Building towards a big ride? Use our endurance cycling training plan to boost your long-distance potential

Here's how to boost your endurance engine - we've partnered up with Alzheimer's Research UK to bring you in-depth training plans for your cycling goals

Image shows a rider who is following cycling training plan for building endurance
(Image credit: Future)

This plan is for: Riders aiming to take on long-distance sportives or their first 100 mile ride, or simply to build their endurance capabilities.

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Perceived exertionEffort level
0Nothing at all
0.5Extremely easy
1Very easy
2Easy
3Moderate
4Somewhat hard
5Hard
6Getting harder...
7Very hard
8Starting to hurt
9Arrgggh...
10Extremely hard
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ZoneNameAverage power (% FTP)Average HR
(% FTP HR)
Perceived exertionDescription
1Active Recovery<55%<68%<2"Easy spinning" or "light pedal pressure", i.e. very low level exercise, too low to induce significant physiological adaptations. Minimal sensation of leg effort. Relaxed breathing.
2Endurance56-75%69-83%3-4"All day" pace, or classic long slow distance (LSD) training. Sensation of leg effort/fatigue generally low. Breathing is a little heavier than in Zone 1.
3Tempo76-90%84-94%5-6More frequent/greater sensation of leg effort/fatigue than at Zone 2. Requires concentration to maintain. Breathing deeper and more rhythmic than in Zone 2. Breathing too hard to chat.
Sweet-spotSweetspot84-97%88-100%6-7Between high Zone 3 and low Zone 4. For riders who aren’t using a power meter, I’d call sweetspot “medium hard”. It’s just below your 25-mile TT race pace, but harder than a traditional tempo workout.
4Lactate Threshold91-105%95-105%(may not be achieved in first few efforts)7-8Similar to TT race effort. Relentless feeling of leg effort/fatigue. Breathing too hard to say more than the odd word or two. Mentally very taxing to maintain.
5VO2 Max106-120%>106%(may not be achieved in first few efforts)8-9The maximum effort you can sustain for three to eight minutes. Intended to increase VO2max. Severe leg effort/fatigue. 'Ragged' breathing; unable to speak.NB: Average heart rate less useful as a metric, as HR will be rising throughout the interval.
6Anaerobic CapacityN/AN/A10Ultra-high-intensity intervals of 10-30 seconds, designed to increase anaerobic capacity. Flat-out; no holding back. Heart rate of limited use.

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