The Ultimate Guide To Fitness Training For Road Cyclists

In this post we’re going to talk about fitness training for road cycling. A lot.


Well, I’d posit that most you are here to improve your cycling performance in some fashion (here, as in on this website, rather than here on this earth).

If you’re just starting out, that might be achieved through upping your confidence and motivation levels simply to ‘do more cycling’.

For everyone else, whether you want to ride longer distances, to up your average speed, to improve your climbing ability, it is structured training that will help you get there.

For sure, ‘doing more cycling’ will achieve some results. But there is a limit to how much more cycling you can do – there aren’t enough hours in the day; there is a limit to what your body can sustain before it breaks down.

At some point, if you’re following a random-walk training ‘programme’, your performance level will plateau and may start to decline (particularly if you’re an ‘elder statesman of le peloton’).

In this super-detailed post, we’re going to learn together about the theory and practice of fitness, to help you create an individualised training programme that suits you.

How do you like them apples?

Read moreThe Ultimate Guide To Fitness Training For Road Cyclists

Cycling training in Derbyshire

How To Train For Road Cycling

In this post I’ll have a look at the different strategies for how you might train for road cycling, whether that’s to ride long, get faster or lose weight. Or perhaps all three. 

Whilst the fundamentals of training haven’t changed a great deal in recent years (although I imagine those cunning sports scientists are beavering away in their labs), the tools available to the everyday cyclist to harness those fundamentals are becoming more diverse and interesting.

This post will try to give you an overview of the different strategies you can employ to get fitter on a road bike.

Read moreHow To Train For Road Cycling

Is A Bike Fit Worth It

Is A Bike Fit Worth It?

Is a bike fit worth it, you ask? Short answer: yes. Next post please!

For the most part, we like to spend money on a bike. On bikes, plural.

We can fantasise over magazines (bike ones) beforehand, we can enjoy the buying process, we have something afterwards that we can sit and gaze at in the garage.

But when it comes to complying with a core part of my bike buying dogma, intakes of breath are sharply delivered. Penury is claimed. Exits are sharply made.

That all stops now. In this post I’m going to try to persuade you to pay for a decent bike fit.

Read moreIs A Bike Fit Worth It?

Training volume versus intensity

Go Hard Or Go Home // Volume Versus Training Intensity For Road Cyclists

If you’re a ‘time-starved’ cyclist and you want to improve your performance on the bike, it’s pretty important (dare I say it, vital) to understand the difference between training volume and intensity.

You are naturally limited in the former; you can make up for some of this limitation by manipulating the latter. Training intensity is really important for the sportive cyclist that wants to do more with less.

In this blog post we look at why and how.

How’s that for a brief introduction?

Read moreGo Hard Or Go Home // Volume Versus Training Intensity For Road Cyclists

Periodised cycling training

Using Periodisation To Build Road Cycling Fitness

It’s pretty straightforward to find a cycling training programme on t’internet.

(You might have heard of this thing called ‘Google’?)

The thing is, whilst they’re helpful to a point, these training plans are generally designed to apply (and appeal) to a broad swathe of the Googling public. And they all seem to be 12 weeks long (I know, I generalise… some are 16 weeks long…).

Pick from ‘Beginner’, ‘Improver’ or ‘Expert’ and follow the programme (or not, as the case may be). I’m sure progress will follow.

But there’s a better way. A way of building your own training programme. One that lasts longer than 12 weeks.

Let’s talk periodisation.

And let’s try not to fall asleep.

Read moreUsing Periodisation To Build Road Cycling Fitness

build good cycling habits

How To Build Good Cycling Habits (By Doing Little Easy Things)

In this post I’m going to help you build good habits, which you can apply to improving your cycling. And your life. You’re welcome.

Often when you want to achieve great things, you just need to repeat a series of simple actions many times. And repeat.

The trick is working out how to encourage (force? trick?) yourself into performing those simple actions until… one day you suddenly realise you’ve achieved your great thing.

It’s at this point that generally someone will say to you something like:

  • Wow I don’t know where you found the time to achieve so much
  • I could never do that
  • You’ve been so productive

They see the ‘afterwards’ and immediately think about the size of the elephant that you’ve consumed (not literally).

You, of course, remember that each mouthful was just a mouthful (not literally).


