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Six week panic plan

Six week panic plan

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Knowledge Level: Intermediate

The British Cycling six week panic plan is ideal for already active non cyclists or cyclists who have recently neglected their training. In six weeks it will have you ready to tackle a 60-mile (100 km) sportive.

Download the six week panic plan here:


Download the Panic Plan here

View the panic plan on TrainingPeaks

Who is it suitable for?

If you are a gym member, runner, team or racket sports players, you might have signed up for a cycling challenge but are unsure how to train for it. It might seem daunting but, with your existing fitness base and some hard work, it is an attainable goal.

Constructed by the same experts as all of the British Cycling training plans, the 6-week panic plan is a structured and progressive schedule that will deliver you to the start line of a 100 km sportive or charity challenge ride cycling fit in six weeks.

It is not a shortcut plan that promises fast results in quick time with minimal effort though. It requires a certain existing fitness level and a commitment to consistent training for the entire six weeks.

You should be regularly partaking in 3-5 hours of physical activity per week, spread over 2-3 sessions. The base requirement for entering this plan is an ability to ride at a comfortable pace for 2 hours. From this starting point you should be able to safely and progressively build up to a 100 km (60 miles) event in six weeks.

If you feel that a 2-hour ride is beyond your current capabilities, you should consider changing your goal and looking at our 12-week Improver Plan, which will build more progressively to the same 100 km (60 miles) goal, or our 8-week Sofa - 50 km plan.

The 6-week Panic Plan is also suitable for cyclists who may have fallen off the training wagon and are looking for a structured plan to regain their fitness. Again, you should be confident in your ability to ride for 2 hours. 

How much training is involved?

The training weeks are typically broken down into three rides or occasionally four. These consist of two shorter midweek rides and then a longer outing at the weekend. You’ll also usually have a cross-training option and three rest days. This provides a good amount of flexibility for juggling the days around but you shouldn’t cram all of your rides into consecutive days.

Total riding volume goes from a minimum of 4 hours to a peak of just under 7 hours.

Is it all cycling?

No, you have an option for cross training most weeks. This can be used to keep up with your main sport or to do some off the bike work which may be beneficial to your cycling, such as some strength training.

It is important though that your cross training doesn’t impact negatively on your cycling sessions as these are your priority. You may wish to choose a restorative activity such as yoga, Pilates or our mobility routine.

Alternatively, if you’re finding the bike workouts tough, listen to your body and take an extra rest day.

What equipment do I need?

Most importantly, you will need a reliable and roadworthy bike. If it is a mountain bike or hybrid, you should consider fitting slick tyres to make riding on the road more efficient. However, for a sportive, a dedicated road bike would be best. Here is some bike buying advice.  Don’t forget to include accessories, such as a helmet, shoes and the essential spares and tools you should carry when riding, in your budget. If you have already got a bike but it has been sat unloved in the shed for a while, book it into your local bike shop for a check over and service.

All sessions in the plan specify heart rate zones and target cadences so you will need a cycling computer/heart rate monitor that displays this information. Use these guides to find out why objectively monitoring your riding intensity is so important and advice about buying and using a heart rate monitor.

If you are following the plan through the winter you will probably face some cold and wet conditions but, with modern kit and clothing, you can stay warm, dry and comfortable. 

The midweek sessions give you the option to use an indoor trainer. This isn’t just to keep you sheltered from the British winter but it provides a highly effective, controllable and time efficient way to train. Don’t forget if you are a member of a gym or health club already, you could use a spinning or exercise bike there. Here is some advice on indoor trainers.

What other support, advice and information is available?

You will find loads of great information on the Insight Zone covering all aspects of cycling. For following this plan, we’d particularly recommend the following:

Ridesmart videos - Covering all aspects of technique, including descending and group riding, to get you safely through your training and event.

Cycling nutrition for long rides - Learning how to fuel your rides well is essential and you can also find some great recipes for on and off the bike.

Understanding Intensity: Heart Rate - If you’re new to training with heart rate, this article explains why it’s effective and what the various zones mean.

If you have any other questions or areas you’d like us to cover, get in touch