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How to improve your Cycling for Beginners


Steven Robinson has been cycling all his life and often takes our beginner riders on a Saturday morning. Read Stevens advice on how to become a better cyclist.  

Common Question


Here’s a Question i get asked often from beginners I’m just a leisure cyclist and sometimes i ride to work on the bike. I’m looking to getting faster and fitter for a Charity sportive next year. 

I’ve never raced etc before and would like to know the best training methods to start improve my fitness levels and speed.

When I go out for a ride it’s usually only 15/20 miles and I ride an average of around 13mph. What can I do to start seeing that improve? I’m also wanting to start longer rides. Read some tips for cycling long distances.


I remember when I started getting more into cycling more (long, long ago) although I’ve always had a bike as long as i can remember. It was just riding for fun with your mates etc when we were kids. Common mistakes for riding long distances. 

Cycling to Work


I really started to get bit more serious when i decided to cycle to work every day a trip of 10 miles there and 10 miles back, i did this as a couple of others i worked with had been doing this for quite some time and i had noticed they were getting home sometimes quicker than me who was in the car due to the traffic.

Having only a basic steel road bike at the time i began to ride to work and back, i didn’t have clip in pedals etc just basic flat pedals.

With just a 7-speed cassette Which was ok i thought. But i soon learnt that if i bought some pedal toe clips i could push and pull on the pedals which made cycling easier.

Nowadays, we have a choice of various clip in type of pedals to choose from which if you’re going to want to improve your cycling are a must have item. Another basic thing to get sorted on your bike is the saddle height.

A rough guide to this is to have just a slight bend in the leg when the pedal is at the lowest point, you see so many beginners who have the saddle to low, this means you loosing so much power by not using all power of the muscle in your legs. Read steven passion for cycling.

So, get the Saddle height right and some clip in pedals with some compatible cycling shoes and your well on the way to getting quicker on the bike.




These kinds of intervals will push you out of your comfort zone, but give big performance improvements. For a beginner, they don’t have to be scientific or mean you need such things as power metres etc on your bike – just try riding hard up hills – try timing yourself and try keep beating times.

Start off with a small number of intervals and as you become stronger, you can increase the number of intervals you do in a session as you get fitter your recovery time between intervals will be shorter.

Build up your Aerobic base over the winter, yes it may be cold and the weather not always will be appealing but training over the winter will bring you benefits in the summer, so get those hours in on the bike during the winter. As we say winter miles = summer smiles.

Time Trail


 A great way of pushing yourself is to consider having a go at a time trial, I’ve done many of these, you can either do it on your own over your own set distance and time it, or look for one of the local club events, they usually cost about £5. A ten-mile time trial is a simple test of riding at your race threshold for around 30 minutes. It will help make big improvements in fitness and speed. Read jacks article on British time trials.


It will also give you that motivation to try and go faster. There are loads of cycling clubs around the country that organise these events. Try doing one once a week, if possible, through the summer months.




Here’s a few of my simple suggestions for helping you go quicker.


  1. Make sure your Tyres are pumped up to the correct pressure
  2. Wear some proper cycling clothing, you don’t want clothing that’s flapping about.
  3. Get yourself some clip in pedals on your bike and compatible cycling shoes. It makes such a difference.
  4. Watch your weight it makes those hills easier.
  5. Clean your bike, a clean bike always seems to go faster.
  6. Go with a group, when possible, you save around 25% effort sitting behind others in a group.


Learn to pace yourself well. This will be important when you do longer distance sportives. Always take a drink with you and some sort of energy bar. Drink regularly during your ride. If you’re not used to the mileage, it’s easy to go off too quick and end up blowing up, leaving you to suffer around the route.

Get yourself a Turbo Trainer they are great for doing specific interval training sessions etc during those winter days

Here’s a Couple of sessions I’ve done on my Turbo Trainer in the past over the winter:

Use a high gear for the hard sections low gear for easy sections.


Russian Steps



When warming up ride at a good steady pace then about half way through put a few short hard sets in of say 10- 30 seconds in your warm up:


Set 1: Russian Steps

Warm Up 10 – 15 mins

Main Set

45 seconds Easy – 15 seconds Hard

30 seconds Easy – 30 seconds Hard

15 seconds Easy – 45 seconds Hard

1 minute Easy – 1 minute Hard

2 minutes Easy – 2 minutes Hard

1 minute Easy – 1 minute Hard

15 seconds Easy – 45 seconds Hard

30 seconds Easy – 30 seconds Hard

45 Seconds Easy – 15 seconds Hard

5 mins easy pedalling

Then Repeat the Set. Cool down afterwards easy pedalling.


Set 2: Micro intervals 20 – 40

Warm up 10 – 15 mins

Main Set

40 seconds Easy – 20 seconds Hard

Do these 10 to 20 times and then Cool Down 10 – 15 mins


Set 3. 8-week interval session for a 25 Mile TT

Try this once a week for 8 weeks

Warm Up 10 to 15 mins before each set and Cool Down 5 to 10 mins afterwards.

 Weeks 1 & 2 Warm Up

Main Set

8 mins Easy – 2 mins Hard

Repeat 6 Times and Cool Down

Week 3:  Warm up

Main Set

7 mins Easy – 3 mins Hard

Repeat 6 times and Cool Down

Week 4: Warm Up

Main Set

6 mins Easy – 4 mins Hard

Repeat 6 times and Cool Down

Week 5: Warm Up

Main Set

5 mins Easy – 5 mins Hard

Repeat 6 times and Cool Down

Week 6: Warm Up

Main Set

4 mins Easy – 6 mins Hard

Repeat 6 times and Cool Down

Week 7: Warm Up

3 mins Easy – 7 mins Hard

Repeat 6 times and Cool Down

Week 8: Warm Up

Main Set

2 mins Easy – 8 mins Hard

Repeat 6 times and Cool Down

This 8-week set should increase your Strength and Aerobic Capacity and help increase your speed if done once at the end of winter beginning of spring.

These 3 Turbo sessions have done me well over the years, but there’s loads more out there to try. Give them a go. Or just try doing similar intervals when you’re out riding. The more effort you put in the more you’ll get out of it.

 Enjoy your Riding.




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