Free training plans
Maybe you’ve thought about getting a gym membership or getting a personal trainer in the new year, but these things won’t necessarily get you out on the bike. Getting a tailored training plan from a personal trainer can be costly too.
Some, however, offer free training plans. They’ll never be as good as a personal coach, and won’t be particularly specific, but they can be great to get you started or get you back into the swing of training. While there are plenty of great, paid-for plans, there are also some free plans too. For example, coach Damian at cyklopedia.cc offers a selection of free training plans for you to access via TrainingPeaks.
TrainingPeaks is a digital platform that helps its users plan their training-specific goals or races, from beginners to experienced athletes. These can be tailored by a coach, or users can plan and analyse their own training. Damian also has a downloadable PDF that contains specific workouts which will use your FTP to maximise gains from your workout. Find it here.
It’s cold, it’s dark and it’s wet. These things make it really tough to actually get out on the bike and do some training over the winter. So maybe you’ve thought about indoor training but you’re not quite willing to fork out for Zwift or a Peloton bike just yet (or ever, that’s fine too).
Well, you’re in luck. A club in Australia has recorded their regular rides and created indoor trainer workouts you can follow along. They’ve got a great series of videos on YouTube which will help improve your speed and stamina on the bike. These videos are especially welcome in the depths of winter when Melbourne’s famous Beach Road is a welcome back-drop.
To do this, you will need an indoor trainer – but it doesn’t have to be smart. Okay, this may not exactly be free, but it’s certainly not subscription-based, and with only a small initial investment, it’s a reasonable choice. Smart trainers are expensive pieces of equipment, and they’re worth it if you know it’s something that will motivate you when you’re avoiding the outside world. But you won’t know that initially. Instead, you could pick up a simple indoor bike trainer for next-to-nothing. Simply pop your bike on the trainer and shift your gears to create more or less resistance, much like in the real world.
Transport for London online Cycle Skills courses for beginner, returning or regular cyclists
Transport for London (TfL) offers free cycle training for all abilities. These are available both in person (one-to-one and in a group) and online.
Cycling isn’t just a sport, carried out by competitive athletes, but also as a form of transport or as an activity to share with children. These courses hope to offer training for those who simply need the confidence to get started. They provide basic cycle skills, urban cycle skills, advanced, and family cycle skills.
There are also simple how-to guides to offer guidance on things such as repairing a puncture, basic repairs, looking after the bike, and keeping your bike safe.
YouTube strength training
Becoming a better cyclist isn’t just about going out there and cycling. Of course that’s most of it, but if you want to get fitter, stronger, and push yourself, then strength training is the key.
As a cyclist, you’re likely to only want to be on your bike. Dedicating precious energy to the gym seems a waste of time. At-home free videos using bodyweight or things around the house offer a quick, cheap and simple version of squeezing in training. You’re much more likely to do something, and stick at it if the goal is small. 20-minutes of lying down on your living room floor (okay, and a bit of exercise…) doesn’t seem as daunting as travelling to the gym for an hour’s HIIT class.
There are loads of options on YouTube, with qualified professionals offering a range of options to suit all abilities. Find someone whose style motivates you and stick with it. Three times a week is a good general start alongside your regular exercise (or instead of it, if you’re out on your bike every day). Start light, and build up the weight if you’re using weighted exercises, whether with tins of beans, bags of flour, or purpose-made weights.
The British Cycling Ultimate Guide to Winter Training eBook
Winter is tough for training! Trying to find the motivation is a challenge in itself, but this free eBook from British Cycling offers useful information to get back into sustainable training habits. Follow the advice and you’re sure to be fit and ready for long days of riding in the brighter seasons.
The eBook contains information such as nutrition advice, how to stay warm and dry, how to maintain your bike over the winter and how to make your indoor cycling workouts effective and enjoyable, amongst other useful information.
These are simple suggestions, since training shouldn’t be complicated. In order to be motivated to make a change, you have to want to do it. For that change to be sustainable, it has to be achievable. Push the boundaries of your training, but do it in a way that serves you best, whether improving your confidence to try something new or pushing your body beyond its comfort zone. If that also means not spending a single penny on fancy new gear, then let these resources set you off on the right foot. Happy training!