Training "plan" for an absolute newbie starting from zero

No, not for me, fortunately not starting from zero. I know there was a discussion on a recent podcast about getting people on TR with absolutely no real cycling experience, and I believe @Nate_Pearson mentioned he started his mom on it.
My wife has tried riding on the trainer, but very sporadically and only like 20-30min increments. Now, she’s really not interested in doing structured training, which I must hold my tongue in arguing against lol But, let’s say she did want to get started. Obviously even low volume base is a lot for someone who isn’t conditioned to even riding more than 30mins.

So that’s got me thinking of how to develop a plan for someone who a) has essentially no riding experience and b) will probably not follow power for awhile. Aside from just doing free rides at whatever RPE a user is comfortable with, was curious if there are any suggestions on how to slowly build duration/intensity for someone trying to get more into cycling. And if you’ve helped a complete novice enter into the world of cycling would love to hear your experience (especially if you’ve ever convinced a skeptic that structured training is way better than aimless spinning)

HAve her start on a low volume plan (3x a week), namely sweet spot 1, then sweet spot 2. From there, she can have an idea of where she would like to go. If she rides with a group, then maybe the enthusiast plan would be best suited? The plans are designed to make you faster, so it’s technically all up hill from here for her.

Personally, I’ve done a mix of Sweet Spot, General, and Sustained Power Builds as it best suited both my short and long term goals for this year. I think the beauty of TR’s format is that there’s TONS of structure but also a bit of grace in how you want to employ said training.

In conclusion, since she is new to structured training, low volume is the way to go. Going too much in the beginning only creates massive burnout in the end which is exactly the opposite you would want in the sport.

Hope that helps. Happy riding.

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I’d probably echo what @bigdaddynewt said except I’d use the variations of the workouts that are available. For example in the SS Base Plan sessions like Ericsson and Monitor have 30 minute versions and you could probably make a complete version of the plan based around the minus versions of the sessions.

Having said that I was in the same boat with my wife who only started riding from zero around 18 months ago and was very time crunched due to work. I did manage to persuade her that working hard on the bike was good and got her doing the Time Crunched 30 minute plan during the week and an easy coffee stop club ride at the weekend.

It was a bit of a brutal introduction but she had done some running previously so wasn’t a complete novice to training. She used some fairly choice language toward me after some of the rides but I think I got away with it :flushed::face_with_head_bandage:


Same situation in my house. First workout was the ramp test with an FTP around 110. I got her rolling on the SSB low volume plan. She only wanted to ride a maximum of 30 mins. I said no problem, just ride each workout for as long as you want, 10, 20, 30 mins no problem. The first couple of weeks that’s what she did, 30 mins 3-4 times a week. Then 45. Then she started finishing some of the 60 mins workouts. Now the 90 min weekend rides she might do 1:15. Her FTP is up to 125, she rides when she wants for as long as she wants. I always have her bike loaded on the Kickr at all times and logged into her account. She loves the convenince of being able to workout at home whenever she wants. Over time she will grow into the training and either want to push herself, or not. What I know for sure is that if I push her, it will not be helpful. My job is to make it as easy as possible for her to do whatever she’s ok with.


Great advice.

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I agree. For someone with no cycling background, even Low Volume Sweet Spot Base is too much. I’m coming back from a very long time (decades) off. Starting off with 60-90 minutes in the saddle is way too much! My butt couldn’t take it. And then starting with long intervals at sweet spot or even tempo is a physical and mental challenge. It’s taken me a while to be able to handle all those different aspects.

This might sound like heresy on this forum, but this hypothetical person should just go and ride their bike outside and enjoy it for what it is.


It’s a good point - the plans on TR would really not be fun for a beginner. Ramp test would be somekind of hell I imagine if you’ve never ridden before.

Something like set the FTP to 100 and find some workouts with a lot of variety. For the super beginner though it really does point me in the direction of Zwift where they can just get on an Ride and look at pretty things.

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You mean…out there…actually outside?

