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How to Create Training Plans in TrainingPeaks

BY Matti Rowe

Training Plans cannot replace the value of a good athlete-coach relationship, but for many athletes, a training plan is the most cost-effective way to obtain structured training to help them achieve their goals. And a business opportunity for you.

Training plans are an excellent opportunity for coaches to reach more athletes with expert instruction that showcases their coaching business. They can also seem daunting to build. Here’s how:

Getting Started

Instead of building the training plan directly in a blank training plan, build the plan first in a dummy athlete account so you can use the Annual Training Plan functionality for periodization. Later, you’ll use the dual calendar functionality to copy and paste the workouts you created from the dummy athlete to the training plan you publish. Please note that if you have a well-developed plan for a real athlete from a previous season you want to convert to a training plan, you can copy and paste the athlete’s workouts directly into a new training plan using the dual calendar. You can also modify the workouts so they’re generalizable and skip the publishing section of this article.

To create a ‘dummy athlete,’ click the ‘+’ button in your athlete library and then follow the ‘create an athlete workflow.’ Once completed, your dummy athlete will appear in your athlete library. Now, you’re ready to build your plan.  

Building a Training Plan

Create an Annual Training Plan (ATP) in the dummy athlete account. An ATP periodizes athletes’ training toward a goal event—it’s an outline telling them how to train and when. It’s important to have an outline of different training phases, so you know what workouts to plan each week. See the article linked above for specifics on building an ATP in TrainingPeaks.

Once completed, navigate back to the dummy athlete calendar. The ATP period summaries are displayed in the weekly summary. Now you know your training phase and can start planning specific workouts from your library or from scratch.

The key question of when to start scheduling workouts in the dummy calendar depends on the phase of training you’re targeting. Broadly, there are the base, build, and taper mesophases (multiple training weeks with a particular target). For the purposes of this article, I’m using Joe Friel’s periodization terminology—you’re welcome, of course, to use your own.

Establish the plan’s length once you’ve decided what phase you’re targeting. The length of plans in the TrainingPeaks training plans store varies, but they are usually at least six weeks long.

Quick tip: Write your plan from base to taper in the dummy athlete account. You can then sell four plans: a base plan, a build plan, a taper plan, and a complete plan incorporating each training block.

Adding Plan Content

Let’s move on to writing the plan itself. Your first week in any plan should be a testing week so athletes can figure out their zones and establish benchmark thresholds to measure improvement later. This is crucial to the athletes’ success so that every workout after testing creates training stress the way you intended. Further, when they test again, it will answer the question that all athletes ask: Am I getting faster?”

Now, build the workouts into your weeks. Workouts should reflect the plan’s phase. For example, if it’s a base plan, every workout should not be Tabatas or crazy VO2 max intervals. Remember that the outline you created with the ATP appears in the weekly summary for easy reference.

Schedule the critical workouts of the week first, e.g., a long endurance day on the weekend, interval days, strength days, and rest days. For the remaining time slots, make those workouts pertinent to the phase/potential limiters.

Once you have built the plan on your dummy athlete’s calendar, create a new Training Plan with the blue “+” in the upper left next to the search bar. Now open the Dual Calendar view to have the dummy athlete on one side and drag and drop the plan you created into the other. Now you can copy and paste by workout, week or selection into the plan. You can still modify as needed, ensuring workouts are relatively general and not specific.

Alternatively, you can make a plan without ATP by clicking the Training Plan library icon (the Closed Binder icon) on the left of the calendar in your Coach account and then clicking the “+” button. Start adding workouts by week and day as needed. Any changes to the plan calendar will be saved as you go.

Quick tip: make all workouts structured workouts. They sell better, upload to devices, and are easier for athletes to understand.

Bonus tip—use your workout library! Create different workout folders organized by the ATP period. Once you’ve created a workout once—with the Structured Workout Builder, ideally—all you need to do to use it again is find the folder where you saved it and drag and drop it into your training plan. Your efficiency will skyrocket. For a more in-depth take on planning your weeks, see this article.

You’ve finished writing all your workouts, but you’re not done yet. You have to build your training plan guide. 

Creating a Training Plan Guide

As a coach, I find it easy to forget that many prospective buyers do not understand training terminology like ‘Z2’ or ‘threshold.’ Put together a guide that anticipates questions about your plan. It’s helpful to imagine that the training plan purchaser is learning to train for the first time. Create the guide in a document (e.g., .pdf, .doc) and attach it to a custom workout on the first day of the training plan using the paper clip.

Publishing Your Plan

Once that’s finished, it’s time to publish your plan. Click the gear icon on your plan and fill out the ‘Summary’ section. Whatever you write here will appear in the TrainingPeaks training plan store. Describe the plan to the prospective buyer – put some effort into it. This is partly where you’re selling to prospective buyers.

Set the plan category. Select a sport, category, and plan specs. Under plan specs, choose one and only one of the following categories: ‘Beginner,’ ‘Intermediate,’ or ‘Advanced.’ Your choice here affects how your plan appears in the TrainingPeaks training plans store. For more on this topic, read here

Set your training plan price. To get a feel for how to price your plan, search in the TrainingPeaks training plan store and search for a plan of similar length and experience level. 

Lastly, publish your plan by clicking the gear icon on the training plan and then clicking the ‘Publish Plan’ tab on the left of the pop-up window. Then, check where you want to publish your training plans—you can choose between the TrainingPeaks training plan store, a private URL to which you can direct traffic from your website, or both.   

Before you publish, take an hour or two to make mental space between you and your work, and then double-check everything. Check your workouts for clarity and consistency, comb through looking for spelling or grammatical errors, make sure you’ve attached your training plan guide, and make sure the price and training plan copy make sense. Professionalism shows in the details.

Congratulations! You’ve published your first training plan! I’m sure that took a while – but don’t let that discourage you. The most time-consuming part of the training plan process is building your first plan. Once you’ve built one, you can create others much faster. 

You can also build out training plans to apply to an athlete’s calendar to get a quick start on programming and making adjustments as training progresses. Building out the periodized blocks of a plan makes this much more functional as a coach to avoid deleting or moving workouts.

This is all a worthwhile investment of your time. Not only have you streamlined your training programming, but you’ve also entered your work into a new marketplace and developed an excellent marketing tool that can lead to new athlete leads.

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About Matti Rowe

Matti Rowe is an Education Specialist on the TrainingPeaks Coach Education Team and the owner of Gravel God Cycling . When he’s not racing his bike on the pavement (people still do!) or gravel he spends his time trying to teach his children Norwegian.

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