One month to train new cyclist. What's the best progression

I am doing a 3 day, team stage race in a month with 5 other riders.
One of our team hasn’t been able to do much riding due to other commitments. We’ve just set him up on a trainer and he’s been doing some zwift workouts.
He’s a fast rider when it comes to xco type riding. Seems to have a natural fitness that suits it however he’s definitely lacking on the road.

I thought he would probably be best doing a month of sweet spot progressions. Pushing out the length of the intervals to increase the TTE. The other option might be doing a block of VO2 intervals.
Anyone able to recommend where he is best to focus his trainer efforts in such a short space of time.
Over the next month we’ll also be doing longer outdoor rides on the weekend so there will be the ability to improve there as well.

Why don’t you try the Plan Builder?

I would go with the sweetspot approach. Probably SSBMV2. Though don’t burry him in those couple of weeks.

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Remember that you don’t want the rider going into that event burnt out, so most likely you have 3 weeks to train then 1 reduced week if fatigue is an issue moving close to the event.


I did, It recommends sweet spot base to start. But as this scenario is less than ideal, plan builder isn’t really the best point to start.
I was thinking it could be a progression of interval length, 5 x 5mins, 5 x 6, 4 x 8, 3 x 10… This isn’t the progression plan builder/Trainerroad follows usually.
Seeing as he has a decent level of fitness when it comes to shorter punchy type trails in rides up to an hour, I was thinking that extending the time to exhaustion with a sweet spot progression may be the most beneficial to him rather than smashing him into some VO2 intervals.
But in saying that I have noted Chad say that prior to starting a new plan he would do a week of VO2 prior to any sweet spot.

At this point do some sweet spot one longer ride a week as with only 4 weeks you just need to get back into the groove of riding and don’t worry about gains.

Four weeks isn’t enough time to really build significant fitness, particularly if you consider the demands of a 3 day race at the end of it will likely require a pretty meaningful taper week in the 4th week

I think you’re best served with a crash course at high intensity. He won’t make meaningful progress on base in 3 weeks. Grab the first three weeks of whichever specialty plan matches your race type and do those three and then do the taper week from that same plan

He’s going to be building brittle fitness no matter what you do, might as well build it in a way that will help with the race conditions. He’ll physically crash afterwards, but if your focus is only on that event this is probably your best path

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@lukas maybe it makes sense to think about what his role in the team is likely to be. If you need him as a sprint leadout or as a guy to diesel the front…ummmm…that’s a big ask. Better hit that threshold work hard this week and next!

If you need him to weld the first half of the race and then just make the time cut for tomorrow. Heck. Maybe with a little VO2 work he’s already good? If you need him to protect the back wheel of your gc rider. Maybe he’s already good? If you need him to make sure your gc is @ the front @ the bottom of the climb…depending on when the climb is maybe he’s already good, just do a lot of tempo and some VO2?

If it was me in his situation I’d hit threshold work hard this week and next. Cut the threshold work in half the third week but add a couple VO2max workouts. Recover the 4th week w/ one VO2 workout.

How long are the stages?

@lukas, I wanted to give you a more tangible answer. I think the bottom line is there can be tangible improvement in just a few weeks! Lucky for you, that time period also works well for recruiting people into studies. So if you hop on pubmed and type in ‘4-week cycling’ or similar you’re going to find a whole slug of papers that will provide answers to your question.

I’m going to just summarize one. Have your teammie do a ramp test. After the ramp test go to his analytics and note the 1min power record for the ramp test. Not get him back on the trainer, warm him up, set the power to that 1min power record, and make him hold it as long as he can. Go back to his analytics page and note the duration he held his 1min power.

For the next three weeks, twice a week warm up & do 8 reps @ 1min power for 60% of max 1min power duration…rest for 120% of max 1min power duration.

That’s it.

I think this depends entirely on the length and intensity of the race. If it’s going to be on the long side and more miles than this guy has ridden in months then I’d just work on getting his butt in condition for the length of the ride. If it’s on the shorter side, then you could try a higher intensity route. Or do both, some HIIT plus endurance time in the saddle.

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Thanks. This looks interesting. Probably a bit too much for me and probably for him as well!

It’s a longer stage race. 15km ttt, then 130km including a 30km ttt then 85km including a 42km ttt.
Time is taken off fourth rider.
We don’t "need him to play any specific role, rather I want him to be in the best position to enjoy the race rather than suffer through it.
He’s been doing the ftp builder plan on zwift, which is a mix of tempo and vo2 so couple that with a few longer rides on the weekend and he’s gonna have to suck it up as much as possible!

Thanks everyone

Good idea! Set him up for success. Sounds like a great approach.