Cycling training plan for extra speed

It’s no good being as strong as an ox if you’ve only got one speed, explains Oliver Roberts. Download these free pdfs for a training plan to make you faster in just 12 weeks, in partnership with Alzheimer's Research UK.

This cycling training plan is all about speed, and it definitely works for me.

I’m a diesel rider. I admire Tony Martin and I’m happiest rolling along, keeping my power output even and eating up the miles as I gradually grind anyone unlucky enough to be on my wheel into submission with the constant ‘just hard enough to burn’ pace that I love.

Full disclosure, I hate doing the training that I’ve put in this plan. But I do do it — and I’m offering it to you — because working at what we’re bad at in training can reap some big rewards, particularly if whoever’s on your wheel decides to jump around you on a climb!

Ego-driven? Maybe. But if you’ve been pushing the steady mileage for a few seasons and are getting less and less back in return, this might be just the change of pace you need.

Our 2020 training plans are brought to you in partnership with Alzheimer’s Research UK.

What’s involved

We’ve explained how to find your maximum heart rate, functional threshold power or how to use effort as a barometer in this introduction to the training plans. You’ll need to get your head around that before you start on the plan.

Over the course of three four-week blocks, this plan aims to improve your ability to change pace quickly and repeatedly, extend your ability to hold efforts above your Maximum Lactate Steady State, and increase the range of cadences at which you can operate effectively. All of which should make you a more versatile rider and provide a springboard to riding at a higher level once you reintroduce more traditional threshold-based training and clearance work in the spring.

This plan is for you if…

  • Endurance and even pacing are your strengths
  • You’re a time triallist or sportive rider looking to step up a level
  • You struggle to handle sudden attacks by other riders
  • You often end up churning key sessions

Progressive intervals

Right from Week One of this plan you’ll find yourself doing intervals once a week. Each week, the duration of the efforts will increase but the number to be completed will decrease — the output needs to remain as consistent as you can manage. The recoveries are always longer than the intervals themselves, so start hard and hold on as best you can for each effort.

Hill sprints

Instead of a programme of (potentially very tiring) 30sec Burgomaster intervals, this plan uses hill sprints to lever up your accessible power output and to help you develop a feel for the mechanics of changing pace on the road.

High-cadence blocks

Blocks of work above 100rpm are intended to push up your efficiency and also help to give focus to your Zone 2 riding, as well as making you better able to carry speed over varying terrain. You’ll probably find your heart rate rises rather easily, so if you drift into Z3a towards the end of the block don’t worry.

Zone 3 surges

Blocks 2 and 3 of this plan include extended blocks of Zone 3a at 80rpm, where you’re asked to surge at regular intervals. These add a layer of pace change and cycling-specific core training to this conditioning ride.

Training plan for speed: block 1 – getting under way

Click here to download a high resolution PDF of the training faster plan: block 1.

cycling training plan

Training plan for speed: block 2 – picking up steam

Click here to download a high resolution PDF of the training faster plan: block 2.

cycling training plan

Training plan for speed: block 3 – full speed ahead

Click here to download a high resolution PDF of the training faster plan: block 3.

cycling training plan

Thanks to…

Oliver Roberts is a level two coach, specialising in cycling and triathlon, who works with

Over the past 10 years, he’s created training programmes for the Race for Life 5K running series, had three training manuals published and has coached athletes of all abilities, from novices to national champions, World Championship contenders and a National Ironman record holder.

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