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Build Your Own Cycling Training Plan – Endurance Workouts

By Jiri Kaloc

Endurance workouts are especially important in the off-season for building your base fitness. They can be as easy as a low-intensity steady-state ride lasting several hours, but they can also get more interesting. In this article we will take a look at two examples of endurance-building workouts.

The first workout is designed to improve aerobic fitness and pushing harder while fatigued. The second is more of a tempo ride that aims to improve muscle endurance, which is key on long climbs. Both of these are great examples of how building endurance doesn’t need to be just boring long rides. When you add structure, you can make those workouts more interesting and get more out of them.

Goal for the aerobic fitness workout

This workout develops slow-twitch muscle fibres and trains the body to use fat as a fuel more efficiently. Aerobic training adaptations are much more dependent on duration than intensity, so make sure not to cut corners and do the full length. The late-stage hard efforts have the additional benefit of teaching your body to work hard while fatigued.

German cancer researcher from Heidelberg Fiona Kolbinger, 24, rides her bicycle on August 5, 2019 near the village of Teillay, Brittany, on her way to be the first woman to win the 2,500 miles ultra-endurance cycling Transcontinental Race from Bulgaria to western France. © Damien MEYER / AFP / Profimedia


Our first endurance example ride will be 3 hours and 15 minutes long with a TSS of 150. The intensity will again be expressed in maximum heart rate (Max HR), threshold heart rate (Threshold HR), and functional threshold power (FTP), so that you can choose which numbers you are most comfortable with. This session could be called “3-hour medium effort ride with late-stage hard efforts”.

Steady-state riding – 2 h. 45 min. at 65-75% Max HR / 68-83% Threshold HR / 60-70% FTP
Intervals – 2.5 min. at 82-90% Max HR / 95-105% Threshold HR / 98-103% FTP followed by 1.5 min. easy spinning, repeat 4 x
Cooldown – 14 min. at 60-70% Max HR / 68-83% Threshold HR / 55-65% FTP

Goal for the muscle endurance workout

The second workout is built to improve muscle endurance, which is especially important for long climbs where you have to sustain a relatively high pace.

Warren Barguil climbs the Col d’Izoard in a breakaway during the eighteenth stage of the Tour de France on July 20, 2017. © Profimedia


Our second endurance example ride is 2 hours long with a TSS of 96. This time there won’t only be a prescribed duration and intensity but also cadence. It could be called “2-hour tempo ride with 6 low-cadence intervals”.

Build-up – 15 min. at 60-75% Max HR / 60-83% Threshold HR / 50-75% FTP
Intervals – 4 min. low-cadence hill intervals at 80-90% Max HR / 84-94% Threshold HR / 85-95% FTP, followed by 3 min. easy spinning. The cadence range for the intervals is 50-70 RPM. Repeat these 6 times.
Cooldown – 1 h. 3 min. at 60-70% Max HR / 68-83% Threshold HR / 55-65% FTP

Endurance training can have a lot of variety. You can always adjust it based on the type of endurance you will need on race day to get the best results. Next time we will look at how to set up workouts at a higher intensity to push your lactate threshold.

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