A lot of people tackle training prep for a century ride with lots of riding and that’s it. They will do multiple short rides during the week, a long ride on Saturday, and a recovery ride on Sunday. For my first century ride, that is pretty much the approach I took. It worked, but that is not the only way and it is not practical for everyone. Furthermore, it can be fun to mix things up.

Now as I am training for century rides, I still do the long Saturday rides but I mix in some strength training, functional fitness, and other stuff. I am now also a bigger advocate of strength training and its benefits for cyclists. I like to workout my core because it helps with the long days on the bike and doing upper body helps to make sure your balanced and strong all over.

Lower body strength work during the cycling season is not as common. A lot of people avoid it since you can potentially work out your legs so much on the long ride days. However, I think if you time it right, you can make your legs significantly stronger and still have recovery time for the long rides. And by having stronger legs, you’ll be faster up those hills and fave better endurance on the flats.

Below are some training options that I have worked in over the years to my training program. I’ve also included a sample weekly schedule, spin training, and strength training. No training plan is suitable for everyone. It all depends on your fitness goals, schedule, etc. Take a look at these options and then come up with your own plan that works for you!

Spin Class or Stationary riding

During my first year after getting into cycling, I felt like I was really struggling. The solution for me at the time was to add a couple of spin classes each week. It made it simple for me to get in some extra cardio, and the spin class programming helped me with intervals and simulated hill climbs.

I’ve also used some time on a stationary bike throughout the years. It’s not nearly as fun, but can be quite useful. Not only was it good physical training, it helped me get more comfortable on the bike — practicing shifting, pedal strokes, and eating/drinking while riding. If you have a “smart trainer” you can even have virtual rides with realistic scenery and compete against other riders.

Other Cardio

I also like to mix up my cardio. Rowing, Airdyne, running, swimming, etc. might not hit the same muscles as biking does, but they all help with cardio. The variety can help with monotony of being indoors. Plus, it can just help for those of us that like to balance our fitness.

Strength training

For me, strength training is more than just supplemental, it is essential. Years ago, it wasn’t a priority to mix in strength training into my fitness plan. I was avoiding doing a ton of lower body strength training because I was “saving my legs” for those hard rides.

But after reading Maximum Overload for Cyclists, I have reconsidered that. Now I incorporate some heavy leg days during the cycling season. The idea that is presented in the book that if you have stronger legs, riding will be easier in general. And if it is easier, you can go longer before getting tired and you will have more reserves for climbs or sprints.

Personally, I have found that improving my leg strength is very beneficial to my riding. The strength training has helped me to become a better climber and improved my overall power output.

Sample weekly schedule

  • Sunday – Rest/recovery
  • Monday – Strength or CrossFit training
  • Tuesday – Cardio – Easy Ride or Spin Class
  • Wednesday – Strength or CrossFit training
  • Thursday – Cardio – Easy Ride or Spin Class
  • Friday – Rest/recovery
  • Saturday – Long ride

Note: As you get closer to your event, you will want to modify the schedule and build in more rest/recovery. You may also want to go lighter on the strength training parts. It is important to listen to your body. If you feel fatigued on the bike, back it off a bit on other days.

Sample Spin routine

  • Warm up – Do a 5 minute warm up. Start with very little resistance and build up to the equivalent of a “flat road”
  • Interval – Cycle for 20 seconds with near maximum intensity followed by 10 seconds of recovery. Repeat. Keep going through the intervals with the goal of being able to complete 16 cycles.
  • Recover – Cycle at the flat road intensity until your heart rate is down
    Climb – 5-10 minute intense climb (you could find three intense songs and take a slight break in between each song)
  • Recover – Cycle at the flat road intensity until your heart rate is down
  • Finisher – 1-minute cycling power sprint at your maximum speed
  • Cool down – 5 minutes

Sample strength training

You can also mix in some cardio. If you are already doing a lot of biking, you could finish your strength workout with 10 minutes of rowing.

NOTE: The videos used above were created by Axistence Athletics for use in their programming. The training suggestions above are my own and are not part of the Axistence Athletics training program. If you are in the Denver area, I highly recommend that you check them out for a more detailed and in-depth look at your fitness plan.