Ask ALP: How do I train with minimal free time?

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Every week, Alison Powers and her fellow ALP Cycles coaches — Jennifer Sharp and Patricia Schwager —share their experience, stories and advice with Ella readers in a ‘Weekly Wisdom’ training tips column. Additionally, once a month, Alison will respond to your training, riding or racing questions. 

Got a question for Alison and her team? Simply post your question in the comments below or send it to us on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtags #weeklywisdom or #askalp.

– Anne-Marije Rook

Training with minimal time

Most of us, we don’t have 15 to 25 hours each week to train and ride our bike. Between family, work and life demands, it’s hard to find time each day to ride. We have to make the most of what little ride time we have. We want to achieve cycling success and gain fitness but how do we do that with just three or four days per week on the bike? The short answer: quality over quantity of riding.

With the 8 to 12 hours of training time per week that most of us have, we have to make every single workout count. Every single pedal stroke must count or else you are wasting your time. This means:

Recovery rides are out

Your recovery days are your days off the bike.

When you do ride, aim for higher intensity

If you only have 60 minutes twice a week, then make those sessions really count by including intervals.

  • Warm-up for 15-20 minutes
  • 25 minutes of high intensity intervals (Lactate Threshold, VO2 Max and Anaerobic Capacity)
  • Cool down for 10-15 minutes

This should be hard, really hard. But you’ll have just completed a high quality workout in just 60 minutes.

Longer days

On the weekends, or your days off work, you should try to fit in longer endurance rides.

  • Aim for 2 to 4 hours with as much time in zones 2 to 4 as you can fit in.
  • Avoid coasting and soft pedaling as those two things do nothing for your fitness. You’d be amazed by how taxing and tiring it is to go ride for 2 hour at zones 2-3 without coasting or soft pedaling!
  • Want to make it even harder? Aim for a 95+ cadence- the entire time.

This is a very quality 2-hour ride that will beat out any 3-hour ride with time spent coasting, surging and soft pedaling.

Here is an example of a week of training with minimal time:

Monday– Restday

Tuesday– 60 minute ride with 5 x 5 minutes HARD. 2:30 rest between intervals.

Wednesday– Rest day. Perhaps some yoga or easy cross training

Thursday– 75 minute ride with under/overs: 2 x 15 min at low lactate threshold zone with 30 seconds HARD every 4:30 minutes. Rest 8 minutes between intervals

Friday– Rest day

Saturday– 3 hour endurance ride. Steady zones 2-3 with 90+ rpm.

Sunday– Cross train or endurance ride

To take the guess work out of training with minimal time, ALP Cycles Coaching has created a 13-week training plan with three bike workouts a week.  By the end of the training plan, you can expect to have become a better, faster and more complete cyclist.


Your questions for Alison or any of the other ALP Cyles coaches don’t need to be limited to the topic at hand. Ask them anything! Post your question in the comments below or send it to us on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtags #weeklywisdom or #askalp.


ALP Cycles Coaching alpcycleslogo - edited is a Boulder-based coaching company with three female coaches at the helm: Alison Powers, Jennifer Sharp and Patricia Schwager.

Each coach brings her own coaching strengths and personal experiences. Roading racing, track, endurance mountain biking, time trialling, making the leap to living and racing in Europe – they’ve got you covered. Find out more about Alison Powers and her Alp Cycles coaching company at here.

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