Read moreHow To Build Good Cycling Habits (By Doing Little Easy Things)

Dealing With An Injury

Dealing With A Painful Knee (Or Any Injury That Keeps You Off The Bike)

There is a certain sinking feeling when a familiar injury returns. The twinge in my left knee as I get off the bike. The tightness above the knee. That feeling of dread as it starts to seize over the course of the afternoon. The jolt of pain as I walk down the stairs in the evening.

Then weeks of ‘is it getting better?’, ‘I’m sure it’s improving’, and ‘damn it, that hurts’.

I’m in that place right now with my knee.

I’ve tried resting it (sort of). I’ve tried light training rides. And, so far, the pain doesn’t seem to be going away.

Now I’m getting worried. I’ve got PLANS for this year. I’ve made some commitments to do rides with people and I don’t want to let them down. I need to get my training started.

What am I going to do?

Read moreDealing With A Painful Knee (Or Any Injury That Keeps You Off The Bike)

How To Maintain Cycling Habit

How To Maintain A Cycling Habit Into Winter (Or How I’m Going To Try…)

In the past, when I’ve managed to build something resembling a cycling habit over the summer, I’ve tended to lose impetus around October. The rides dry up as the weather wets up (and colds up). Excuses are made and other ‘priorities’ take over.

Sometimes the rot sets in in September.

Of course I don’t always realise that my ride consistency is slipping. I fool myself into thinking that I’m keeping the habit up with the odd autumnal excursion.

In reality, if I looked at my Strava history objectively, I’d note a paltry couple of rides recorded over the course of October, perhaps in November, and then declare it done for the year.

Read moreHow To Maintain A Cycling Habit Into Winter (Or How I’m Going To Try…)


How Do Pro Cyclists Train?

Ooh, it’s very technical. I’m not sure you’d understand. I’m certain that I don’t.

But lack of knowledge, competence and intelligence has not tended to stop me writing about a subject here on Sportive Cyclist. So I’m going to give it a crack.

As an esteemed (not to mention gloriously-handsome) Sportive Cyclist reader, I’m sure you’ll have the wherewithall to draw out the relevant lessons for your own training and performance (hint: plan it out in advance; follow the plan; adapt the plan as your circumstances change).

Let’s go!

Read moreHow Do Pro Cyclists Train?

How To Improve Your Pedalling Technique

In this post we will explore pedalling (‘pedaling’ if you are American) technique for road cyclists. This is an important area.

The meeting of foot and pedal is the primary interface between human and bicycle (well, primary moving interface – you wouldn’t get padded cycling shorts if there wasn’t a pretty significant ‘interface’ in that area as well).

Good technique increases the efficiency with which the power that we generate is turned into forward movement. It also helps avoid injury, both by avoiding unnecessary strain on joints and ligaments and by promoting an even strengthening across the leg and core muscles.

This post is, in fact, in response to a reader request. The Lanterne Rouge wrote,

“… I’ve been struggling with my pedalling technique for some time. Books and the internet give all sorts of advice. Perhaps you might blog on the subject of perfecting ones pedalling technique and when and what variation might be appropriate?…”

Let’s start at the beginning.

Read moreHow To Improve Your Pedalling Technique

First Impressions Of TrainerRoad: Upgrading The Paincave

I have this sense that there is a secret to training that, if I crack it, will result in my becoming a stronger/faster/more stylish cyclist. If not instantly, then at least overnight.

It is this inner inkling that prompts my fascination with power meters (“If only I had a power meter then a programme of effective training would be within my grasp…”).

My innate Yorkshireness (long arms/deep pockets) means I haven’t quite pulled the trigger and bought one. Perhaps my other inner inkling is saying, “Don’t be ridiculous. Spending £500 on a Stages power meter just because Team Sky uses it is clearly not going to turn you into Luke Rowe.”

And yet, and yet… Those crank-based power meters do look awful shiny…

Thankfully, before I splurged half a monkey (or a couple of stoats) on a cheeky power meter, I remembered an email I received from a company called TrainerRoad, way back in the mists of time 2014…

Read moreFirst Impressions Of TrainerRoad: Upgrading The Paincave

How To Cycle Every Day (Or 10 Things I Learned Cycle Training For 35 Days In A Row)

So i did it. Let the mini trumpets toot.

I successfully achieved my objective of riding every single day for 35 days, from 28th December (last year!) until 31st January 2016.

