An Example L’Etape Training Plan

The idea of this post is to give a bit of structure to my training. There are two main reasons for doing this:

  1. Using tried and tested routines and workouts is, well, tried and tested. It works and the plans have been created experts who know what works.
  2. It gives you purpose. With a written down, solid plan in place you have something to work towards with weekly and monthly goals. It’s like taking on a mammoth project at work. If you look at the end goal without breaking it down into manageable chunks it’s scary.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” – Benjamin Franklin

The General Idea

There are multiple aspects of training for an event like L’Etape. There is the physical side, such as cycling and gym work. The psychological side, such as metal fatigue, anxiety and stress. Then there is the nutritional side, such as for the event and leading up to the event.

Let’s take a look at each area in more detail before outlining a training plan for L’Etape.


You need to train for several aspects of fitness; Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Cardio Fitness.

  • Muscular Strength – Required for the steep hill climbs, where your cadence will drop and every pedal stroke will feel like you are doing heavy squats in the gym. Guess what kind of training will help with this!
  • Muscular Endurance – Necessary because you’re going to be riding for many hours, below maximum output. Your muscles in the legs need to be able to pedal continuously for that duration but also your whole body needs to be conditioned. Your back, neck, arms and core play a massive part. If you’re not comfortable, you’ll mentally fatigue quickly.
  • Cardio Fitness – You will need plenty of endurance training to ensure your heart and lungs can continue working effectively for hours at a time, but you’ll also need to be able to handle hard bouts of high intensity, high heart rate climbing and recover quickly while still pedalling.


Your psychological performance is also very important in order to perform well.

  • Anxiety – There is nothing worse than being worried because you aren’t even sure you can ride the total distance. Completing the distance in terms of elevation gain and KMs ridden prior to the race is one way to boost your confidence.
  • Stress – The worry of being uncertain if your training plan is any good can add stress to your training. Take away that stress by sticking to a tried and tested plan that other people have successfully used to complete the same type of event as you are doing.
  • Uncertainty – Knowing how to pace yourself in the race and fuel your body correctly adds confidence that you can do it. Having a plan and sticking to it come race day will mean you know what to do and all you have to do is execute that plan. This is why preparation is critical to success.


  • Weight – If you are planning on riding through the mountains you will need to look at your weight. Being massively over weight will hinder your chances of completing the event. With a bit of work you can get big performance gains by reducing your weight in a sensible way. No crash diets.
  • Fuelling – With the event being so long you have to fuel right to last the duration. Without adequate energy and hydration it doesn’t matter how fit you are. Working out the best strategy is a very individual thing. I’ll share what I have found works in more detail later.

The Training Plan Details

I’m going to break this down into 3 areas:

  1. Cycling – Time on your bike, spinning classes and stationary bike
  2. Gym – Strength and conditioning and core workouts
  3. Other – Other activities, like running, swimming, massage, foam rolling

Next Steps

Check out my detailed weekly workout guide to training for L’Etape De Tour.