Finding a Training Plan - Cycling Magazine

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Friday, 28 July 2017

Finding a Training Plan

Finding a Training Plan

NOW THAT YOU HAVE ALL THE INFO YOU NEED TO TRACK YOUR efforts, it’s time to find something to do with it. If you’ve gotten this far, you’re interested enough to invest some serious time and effort. Your next step is to decide how much money you want to invest and how specific you need to be with your program to reach your goals. If you just want to get a little stronger on the bike overall or climb faster, you probably could do well with a book, website, or magazine. On the other hand, if your goals are to slim down or win the big Fourth of July criterium in your hometown, you might want to consider a coach.


In this day and age, we’re connected more than ever electronically. Websites and training apps on smartphones are affordable and can give you generic, comprehensive plans or individual workouts. This can be fun and interactive, as some apps are made to sync up to your computer or heart-rate monitor and will load up your daily or weekly totals for you. The downside is that if you have questions about your numbers or what the workouts mean, you’re going to have to try to research that yourself to find the answers you’re looking for. Although it’s a great way to get straightforward, easy-to-follow advice, since there are so many voices chiming in it can be difficult to wade through and know who and what is the best to follow. is a great place to start if you’re looking for some simple workouts or training plans, and it has plenty of articles to answer most questions you might have.


Magazines are another great resource because all the material you need is in print, so it’s easier to sit down with and absorb the content. The beauty of most publications is that they offer information on that month’s theme, so you’re likely to find more information than just a plan—you’ll also find the details on why and how it works. Magazines can give you a chance to better educate yourself about what the possibilities are so you can make a well-informed decision on what’s best for you. Along with the website, Bicycling magazine features regular articles on how to train, including specific training plans, fitness tips, and more.


If you like magazines, books can be an even better choice because they tend to offer long-range cycling plans and provide more specific information. This is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture and science behind training. You can expect expert advice that delves into the finer points of what you’re hoping to accomplish. Books are also more specific—you may want to lose weight but are short on time—so they help raise your chances of your training being successful.
Many of Bicycling magazine’s regular contributors—such as Selene Yeager, Chris Carmichael, and Ben Hewitt, all of whom have worked with professional athletes and beginner cyclists alike—have written books on how to go about training.


Having a professional to talk over your goals, formulate a plan, and check in with on a regular basis is the ultimate in both formulating and executing your training plan. A professional coach has the expertise to read your data, analyze your stats, and adjust your workouts to best meet your needs. A coach can also give you the most valuable thing a developing rider needs—feedback. Of course, this comes at a price. Hiring a coach is the biggest investment when it comes to training. Like a gym membership, most coaches or coaching programs offer different plans priced at different levels depending on personalization and the amount the coach will have contact with you. The more attention and specification you have, the more it will cost. This can vary from, at minimum, only e-mail or phone contact to the coach actually going for a ride with you and giving you a daily or weekly evaluation of your numbers.
Another advantage of coaches is having accountability. It’s easy for any of us to skip a day of riding or get off our program if we’re the only ones keeping ourselves honest. Having someone else to report to—especially when you’re paying good money for his or her expertise—is that little nudge to keep you going and motivated, even on days when the weather is bad or you don’t feel so hot.

Taking It Inside 

When you get to the point where you want to be pedaling year-round, this means heading indoors. Whether it’s the sweltering summers of the Southwest or the brutal winters in the north, long days at work or a life packed with your family’s schedule, there will be days—especially if you’re on a training plan—when riding outside is simply not an option.
Riding indoors is convenient, but hard and sometimes rather boring. The lack of coasting, cruising, or tailwinds makes your effort that much harder—which is good actually, because you can focus the intensity of your ride and still get great results. If you love to watch your numbers—like heart rate or speed—indoor cycling is free of other distractions like traffic or suicidal squirrels.
If you already belong to a gym, you can join one of their spin classes. This is a great opportunity to work on your pedaling technique and use some very nice indoor bikes with more computer bells and whistles. It also has the bonus of a professional teacher guiding a class through a specific workout aimed at speed, climbing, or power on the bike—like having a coach for a day. Riders often find that with this little extra focus, their riding improves more inside than it does outside.
If sticking close to home is a better option, stationary trainers are an affordable option (they cost about the same as a 3-month gym membership). The downside is that you lose the group aspect of the class as well as the teacher. The upside is that you can specifically dial in the workout you want to do—and when you want to do it. It’s also good to plan on setting your trainer up somewhere cool (possibly with a fan directed at you) and with some kind of entertainment, like a video or podcast.
Stationary trainers attach to your rear wheel, creating a stable platform so you can easily stay upright without having to balance. They come in three basic types.
Wind trainers are the loudest and most inexpensive, but they are pretty realistic when compared to riding outside on the road in terms of pedaling resistance. Your back tire spins a roller attached to a fan that provides more resistance the faster you go.
Magnetic trainers are in the same price range as wind ones, but are quieter. Also, when you pedal faster, your resistance doesn’t get harder, which makes hitting your workout numbers tough. Some come with resistance adjustments to try to overcome this flaw.
Fluid trainers are the most expensive, but for your dollar you get the quietest and most realistic road experience. One problem on older models was that the oil inside—which provided the resistance—would leak. Most current models have overcome this problem, but be wary of buying a used one.

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