Cycling training for beginners: top tips for getting started

If you are starting to take cycling more seriously or want to get fitter or faster, you might look to training more purposefully, but getting started can be daunting

ClockUpdated 09:50, Thursday 28th September 2023. Published 19:00, Wednesday 27th September 2023

Cycling is a sport that has limitless possibilities, it can take you around the world and it can massively improve your health. If you are getting to the point in your riding when you want to hit specific goals, naturally you will find yourself gravitating towards the idea of training rather than just riding. The only hurdle is that it can be an absolute minefield trying to work out how to get started - but it doesn't have to be. Here are some of our top tips to help get you started on your goal-driven adventure.

Have a goal

The key to long and successful training is giving it a real and tangible target. If you set out on your training journey with no measurable goals, it can be very hard to remain focused and motivated throughout the hard times if you don’t have something that it is all for. Setting a target that is achievable and measurable is a great way to keep you on track through your training journey.

Whether your goal is to lose some weight, ride faster or complete an epic event, having a time frame and a metric to measure your progress with will help no end. It can also be useful, especially for larger goals, to set interim milestones that feel more achievable. For example, if you are new to cycling and want to ride 100 miles next summer, that is a measurable and achievable goal, however it is also probably quite daunting. Setting a goal of riding 50 miles by spring gives you a smaller, more achievable goal to work towards as part of the greater objective.

Read more: How to make your own training plan

Find your preferred training environment

We are blessed as cyclists in 2023 to have plenty of choice when it comes to our training environment. We have the open road, we have the home trainer and we also have gyms. Working out what training environment works best for you is going to allow you to put your all into the sessions and, most importantly, keep consistent with your training.

Indoor training

Indoor training is a very efficient way to fit your training into a busy life, because not only are the sessions time-effective but also there is less faff either end of the ride, with no need to clean a grimy drivetrain or sort out a puncture you picked up on the road.

Because indoor training is a user-controlled environment, you can get really high-quality sessions done with minimal time - there is no need to ride for half an hour to get to the hill you are going to use, it is good to go immediately.

With indoor training you can simulate long, steady-state efforts better than you can out on the road as it is a controlled, traffic-free environment. This can make indoor training a great solution for training for long alpine climbs or time trials.

Read more: Getting started with Zwift indoor training

When it comes to indoor riding, there are multiple platforms that you can use that put you in a virtual world. One of which is Zwift, that allows you to ride, train and race from your living room, with built-in training plans that, if paired with a smart trainer, can vary the resistance for you, taking a lot of the brain work out of training.

Outdoor riding

Riding outside will benefit your riding in more ways than just leg strength: it develops your bike handling skills and will train your cadence range better than indoors riding will.

A great way to start training is to fit it into your existing routine, using your commute as a time to put those training kilometres in. This can be a really time-efficient way of working towards your goal. Using your commute as a training opportunity also has noted mental health benefits and will save you money on fuel and parking.

Riding with a training buddy

Training can be hard and motivating yourself even with the best goals in mind can still be a struggle. Pairing up with some friends to train can be a great way to make sessions more fun, engaging and motivating. Being held accountable by plans is an age-old way to get you out of the house and riding even on the days you would rather just sit in a cafe.

Sprinting for town signs or trying to drop each other on a climb can really push you to new limits, as you can always try that little bit harder when you are in competition with someone. For the long endurance rides that any cycling goal will be loosely based around, having someone to chat to will help the kilometres tick by that little bit quicker too! Riding with friends is certainly a great way for you to all stick to your training ambitions.

Gym work

Doing some strength and conditioning work that goes beyond just riding a bike is a great way to prevent injuries. Spending some time doing stretching or doing Yoga will ensure that you keep your flexibility that can easily get lost from riding lots. Also doing some resistance training will help with overall strength and comfort on the bike, with core workouts allowing you to control the bike better and get more power to the pedals.

Read more: We got coached by AI and this is what happened

Cross training is also a really beneficial component to cycling. You don’t necessarily need to always be cycling to be improving your fitness and moving closer towards your goals, going for a hike or a run can be used as cross training that will benefit your overall cardiovascular fitness.

Although the key to meaningful training is consistency, the only way to achieve this is by keeping it fun and engaging. By mixing your training up with gym sessions or cross training, it should keep things fresh, creating a more sustainable training environment that will see you reach your goals.

Do you have any advice for a newbie to training, something you wish you had been told at the start when you were new to training? Let us know in the comment section below. Also make sure to check out our very own dedicated training channel on YouTube linked here.

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