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Indoor cycling training plan: smash your summer riding goals with this eight-week indoor training plan

Indoor cycling training plan
(Image credit: Tacx / Strava)

Indoor cycling has become a popular training method in recent months, what with COVID-19 and global lockdown protocols, as it enables cyclists to ride in a safe training environment. While riders use indoor training for a variety of reasons, should your indoor training program differ from an outdoor training plan?

Naturally, there are a number of differences between training indoors vs outdoors, but the aim, like with any training plan, is to provide a training stimulus, which is applied to the body causing a reduction in performance to a point (caused by the stress created on your body’s homeostasis from training) followed by a short period of rest/recovery allowing physiological adaptation to occur which results in improved performance.

How does indoor training differ from outdoor training?

Training volume

While volume is important to making performance improvements, when riding indoors you can reduce the total amount of training time by 10-15 per cent while achieving the same stimulus. 

The main reasoning behind this is because you are constantly applying a force to the pedals indoors, where outdoors you would have the ability (at times necessity) to back off and coast for a portion of your rides.

Fighting heat and boredom

When riding indoors we are not moving through air, which leads to a rapid increase in core temperature and often large amounts of sweat covering the body. This combined with the mental challenge of sticking to your structured training sessions can quickly deteriorate motivation.

Luckily boredom can be overcome with the use of online training apps such as Zwift, The Sufferfest or Rouvy. You can combat heat by using a good fan and a training environment with good ventilation. This will allow you to increase your evaporative and convective heat loss, therefore picking the correct room to set up your training station becomes important.

You control the variables

When riding outdoors you're often at the mercy of the elements, terrain, traffic and other cyclists. Indoor cycling lets you control the variables. This greatly improves the specificity of your training.

The heightened level of control is valuable in improving the precision and quality of each session that you are able to produce.

What to remember when adopting an indoor cycling training plan?

Structure your training

When training indoors, it’s vitally important to make sure that you keep your easy rides very easy and your hard rides very hard. The goal should be to keep 80% of your sessions at a low intensity, with the remaining 20% as high-intensity interval training sessions. 

A common mistake to avoid is that each session does not have to be a hard session. When training indoors it’s easy to be drawn into riding hard too often. As we’ve discussed previously, there is a large benefit to including your slow/steady sessions and polarising your training so that you can go really hard when the time is right.

Don’t neglect your skills

Spending large amounts of time training indoors makes it easy to neglect your skills such as bike handling or bunch riding. Remember to include an extra session or two to focus on your skills when the majority of your riding is done indoors. This will allow you to ride efficiently in a real-world scenario, so you don't waste the watts you've spent time gaining. 

Eight-week indoor cycling training plan

Week 1
DayGoalTimeTraining
MondayRest0Rest
TuesdayEndurance601 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Any cadence
WednesdayIntervals90Warm up for 20 minutes, followed with 3 x 9 minutes over-unders (0:30@110% FTP, 2:30 @95% FTP). Recovery of 10 minutes zone 2 between efforts. Warm down 20 minutes
ThursdayEndurance60IMTG ride: 1 hours LSD - zone 2 ONLY - Fasted state: Do not eat breakfast. Drink only water. Keep to zone 2 only!
FridayRest0Rest
SaturdayEndurance901.5 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Any cadence
SundayIntervals150Warm up 45 minutes zone 2 and 3: Follow with 3 x 10 minutes zone 4 with 10 minutes rest between each repeat - zone 2. Warm down 45 minutes zone 2.

Week 2
DayGoalTimeTraining
MondayEndurance601 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Any cadence
TuesdayRest0Rest
WednesdayIntervals70Warm up 10 minutes zone 2 & 3. Follow with 10 min in Low zone 4. Perform 1 minute zone 5 effort from 2-3 minutes, 5-6 minutes and 8-9 minutes. Rest 10 min zone 2. Then do 5 min zone 4 followed by 5 x 40:20's- 40 seconds maximal sprint with 20 seconds recovery. Rest 10 min zone 2 Then do 5 min zone 4 followed by 30:3:10- Maximal sprint for 30 sec- followed immediately by holding zone 5 for 3 minutes. At the end of the 3 minutes perform a maximal sprint for 10 seconds. Warm down 10 minutes in zone 2 at a high cadence (90-110).
ThursdayEndurance601 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Any cadence
FridayIntervals70Warm up 15 min zone 2 and 3, Follow with 3 x 8 min (40:20) intervals (40 seconds maximal sprints with 20 seconds recovery between each sprint). Recover 8 min zone 2 between intervals. Cool down 15 minutes zone 2
SaturdayRest0Rest
SundayEndurance1803 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Low intensity ride in zone 2 on flat terrain. Keep the cadence > 90 RPM

