7: Hard ride: 15 min warmup, 1+ hours at 70% perceived intensity. Finish with a cool-down spin of around 15 minutes.


In conclusion:

Repeat this cycling fitness program for beginners as many times as you like. Due to the 4 weeks of intense training, this program will cause your fitness levels to increase. Also, your skill and speed on the bike will increase as well. Each time you complete this program, you’ll notice faster times, and an ability to push yourself past prior fitness boundaries. In addition to cycling fitness, you will also be healthier and happier!

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Cycling Fitness Program For Beginners
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Cycling Fitness Program For Beginners
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Challenge yourself and complete the 4 week cycling fitness program for beginners.
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