A busy schedule can make it tough to stick to a training plan. While balancing your training and your schedule might be tricky, there are plenty of ways to make a low volume plan fit into your week. Picking the right training plan and learning how to make adjustments to this plan can help you get faster and achieve your goals.

For more information on training and planning check out Ask A Cycling Coach Ep 241



Training With Limited Time

Limited time to train usually means that some workouts need to be cut short and some weeks need to be lower in volume. Before you can adjust your workouts you’ll need to choose a good training plan. The best plan will be the plan that makes the most of your time and works for your schedule. Depending on your circumstances this could mean getting a little creative with Plan Builder, or jumping into a Time Crunch Plan.

Complete a Plan Builder Plan (With Some Adjustments!)

If you’re training for an event or working to achieve a specific goal, your best bet is to create a plan with Plan Builder. Plan Builder will give you the structure you need to reach peak fitness in time for your goal event. With Plan Builder and Calendar, you can adjust and optimize the training to fit your schedule

You can adjust your plan by swapping a workout that is too long for a shorter version that trains the same energy systems. Most workouts in the TrainerRoad library come in multiple versions so it’s usually easy to find a substitute. This strategy gives you the chance to swap workouts while giving you the chance to do the longer versions when you have more time.

Using Plan Builder comes with a lot of added benefits since you can always change the workouts when you need to. The greatest benefit is your training will target specific adaptations that will help you at your goal event. If you are training for an event while managing a busy schedule, Plan Builder and Calendar will help you build towards your goals.

Complete a Time Crunch Plan

If you usually have less than an hour to train in a single session, a time crunch plan might be the best fit. These plans maintain your general fitness through a collection of short workouts that touch on all the major energy systems. This structure has the potential to promote significant adaptations for athletes who are new to structured training.

These eight-week blocks can be repeated as many times as you’d like. If you choose to repeat the Time Crunch plans, it’s important to note that these plans don’t have a lot of variation and there are no recovery weeks integrated. If you see yourself using these plans for a prolonged period of time, take a week in between blocks to do some easy workouts and recover from the intensity

While these plans are an effective way to maintain fitness, you can make limited progress with a Time Crunch plan. If you are new to structured training, there is more potential for considerable adaptations and increased strength with prolonged use. If you are a cyclist with a stronger foundation and established experience you may not see as much progress. You will still be able to maintain fitness and touch up different energy systems but you likely won’t see the same progress you would with a traditional Base, Build, and Speciality progression.

How to Make Adjustments

When you know you don’t have enough time to complete a workout in your Calendar, swap it out for a shorter version. For example, if you have Carson on your training plan but you only have 45 minutes to train that day, put Carson -4 on the Calendar. If you have half an hour to train put Carson -5 on the Calendar. You can achieve a lot of the same adaptations by completing workouts that train the same energy systems, even without the longer durations.

With that said, not every workout comes in a smaller package. When you search for an alternative to your workout, you may find that there isn’t a shortened version. You’ll need to find a different workout that trains the same energy systems. To do this, look at the type of workout you are doing. For example, Pettit doesn’t have a shorter version but is an Endurance workout. When you are in the workout library, you can filter workouts by intensity level and duration. If you want to do a 45-minute ride endurance ride, you can use the filters and find Carter. It’s a 45-minute endurance workout and a great alternative to Pettit! Pretty much any workout can be swapped for another workout that works on the same energy systems.

At the end of the day, if you don’t have time to look for an alternative, you can always cut a workout short. Getting on the trainer, and completing half of a workout is better than skipping an entire workout. Not being able to complete the workout in its entirety doesn’t discount any of the work that you are doing. When you don’t have time to swap in an alternative, go ahead and complete as much of the scheduled workout as you can.

Every Ride is a Win!

No matter how you choose to get your training done, remember that any ride you can do is a win. Hopping on the trainer or getting out for a ride isn’t always easy – especially when you have a million other things going on. But any time you can fit some training into your day, you are making a physical progression and conquering a mental limitation. It’s all about finding a balanced training schedule that still leaves you with the time you need for everything else.


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Meghan Kelley

Meghan Kelley is a writer, XC MTB racer and trail riding enthusiast. Her years spent racing XC and working at TrainerRoad has translated to a passion for all things cycling.