Have you lost your mind :scream::exploding_head::grinning:


Some of those Time Crunched 30 workouts are really tough. They’re short, but hurt like hell. I can imagine that would be a brutal intro to training.

I’m not sure what we’re trying to achieve here. Do you want her to get into cycling and learn to love the sport? Is she looking for an easy way to workout inside to stay healthy? Lose weight?

If you’re looking to show her how awesome this hobby of ours is I’d suggest getting her out on the bike where she can have some fun. Ride with her, introduce her to some mixed gender group rides and let her ride with them, something to let her see if she likes it or hates it. If she loves it she’ll eventually want to pursue fitness gains so she can hang with her friends on harder rides and you can talk about structured training at that point

If this is just an exercise driven thing then you have to see what motivates her. If it is non cycling specific (i.e. she wants to stay fit, drop some weight, whatever) then you can talk to her about how getting stronger means more calories burned in the same time and thus efficiency in her day to day workout grind and see if that gets her focused on more structure.

Realistically - talking about structured training for someone who isn’t a rider and hasn’t ever been a rider seems like you’re putting the cart pretty far in front of the horse.

Just my $0.02 - obviously your relationship and methods may vary


It was! I’m barely warmed up after 30 mins.

When I built my wife’s first bike she started going out on a Sunday club run and enjoyed it…but the bit she hated was being at or off the back of the group.

She didn’t have much time during the week to train but adding in those hard sessions made a significant difference to how much she enjoyed the Sunday rides and seeing herself improve in relation to other riders in that group made it very much a virtuous circle.

As I said before though she had done some running before so wasn’t a stranger to structured training albeit not on the bike and the approach suggested by @trpnhntr is probably a far more sensible one.

My situation is much like yours @julianoliver. My wife is so anti-competition that even the slightest encouragement or challenge led to demotivation or accuasations of pushing too hard. We bought a Peloton. She had to find an instructor who’s style she enjoyed and has to find classes with music she likes. She now has four different instructors she enjoys and that led to her announcing she would ride 3 days a week. They were all 30 minute classes, but once she had committed, she was dedicated. It didn’t take long for her to learn that she preferred structured power zone based training over “fun” classes. Then the magic started to happen. The weight came off. The dinner choices became healthier. Drinking became less frequent. And so MORE weight came off. That led to a 45 minute class once in a while. And then 4 days a week. Shopping for new clothes that fit and look better. More self confidence and pride appeared. Along the way, I’ve gone out of my way to tell her how amazing she looks. To ask how her ride went. To make positive comments when a day gets missed…I’ve had to learn to wait for her to mention missing and then say “no big deal, it’ll just make you more motivated and want to ride harder tomorrow” instead of me being the one to say “you missed a day”. We’re all wired differently and learning what motivates her is what helped me feel more supportive and helpful. What motivates me is winning and losing. Knowing i did it when i just wanted to order pizza and eat ice cream. Having my friends hassle me when I skip a workout or congratulate me when I do a particularly tough one. What motivates her is different. And that’s ok!

Good luck! I hope your wife finds something she loves and sees great results!


Top notch husbandry right there! I am just now embarking on this very same approach to introduce my wife to cycling. Thank you for sharing your approach. This is exactly the information I was looking for.

You are not alone and I feel your pain.

I finally convinced my wife to start training with TR under the circumstances that I will load and unload her bike to/from trainer :smile:.

She is so scared riding with a group due to the her limited bike handling ability and traffic.

First, I am planning to set her FTP to 100 and then planning to put 2 weeks of endurance rides, 3 times a week and 2x30 min and 1x45min. This will help her to gain the convidence of riding. While training and reading the instructions on the screen, she will improve her bike handling capabilities. I will take her out once a week and ride with her outside just for fun.

We are starting with a MTB on which I have a comfortable saddle installed.

If everything goes as planned, she should be on SSB LV I by the end of March :+1:t5: Otherwise I have to shut my mouth forever :smile::smile::smile:.

Good luck.

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