Cycling Training Tips

12 hours per week training program

This training program is designed for ambitious beginners who want to increase their level of performance.

This program has two days with intervals, which are Tuesday and Thursday. Mondays and Saturdays are supposed to be light training days with an intensity of about 60% of your maximal heart rate.

These light training days are made to accelerate recovery from races and hard training days. After three weeks’ intensive training, I recommend that you take a recovery week with less training, fewer intervals, but at the same high intensity as usual.

One of the main benefits of this cycling program is that you get an excellent structure for your training. This is very important as a new rider.

Many beginners have no idea how to get a structure into their training. They go for long rides when they ought to rest and go for easy rides when more experienced riders do intervals. Often their activity level is strongly correlated to the weather report.

So if you are a beginner, I am sure that you will gain outstanding results with this program. Not because of the intervals per see, as you might expect.

Intervals have a considerable impact on your performance, but the intervals will be worth nothing without a structured training plan. So this program will give you a good starting point simply because of its good anatomy. You can read more about basic cycling training principles here.

app.12hr1hr recovery3hr

V02 max

4x200m sprint

2x10min AT
Rest1hr easy ride.Race, 2hr.
app.12hr1hr recovery3hr

3x5x(40+20)sec. V02 max

4x200m sprint

4x(3+3)min V02 max
Rest1hr easy ride.Race, 2hr.
app.12hr1hr recovery3hr

2x10min AT

4x200m sprint

3x5x(40+20)sec. V02 max
Rest1hr easy ride.Race, 2hr.

2x(3+3)min VO2 max


2x4x(40×20)sec VO2 max
Rest1hr easy ride.Race, 2hr.

51 thoughts on “12 hours per week training program”

  1. Your plan looks great. but because I’m a beginner I don’t know what everything means. here are my questions:

    -can you explain what 3 x (3+3) means.
    -Also what if you don’t know your VO2 max? is there another performance measure I can use?
    -when you mention 2 hours and have 4 x200m sprints, do you mean doa 2 hour ride and incorporate the sprints at any time? or should there be a specified rest between the sprints? Or do the 2 hr ride and sprint afterwards? this applies to the other days also.

    i look forward to your response so I can focus my training. thanks.

  2. Hi Dan

    thanks for asking,

    1) 3 times 3 minutes maximal effort with recovery periods of 3 minutes between each interval. (3min hard work, 3min recovery, 3min hard work etc.)

    2) Even if you knew your VO2max you would have to just ride as fast as you can for a period of 3 minutes (but not faster than you can repeat it a couple of times). It is not possible to use a heart rate monitor for pacing because of the delay of the heart rate. A power meter is very useful for such pacing, but they are expensive. When you have tried these intervals a couple of times, you will know how hard you can push the pedals in this length of intervals. In the recovery periods, it is a good idea to do some light cycling to remove metabolites.

    3) Yea, you should incorporate them in the training, but the best time is probably after an easy warm-up, but still in the first part of the ride. This is because your muscles are freshest in that part and make it possible to recruit most muscle fibres in the sprints. It is important to have at least 5minutes rest between sprints.

  3. Pingback: 14 hours per week training program | Cycling Training Tips

  4. HI! I red this training programm and I like it, but I HAve one question! What i must change in this workaut if I want base training in preseason?

  5. I like the idea of a 12-hour a week program, but, because of my job, I can’t really do rides of more than 2 hours on a weekday (and would prefer to do longer rides on weekends). Do you have any advice or programs that can accomodate that type of schedule?

  6. Would you expand on the training philosophy of this program? I am confused as to why you seem to have three hard days back to back to back. Intervals, sprints, and more intervals don’t seem to allow for any recovery. Thanks in advance.

  7. Sean,

    Thanks for commenting, good question.

    The Wednesdays are thought to be easy/medium days with easier intervals. It is obvious that these short sprints are nothing compared to the day before with e.g. 3x3min vo2 max. Thus, the Wednesdays are not supposed to be a hard days but rather recovery days. Also the training amount on Wednesdays are lower than on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

    Best regards,


  8. My question is what about weather. Here in kentucky it rains quite a bit, so if its raining ont the 3hr interval tues. What should you replace int with. Is one of the 50 min indoor interval training comperable? I just can’t imagine riding on the trainer for 3 hr.

  9. francisco rui passos

    I´m also a begginer and I find this program excellent to start improving.
    However…what is AT? (2 x 10 min)
    and the other part of the training…you say that should be endurance training…what do you understand for endurance?
    low heart beats for minute? under 150?
    or at a higuer level…let´s say between 150 and 170? this is about 80% of my maximum 187.

