Last summer, I didn’t get on my bike at all due to health reasons. This spring, the first time I took the girls out on the trail, that hiatus showed! I was huffing and puffing, and the kids were waiting for their poor old mother. Luckily, they are sweet girls and very patient with me.
As I chugged along, I couldn’t help but think that I’d rather be running. That lead me to wonder if there is a program for biking similar to a Couch to 5K. This idea of hopping on my bike and trying to keep up was not working well.
According to one site, beginning cyclists can average 12 mph with minimal training. I remembered to record our ride with my Strava app and found that we (mostly I) averaged 6.5 mph. Ouch, that’s slow.
After six months of training, the average rider can comfortably go about 15 mph for up to 30 miles. Since we typically only bike in the warm weather, I’d like to achieve between 12 and 15 mph by the fall.
Finding A Program
When you plug “beginner cyclist training program” into Google, you get 7,900,000 results! I admit that I didn’t look at all of them.
I found a well-laid out program on cyclistweekly.com. The schedule is 10-week increments that get progressively more difficult similar to the Couch to 5K program. It begins with a 45-minute ride at an easy pace and ends with a 3.5-hour endurance ride.
For the first five weeks, the program focuses on building your general level of capability. There are cross-training exercises where you don’t ride at all. I’m glad to see this because it means that our running is reinforcing our cycling and vice versa.
You’ll find a link to this Cycling Training Plan For Beginners at trailfamily.blog if you are interested in this specific one.
The Cyclist Weekly program requires some time investment at 6-8 hours per week. It also assumes that you exercise a few days each week before beginning.
I searched for a lower-intensity program and found Average Joe Cyclist’s Beginner Cyclist Training Plan: Phase 1 and Phase 2. The first phase is for absolute beginners and requires only three days on the bike each week.
The Average Joe program emphasizes rest days so that your body can recover and you won’t burn out. The end goal for Phase 1 is biking for a continuous hour.
Cardiac Training Zones
Both of the above workouts utilize Cardiac Training Zones to measure your exertion. The programs specify in which zone you should operate for each ride.
If you don’t have heart rate monitoring in your smartwatch or fitness band, you can estimate your zone based on your perceived exertion. Zone 1, for example, is 40-45% of your maximum heart rate. You feel like you’re extending almost no effort. Zone 2 is 46-50% of your max heart rate. You may break a sweat but can carry on a conversation without losing your breath. There are 7 Zones on the chart that tops out at 85% of your max heart rate.
While we are working on our Couch to 5K program, I want to implement a bike training program. Our running can be the cross-training days for the bike workouts. The two suggestions above are worth exploring if you want to improve your fitness through cycling. I’d love to see you all out on the trail! Tag me on Instagram @trailfamilylife or Facebook TrailFamily.