Brand new cyclist, but low volume is too much


I have a friend that wants to get into cycling, but after a long hiatus from excersise is intimidated by even the low volume plans. They are certain that they couldn’t finish a 60 minute indoor workout, let alone a 90 minute. They know that it will take them time to build up to a low volume plan and are committed to do that, but they also said that they need a plan to follow, otherwise they will give up quickly.

I still recommended TR for them, and suggested that they do the “Train Now” plan. This way they could pick 30 minute workouts and go from there until they feel they could do a low volume plan. Unfortunately I don’t really know how the train now feature works:

Can a user add “Train Now” workouts to the calendar to mimic a plan? Assuming this is a thing, would it make sense for me to recommend one endurance, one attacking, and one climbing workout (each 30 minutes) per week for 3 weeks, then on the 4th do 3 endurance workouts (then rinse and repeat)? Or would “Train Now” recommend what is needed each day?

Or, is there something completely different I should recommend? I obviously, want them recommended whatever will keep them coming back the bike!

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There’s been a few threads on it, but LV is a bit misleading as a title as LV plns have 3 HIIT workouts in a row and for me that’s more intense than a MV plan mid week, which only has 2 HIIT sessions sandwiching an endurance one… What I done at the end of the season, and it seems to be working, is to drop the middle LV work out to an Endurance one. I had been doing it manually on the day but eventually I decided to use a time off annotation for the middle workout and use TrainNow on the now blanked out (annotation day). Im hoping that Adaptive Training works better like that. It seems to be adapting anyway.

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Train Now suggests 3 different rides but can be adjusted for duration and I believe level. I’m liking cherry picking from Workouts as I return from hip replacement. Had to build from a Dr imposed 10 minute limit. There you can pick a 30 minute ride and pick the zone you want to ride in based on ftp. Endurance level 1 -2 would be a good starting point


Honestly I can’t imagine tr being my first experience cycling. It would be miserable.

Get them on systm or Zwift if they must do stuff indoors due to the weather - if not just take them for interesting rides outside.


They don’t need a structured plan right now, just get them riding to find out if they actually enjoy it.


I agree with DicSavage-cherry pick from the workouts list. Select the 30 minute sessions at endurance levels. You can select these and put them on the calendar so your friend has a scheduled “training plan”.
From there your friend can advance on to the 45 minute selections and eventually the one hour sessions.

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This 100%, all the the fitness gains when you start riding are just because you are riding, you ride because you enjoy it, find out what they enjoy, let them find themselves as a cyclist (don’t project yourself onto them, don’t encourage them to ride so they can be your ridign partner, don’t force them to train so they can keep up with you)

Like @Neuromancer says, take them on rides, show them why you enjoy riding, just put them on Zwift for the time being


Have you looked at the time crunches plans under specialty? That might be perfect 30 min 3 days a week


I actually took a different approach: HV plan and selecting shorter alternates every single day. Brand new cyclist and having a great time with TR. I did the free trial of Zwift, but that’s not my thing.

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Have them listen to some of the podcasts.

The myth of needing to “train before your train” is dispelled in several of them.

All the plans scale to the novices capability.

“Whether you are new to cycling or experienced, TrainerRoad has a plan that will work for you.”

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All intervals and zero endurance training for a new cyclist (or any cyclist) doesn’t sound great to me. I would recommend just riding Z2 on Zwift (or outside) and maybe do one workout or race per week if that keeps them motivated.

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I started cycling 40 lbs heavier than I am now. I started mountain biking because it was fun and was lucky to have some beginner level trails (both from an elevation and technical perspective) nearby. I’m not sure an indoor plan would have hooked me to move in a healthy direction as much as actually riding. Riding a bike is fun, exercise you actually want to do is always easier to stick with.

Now that I am into it, the enhanced fitness from structured work makes me enjoy the trails more. TrainerRoad was definitely an acquired taste for me. I am just using Train Now since I don’t do a lot of events and have plenty of room to improve. You can set the workout duration and it will give you three options (sometimes less if your workout history is loaded, they don’t want to overload you).

What do you base that recommendation on?

Does said friend express interest in structured training? As others have mentioned, you really don’t need structured training as a beginner. You just need to ride fairly consistently for a period of time.

