The Ultimate Cycling Training Plan for Beginners 2023

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If you’re new to cycling and looking to get into shape, you’ve come to the right place.

As an avid cyclist myself, I know that starting a training plan can feel daunting.

But with the right preparation and mindset, any beginner can get pedaling towards their fitness goals.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know to crush those first few months on the bike.

How Should a Beginner Train for Cycling?

When just starting out, the key is to build an aerobic base fitness while avoiding injury.

This means gradually increasing your time in the saddle with a focus on lower-intensity rides.

Don’t try to sprint up climbs or pound out high miles right away.

Building up too quickly is a recipe for burnout or overuse injuries.

For beginners, I recommend starting with 30-45 minutes of cycling 2-3 times per week.

Find routes or trails that are relatively flat at first to keep the intensity manageable.

Ride at a speed where you can maintain a conversation – about a 6-7 out of 10 effort.

This will get your body adapted without being too taxing.

After a few weeks, you can begin adding 5-10 minutes per ride and incorporating some hills or short interval pickups.

Listen to your body and take rest days whenever you feel excessively fatigued.

Recovery is just as important as the training itself when you’re starting out.

Above all, keep things fun!

Explore new areas, ride with friends, and mix up your routes.

Consistency over time is key, so enjoying your rides will help motivation.

How Many Miles Should a Beginner Cyclist Ride?

When starting cycling, a good rule of thumb is to build up to riding 30-50 miles per week.

At first, you may only be able to handle 10-15 miles over a few rides during the week.

But gradually increasing weekly volume to 30-50 miles will boost cardiovascular fitness without overwhelming your body.

For most beginners, I recommend starting with a few 10-15 mile rides per week.

After 4-6 weeks of consistent riding, you can aim to progress up to 20-30 miles per week.

Once you’ve ridden consistently for 3-4 months, reaching 40-50 miles per week is a great goal.

Remember to increase your mileage by no more than 10% each week.

This progressive overload allows your muscles, joints, bones, and connective tissues to adapt to the training stimulus.

Rushing the process by ramping up mileage too quickly can lead to injury or burnout.

Pay attention to any pain or excessive soreness, and take rest days whenever needed.

Having patience as you build an aerobic base will pay dividends down the road.

How Many Miles Should a Beginner Cyclist Ride Per Week?

When starting a cycling training plan, it can be tricky to determine the optimal weekly mileage.

Most beginners should aim for 30-50 miles per week once their fitness allows.

But how do you progress to that level safely?

For the first 2-4 weeks, just focus on getting comfortable on the bike with a few 10-15 mile rides.

After building this initial base, add 5-10 miles onto your longest ride each week to gradually increase volume.

Here’s a sample progression:

  • Weeks 1-2: Two 10-15 mile rides (20-30 miles/week total)
  • Weeks 3-4: One 15-mile ride, one 20-mile ride (35-40 miles/week)
  • Week 5: One 20-mile ride, one 25-mile ride (45 miles/week)
  • Week 6: One 25-mile ride, one 30-mile ride (55 miles/week)
  • Week 7: One 30-mile ride, one 35-mile ride (65 miles/week)

Of course, this is just a general outline.

Adapt it based on how your body feels as you start cycling.

Staying below 50 miles per week for the first 2-3 months is usually adequate for building an aerobic base as a beginner.

Listen to any warning signs from your body and be patient.

Ramping up slowly now will allow bigger mileage down the road once your fitness improves.

How Do You Structure a Cycling Training Plan?

Creating a structured training plan is important to get the most out of your riding as a beginner cyclist.

While every plan will be individualized, these basic components should be included:

1. Aerobic Endurance Rides

  • Make up 60-80% of total volume
  • Done at an easy-moderate intensity
  • Build base fitness and endurance

2. Long Rides

  • Once per week, do an endurance ride 50% longer than usual
  • Extended time in the saddle boosts resilience

3. Recovery Days

  • Take at least 1 day totally off the bike each week
  • Easy spin rides also promote recovery

4. Strength Training

  • 2-3 times per week, target legs, core, and upper body
  • Improves cycling efficiency and endurance

5. Speedwork

  • Once weekly, do sprint intervals or hill repeats
  • Builds anaerobic power and strength

6. Proper Nutrition

  • Fuel rides and recover correctly with whole foods
  • Carbs for energy, protein for muscle repair

Following this blueprint will give you the fitness and resilience to take on more advanced cycling challenges down the road.

Just listen to your body and adjust the plan based on how you feel.

