How to train optimally with limited time

Every cyclist wants to achieve peak fitness, but life usually gets in the way. Don’t let a lack of time hold you back. With bike trainers and a few hours per week, you can transform your performance. 

Whether we admit it or not, us cyclists are a competitive bunch. Only the lucky few can make cycling their sole purpose in life. Most of us simply don’t have the luxury of 15-20 hours per week to train, what with family time and the 9 to 5. But all of us can find 2-4 hours per week to work out on the smart trainer.  

To see the gains, you’ve got to train. There’s no way around it. But for those with limited time, you absolutely need to train smart by bringing focused intensity to your training. Limited training time is always best spent on an indoor trainer. It cuts out all the time wasting you can’t avoid on the road. 

Zoning in – Find the sweet spot 

Targeting your threshold will make best use of your training time. Extended intervals at slightly below your Functional Threshold Power – your Sweet Spot – will provide the best tradeoff between improved fitness and fatigue accumulation. You’ll need to do an FTP test to determine where this is exactly.

Sweet spot intervals are the perfect after-work session on the smart trainer. An old favourite for time-restricted cyclists, they involve two 20 minute efforts at around 90% capacity with 10 minutes spinning before, between and afterwards. Try this twice a week. 

Go to the max 

The second zone to tax is your V02 max system. This zone lies at 105-120% of your threshold. Training this system is difficult, and requires intense effort and discipline. With a power meter on your bike, Tacx’s inbuilt meters or Virtual Power, you can ensure you target this narrow zone effectively. 

5 minute efforts are generally sufficient at these intensities. If you can go for longer, then you aren’t pushing hard enough. Many coaches recommend 5 reps, as part of a one hour workout you’re sure to feel. Do this once a week and the benefits manifest as increased threshold power and improved performance when it comes to those repeated deep efforts above threshold.  

To these two types of intervals, add a few all-out sprint efforts to build strength and power. And remember: consistency is the name of the game. Use it or lose it. 

Coaching apps for next level improvements 

After you’ve followed this regime for some months and you notice your fitness plateauing, you can go to the next level with time-effective structured training plans from coaching apps like TrainerRoad or Sufferfest. Together with out smart trainers they open up a whole new playground and provide you all the motivation you need to train effectively.  

Or if you find more time and want to put in some base miles indoors, use our high quality cycling films to ride the Classics or a stage from the Tour. The more competitive among us may prefer to go deep and compete against live opponents for extra encouragement on Zwift. There are a multitude of options to keep you motivated and hungry for more pain. 

It can be hard training intensely alone, but modern technology is here to help. It’s never been easier thanks to the latest software solutions that help make the experience not only bearable, but even enjoyable! 

In conclusion: Know that by training smart and by consistently taxing the right zones, you can easily attain high levels of fitness with as little as 2-4 hours per week. Our home trainers are engineered to give you a headstart, with a solid and satisfying workout to reach your goals with whatever time you have available. It just comes down to the art of training smart with Tacx