Unless your friend is eager for structured training, I’d back off with that suggestion for now.

A lot of people are ignoring this part of the question. I fully agree with those saying “just ride”, but if “just make sure you get in a ride (indoors or on Zwift) 3 days a week” doesn’t work for them and they absolutely need a plan, I think the best option is to go with SSB LV and use alternates. Teach them how to use PL’s and what IF is, so that they can filter to shorter workouts that are rated “achievable” rather than “productive”, and then pick the lowest PL listed. If that’s still too much, then replace the middle day with a super easy 30 minute “just spin”. Make sure they know it’s ok to not finish a workout at first. Just do what you can, get in the workout, and be proud of yourself for sticking to the plan. Build the habit, and then set goals to complete the full 45 minute ride, complete all 3 in a week, pick higher PL’s or 60 minute workouts, etc. In the beginning, it would just be about consistency, building the habit, and feeling pride in yourself for doing the work.

Using Train Now to build out an advanced plan is not recommended by TR.

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Yes, thanks for noticing that part, I should have emphasized it more. I initially suggested zwift (winter in Canada here) so they would just ride, but they didn’t think it would keep their interest for too long. It is a free trial so I will suggest it again as so many here are adament it is best. My friend was talking about spin classes and how doing something a little different would keep them motivated - this seems more like what trainer road has to offer.

When I first started indoor training, I felt the same. Getting on a trainer and just riding was miserable - as soon as I learned about a structured workout (and these were just based on rpe) the workout would just fly by. I found I had no problem riding longer if there was structure to the ride. I know that my current perspective is clouded, but for me, Zwift is so boring unless there is a workout attached.

I like the suggestion of using workout alternates better than train now. I am not sure why I didn’t think of that initially - workout alternates are so easy to use (but you are right, make sure you pick the right alternates). It ticks the box of having a training plan, but there is no reason they must do 60-90 minute workouts.


Also, if they like the “spin class” kind of vibe, check out the Maintenance plans someone mentioned above. They’re hidden under “Specialty”, but are mostly that short HIIT kind of class that the Peloton crowd loves (that’s not an insult, my wife is one of them)

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I will check those out too and pass along, thanks!

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I think the workout alternates is a great idea. Honestly for somebody starting out I’d suggest, at minimum, those first few weeks of workouts being easy with little intensity. I’d want to build the habit of working out on a schedule before even attempting to ramp up intensity. But that’s just how I personally approach lifestyle changes. Start small. Develop a routine/habit. Then start making bigger adjustments


Totally agree! :slight_smile:

I would do this, first 1-2 months, just get them to ride easy rides (RPE 3-4 maybe), and at a pace where they can comfortably keep a conversation during the riding.

And then once a week, add an interval session, keep it short so they stay motivated :slight_smile:

So just get them to ride as much as they want, but throw in that interval session once a week.

If they feel ready earlier to jump on a plan, great! But I think its best to just keep it fun for now…

Also, Zwift… It’s too early to look at blue blocks. Alternatively run both side by side, use TR workouts but ride in Zwift!

EDIT: Reading a bit of the above new posts, if they want the spin class feeling, it might be the only option to put them on a TR plan!

The LV is lots of intensity though, so have them try it, see how they feel…

There’s misrepresentation of TrainerRoad in this thread that I want to clarify, but first, I think the suggestions of TrainNow or following the Time-Crunched Plans are both great options for this athlete!

Our Low Volume plans are not named to mislead people. They are the lowest volume version of the plans, and as such, named Low Volume.

Broadly speaking, 3 workouts per week averaging 3-4hrs per week is a low volume option for most athletes.

You are conflating training volume and intensity with this part.

All of that said, this is a great example of why naming training volumes is surprisingly complex. :slight_smile:

I don’t see how TrainerRoad would be more or less miserable than other options? If anything, it is the only option that adapts training for your abilities.

TrainerRoad isn’t just interval workouts. There’s over 164 endurance and active recovery workouts in the catalog all within a wide range of durations. Using something like TrainNow would be a great way for this athlete to do endurance rides adjusted to their ability levels that allow them to progress gradually.

Appreciate all of the great advice given here!