  10. If I were to incorporate weight training into this program, when would I fit this in? Apparantly weight trainining is important for building strength endurance? Would one day rest then be enought to recover?

  11. On the Wednesday column, first row, how come the hours indicated is 3 hours? 3 repeats of 3 minute max v02 with 3 minutes rest. It only equates to 18 minutes. Please enlighten me on this. How many sets do I have to do within 3 hours? Thanks

  12. Hi,
    I’m starting to cycle and do appreciate your plan alot. However can you clearify what you mean with the following, please:
    a.4×200m sprint; Meaning do I cycle at max spead for 200m with how much rest in between the 4 sets?

    b. 2×10min AT; What is “AT”, and agian are there any rest periods in between?

    Once agin thank you for the program.


  13. Sorry, I have been very busy finishing my study on the university for the last couple of months. Well, here are som answers:

    AT – anaerobic threshold. It is an intensity you can manage for about 1hour.

    3hours is the total training time. 3x(3+3)min is just the difficult par of the training (intervals).

    Full recovery between each sprint (about 5-10min).

    I don´t agree that strength training is necessary for building strength endurance. In my opinion strength endurance training with sets of 15,20 or more reps is a waste of time.

  14. Memo >> AT – Anaerobic Threshold. It is an intensity you can manage for about 1hour. It is also known as functional threshold power and critical power. The point is that you keep a pace that you can maintain for one hour during a maximum effort. 2 x 10 means that you keep that pace for 10 minutes two times.

  15. I understad what 3x(3+3)min means; 3 sets of 3 min hard and 3 recovery. Is there a time in between the 3 sets or do you just do three sets one after another? Also, during the 2×10min AT interval day, do you do the two sets back to back, or leave some time in between? Thank you, Petr

  16. Hey Jesper,

    Great site, hope this helps my training. Just a few questions. During the intervals, sprints and AT, I’m supposed to be pushing the hardest. So does that mean that I increase my cadence to push my heart or increase the gear and lower cadence to push my muscles? What is a good cadence to do these intervals, sprints and AT at? Thanks! Husky

  17. You don’t have to switch your cadence. If you use your favourite cadence (typically 80-110rpm) there is no reason to worry. Your focus should be on increasing the power output during the intervals.

  18. Delena and Sanmartinz: Yes. 🙂

    Though, if you ride uphill or offroad, consider the intensity carefully, because there is a potential risk that you work too hard between the intervals.

  19. Hi Jesper, thanks for providing so much information! To piggyback on Delena’s question, would this training schedule work for a mountain bike racer? Or would you recommend more intervals? Thanks!

  20. What is the desired average (when your not doing the intervals) heart rate on Tuesdays and Thursdays?
    Thank you for making these programs/plans freely available. 🙂

  21. Hi,
    I appreciate the structured training info and advice. I am already doing my interval/intensity training on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I am not able to ride three hours on Tuesdays or Thursdays but I would like to work toward completing 14 hours per week at the appropriate times of the year (I am weeks away from my major race objectives and know that now is not the time to simply add miles.) How would you suggest incorporating extra time to a an existing 10-12 hour training program if adding time during the week beyond two hours a night is not an option and would additional time be of benefit if it was only a couple of hours? I apologize for being longwinded, but I appreciate your advice. I have been training for several years now and I am looking break through the dreaded performance plateau.

  22. Hi Jesper,
    I am a ambitious hobby Mountainbiker from Germany, and I appreciate your Training Plan, too. I have read some training literature. In my eyes they all seem to deal with huge information about nutrition, heart rates and lots of medical stuff. I believe that this has its advatages, but without a personal trainer it takes a lot of time to read through, to remember what you have read and to prepare your training. This makes me feel boring sometimes. The reason why I cycle is to always have the possibility to pick my bike and go out for a ride whenever I want.
    And I think this is what your plan seems to be good for. You have a certain framewort for a good training and for getting better. This is exactly what I was looking for. A plan that lets you listen to your body and your mind by yourself (in limits anway). Please keep on “researching” on “unindividual” training-mathods. I think this is a good way to help a lot of bikink enthusiasts 🙂

    Ok, I have one question to you, too. In one of your articles you mentioned how interesting learning from “marathon running” is for your training recommendations. I currently finished my first marathon in 3:14:something and during the winter it was a excellent preparation, even for the biking season. I improved my endurance so very much, that I do not want to miss a longer (approx 2hr) Run in between my training. I also do a lot of swimming sometimes for recreation, but this is not so important. Do you think including a run every week instead of cycling is ok? (I usually run, when it has rained and biking would mean a torture to my textiles 🙂 ) Except the intervals woud you equal a 2hr ride with a 2hr run (for a experienced runner)? Thanks a lot for your help.

