Phase 3 of the Average Joe Cyclist Beginner Cyclist Training Plan shows you how to kick your bike training up a notch. The aim is to increase the demands on your body and keep getting fitter and faster. Phase 3 presents you with a choice of three different methods to up your training level. Once you are into this phase, you will no longer be a beginner cyclist. Not by a long way! Instead, you will be well on your way to your first bike race. In case you missed them, here are Phase 1 and also Phase 2 of the Average Joe Cyclist Beginner Cyclist Training Plan.
What We Covered in Phase 1 and Phase 2 – Brief Recap
In Phase 1, beginner cyclists learned how to cycle for one continuous hour at a moderate pace. In Phase 2, we added on two other facets: longer distances, and one day a week of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). By the end of that phase, you should already be very fit, and ready to seek out new cycling challenges. Here they are!
Related Post: 7 Reasons to Do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) on Your Bike – and How To Do It
Three Methods to Increase the Intensity of Your Training
You can increase the intensity of your training in several different ways. Here, we describe three methods. Choose one or more of these methods to increase your training intensity.
Method 1: Do Longer Bike Rides in Your Cyclist Training Plan
Make one of your non-interval bike rides longer. Start adding on time and doing longer rides, in preparation for your first group ride or race. It’s ideal to do this bike ride on a Sunday, and really see how far you can go. This can be a very exciting ride, and could give you something to brag about on Monday at work.
Maggie and I often do these kinds of long bike rides together on a Sunday, and really enjoy them. It is fun to find a new route to do, and plan it together. Sometimes we stop for a lunch as well. Getting fit can be a whole lot of fun!
Related Post: Great Bike Rides in and Around Vancouver
Method 2: Make Your High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Sessions More Strenuous
Make your HIIT more strenuous on one of your interval-training days. Aim to achieve an even higher level of perceived exertion during your intervals. For example, crank it up from Level 4 to Level 5. This is really going to take you to the next level of fitness. Use the chart below to figure out how hard you have been cycling up to now, and how hard you should cycle next.
Chart Showing Cardiac Training Zones, Based on Perceived Rates of Exertion (Talk Test)
|Zone 1 (Low intensity)||1 to 2||Light||I'm so comfortable I could do this all day!||Strengthens your heart. Contributes to reducing body fat, cholesterol, and blood pressure.||50% to 60% of maximum heart rate|
|Zone 2 (Weight Control)||3 to 4||Moderate||I can feel that I am exercising, but I feel good and can easily carry on a conversation||Strengthens your heart and your mitochondria (the powerhouses of your cells). Contributes to reducing body fat, cholesterol, and blood pressure. 65% of calories burned in this zone are calories from fat.||60% to 70% of maximum heart rate|
|Zone 3 (Aerobic)||5 to 6||Intense, but not exhausting||I am a bit breathless now, and I don't want to talk||Great zone for weight loss, strengthening muscle, and general fitness. Burns 50% carbs and 50% fat.||70% to 80% of maximum heart rate|
|Zone 4 (Anaerobic)||6 to 8||Intense and exhausting||Breathing is labored, and talking is not an option unless in cases of emergency. Most people should only do this in short spurts, 2 to 3 days per week||Improves both endurance and fitness. Cannot be sustained for long enough to be significant for weight loss.||80% to 90% of maximum heart rate|
|Zone 5 (Maximum)||9 to 10||As Intense as is Physically Possible for You||In this zone, you can only focus on the activity, such as cycling or running as fast as possible. Talking is out of the question. Loud grunts might be possible (think power lifting competitions).||Can only be done in short bursts, around 1 to 2 minutes. It is used to improve athletic performance, but comes with a high risk for injury. Mainly used as a training tool only by competitive athletes.||90% to 100% of maximum heart rate|
Method 3: Add in Extra Cycling Days to Your Cyclist Training Plan
This method is easy: simply add in extra days of cycling. You will probably find you want to do this anyway – cycling is notoriously addictive. Start off with just one extra day of bike training. So, increase your number of cycling days from three to four.
Make this extra bike ride a session of continuous cycling, not interval training. Interval training should be intense but not too frequent, otherwise you will over-exhaust yourself, and risk injury.
Cross Training One Day Per Week
As well as the four days per week of cycling, we recommend one day per week when you do about 40 minutes of cross training (optional). Which is just a way of saying that on one day of the week, ideally you should do some other kind of exercise. This helps with physical balance, and most importantly, it helps you not to get bored. The cross training could be something that targets your core muscles (very important in cycling) such as yoga or Pilates.
Strength Training as Cross Training
Maggie has written a great post – complete with videos – about a quick, simple but very effective 10-minute core training workout for cyclists here. And I have posted videos about the top seven best strength building exercises for cyclists here.
Workouts are great for building overall cycling muscle strength. There are books that have workouts specifically designed to build cycling strength, such as Weight Training for Cyclists: A Total Body Program for Power and Endurance. Or it could just be something completely different that you happen to like, such as swimming.
Swimming as Cross Training in Your Cyclist Training Plan
Swimming is an excellent exercise to pair with cycling, as it targets the upper body, while cycling targets the lower body. Both activities also target the core, but with different emphases. If you choose this as your other sport, we highly recommend the Aftershokz XTrainerZ headphones. These allow safe cycling, due to leaving your ears totally open. They also provide excellent sound in the pool, which we find helps us not to get bored during long training swims.
Related Post: Aftershokz XTrainerZ Headphones – Open-Ear, Bone Conduction, Safe Headphones for Cycling AND Swimming
Bottom Line on Phase 3 of the Cyclist Training Plan
These guidelines will enable you to increase the frequency and intensity of your bike training. Soon, you will be logging some serious miles. Consider using an app such as Strava so that you can keep track and constantly evaluate your progress.
Related Post: How and Why to Use Strava for Cycling
With this increased frequency and intensity, expect to see rapid and impressive progress. You will enjoy impressive and enviable fitness gains. You will be able to cycle further and faster. You can start looking for group events to participate in, such as group rides or even your first race.
Good luck, and enjoy your cycling and fitness journey!
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