(Why 35 days? Cos I wanted 16.67% more challenge over last time).

Rather than focus on the stats (which are… epic!), I thought I’d outline some advice that might be helpful if you’re looking to get into into the swing of cycling on a regular basis, as well as some of the benefits I encountered.

Whether you’re new to the sport, or coming back after a winter layoff, setting yourself a challenge can be the perfect way to build a cycling habit and kickstart an improvement in your fitness.

My aim in writing this blog is to help and inspire you to ‘do more cycling’. After all, this website is all about you, dear reader (said the narcissist who publishes photos of himself in Lycra…).

So why should you undertake your own ride-every-day challenge? Because there are benefits (with friends). Begin!

Read moreHow To Cycle Every Day (Or 10 Things I Learned Cycle Training For 35 Days In A Row)

How To Build A Cycling Habit (Even When You Have A Full-time Job)

Which is an aspirational title for a blog post, if ever there was one.

And I should probably be clear. This post will not contain the solution to all your time vs cycling vs motivation challenges (well, it might but I can’t guarantee it…).

Essentially, as I’ve done before, I’m committing publicly on this blog to (re)build a cycling habit, with a view to kickstarting my cycling fitness for 2016.

Last time, I successfully completed a (self-imposed) challenge to ride my bike every day for 30 days. This time, things are going to be bigger and better.

I’m going to ride every day for…. (wait for it) 35 days!

(Which is…. *wrangles calculator* …16.66% (recurring) more challenge).

Read moreHow To Build A Cycling Habit (Even When You Have A Full-time Job)

How To Create A Structured Cycling Training Programme

In this post, we’re going to get into the meat of producing your personalised cycling training programme.

I’m going to set out a step-by-step methodology for building a structured training programme, with the aim of peaking your fitness for one or two target cycling events.

By the end of the lesson (for want of a better word), you’ll have a 9 – 12 month overview (in a spreadsheet or on paper) of the series of training blocks that will take you to your target cycling event.

Read moreHow To Create A Structured Cycling Training Programme

How To Make More Time For Cycling

Way back in the mists of time, I conducted a survey of Sportive Cyclist email subscribers, asking them for their biggest frustration with cycling. 

There were complaints about the state of British roads (and those of Azerbaijan) and the standard of cycling when riding as a group, but the main frustration was the lack of time to go cycling.

This is understandable. We live busy lives. We have time-consuming jobs, family commitments, the new series of Strictly Come Dancing. Cycling can sometimes be pushed to the periphery. With worsening weather and shortening days, the periphery can sometimes disappear entirely.

The purpose of this post is to explore the theme of lack of time for cycling, and some of the strategies that we can employ to address it.

Read moreHow To Make More Time For Cycling

Fast After 50 by Joe Friel: A Book Review…

I have hit the big time. I have been sent a book to review. By a publisher. For free.

(For now, let’s ignore the fact that I contacted said publisher myself, fragrantly exploiting the Sportive Cyclist readership, in order to procure this freebie.)

The book in question is ‘Fast After 50: How To Race Strong For The Rest Of Your Life’ by friend-of-this-blog Joe Friel*.

(*Joe Friel does not know he is a friend of this blog).

If I had to pick one book subject and title that would fit well with a large proportion of the Sportive Cyclist readership, it would be this one.

Spoiler Alert: It’s good. You should buy it.

Read moreFast After 50 by Joe Friel: A Book Review…

Faster Michael Hutchinson

Book Review: Faster by Michael Hutchinson (Plus Introducing The Sportive Cyclist Book Club)

Hello and welcome to the Newsnight Review. I’m Kirsty Wark.

I jest. But I am wearing women’s clothes.

I jest again. (Or do I…?)

This is a slightly new feature on Sportive Cyclist. I’m going to review a book. You’ll be pleased to hear that it’s a book about cycling.

What’s This About A Book Club?

Well, at the same time as scribing my first book review, I am dee-lighted to announce the Sportive Cyclist Book Club.

This is a rather grand way of describing a new page on the site, dedicated to recommending cycling books that I have either enjoyed or learnt a lot from (or, in many cases, both).

You’re a cerebral bunch here at SC. I imagine you like books (I do) so I wanted to present you with a curated list of my favourites. Perfect for adding to your Amazon wishlist, or for suggesting to your spouse/partner/children/Father Christmas ahead of the festive season (bah, humbug).

