Many of us live extraordinarily busy lives; work, families, social life and then training and racing. The question many coaches get asked is, " Can I train effectively on limited training time?"

The answer, of course is Yes! Andy Jackson from Peaks Sports Consulting explains how.

Before we get into the top tips it’s important that you’re realistic about the below:

  1. How much time have I got to train?
  2. What are my goals and objectives?
  3. How will my training impact on my family or other commitments?

Its vital that you set some SMART objectives:

  • Specific
  • Measureable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

If you have 6-8hrs a week to train, then targeting a professional contract and high finish in the Tour de France may not be either Achievable or Realistic!  That said, there are plenty of events that you can train for within such limited hours and do very well at.

Events such as:

  1. Road races or Criteriums, most of these will be 1-2hrs maximum in duration (*unless you achieve / target first Cat or elite status) – so focused sessions to a maximum of 2hrs can deliver great results.
  2. Time trials 10 mile to 100 mile, 20mins to maybe 4 hrs can be trained for with specific interval based training of short duration and high intensity
  3. Endurance sportives can be trained for using a short duration intensity focused training regime.
  4. Sprint / Olympic and even Half Ironman Triathlons.
  5. Even just maintaining / building fitness is easily achieved – but having a key goal, be it an event , target time, or target weight is vital in my opinion.

1. Plan Your Training Time

Review your week, when can I commit to train and ensure it will actually happen?

  1. It may be early morning, get it done and out the way
  2. You may be able to nip to the gym in your lunch hour
  3. Or late evenings after the kids are in bed

Also it’s a good idea to agree it with your family and ‘book’ the time. Then at least everyone is on the same page and training time in scheduled in.


2. Be Creative

Maybe your working day is long and you just don’t seem to have the time when you get home. Could you then cycle to / from work and train that way. I prescribe for a lot of athletes a session riding home from work one day, then back in the next

This is a great, time efficient way to train:

  1. You don’t ‘waste’ any time as you would just have been sat in the car or on public transport anyway.
  2. You don’t have to carry all you need at work, take the bike and all your work gear in with you in the car, then all you need to take home at night is your keys and phone!

3. Don't Waste Any Training Time

Often when I review new athletes past training, I will see that almost 50% of the training this time crunched athlete was doing was in Zone 1, less than 60% of threshold.

  1. For me this is ‘wasted’ time. If you have limited time using it effectively is key
  2. Zone 1 is a recovery and low level endurance zone, its great IF you have unlimited hours BUT if time crunched, in my opinion it’s wasted time

4. Be Specific

If your goal is a 10mile TT, then ALL your training wants to be focusing on replicating and delivering the power required for the event time, maybe 20-25mins.

  1. The training needs to be to stimulate race intensity via PUSH & PULL work. Push being work just below goal race intensity to help build and support strong foundations, Pull work being above race intensity designed to increase your capacity to work at and above race intensity.
  2. The below session is a great one to simulate the demands of a ten mile time trial.

Sessions guidance:

  • A gradual warm up at 40-50% of FTP (or you could ramp up to about 75%)
  • 3 ‘liveners’ 2mins at 80% then straight into 1min at 100% FTP with 1-2min easy between.
  • 5min easy riding in Z2 at 75% FTP
  • 4 x 6min sets at 105-110% FTP with 3mins easy between
  • Cool down

Within this session the demands of a 10mile TT are broken down into 4 sets of 6mins at or slightly above goal race pace.  SO 24mins of real quality with short rests between.  This not only breaks up what can seem a really mentally hard session, but allows you to work harder than you likely will in the race.  In theory we will work to you being able to hold this level of work for the whole race.

Often I would build multiple variants of these intervals to build an athletes tolerance and ability to complete the 24mins work, so we’d do the below sets over a period of time:

  • 8 x 3mins
  • 6x 4mins
  • 5x 5mins
  • 4 x 6mins
  • 3 x 8mins
  • 2 x 12mins

5. Train Hard, Race Easy

Many of us have heard this saying. IN training we will work to simulate and develop power WAY above what may be required in an event, to stimulate top end development.  Tabata sessions are great for this.  The below session is great if you are time crunched, just 40mins – but WOW do you work for it!

Warm Up = 10 minutes at 70% of FTP

Main Session = 30 secs at 125% of FTP

30 secs at 90% of FTP

Repeat 20 times

Warm Down = 10 minutes at 75% of FTP

 

This is doing two key things:

  1. Working via push/pull on increasing threshold
  2. Working on the bodies ability to clear lactate when over threshold and ‘actively recover’ at high intensity then go again.

This is HARD! You will deliver more power in 20 mins than if you did a straight 20 minute test. It’s mentally challenging and you need to pace. But it works!


In summary it’s very easy to deliver great training results, be those towards a specific race or to just stay fit on limited time.  You need to use the time wisely and constantly stimulate the body to change and develop.  Constantly ‘surprise’ the body by working it in new , different ways , this stimulates muscle growth in the recovery periods.

 

Big thank you to Andy Jackson at Peaks Sports Consulting for sharing these great tips with us. If you are looking for varied coaching services or bike fitting then do be sure to check out https://peakssportsconsultancy.com/.



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