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3 cycling training plans for beginners

Choose from 3 beginner-friendly tailored training plans or create your own by following straightforward guidelines.

New to cycling? Discover effective strategies to structure your workout routine and reach your goals. Begin by setting clear objectives and utilize one of these 3 beginner-friendly cycling training plans, or create your own using straightforward guidelines. Structured training paves the path to enhanced cycling fitness and enduring results.

How to build your first cycling training plan

1. Set your goals

 

You can achieve different health and fitness goals with cycling workouts: lose weight, improve your cardiorespiratory system, build up your endurance, or prepare for a cycling event such as a marathon or triathlon. The type and frequency of your workouts will depend on your priorities.

Your goals should be measurable and achievable, otherwise, you may lose motivation to follow your training plan in the long term. After evaluating your overall fitness, you can decide what kind of progress will be challenging enough for you to achieve in a few weeks.

 

Here are some training goal examples to get you started:

  • Lose 4 kgs in 4 weeks;
  • Increase VO2 max (the main indicator of aerobic fitness) by 5% in 2 weeks;
  • Ride 18 km in 40 minutes;
  • Increase the length of your HIIT intervals to 2 mins or double the number of intervals;

 

If you’re unsure where to begin, aim for a 10% increase in mileage each week to gradually build your cycling fitness.

 

2. Determine the duration and frequency of training

 

For beginners, it is recommended to cycle 3 days a week, every other day, for a total of 2-3 hours. You can do a longer weekend ride if you don’t have enough time on weekdays. On other days you can rest completely, do active recovery (yoga, stretching, or another non-strenuous activity), or do cross-training (any training that targets different muscle groups than cycling).

 

This regime gives you enough regularity to progress and enough recovery time to avoid overtraining.

 

3. Choose the right level of intensity

 

During your structured sessions, usually you either gradually build up on workout intensity or alternate the intensity of your workouts. The easiest way to track the intensity of your workouts is to stay in a particular heart zone based on your maximum heart rate (HR max).

 

These are the 5 training zones used in cycling workouts:

  • Zone 1: (50-59% of HR max) – A warm-up pace or recovery ride
  • Zone 2: (60-69%) – Endurance zone, used to build an aerobic base
  • Zone 3: (70-79%) – Aerobic tempo zone, used to build up on your endurance and lactate tolerance
  • Zone 4: (80-89%) – Lactate threshold zone or race pace
  • Zone 5: (90-100%) – Above the threshold zone, usually used for short all-out sprints
 

Alternatively, you can measure the workout intensity with the help of functional threshold power (FTP) or the rate of perceived exertion.

 

FTP indicates your highest sustainable power output for 60 minutes measured in watts per kilogram. This figure is more accurate than a target heart rate and it is often used to structure your stationary bike workout around particular power zones. As you get fitter, your FTP increases, and you’ll need to adjust your training regimen and reset your training zones. The easiest way to determine your FTP is to run a 20-minute test on CAROL Bike.

 

Conversely, Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is a subjective measure gauging how strenuous your effort feels, assessed on a 1-10 scale based on your perceived level of exertion and breathlessness.

 

4. Include different types of workouts

 

Longer rides improve your endurance and strengthen your cardiovascular system. Intervals such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and sprint interval training (SIT) show the most efficient results when it comes to weight loss and improving cardiorespiratory fitness.

 

Cycling is great for toning muscles but it’s not particularly effective for building muscle mass. In order to increase your power, you need to schedule at least 1 separate strength training session per week.

 

By alternating different types of workouts, you can also train more often and avoid injury and overtraining.

 

5. Set the schedule

 

Once you’ve determined the number of weekly workouts, it’s time to build your schedule. Avoid scheduling intense workouts consecutively; instead, ensure there’s at least 1 day of rest between them. On these rest days, consider incorporating a gentle, low-intensity ride to aid in your recovery.

 

6. Adjust your plan as you progress

 

As your fitness level improves, you can set more ambitious goals and introduce more challenging workouts.

Building your own cycling training plan should involve some key components, including goal setting, scheduling, determining training duration and more.

4-week simple cycling training plan for beginners

This training plan is a great place to start your regular cycling routine. After 1 month of cycling, you can start introducing harder sessions such as HIIT and hill climbing workouts instead of regular rides.

 

Monday – 30-mins easy ride (or, 6 mi/10 km at your own pace)

 

Tuesday – Active rest

 

Wednesday – 30-mins easy ride (or, 6 mi/10 km at your own pace)

 

Thursday – Strength training

 

Friday – Active rest

 

Saturday – 60-90-mins endurance ride

 

Sunday – Complete rest

 

Repeat for 4 weeks.

