cycle training

Cycling Training With RPE For Beginners – What Is RPE And How Is It Measured?

Cycle training is continuously evolving, and we consistently see a diverse range of levels come through our coaching program.

Teaching the beginner cyclist to understand the fundamentals of cycle training is just as important as the elite riders and sport science. Cycling training doesn’t need to be complicated to see improvements, and neither does the way the coach analyses it for the athlete either. Below is a simple guide to help you make the most out of your cycle training

Cycle Training Tools

There are multiple training tools that every cyclist talks about and uses. But when you are a beginner, it is essential to understand that not all of these tools are of importance.

Tools like a power meter are useful for cycle training if used correctly. But your progress can increase substantially without investing in one. Most often than not, this confuses the beginner and sometimes can affect their motivation. A Heart rate monitor is a prime example of this, but implementing an RPE scale into your training can be just as useful for the beginner without the complicated training numbers.

Use RPE To Gauge Your Cycling Intensity

If you have a background in any sport, you would have heard about an RPE scale. You may have even trained before using this measurement to gauge your effort.

Most professional cyclists can instantly tell you the level they are pushing or training at currently. They don’t always need the use of a power meter or Heart rate to gauge the level of intensity.

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What Is RPE?

RPE is a scale that measures by Rating of Perceived Exertion. This allows athletes to quantify intensity without the need for specialist tools such as a heart rate monitor or power meter.

While everyone is different, measuring your intensity by an RPE scale allows you to customize your cycle training based on your fitness level.

While there are a few variations of the RPE scale, using a 1-10 ratio allows you to break up your cycle training into specific groups.

– Recovery – RPE 2-3
– Endurance – RPE 4-5
– Tempo – RPE 6-7
– Threshold – RPE 7.5
– V02max – RPE 8
– Anaerobic capacity – RPE 9
– Neuromuscular Power (all-out) – RPE 10

During the early stages of using RPE for cycle training, learning to understand what each intensity feels like is essential. During the first few months of your cycle training write a diary to help you know the feeling of each intensity. Then start to implement this across all your cycling workouts weekly.

What is RPE?

Starting Cycling Training

If you haven’t regularly been riding, focus on heading out the door for at least 3 to five times per week. The duration of Each ride should be between 30-60 minutes with an RPE scale of 4-5.

The next coming weeks, you should look to keep the RPE the same but continue to increase the weekly volume. Keep the intensity low during the first few months is essential; this allows muscles, tendons and position to adapt to training again.

Once you have started to get some consistency in your cycle training, increasing the total weekly volume is the next part of the journey. You should continue to build the amount by either increasing the duration or the number of rides per week, using the 10% increase rule is a good starting point for beginners.

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Adding in one long weekend ride is an easy way to increase weekly volume and also help improve your aerobic fitness.

Make sure you are to implement a complete rest day each week, which will allow adaption to occur from the training you have done.

Understanding What RPE Is

At this point, you should have a good understanding of your RPE scale and what level of intensity you are riding at during each ride.

Your overall fitness should have improved, and you may see a slight plateau in performance gains. So now is the time to start increasing the intensity while holding the overall volume. The result is that your recovery would have improved, allowing you to implement some more laborious efforts into your training.

Cycling Intervals can be of various distances or durations, and there is a relationship between the length and effort that you will come to understand during this phase of your cycle training.

Begin with some sustain efforts of 4-8 minutes of around RPE 7-7.5 while not overly taxing for this amount of time it will help you understand how to pace yourself correctly in the coming weeks.

Once you have managed to complete your first set (3-4 intervals), start to increase the interval length or shorten the duration of the recovery time.

Implement the cycling intervals two days a week with every 4th week dropping back to one, which will allow adequate recovery and rest before you increase the intensity again.

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