21-Day Training Plan

Need a little push to get you back in the saddle? We’ve teamed up with Heather Milton, Sports Health expert at our official Healthcare partner, NYU Langone, to create a 21-day training plan you can use for any bike challenge you might be taking on. Made for cyclists of all skill levels and perfect for riders looking to kickstart their fitness routines after an extended period of lower activity.


Want to learn more about the Sports Health services at NYU Langone? Click here to receive concierge access.

Get ready, get set… get cycling!


But first, let’s talk through some key pre-ride prep that’ll get your body and mind to roll.

Step 1: Start to slowly build mileage. 

The old standby of a 10% increase in training per week is a safe and conservative way to gradually increase your fitness routine, which will keep you from hitting the wall during competition–whether you’ve got plans to take on a century or a month-long daily ride competition (hint, hint).

If you’re joining us for Million Mile May, don’t forget that you’ll be rewarded with bonus points when you ride 5 days in a row (with a little extra boost for your Wednesday rides), so be sure to factor that info into your training plan. The chart below demonstrates a good progression to follow while you’re ramping up your routine. Let’s say you currently average two 60-minute rides a week. With a little work, you can modify your routine to score those extra points while also gradually increasing your total on-bike time each week. 



Keep in mind that you don’t want to change workout frequency, duration and/or intensity all at the same time. Try to keep your intensity as consistent as you can throughout the ramp-up period and focus on individually increasing just the frequency or duration, as the chart above shows.

If you’re starting your routine with less total time per week than you’d like, don’t stress! With plenty of rewards to motivate you, your Million Mile May is an ideal opportunity to set and achieve new fitness goals.

Step 2: Balance your body. 

Getting your body ride-ready isn’t just something you do while you’re pedaling! There are all kinds of exercises you can do off your bike to help keep you fit and ready for long rides.  While cycling, the body tends to hold a similar position over an extended time, so some muscles remain in a shortened and tight position while others are in a lengthened or weakened position. Over time, imbalanced muscles can contribute to compensation patterns and overuse injuries.


To keep everything balanced and working to its full ability–or to even increase that ability!– add some mobility drills to the beginning of your workout to ensure you are getting both a good warm up and getting the range of motion your body needs to move at its best. Check out our recommendations in the gallery below.

Try 10 repetitions of the following before each workout!

Walking Lunge:

  • Start with feet together. 
  • Step one foot out far in front of you, and bend the back knee down towards the floor as you raise the arms up to the ceiling. 
  • Push off the back leg and swing the back in up and in front of you. 
  • Repeat with the other leg. This is one repetition.

Cat + Cow:

  • Get on your hands and knees with wrists under your shoulders and knees in line with hips.
  • Arch your low back as shown in the left image.
  • Then round your back as shown in right image.
  • Repeat 10 times.

Glute Bridge:


  • Begin lying on your back, belly button pulled in towards spine and feet flat, heels pulled in towards hips. 
  • Exhale and squeeze the gluteal (butt muscles) to lift the hips just until the thighs, hips and shoulders are all in one straight line.
  • Hold for a count of 3 seconds.
  • Progress to single leg bridges when this becomes too easy.

Foam Rolling:


As the name suggests, this technique involves rolling the muscles of the thigh, back of leg, hips, and lower leg over a hard foam roll. 

  • Begin at the start of a muscle rather than the belly (i.e. for the hamstring, start just above the knee or just under the buttocks, rather than in the middle of the back of your leg).
  • Roll slowly over the muscle from beginning to end, but not over the knee joint.
  • Remember to breathe!

Step 3: Crosstrain.

It may seem counterintuitive, but stepping out of the clips can actually help you perform better while you’re in ’em. Since just 30 minutes of cycling time per day gets you Challenge points, we recommend also working in some resistance training 2-3 days per week, if you can. Resistance training is a great way to build muscular efficiency, improve metabolism, and help you conquer those climbs.


Below are some examples of exercises that have a nice carry over to cycling performance. Start with just 1-2 sets per exercise if you have less experience with resistance training, then build as you get stronger.

Single Leg Squat with Trunk Rotation:


  • Stand on one leg. 
  • Engage the lower abdominals and keep your pelvis level.
  • While maintaining a level pelvis, perform a shallow squat. 
  • Slightly rotate your shoulders toward your stance side at the same time you perform the squat.
  • Return to the start position.
  • Repeat 10 times, then switch legs.



  • Start with your right foot on a step 4-6 inches high.
  • Hold dumbbells at shoulder height.
  • As you step up on the right leg, drive the left knee up and press the weight up to the sky.
  • Next, rotate your body 90 degrees to the left. To step down. Repeat 10 times, then switch legs.

Lateral Band Walks:

  • Begin by tying a resistance band around your thighs. 
  •  Perform a mini-squat, keeping your knees in line with your 2nd toe. 
  •  Hold the mini squat position as you step out to the right side with your right foot.
  • Be sure to keep your toes facing forward, and push to the right side with your heel, not the toe. 
  • Bring your left foot to meet the right, this is one repetition.
  • Do 10 repetitions.
  • Advanced version: Make the band tighter and put it around your ankles.

Bird Dog:

  • Start on your hands and knees, placing your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. 
  • Draw your belly button up towards your spine and extend your opposite arm and leg out as pictured.
  • Return to the start position.
  • Repeat, but this time with the alternate leg and arm.
  • This is considered one repetition. Repeat 10 times.

Prone Superman with Shoulder External Rotation:

  • Lay on your stomach with your shoulders and elbows at 90-degree angles and your thumbs pointing up towards the ceiling.
  • Keeping your pelvis and legs on the ground, lift your chest off the ground while maintaining your arms aligned with your trunk.
  • Hold this position for 2-3 seconds, then return to starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Plank with Hip Extension:

  • Start in a plank position with your shoulders directly over the elbows and hands, draw your belly button in towards your spine, and maintain a flat back. 
  • Continue checking each cue listed in the above bullet (like shifting eyes from mirror to rearview mirror and back while driving).
  • Lift one leg slowly while you maintain abdominal contraction. Repeat on each leg 5 times.


One of the simplest and most efficient ways you can improve your cycling life is to integrate targeted stretching into your routine. In this video, NYU Langone Health’s Heather Milton demonstrates key exercises you can easily practice at home to keep your on-bike time running smoothly.



At NYU Langone, our Sports Health team has the combined multi-specialty expertise to help you reach peak performance–no matter what your ride or race looks like. We are dedicated to providing world-class care to athletes at all levels and believe the best way to care for your unique needs is to bring together experts from a wide range of specialties who understand your priorities. Our Sports Health experts collaborate to customize diagnostic, treatment, rehabilitation, and performance plans to fit your lifestyle and help you attain your athletic goals.


Watch our video to learn more about our services, and visit nyulangone.org/bikeny so we can create a plan to help you start and finish any race at your personal best. 

Developed by Heather Milton, MS, RCEP, CSCS, Exercise Physiologist Supervisor and Sports Health expert at NYU Langone.