Schedules change all the time. Sometimes life happens, and you find yourself with minimal time to train. At other times, you find yourself with tons of time for training. Whether you have extra or minimal time, you can make the most of the time you have to maintain or increase your fitness. 

Extra Time To Train

Having extra time to train is a luxury that many athletes would love to have. Besides just riding more, some specific things can help you make the most of your extra time. Depending on your current goals, you can add more training volume, incorporate strength training, or double down on recovery. 

Add Structured Intensity

Before you add in more rides, you need to evaluate your current training and the number of intense workouts you are completing each week. If you aren’t following a structured training plan, the best bang for your buck would be to add in some high-intensity workouts. This type of work helps to train your higher-end energy systems. 

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If you are new to structured training, it may be a good idea to reduce your overall training volume until you adjust to the new workload. Another important point is to resist the urge to add too many high-intensity workouts. 

Add Low-Intensity Rides

Adding in some low-intensity, endurance rides are an excellent way to take advantage of your extra time. This is especially true if you are already following a structured training plan that has included the intensity that you need. Endurance rides have many benefits, but the primary upside is that it addresses your aerobic base fitness. 

Recovery and Strength Training

Instead of adding more rides to your training calendar, another option is to double down on recovery. This could mean more time addressing sleep, stretching, or other recovery activities. Additionally, you could incorporate strength training. The benefits are numerous, but if you are just beginning, make sure to avoid overdoing it. 

Minimal Time to Train

The other end of the spectrum can be a frustrating one. Having little time to devote to training can often feel like a lost opportunity. While there is no perfect substitute for the hours that you want to put in, you can maintain your fitness with a couple of short workouts per week.

It’s important to remember that you may need to adjust your goals with a reduction in training. Be realistic with your expectations, and don’t worry about your temporary losses. In other words, reset your starting point. A good place to start is deciding to maintain your fitness. 

Time Crunch Plans

TrainerRoad has several plans that can help you maintain fitness in just a few hours per week. The goal of these plans is to preserve the high-quality work in the limited time that you have. Time Crunch 30 and Time Crunch 45 are comprised of 30 and 45-minute workouts, respectively. Both plans have low and mid-volume options. Low volume will have you on the bike three times a week, while the mid-volume is five workouts. 

Each workout in these plans is a revised version of popular 60-minute workouts. These workouts are shorter, but no less intense to help you maintain fitness. If you are new to cycling, they can help build fitness if you are short on time. 

Whether you have the luxury of extra time or life has thrown a wrench into your plans, you can make the most of what you have. To learn more about training for an event, check out Plan Builder: I Have Too Much Time, or Plan Builder: I Don’t Have Enough Time.


For more cycling training knowledge, listen to Ask a Cycling Coach — the only podcast dedicated to making you a faster cyclist. New episodes are released weekly.



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Jesse Fortson

Jesse Fortson lost over 140 pounds with TrainerRoad's help. He uses his experience as a teacher and race mechanic to get faster for crits, gravel, and marathon XCO races.