Check out my list of cycling books here.

Read moreBook Review: Faster by Michael Hutchinson (Plus Introducing The Sportive Cyclist Book Club)

The Time-Starved Cyclist: How To Train When You’ve Got No Time

Finding the time to train (or simply the time to get out on your bike) is perhaps the number 1 problem experienced by readers of Sportive Cyclist.

(Well, the number 1 cycling problem at least).

I wish I could wave a magic wand and solve your problem. In fact, if I had a magic wand, I’d wave it over me first, and STUFF THE REST OF YOU!


I don’t have a magic wand, so we’re going to have to do this the hard way.

The conundrum is as follows: we’re all busy people, we have jobs, family and a 1,001 other commitments tugging at our shirt sleeves. When we do have time to train, how do we use that time effectively? What gets us maximum fitness bang for our time-strapped buck?

I have no idea. Which is why I’ve found someone that does.

Read moreThe Time-Starved Cyclist: How To Train When You’ve Got No Time

How To Train When The Weather Is … Shizzle

It’s 29th December 2012. I’m out on the bike.

Presumably this is some sort of early New Year resolution (plus I’d just received a pair of clip on mudguards for Christmas – I needed to show some gratitude).

It’s just before lunchtime but it may as well be evening. The only thing greyer than the sky is the sullen look on my face. It’s a busy road and I’m regretting not having brought my bike lights. I’m barely visible to passing drivers, their wipers running full speed.

My glasses are fogged on the inside, drip-covered on the outside. I’ve resorted to contorting my neck and eyeballs to look out of the side of them. Since I need glasses to see, this is hardly ideal.

The ride’s crowning glory comes just 10 minutes from the end, as I ride into my home town. A jarring blow to my front wheel, felt from my forks to the top of my sodden neck, signals that the puddle I was unable to avoid contained a pothole.

I’ve only had this new set of wheels for two weeks. The chances of them still being round after this ride are about the same as being in a position to win the Paris-Roubaix one day classic in 4 months time.

I could cry.

I fall to my knees, hands flung to the heavens, icy rain mingling with salty tears*.

“There has to be a better way than this..!”

Read moreHow To Train When The Weather Is … Shizzle

Training For Your First Sportive (Not As Difficult Or As Time-Consuming As You Might Think)

To finish a long sportive, and finish it well, you only need to train three times a week. The same applies for a shorter sportive over a hillier course.

What, you thought you’d have to do more? Well I’m pleased to be the bearer of good news.

If you can fit in an extra session per week then great, it’ll help. But you lead a busy life. You work long hours. Your family wants to see you on a weekend.

Three sessions is enough. More than enough…. provided you follow a structured training programme.

Ah, you knew there had to be a catch…

Don’t panic though.

Designing and following a cycling training programme is entirely within your capabilities. In fact, I reckon you’ll find it extremely satisfying. And the results, versus implementing the random training method adopted by many novice sportiveurs, will be so much better.

Now, where do we start?

Read moreTraining For Your First Sportive (Not As Difficult Or As Time-Consuming As You Might Think)

How To Choose Your Next Sportive (And Actually Complete It)

In this post I give some tips on how to select your next sportive event.

If you’ve never ridden a sportive, but you’d like to, this guide should help you select the right one to start with – one that you’ll finish, enjoy, and which can lead on to bigger and better (longer and higher) things.

This guide should also provide advice if you’ve done one or two sportives but you want to take things to the next level. I give some thoughts on how to push yourself, without going crazy…

If you’ve already done loads of sportives before, some of this may seem like teaching grandmother to suck inner tubes. Feel free to ignore if you wish, or you can always keep on reading and leave your own advice in the comments below.

Read moreHow To Choose Your Next Sportive (And Actually Complete It)

Do You Need a Cycling Coach?

I am in no doubt that employing a cycling coach would lead to an exponential improvement in my performance on the bike. Yet, whilst I frequently consider hypothetical scenarios for spending thousands of pounds to ‘build out’ my portfolio of bikes, I have tended to dismiss coaching as being too expensive or in some way not for me.

Today’s post comes in the form of guest submission from professional cyclist and coach Tomás Metcalfe. Tomás is going to present the case for why recreational riders should consider employing a cycling coach. If you want more information, or to contact Tomás, his website is at

Without further ado, over to Tomás.

Read moreDo You Need a Cycling Coach?