Essential Training Plans

Cycling Essentials - Overview & FAQ

The Essential cycling plans are designed to be able to give athletes a flexible short to long-term training plan that includes three key cycling workouts each week to help them improve their general fitness and take the greatest advantage of training with purpose, progression and structure. All of the workouts can be completed indoors, outdoors, or any mix of indoors and outdoors that your schedule might allow - especially if you’re using a Wahoo ELEMNT bike computer to follow the structured workouts. While the workouts in the plans are scheduled on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday its perfectly fine for you to move the days around based on your calendar. Simply drag and drop a session on your calendar to a different day and you’re all set. We’ve planned the mid-week sessions (Tuesday & Thursday) to be generally shorter in duration and higher intensity, reserving the weekend session (Saturday) to be a longer lower-intensity endurance training session. We have purposely not included any cross training or training add-on options like yoga, mental training, or strength training - but you are free to add any of those stand-alone cross training add-on plans on top of your cycling essential training plan if you’d like…or just complete your normal week additional exercise/training routine. 

How should I use these plans?

The essential training plans have been designed to provide the maximum benefit of structured training in a minimal amount of time. They’re also useful for both short term use, and can be extended for up to 6-months of planned training using the essential training plan blocks.

These plans seem light, can I use them on top of my regular training?

While the essential plans are not high volume plans, you can ride more than the 3 days/week. If adding additional sessions, we would recommend primarily adding general endurance sessions rather than additional higher intensity training sessions to these plans. 

I have been following the 2:1 blocks but now want to change to 3:1, how do I do this?

Ideally you should complete a 3-week segment of a 2:1 plan, and then you can begin at the next closest week (or 1-2 weeks shorter than the start week length) of a 3:1 plan. Example, if you’ve completed 9-weeks of 2:1 blocks, then you should start at week 9 of a 3:1 plan. If you’ve completed 18-weeks of 2:1 plans, then you should start with week 17 of 3:1 plans (instead of week 20). 

I completed block 4 but then went on vacation for 2 weeks. Now I am back, am I ok to do block 5?

A 2-week break without any training is the upper limit of time that we would recommend to pick-up where you left off. Most folks, though, would tend to do better by repeating the last block that they completed prior to a 2-week training break. If you’ve had more than 2-months (8-weeks) without any training, we recommend starting at block 1 or block 2 of either the 2:1 or 3:1 essential plans.

I completed all the 2:1 blocks. What now?

You’ve got options! We often encourage folks to take a 1-2 week break from training after completing a large training block, especially if you’ve completed all 24-weeks. After taking that break, you can add any other SYSTM training plan that fits your goals. or you can restart the 2:1 plan at the beginning again - it will be more challenging if you’ve improved your fitness as all workouts will be just a bit more challenging.

I completed all the 3:1 blocks, what now?

See the above…same!

Do I have to follow the plans in order - or can they change up the order of the blocks

These plans have all been developed to be progressive and to be performed sequentially. We generally don’t recommend skipping forward any blocks…but it’s okay to repeat a block if you’ve had a 1-week complete break from training or longer.

Can users completely skip over one block?

We don’t recommend skipping a block as the plans are designed to be completed sequentially one block after another. 

What if I wasn't able to complete a block for any number of reasons; can I repeat a block?

Yes, you can repeat any blocks of training…or “rewind” a block that you’ve previously completed - especially if you’ve had to take a week or two off due to illness, injury, etc.

What if I only have a limited time up until an event?  (not the full 24 weeks)? Are there specific blocks they should use?

Generally speaking, training is a forward moving process…so it’s best to start at the beginning and build up. We don’t recommend starting backwards from the end of the 24th week…as the beginning will likely be too much/too intense training, too soon…unless your event is 24-weeks away. 

What if I have an event in the middle of the plan - can they still use the plans?

If you have an event in the middle of your plan, you can simply substitute the event for the weekend workout. You can also dial down the intensity of the two workouts during the week, or just complete one of the two sessions if you’d rather come in a little more rested. Also, depending on the length and intensity of the event, you might want to back off the mid-week sessions the following week by reducing the intensity of the planned workouts.

How can I gauge my progress?

After any easier week (the 3rd week of 2:1 plans, or 4th week of 3:1 plans) you’ll be rested and ready to perform at your best. You’d be ready for an event/competition or you could perform any fitness evaluation that week. If you don’t have a specific event that you’re preparing for, you could add either of the Fitness Test Prep plans to see how you’re progressing. We generally only recommend re-testing after a minimum of 8-weeks of training, but more normally after you’ve completed between 12 and 16-weeks of training.

What is the preferred course for event training - an essential plan or an event specific plan and why?

There’s not absolutely right or wrong answer…though if you’re preparing for a very long event like an ultra distance gravel or mountain bike race, or a very long/hilly gran fondo or similar event, you’d likely do better on an event specific plan as you’ll be guided through all of the workouts necessary to have success in your specific type of event. The essential training plans will provide a significant increase in overall fitness, but might not be adequate preparation for a very long and/or intense specific event.

The plans:

2:1 progression:

3:1 progression:

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