  23. Hi Justus,

    Thanks for commenting. It’s difficult to compare 2hr running with 2hr cycling. I quess most athletes think it’s easier to pedal for a couple of hours. Due to excentric muscle work during running it takes a lot more recovery and only very few runners are able to run an easy 2hr run that doesn’t require quite an amount of recovery. I would definitively not equal 2hr running and cycling.

    If you are not an elite cyclist then I think it is great to take a run once a week during the cycling season. Otherwise it is best to stay on the bike. Running training can compensate to some degree for the missed cycling training but not 100%.

    Best regards


  24. Hi Jasper,

    I ´m another beginner fascinated with this site. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    What pace should match the “race” objective on Fridays?


  25. Hi Jesper,

    If I cant manage a 3hr session due to time constraints would a 1/2 session in the morning followed by 2hr session at lunch, followed by another 1/2 session early evening be sufficient? I am trying to fit it round my work patterns – for example counting ma fast 1/2 hour commutes as training then doing a solid 2hrs over lunch?

    Thanks in advance for your help

  26. i am 35yrs old and about time i got from behind the desk and do some exercise…. i have bought a good qulity bike and have a reasonable level of fitness, but ….what would be an ideal starter traing program for a novice looking to get fit and maybe do some races in the future……..


  27. Do you have any advice for modifying the program when the race day isn’t consistent? As an example, say I typically race every other Sunday, but once during the season I race on a Saturday. This would leave me with 13 days to prepare for the Saturday race, then 15 days to prepare for the following Sunday race.

    If the Saturday race is at the end of week 2, it seems like I should move a training session from week 1 to week 3, but I’m not sure which one would be the best to move.

  28. Hi Jasper.
    With a friend and my son we intend to cycle from one end of the UK to the other via Belfast and Dublin in June 2010. I’ll be 48 then and do not want to let the team down. Which training regime would you recommend I embark on now. In total it’ll be over 1000 miles in 14 days so some days will be in excess of 100 miles. So far my previous longest distance is 58.


  29. hi, thank you for your training program, i’m gust starting cycling and going through training plan and i like your plan.. i would like to ask how is the recovery training?

  30. Hello,
    I am reviewing your 12 hr training schedule. Can you please excuse my ignorance and explain to me what the terminology means:

    ex. 3hr
    3x (3+3) min


    2x10min AT

  31. hello

    saturday and mondays are pre scribed as easy days 60% intensity of maximal heart rate. Also and wednesday is day with 4 *200 metre sprints included in 2 hour ride excluding the 200 metre sprints and warm and warm down what intensity is the rest of the ride done at (as percentage of maximal heart rate). Also the same for tuesday and thursday excluding intervals and warm and down what intensity would you expect the rest of the ride to be done at (as % of maximal heart rate)

    thansk hope you can answer this as it confuses me.

  32. Good day,
    I had my winter rest after a 9 month cycling season. I started training again the end of June, with having done about 1000km upto 29 July, rested for 3 days and planned to do my first race yesterday.

    Unfortunatly, approx. 10 kms into the race my legs just cramped and i could not peddle up the easiest of hills and therefore bombed out.

    Could you tell me if this was caused by overtraining or what could be the cause of this?

  33. Hi,

    i would like to know if the spinning hour equals hour on a road? Can we say that 1/2hour of spinning would do the same as 1 hour on the road bike?
    thank you for your anwser

  34. Gustavo Barreto

    Hi Jesper,
    I have a question about this training program, what you mean. For example: app 1 / 2hr.
    Can I change the rest by Friday Saturday?


  35. Hi Jesper,
    I have a question about this training program, what you mean. For example: app 1 / 2hr.
    Can I change the rest by Friday Saturday?


  36. Dear Jasper:

    I am training for my first century ride, the Elephant Rock 100 mile course this June. I have done 100 k races in the past. Mostly I prepared by learning to bike long distances. I have started yoga to work on flexibility and strength and it seems to help, but is there way to train for 100 miles other than just riding 100 miles?

  37. I am currently training indoors on Tuesday and Thursday on the turbo – for more focused intervals etc – i do these in the morning before work and they are pretty full on – when the season starts – i normally race Sunday,and i was wondering what could i do with the rest of the week – at the moment i use Monday and Friday as easy days with short rides and Wednesday as a rest day – Saturday i do an hour or so to prepare for Sunday – so on a race week im only getting seven hours training -what else could i do to build in the desired quantity without compromising recovery?

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