Is 30 Minutes of Cycling a Day Enough?

For total beginners, riding just 30 minutes per day can be enough to start improving fitness.

The key is maintaining that consistency without overdoing it early on.

Riding 30 minutes daily allows you to log 3-4 hours per week, which is an adequate starting volume.

When combined with some strength training, it stimulates cardiovascular adaptation and leg strength development.

It’s easy to sustain without burning out.

That said, as your fitness increases, you’ll want to gradually progress beyond 30-minute rides to continue seeing gains.

After a few months, try extending one ride each week up to 60-90 minutes to build endurance.

And incorporate more challenging terrain like hills.

To keep improving, most cyclists need to eventually ride 45-60 minutes daily or cycle 10-15 hours weekly.

But 30 minutes of quality riding per day is fantastic when just getting started.

The main thing is listening to your body.

If you feel overly fatigued doing 30-minute rides, reduce the duration or frequency until you adapt.

Ramping up too quickly can lead to overtraining.

Be patient and the fitness gains will come!

12-Week Beginners Base Cycling Training Plan

Here is a 12-week beginner cycling training plan to help you build a solid aerobic base and prepare for longer rides:

Week 1-2

  • Tues: 30 min easy spin
  • Thurs: 30 min easy spin
  • Sat: 45 min easy-moderate ride

Week 3-4

  • Tues: 30 min easy spin
  • Thurs: 45 min easy-moderate ride
  • Sat: 60 min easy-moderate ride

Week 5-6

  • Tues: 45 min easy-moderate ride
  • Thurs: 30 min speed intervals
  • Sat: 75 min moderate ride

Week 7-8

  • Tues: 45 min moderate hills
  • Thurs: 60 min moderate ride
  • Sat: 45 min speed intervals

Week 9-10

  • Tues: 60 min moderate hills
  • Thurs: 45 min speed intervals
  • Sat: 90 min moderate ride

Week 11-12

  • Tues: 45 min speed intervals
  • Thurs: 75 min moderate ride
  • Sat: 105-120 min moderate ride

Focus on gradually building volume and adding intensity like hills and speedwork.

Take full rest days whenever you feel tired, and fuel appropriately for rides over 60 minutes.

Modify this plan if any workouts feel too difficult.

Being consistent over 12 weeks will boost fitness dramatically!

Tips for Safe Cycling Training

While training plans will help you make big fitness gains, it’s crucial to keep safety top of mind from day one:

  • Always wear a properly fitted helmet and high-visibility clothing.
  • Equip your bike with front and rear lights when riding in low light.
  • Obey all traffic laws, signs, and signals. Remember, bikes share the road.
  • Scan ahead and ride defensively to anticipate potential hazards.
  • Learn basic bike maintenance like changing a flat tire.
    Carry a spare tube, tire levers, and pump.
  • Stay hydrated and fuel properly, especially on longer rides.
    Carry water and snacks.
  • Vary your route often to keep mentally engaged. Explore new scenery.
  • Speak with your doctor prior to ramping up cycling volume significantly.
  • Listen to your body and take rest days or back off intensity if overly fatigued or sore.
  • Consider riding with a group or more experienced cyclists for motivation and safety tips.

The ultimate goal is avoiding injury while having fun and steadily improving your fitness.

Take a patient approach, ride within your limits, and you’ll be pedaling stronger than ever!

Final Thoughts

Starting a cycling training plan as a beginner can be an intimidating but extremely rewarding process.

The key is laying a smart aerobic foundation through gradually increased volume and regular endurance workouts.

Listen to your body, fuel appropriately for rides, and incorporate rest days.

While the specifics of your training will be unique, follow the progressions laid out here to safely build your cycling legs without overdoing it.

Be consistent, stay motivated by exploring new routes, and party-pace yourself through the initial ramp-up.

In a few months, you’ll be amazed how far you can ride!

Remember that cycling is a lifelong journey.

Setbacks or plateaus will happen, but getting out consistently and enjoying your time on the bike is what matters most.

The fitness gains and adventures will follow.

So grab your helmet, pump up those tires, and let’s hit the road!

I’m excited for you to experience the thrill and freedom of cycling. Your journey starts today. Let’s ride!

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Joey B. Ramsey
Passionate cyclist, father, and blogger.
I've been riding bikes since childhood and enjoy sharing my knowledge with fellow cycling enthusiasts.
My diverse bike collection allows me to write reviews and advice based on personal experience with various bikes and accessories.
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