8-week weight-loss cycling training plan on CAROL Bike

This training plan focuses on burning the greatest number of calories in the shortest possible time and effectively reducing the body’s fat stores. As per CDC guidelines, a safe and sustainable rate of weight loss is no more than 2 pounds or 1 kilogram per week.

 

REHIT and Fat Burn Ride

 

CAROL Bike specializes in short, effective workouts—backed by science. Its signature REHIT workout is a high-intensity ride that condenses the fitness benefits of a 20-minute HIIT session into just 5 minutes. REHIT is based on research that has shown that 2×20-second all-out sprints are enough to deplete up to 30% of the body’s glycogen stores and trigger metabolic changes that increase calorie afterburn and significantly improve aerobic fitness. More or longer sprints don’t have a greater effect.

 

CAROL’s Fat Burn Ride is a 17-minute HIIT variation that consists of a greater number of shorter sprint intervals—enough to increase your body’s metabolic rate and launch the important excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect. EPOC is the amount of oxygen required to restore your body to its normal, resting level of metabolic function. You will work as hard as you can, but your sprints will be much shorter with more repetitions than REHIT. This allows your body to work hard for longer, enhancing the fat-burn effect of interval training.

 

During a 2021 study, researchers compared the EPOC effect of CAROL Bike’s REHIT and Fat Burn Ride with treadmill exercise. The results showed that participants of the REHIT program burned 66% of calories post-exercise compared to the usual 6-15% calorie afterburn effect. For the Fat Burn Ride participants, this number mounted up to 196%. The duration of EPOC following the Fat-burn ride was also significantly longer compared to REHIT: 167.4 min vs. 77.4 min.

 

A cycling training plan that combines these workouts is the most time-efficient way to lose weight.

8-week weight-loss cycling training plan on CAROL Bike

This training plan focuses on burning the greatest number of calories in the shortest possible time and effectively reducing the body’s fat stores. As per CDC guidelines, a safe and sustainable rate of weight loss is no more than 2 pounds or 1 kilogram per week.

 

REHIT and Fat Burn Ride

 

CAROL Bike specializes in short, effective workouts—backed by science. Its signature Reduced Exertion HIIT (REHIT) ride only requires 2×20-second sprints, within a 5-minute workout, that delivers superior benefits compared to longer cardio. CAROL’s Fat Burn Rides focus on shorter interval sprints, but for a longer duration. Both workouts induce metabolic changes and boost your metabolic rate for hours—in fact, 66% of the calorie-burn will happen after your CAROL Bike REHIT workout. A cycling training plan that combines these workouts is the most time-efficient way to lose weight.

 

CAROL Bike’s signature REHIT workout is a high-intensity ride that condenses the fitness benefits of a 20-minute HIIT session into just 5 minutes. REHIT is based on research that has shown that 2×20-second all-out sprints are enough to deplete up to 30% of the body’s glycogen stores and trigger metabolic changes that increase calorie afterburn and significantly improve aerobic fitness. More or longer sprints don’t have a greater effect.

 

CAROL’s Fat Burn Ride is a 17-minute HIIT variation that consists of a greater number of shorter sprint intervals—enough to increase your body’s metabolic rate and launch the important excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect. (EPOC is the amount of oxygen required to restore your body to its normal, resting level of metabolic function.) You will work as hard as you can, but your sprints will be much shorter with more repetitions than REHIT. This allows your body to work hard for longer, enhancing the fat-burn effect of interval training.

 

During a 2021 study, researchers compared the EPOC effect of CAROL Bike’s REHIT and Fat Burn Ride with treadmill exercise. The results showed that participants of the REHIT program burned 66% of calories post-exercise compared to the usual 6-15% calorie afterburn effect. For the Fat Burn Ride participants, this number mounted up to 196%. The duration of EPOC following the Fat-burn ride was also significantly longer compared to REHIT: 167.4 min vs. 77.4 min.

 

Weeks 1-4

 

Beginners can start with 2-3 REHIT and 1 Fat Burn Rides per week. If possible, aim for 3 REHIT sessions per week to obtain full metabolic health benefits.

 

Monday – REHIT

 

Tuesday – Active rest day: Yoga, stretching, or another non-strenuous activity

 

Wednesday – REHIT, or a low-intensity training if you need more time to recover

 

Thursday – Active rest day

 

Friday – REHIT

 

Saturday – Complete rest

 

Sunday – Fat Burn Ride

 

Weeks 5-8

 

Starting from week 5, you can increase the number of Fat Burn Rides to 3 per week.

