Couch to 12k: A Beginners Guide to Cycling
17th May, 2022
We’ve worked alongside James Finch from Hunt Bike Wheels to put together a simple and achievable couch to 12km cycling plan to get you started. Are you wanting to start cycling to lose weight, build muscle or help with your cardiovascular fitness? By cycling just a couple of times a week and following this program, you should be able to build up the strength and stamina to cycle the full 12km in no time!
The nature of this plan isn’t to necessarily reach huge distances, but the aim is to build stamina, as well as encourage more people into cycling.
Your first couple of weeks of Couch to 12k should be quite straightforward. This is a time for you to warm your body up and prepare for the weeks ahead, so just take it easy. Cycling may be working different muscle groups than what your body is used to, so some gentle stretching after each ride can help ease any stiffness. Be sure to also spread your rides out across the week to give yourself ample recovery time. Cycling in the afternoon is the optimum time to train as this is when your body is the most alert and you’ve eaten.
You should aim to cycle around 3k each time you cycle to build up your endurance before cycling any further. To do this you’ll want to switch from a leisurely pace to a slightly faster pace throughout. How often you do this depends on your fitness level, but around 60 seconds at a faster pace and 90 seconds at a slower pace is a good starting point.
Remember this is a guide and not a set of rules! So, if you’re still struggling with doing this at the end of the second week, then of course extend this stage in the program. Only once you’re comfortable move onto the next stage, this will ensure you’re still challenging yourself but without injury.
In these next few weeks you’ll want to build on your previous weeks practice. Staying at 3k, in these two weeks you’re going to want to lengthen the amount of time you spend at your faster pace. So, this would mean spending 90 seconds to 2 minutes at your faster pace, and then three minutes at your slower pace. This should help you feel more comfortable riding faster for longer to ensure you’re building your endurance before increasing the distance of your cycles.
Week 5 and onwards
Now that you’ve built up your endurance, you’re goal for the next six weeks is to add an extra kilometre to your rides each week. Remember to pace yourself and continue to switch from your faster pace to your slower pace to make it more manageable. If you’re enjoying the longer rides and you feel ready, then you can try to cycle at your faster pace for longer as the weeks go on. By week 11, you should feel ready to cycle the full 12km.
Here are also our beginners tips for cycling:
Before you set off … it’s important that you make sure everything is in working order. Whether that be checking your breaks are working or setting your seat to the perfect position, it will ensure your first ride goes smoothly. To make you feel more confident on your cycle, it would also be helpful to plan the route you’re going to take ahead of time.
While on the ride … it’s important to keep yourself fuelled. Taking food and water on your cycle is important to keep your energy up whilst on longer cycles. To also ensure you don’t get burnt out too quickly, don’t speed off too quickly, keep a steady pace.
After the ride … clean down your tricycle to prevent a build-up of dirt and keep your tricycle in tip top condition. This is especially important if it’s been raining and the cycling paths are particularly muddy.