Developing speed needn’t be complicated. Follow this plan for a simple route to faster performances
If you’re anything like us, you sometimes just want someone to make things a little bit easier. You want that person to strip away all the exceptions, curveballs and details and just say, “From now on, do this and only this.” We understand.
The trouble is, unless you’re very careful or very lucky, there’s a real danger the instructions you get will just be completely arbitrary. Which is why we’ve built this plan. It’s an attempt to simplify all the different strands of sports science and coaching practice into a single, straightforward plan. It doesn’t cover everything, and it isn’t something you could drop into if you’ve never done any riding at all, but if you want a simple way to increase your speed, this is the plan for you.
How to use this training plan
Together with professional coach Oliver Roberts, we have put together a range of cycling training plans to benefit any and…
The weeks of this plan are all laid out in a very similar way — intervals to start, then some cadence work, then some steady riding, and a weekend that starts with a sweetspot session and finishes with a long, even-paced endurance ride.
The only variation from that routine is that every fourth week is a lot easier, to give you a chance to recover and adapt. As the weeks pass, the long rides and individual intervals do get longer, but the structure and even the types of session remain the same — which should be music to the ears of any creatures of habit out there!
This plan is for
You thrive on routine but not complexity
You’re keen to improve your performance for a single event
You’ve built up a decent base but haven’t yet done many long rides
You only have a smallish number of ride routes available to you
Normally we’re quite precise about how hard to go and how to spread the effort across intervals. Not this time. With the Tuesday interval sessions here, we advise starting hard and holding on as best you can for each effort. As the intervals decrease in number but increase in length, each week you should find yourself gradually improving both your ability to change pace and your ability to sustain repeated hard efforts.
Zone 3 work
Each working week of the plan contains two rides that include efforts in Zone 3. Thursday’s ‘Steady to Brisk’ Z3a blocks should increase your muscle glycogen stores and raise your power at lactic threshold and functional threshold, while the sweetspot Z3b efforts have perhaps the biggest impact on your overall condition, minute-for-minute, of any training intensity.
Riding in the top half of Zone 2 or on the border between Zones 2 and 3 pushes your lactate threshold up from below, increases the number of mitochondria in your working muscles, improves your fuel efficiency and helps convert your sprint muscle fibres to endurance fibres.