Week 3
DayGoalTimeTraining
MondayIntervals90Warm up 15 min zone 2 and 3: Follow with 3 x 10 minutes (start with a 30sec max sprint, then hold steady for 9min 30sec)) zone 4 with 10 minutes rest between each repeat - zone 2. Warm down 15 min zone 2.
TuesdayEndurance601 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Any cadence
WednesdayRest0Rest
ThursdayEndurance601 Hour Zone 2 only. After 15min do 5 x 15 second maximal effort sprints on FLAT terrain (perform a 15 second effort every 6 minutes). Do not shift down the block but allow cadence to reach absolute maximum and then try to hold that cadence for full 15 seconds.
FridayEndurance60IMTG ride: 1 hours LSD - zone 2 ONLY - Fasted state: Do not eat breakfast. Drink only water. Keep to zone 2 only!
SaturdayIntervals60Warm up 35 minutes in zone 2, follow with 4 x 6 minute Stochastic efforts (4 min @100% FTP followed by 3 x 30:15’s, 30sec @110% FTP, 15sec @60% FTP). Cool down 35 minutes in zone 2
SundayEndurance +1803 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Low intensity ride in zone 2 on flat terrain. Keep the cadence > 90 RPM

Week 4
DayGoalTimeTraining
MondayRest 0Rest
TuesdayRest 0Rest
WednesdayActive recovery60Easy active recovery. Have a good social ride. Maintain a good cadence throughout
ThursdayEndurance601 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Any cadence
FridayRest 0Rest
SaturdayEndurance1202 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Any cadence
SundayEndurance1202 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Any cadence

Week 5
DayGoalTimeTraining
MondayRest0Rest
TuesdayEndurance601 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Any cadence
WednesdayIntervals +75Warm up 15 min zone 2 and 3: Follow with 40:20 intervals. do 6 x 40 seconds maximal sprints with 20 seconds recovery between each sprint. Rest 15 minutes in zone 2 and then do another set of 6 sprints. Make sure that you do the sprints with the same average power for each sprint instead of going all out and then fading. Warm down 15 min zone 2 only at high cadence (90-115).
ThursdayEndurance601 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Any cadence
FridayActive recovery60Easy active recovery. Have a good social ride. Maintain a good cadence throughout
SaturdayIntervals +120Warm up 40 min zone 2. Then do 6 x 4 min (@120% FTP), with the last 3 as 40:20's (40sec @130% FTP, 20sec recovery). Cool down 40min zone 2
SundayEndurance1502.5 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Low intensity ride in zone 2 on flat terrain. Keep the cadence > 90 RPM

Week 6
DayGoalTimeTraining
MondayRest 0Rest
TuesdayEndurance601 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Any cadence
WednesdayIntervals +80Warm up 15 min zone 2 and 3: Followed by Intervals of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 minutes in duration. Rest the duration of the previous interval. Warm down 15 minutes zone 2. Power output should be 100% of FTP for each interval.
ThursdayEndurance60IMTG ride: 1 hours LSD - zone 2 ONLY - Fasted state: Do not eat breakfast. Drink only water. Keep to zone 2 only!
FridayActive recovery60Easy active recovery. Have a good social ride. Maintain a good cadence throughout
SaturdayIntervals +150Warm up 45 min zone 2 and 3: Followed by 6 x 30:3:10 intervals: Maximal sprint for 30s - Follow immediately by holding heart rate in zone 5 for 3 minutes. At the end of 3 minutes perform maximal sprint for 10 seconds. Recover 5 minutes in zone 2 and then repeat 5 more times. Warm down 45 minutes zone 2.
SundayEndurance1202 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Low intensity ride in zone 2 on flat terrain. Keep the cadence > 90 RPM

Week 7
DayGoalTimeTraining
MondayRest 0Rest
TuesdayEndurance601 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Any cadence
WednesdayIntervals +9010 x 30sec sprints. Warm up 20 min zone 2 and 3: Follow with 10 x 30 second maximal sprints (Start from slow speed on 8-11% gradient. Accelerate as hard as you can and keep dropping through the gears to maintain high resistance). Rest 5 min between each sprint (You can stand still and gasp for the first 2 min). Warm down 15 min zone 2 only at high cadence (90-115).
ThursdayEndurance601 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Any cadence
FridayActive recovery60Easy active recovery. Have a good social ride. Maintain a good cadence throughout
SaturdayIntervals +180Warm up 60 min zone 2 and 3: Followed by 8 x 4 minutes zone 5 (or above 80% Peak P.O) with 4 minutes rest between repeats. Warm down 60 minutes zone 2.
SundayEndurance1202 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Low intensity ride in zone 2 on flat terrain. Keep the cadence > 90 RPM

Week 8
DayGoalTimeTraining
MondayRest 0Rest
TuesdayRest 0Rest
WednesdayActive recovery60Easy active recovery. Have a good social ride. Maintain a good cadence throughout
ThursdayEndurance601 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Any cadence
FridayRest 0Rest
SaturdayEndurance1202 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Any cadence
SundayEndurance1202 Hour LSD - zone 2 - Any cadence

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