A beginner’s guide to cycling workouts

If you want to start cycling regularly, it helps to build consistency and progression with a plan to build strength and endurance in a safe and effective way, says Clucas. What you choose will largely depend on your level of fitness. For example, if you regularly do other types of exercise, you may feel comfortable with a higher degree of cycling intensity — in terms of speed, distance, or both — to start with.

Beginners, however, should take a much slower pace to get used to the feel of the ride and gradually progress from there.

Here is an example of a starting plan from Seacat that is not based on distance. Instead, you’ll increase the intensity (to build strength and endurance) by increasing the time you cycle and the pace at which you go.

The pace will be specific to your fitness level and ability. Keep in mind that a moderate pace means that on a scale of 1-10 intensity, you’re at about a 6 or 7, where you can speak in short sentences but not sing. An easy rhythm would be a 2 or 3, where you can easily carry on a conversation. A sprint-style pace of 8 or 9 means you can only say two or three words at a time without catching your breath.

Cross-training should be non-aerobic training, such as strength training, says Seacat. It also included active recovery days; Seacat recommends doing moves that focus on balance, flexibility, and mobility these days (like yoga or walking). These are less strenuous and should be done at a relaxed pace.

Be sure to check with your health care provider first if you have any concerns about chronic health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease or joint problems, or any other medical condition that could make the trial unsafe of a new exercise routine.

Week 1

Day 1 Bike 15 minutes at an easy pace.

Day 2 Active recovery, 30 to 60 minutes.

Day 3 Bike 20 minutes at an easy pace.

Day 4 Rest.

Day 5 Bike 30 minutes at an easy pace.

Day 6 Active recovery, 30 to 60 minutes.

Day 7 Cross train, 30 minutes.

Week 2

Day 1 Bike 15 minutes at a moderate pace.

Day 2 Active recovery, 30 to 60 minutes.

Day 3 Cycle 20 minutes at a moderate pace.

Day 4 Crosstrain, 15-20 mins.

Day 5 Bike 30 minutes at a moderate pace.

Day 6 Rest.

Day 7 Crosstrain, 15-20 mins.

Week 3

Day 1 Cycle 15 minutes at an easy pace, followed by 10 minutes at a moderate pace.

Day 2 Active recovery, 45 to 60 minutes.

Day 3 Cycle 20 minutes at an easy pace, followed by 15 minutes at a moderate pace.

Day 4 Cross train, 20 minutes.

Day 5 Play with simple intervals: 10 minutes of cycling at an easy pace followed by one minute of moderate effort; repeat three times.

Day 6 Rest.

Day 7 Cross train, 20 minutes.

Week 4

Day 1 Cycle for 10 minutes at an easy pace, followed by 20 minutes at a moderate pace.

Day 2 Active recovery, 30 minutes.

Day 3 Hill Train: 10 minutes of cycling at an easy pace. Next, find a hill you can climb (preferably a small one, rather than one that feels difficult or overwhelming) without getting out of your seat, then climb up and back 8-10 times at an easy pace.

Day 4 Active recovery, 30 to 60 minutes.

Day 5 Cycle 10 minutes at an easy pace, followed by 30 minutes at a moderate pace.

Day 6 Rest.

Day 7 Go for the distance: This will be your first long ride, so pack snacks and water, and do it at an easy pace. Either do a looping course that feels like a reasonable distance for your ability, or go back and forth, turning around when you feel like you still have plenty of energy left. It’s better to finish a race with some energy than to feel like you’re coming in with fumes. Seacat suggests planning to ride about twice as long as your longest ride to date.

Back To Top