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Training Plans For Cyclists

Reviewed by Laurel-Lea Shannon

Gale Bernhardt's Training Plans for Cyclists

You may be a beginner cyclist working up to your first 50 km ride (31 miles), or an intermediate rider wanting to improve your time on a 100 km ride (62 miles). Or maybe this is the year you’re chasing down a century (160 km/100 miles). Whatever level of rider you are—whether you speed along on a road bike or bounce up and down trails on a mountain bike—world-class cycling coach Gale Bernhardt has a training plan that will help you reach your goals and make you a better cyclist.

In Training Plans for Cyclists, Bernhardt covers basic training principles, nutrition and energy needs, and bike fit before getting into detailed training plans for specific goals. To get the most out of the book, take the time to read these chapters, rather than jumping straight to the training plans.

Starting with the basics, Bernhardt points out the necessity of defining your goals clearly, how to make them challenging but achievable, how to prepare mentally for an event, and how to control fear and visualize success. She then launches into basic training principles. If you’re a recreational cyclist, training terms like periodization, volume and intensity, and progressive overload might make your eyes glaze over, but Bernhardt’s condensed version of training basics is not only painless, it’s even interesting, and knowing these terms will help you understand her detailed training plans.


The chapter on nutrition is the best I’ve read anywhere—those 22 pages are well worth the price of the book alone. Covering the basics of micro and macro nutrition, Bernhardt also unravels the usually difficult and confounding mystery of the proper ratio of fat, protein and carbohydrates—why you need all three—and demonstrates an easy way to determine how much of each you should include in your daily diet. She also shows you how to calculate your calorie requirements based on the amount of cycling you do, and what ratio of fat, protein and carbohydrates you need, based on how active you are.

The remainder of the book is devoted to the 16 training plans that cover road and mountain bike events, and tours. Whether you’re looking to do a 30-mile, 50-mile, 100k, or Century ride, a 3 day or 1 week tour, or a 3-hour, 100-mile, or 24-hour mountain bike event, Bernhardt’s plans will guide you incrementally towards your goal. (Canadians will be puzzled by the incorrect conversion of miles to kilometers in the book—including a chapter header.)

Each training plan includes an overview explaining who it’s designed for, what the overall goal is, how to modify the plan if you run out of time, and a description of each week of training. Just one caveat: the plans are full of mysterious looking letters and numbers that are meaningless until you decode them with the workout codes. The problem is finding them. There’s no information included in the plans to tell the reader where they are (at the back of the book in a section called “Supporting Information”). Considering how crucial they are, it would have been helpful to include the page number of the workout codes with the training plans. Removable coded charts for each type of workout would be even better. So allow extra time and patience to decipher your plan.

But once you do that you’ll discover Training Plans For Cyclists is a power-packed training book. Everything you need to know about how to do the workouts is clearly explained in the workout codes. They include detailed instructions for each workout, such as: the correct heart rate zones, the optimum rpm, the correct chainring, and the terrain best suited to the workout.

The plans include days off or optional strength training days. You can do your existing strength program on these days or, if you don’t have a strength workout, there is a chapter at the end of the book that covers strength training phases and recommended exercises.

Just need to get in shape? Bernhardt has also included a Foundation Fitness plan for people who don’t have a lot of time for long rides.

A dedicated athlete and coach, Bernhardt has written a book to help the rest of us achieve the fitness we need to become better cyclists and enjoy the events we participate in. Training Plans for Cyclists is a valuable resource packed with need-to-know information for recreational cyclists—a book you will refer to over and over again each cycling season.

Paperback with tables and charts throughout.
7 3/8″ x 9 ¼”, 320 pp., $21.95, 978-1-934030-18-9

About Gale Bernhardt

Gale Bernhardt cycling trianer and coachGale Bernhardt has coached and instructed athletes since 1974, and served as the USA Triathlon team coach in the 2004 Olympic Games. A certified USA Cycling Level I Coach, she has also served on the USA Triathlon National Coaching Committee since 2000 and is a USA Triathlon World Cup coach. Bernhardt is the best-selling author of Bicycling for Women, Training Plans for Multisport Athletes, Triathlon Training Basics, and Workouts in a Binder: Swim Workouts for Triathletes.

Gale Bernhardt’s books are available at Chapters Indigo, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com and Mountain Equipment Co-op.

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