When you have extra time to train, you can enhance your training plan with additional workouts and maintenance activities. Adding extra training can be extremely beneficial when added appropriately.

For more information on training check out Ask a Cycling Coach Ep 253.

Add Low Intensity

When adding volume to a structured training plan you’ll want to avoid adding any high intensity. If you feel like you have the capacity to productively take on additional intensity, then it’s best to increase your plan volume as a whole. If you increase your plan volume, any additional intensity is structured and in alignment with your training goals.

If you know you can’t productively maintain the additional intensity that comes with a higher volume, it’s best to add low-intensity, endurance-based workouts to your regular training plan. Adding extra endurance is easy to do and there are numerous ways to do it.

Extending Workouts

An easy way to add endurance based volume is to extend the cooldown or warm-up of your workout. Adding a few extra low-intensity minutes adds up when you do it every ride. It’s also easy to implement. You don’t have to organize an additional ride or even get off the bike. You can keep on pedaling and add time as you see fit.

You can also choose how much time you want to add to your cooldown or your warm-up. In the TrainerRoad app, you can add extra time in one, five, and ten-minute increments. Whether it’s an additional half-hour, twenty minutes, five, or anywhere in between – the choice is up to you.

In addition to this you can opt to do certain “plus” versions of a scheduled workout. While some “plus” versions add more intervals, others add endurance to the end of a regularly structured workout. If you know you want to add endurance work to your ride, go to the TrainerRoad workout library and look at the other versions of your scheduled workout to see if any align with your goals for the day.

Do Two Workouts in a Day

Another great way to tack on volume is to do two workouts in one day. In addition to the scheduled workout you have on your Calendar, which will generally be a structured interval workout, try doing an endurance workout too. By adding an endurance workout to your day you’ve increased your training volume without adding too much training stress. Any workout under an hour, in this zone, is a good addition. Pettit, Lazy Mountain, Taku, and Dans are a few examples of workouts that would be a good fit.

Adding an endurance workout also creates an opportunity to ride with friends. If you want to do a group workout with a friend, but you and your friends are on different training plans, a low-intensity workout is easy to add to any plan. Most athletes can tag an endurance workout onto their day and train together. 

The Benefits of Two in One Day

Doing a second workout can benefit your muscular recruitment patterns. When you do your first workout of the day, it can fatigue the muscle fibers you regularly rely on. During your second workout, your body may not be able to utilize those muscle fibers like it regularly would. This forces your body to use different muscle recruitment patterns. When your body utilizes different muscular recruitment patterns it has an opportunity to discover more efficient recruitment patterns and strengthen muscle fibers it may otherwise not use regularly. This is why we recommend doing the lower intensity endurance workout first followed by your hard workout or interval workout later on.

Think Outside the Box

Additional time on the bike isn’t the only way to add volume to your training plan. Attending to other aspects of training and recovery can be as beneficial as spending more time on the bike.

Maintenance, strength work, foam rolling, stretching, and fundamental skill work are all excellent places to dedicate extra time. A lot of them don’t demand a lot of additional training stress but create an opportunity for tons of improvement. In addition to obvious benefits, choosing to spend your time working on something else can be refreshing and help prevent burning out on your training.

Don’t Overdo It!

Additional training isn’t beneficial when it prevents you from completing structured workouts in your training plan. If the extra workouts fatigue you to the point where you’re unable to complete regularly scheduled training sessions, then you should scale back. Instead, try using that extra time for a low impact maintenance activity or extra recovery.

It can be easy to get carried away with training when we have extra time. Remember that maintaining a healthy, balanced training schedule, that’s proportionate to other priorities in your life, is important too. Add workouts and activities that enhance your training without interfering with it.

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.

Getting Faster with TrainerRoad

Ready to get faster? Driven by science and data, TrainerRoad provides the training, planning, and analysis tools you need to become a faster cyclist with a focused and straightforward system. Create a custom training plan with Plan Builder, complete workouts indoors, outside, or with friends, and prove that your training is working with post-ride analysis tools. You can be confident that you will become a faster cyclist, and over 1,500 stories from TrainerRoad athletes prove it. Try TrainerRoad with a 30-day, money-back guarantee.

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Meghan Kelley

Meghan Kelley is a writer, XC MTB racer and trail enthusiast. Her years spent racing XC and working at TrainerRoad has translated to a passion for all things cycling.