 

Monday – REHIT

 

Tuesday – Fat Burn Ride

 

Wednesday – Active rest

 

Thursday – REHIT

 

Friday – Fat Burn Ride

 

Saturday – Complete rest

 

Sunday – Fat Burn Ride 

CAROL burns over twice as many calories, minute-per-minute vs. traditional exercise, largely thanks to afterburn.

12-week training plan to build aerobic fitness and endurance

This training plan includes more difficult training sessions that will challenge your cycling fitness. HIIT and hill intervals are amongst the most efficient types of training to increase your aerobic power. At the same time, long rides once per week will increase the endurance of your cardiorespiratory system helping you sustain your aerobic power for longer distances.

 

Weeks 1-2

 

Monday – 30-mins free ride at your own pace

 

Tuesday – Active rest

 

Wednesday – 30-mins ride (Zone 2)

 

Thursday – Cross-training

 

Friday – Active rest

 

Saturday – 60-mins endurance ride (Zone 2)

 

Sunday – Complete rest

 

Weeks 3-4

 

Monday – 30-mins free ride at your own pace

 

Tuesday – Active rest

 

Wednesday – 30-mins aerobic base ride

  • 5 mins – Warmup (Zone 1)
  • 15 mins – Intense cycling (Zone 3)
  • 10 mins – Cycling (Zone 2)
  • 5 mins – Cooldown

 

Thursday – Cross-training

 

Friday – Active rest

 

Saturday – 60-mins endurance ride (Zone 2)

 

Sunday – Complete rest

 

Weeks 5-6

 

Monday – 30-mins free ride at your own pace

 

Tuesday – Cross-training

 

Wednesday – 15-min HIIT ride (30/30 intervals)

  • 2 mins – Warm-up (Zone 1)
  • 30 sec – Intense cycling (Zone 4)
  • 30 sec – Rest (Zone 1)
  • Repeat 10 times
  • 3 mins – Cooldown (Zone 1)

 

Thursday – Active rest

 

Friday – 30-min ride (Zone 2)

 

Saturday – 60-mins endurance ride (Stay at least 30 mins of 

total time in Zone 3)

 

Sunday – Complete rest

 

Weeks 6-7

 

Monday – 30-mins free ride at your own pace

 

Tuesday – Cross-training

 

Wednesday – 25-min HIIT ride (30/30, 30/15 intervals)

  • 2 mins – Warm-up (Zone 1)
  • 30 sec – Intense cycling (Zone 5)
  • 30 sec – Rest (Zone 1)
  • Repeat 10 times
  • 30 sec – Intense cycling (Zone 5)
  • 15 sec – Rest (Zone 1)
  • Repeat 13 times
  • 3 mins – Cooldown (Zone 1)

 

Thursday – Active rest

 

Friday – 23-min Hill intervals

  • 5 mins – Warm-up
  • 30 seconds – Hill climbing (High resistance, Zone 4)
  • 30 seconds – Rest
  • Repeat 5 times
  • 2 mins – Recovery (Low resistance, Zone 1)
  • 1 min – Hill climbing (High resistance, Zone 4)
  • 1 min – Rest
  • Repeat 4 times
  • 3 mins – Cooldown

 

Saturday – 90-mins endurance ride (Stay at least 30 mins of total time in Zone 3, do 5×20-sec spikes to Zone 4)

 

Sunday – Complete rest

 

Weeks 9-12

 

Monday – 30-mins free ride at your own pace

 

Tuesday – Cross-training

 

Wednesday – 30-min HIIT ride (4×4 intervals)

  • 5 mins – Warm-up (Zone 1)
  • 4 mins – Intense cycling (Zone 5)
  • 4 mins – Rest (Zone 1)
  • Repeat 4 times
  • 5 mins – Cooldown (Zone 1)

 

Thursday – Active rest

 

Friday – 30-min Hill intervals

  • 5 mins – Warm-up
  • 30 seconds – Hill climbing (High resistance, Zone 5)
  • 30 seconds – Rest
  • Repeat 10 times
  • 2 mins – Recovery (pedal at an easy pace)
  • 3 mins – Hill climbing (High resistance, Zone 4)
  • 2 mins – Rest
  • Repeat 2 times
  • 3 mins – Cooldown

 

Saturday – 90-mins endurance ride (Stay at least 30 mins of total time in Zone 3, do 10×20-sec spikes to Zone 4)

 

Sunday – Complete rest

 

 

Kickstart your fitness journey with these 3 cycling training plans designed to cultivate consistency and help you reach your fitness goals. As you advance, these plans incrementally ramp up the intensity, keeping you motivated to tackle fresh challenges. Don’t forget the importance of regular rest days every other day and scheduling periodic weeks off to provide your mind with a well-deserved break.

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