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The Ultimate Gran Fondo Training Plan (Nine Weeks)


Sean Vintin

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9 Weeks

Plan Specs

cycling road cycling beginner intermediate advanced masters power based hr based tss based

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Plan Description

This nine week periodised training plan has been designed for those riders with a goal of being competitive at the Gran Fondo discipline, assumes a relatively strong base fitness and has been carefully designed to build your endurance and your ability to climb at threshold as well as your top end speed using a selection of sweet spot, threshold and VO2 max workouts.

The plan has been developed in the new Workout Builder format which provides personalised power targets for each training session which are calculated automatically from your threshold power saved in TrainingPeaks. Additional benefits of the Workout Builder format include direct training session download to your Garmin or Wahoo device and training session upload to Zwift, TrainingRoad, CycleOps and more.

Holistically, the training plan comprises the following:

1) Progressive over-reach (3 weeks).
2) Rest, recovery and FTP test (1 week).
3) Progressive over-reach (3 weeks).
4) Peak week (1 week).
5) Event taper and race (1 week).

Progressive over-reach comprises three weeks of relatively hard work focusing on sweet spot, threshold and VO2 max sessions with increasing TSS overload followed by 1 week of low-volume, high intensity recovery and of course, an FTP test to check your progress.

This is followed by three more weeks of progressive over-reach leading into ‘peak week’. Peak week consists of a five different workouts of ‘race winning’ intervals designed to sharpen your edges and mimic what you need physically and mentally to win come show time.

This periodised plan has been designed using over-under intervals and ramps to increase athlete engagement and break the monotony of sitting on a single power number for any particular duration. There are 36 different workouts to keep your mind engaged, to prevent your physiological adaptations from plateauing and get you to the start line of your Gran Fondo in the best shape of your life.

Not quite the perfect fit? I am happy to answer any questions via email and can provide advice on nutrition, methodologies, terminology and lessons learned from my own personal experiences.


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
5:57 hrs 3:00 hrs
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
5:57 hrs 3:00 hrs

Big Development Coaching

Big Development Coaching

I offer personalised and customised training plans based on the fundamental principles of exercise physiology so you can train smarter, accelerate progress and peak at exactly the right moment.

My training plans include power-duration testing and block periodisation / progressive overload that have been intelligently designed, with shorter sessions mid-week and longer endurance work on the weekend to provide structure, consistency and allow time for your friends, family and career.

Sample Day 1

3 x 12 Minute Sweet Spot Ramps

A series of three three-step ramps. This workout is designed to challenge your ability to make small pace changes to respond to terrain or race-day pressure.

Sample Day 2

VO2 & Anaerobic Capacity

In order to go fast, you'll need to be able ride at your Vo2 max pace and also your anaerobic capacity, increasing these abilities so that you'll be ready to dish out the pain come race day.

Warm-up is followed by 3 minutes VO2 max and then 2 minutes anaerobic capacity with 2 minutes recovery between each. Repeat 3 more times for a great workout! Cool down. This session is very difficult.

Sample Day 4

30/30 VO2 Max Intervals (2 x 8)

30 seconds is not long enough for your body to develop a high blood lactate concentration, which has the effect of decreasing power output by increasing the concentration of hydrogen ions and therefore acidity in the working muscles. Instead, the 30 seconds is just long enough for the for you to accelerate up to a high speed, hold it for 15–20 seconds, and then decelerate into the rest. The cardiac demand stays relatively high with only around a 5 to 10 bpm decrease during the rest interval. As far as your heart is concerned, you’re working quite continuously at or near your VO2max.

The 30-second recovery interval allows the myoglobin in the muscle cell to recharge its small oxygen store. This in turn allows a higher power output—and better engagement of fast twitch muscle fibres—for the next 30-second work bout. Fast twitch fibres have poor endurance and will fatigue during longer work repetitions; the short repeats with equal rest intervals provide them with a greater endurance training effect.

Perception-wise, athletes report leaving a 30/30 interval workout feeling invigorated and not overly wiped out. This is often in stark contrast to sensations after finishing a more traditional VO2max interval workout with long-duration repeats. For that reason, I use these sessions quite frequently and see fantastic results.

Progression: Increased number of intervals (8-10) and decreased recovery (3m - 2m).

Sample Day 5

3 x 10m Threshold / FTP Over Unders

Classic 3 x 10 minute FTP intervals with a twist. Over-under efforts are perceived to be more achievable and by changing the threshold blocks to OU intervals you also train your body to recover when your effort goes just below your threshold power.

Sample Day 6

Free / Group Ride (Endurance)

Do what you like. Go long, go hard, so easy, just get at three hours in the saddle for a similar duration that is consistent with your goal event.

Training inside is incredibly effective, training outside provides a different social stimulus and the skills needed to ride in a bunch.

Sample Day 8

2 x 15m Sweet Spot Over Unders

Sweet spot training promotes mitochondrial biogenesis (the key to a strong aerobic base), increases your lactate threshold (helping handle intense efforts), increases your ability to store muscle glycogen and will help increase your VO2 max. The duration of these efforts will mimic threshold efforts later in your program and increase your tolerance for sustained power output at specific intervals.

Sample Day 9

VO2 Max Development

Training to develop our VO2 max requires high intensity intervals where the majority (but not all) of the power produced comes from aerobic energy pathways.

Athletes who excel in this area are generally able to climb and time trial well. On its own, VO2 max interval training is an effective method to increase fitness. It also serves as a good indication of an athlete's potential.

This is designed to improve your Vo2 max power, so you are ready for hard steep climbs and the big watts needed to attack those hills.

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