The smallest unit of every training plan is a single workout. It sounds simple but there is a lot to consider if you want to make your workouts effective. Let’s take a closer look at how to draft cycling workouts, set durations and intensities, and establish a helpful naming system.

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Each workout has to have a goal

Again, like with any other building block of a training plan, you have to start with its purpose. With every workout you create, you have to know what system or ability it’s designed to improve or maintain, like muscular endurance or anaerobic capacity, for example. Avoid assigning multiple goals to one workout, more than two would very likely be spreading yourself too thin and the session wouldn’t be effective.

Create a draft first

When you start building up your library of workouts, it’s helpful to get in the habit of drafting. It allows you to get a sense of what the workout will look like before deciding on the specific numbers. If your goal for the workout is to improve aerobic capacity, then a draft is easy – a single block with a steady-state endurance ride. But when you get to anaerobic capacity, the structure becomes a bit more complex with a warmup, intervals with rests in between, and a cooldown.

Choose the intensity and duration

The more specific you can be with setting intensity and duration for each segment of your workout, the easier it will be to create the desired training stress. With a warmup, always make sure it prepares your body for what’s to come. If there’s going to be a hard interval set, then make your warmup longer and include some intensity in it too. When it comes to the meat of the workout, the intervals, try to set a specific number or a narrow range for intensity, whether it’s watts of power or the number of heartbeats per minute. After you set duration and intensity of the core of your workout, consider the whole training load done so far to determine the length and intensity for your cooldown.

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Looks familiar? 🙂

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Add names and descriptions to your workouts

When you decide on all the details of a given workout, it’s important to add a description for future reference. You should state the goal of the workout clearly and add any pre-workout considerations or notes that are relevant. Just as important as a description is the name of your workout. The purpose of creating a database of workouts is to be able to use it repeatedly. A good name helps you identify the right training sessions in the future by including the goal and a brief outline of what’s inside.

Later in this series, you will see examples of individual workouts and some pro tips for how to get the most out of your training plan. But you can always come back to this article for reference as these principles apply to all workouts you want to have in your future library.

Next up in Build Your Own Cycling Training Plan series

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