Sponsored post: how do I up my game as a beginner cyclist?

Wattbike's lead scientist advises new riders on how to progress

One of Cycling Plus' readers has asked: "I'm new to cycling and have been bitten by the bug and can't wait to get stronger and faster. Any advice on how I can up my game?"

Eddie Fletcher, Wattbike's Lead Sports Scientist, explains: You are only just beginning to get into training on a bike, so there are a number of things you should do, and not to do (detailed below).

The best training to do as a beginner cyclist

  • Do find out from a test what your heart rate and power training zones are before you start training and work to them (see p162 for tips on training with a heart rate monitor).
  • Do identify a training plan that meets your objectives, and one that reflects your beginner status. Make sure your plan builds slowly, ease into it and make sure every ride is enjoyable and not exhausting. Build your base endurance to start with at a lower intensity and at medium durations. A good plan is one that builds over a long period.
  • Initial training plans should look at 12-16 weeks just to get the base fitness.
  • Do ride in groups that match your ability level, moving to faster groups as you progress.
  • Do build in recovery days where you either do very short spins out or rest completely. You can move from two three sessions a week to four sessions and finally to five a week. I always advocate having two rest days per week. Rest and recovery are the most important parts of training.

Often-made mistakes to avoid

  • Don't just buy any bike. Get a good bike fit, as this will avoid injuries caused by one that doesn't fit you properly.
  • Don't start without a training plan that leads you through the early weeks and builds your fitness and handling skills.
  • Don't go at it randomly and start with long rides at exhausting speed. Also avoid joining experienced groups of riders straight away as they will only spit you out of the back. This is the most demoralising way to start and can lead to overtraining, fatigue and illness.
  • Don't train every day. Recovery will be part of your routine so rest days are good.
  • Don't train at the same intensity every day; in general riders tend to ride at too high an intensity for too long, which doesn't improve performance.
  • Don't let training get addictive to the extent that fatigue and therefore rest is ignored.

Before you start training, ensure that you've picked a plan that's right for you:
Before you start training, ensure that you've picked a plan that's right for you:
Before you start training, ensure that you've picked a plan that's right for you

Beginner's tip

Know your heart rate and power training zones. A training plan without the numbers is no training plan at all, and becomes guesswork; trial and error rather than precision and accuracy. Knowing your numbers avoids the common mistakes that lead to overtraining, injury, illness and under performance.

Your training for this month: build up your ride duration

For the first phase of this plan, aim to do two road rides per week on flat or varied terrain, avoiding big hills. Start at 60 mins in Zones 1-2 for the first session and 75 mins for the second session. Get used to using your gears and maintaining a good cadence (90rpm).

Don't be in a rush to increase the duration, add 15 minutes a week to the first road ride, so 75 mins in week two, 90 mins in week three and back to 60 mins in week four (recovery).

Start the next phase (week five) at 75 mins and continue to add 15 per week. In week seven you will be riding for 105 mins and by week 11 you'll be at 2 hours.

For the second road ride go to 90 mins in week two and 105 mins in week three and back to 75 in week four (recovery). By week seven you will be at 2 hours and by week 11 2.25 hours.

If riding in a group add 45 mins to these figures, so by week 11 you will be riding for 3 hours. This plan will improve your overall fitness levels, speed, and physiological condition.

In association with www.wattbike.com. Need training advice? Send your questions to: cyclingplus@immediate.co.uk

This article was published by BikeRadar, the world's leading source of bike reviews, gear reviews, riding advice and route information
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