Cycling Science - The essentials of cycling physiology and coaching

Learn about the determinants of endurance cycling performance and how to structure a training programme to improve performance.

Target audience

Key target groups

  1. Cyclists who are looking for evidence-based training methods to improve their performance.
  2. Cycling coaches who want to understand exercise physiology, training principles and methods behind programme design.
  3. Personal trainers, biokineticists and physiotherapists who would like to upskill themselves to add more value to their clients who cycle.
  4. Sports science students who would like to learn more about applied exercise physiology and programme design.
Great course to add to my work as a Biokineticist. Feel like I have learnt alot when it comes to the science behind cycling and prescribing programs. Will definitely be using the knowledge gained in my practice


Thank you so much for putting this short course up! It had contributed so much to my coaching ability. I feel more prepared moving forward and more confident as a cycling coach!
Course content

Asset File Duration
Determinants of performance Animated PowerPoint MP4 Video 13 min
Determinants of endurance performance Moodle book -
Module 1 - Assessment Moodle Quiz -
Asset File Duration
Assessing endurance performance - Part 1 Animated PowerPoint MP4 Video 16 min
Assessing endurance performance - Part 2 Animated PowerPoint MP4 Video 10 min
Interview with elite athlete Mariske Strauss MP4 Video 7 min
Laboratory-based assessments MP4 Video 5 min
Guidelines for classifying cyclists based on performance test data Moodle Book -
Module 2 - Assessment Moodle Quiz -
Asset File Duration
Periodisation Animated PowerPoint MP4 Video 13 min
Creating an annual plan with excel and training peaks. MP4 Video 13 min
A brief review of periodisation for cycling Moodle book -
Periodisation template Excel document -
Module 3 - Assessment Moodle Quiz -
Asset File Duration
Strength training for cycling Animated PowerPoint MP4 Video 12 min

Strength training programme for cyclists Moodle book -
Module 4 - Assessment Moodle Quiz -
Asset File Duration
General preparation phase MP4 Video 2 min
Base preparation phase MP4 Video 2 min
Transition phase MP4 Video 2 min
Peak phase MP4 Video 2 min
Why calibrate your power meter before performing training sessions MP4 Video 1 min
Asset File Duration
High-intensity training - Part 1 Animated PowerPoint MP4 Video 8 min
High-intensity training - Part 2 Animated PowerPoint MP4 Video 11 min
High intensity training MP4 Video 3 min
Module 6 - Assessment Moodle Quiz -
Asset File Duration
Cycling biomechanics - Part 1 Animated PowerPoint MP4 Video 10 min
Cycling biomechanics - Part 2 Animated PowerPoint MP4 Video 21 min
Assessment of intrinsic factors MP4 Video 5 min
Measurement of bicycle parameters MP4 Video 2 min
Assessment of cyclist position MP4 Video 2 min
Capture sheet Excel document -
Capture sheetPDF -
Module 7 - Assessment Moodle Quiz -
Asset File Duration
Monitoring training load Animated PowerPoint MP4 Video 12 min
Performing the modified LSCT MP4 Video 8 min
Setting up a monitoring system MP4 Video 10 min
Understanding session and longitudinal load measures Moodle book -
Monitoring template Excel document -
Module 8 - Assessment Moodle Quiz -
Asset File Duration
Cycling training programme Animated PowerPoint MP4 Video 9 min
16 week advanced programme screencast MP4 Video 16 min
Consultation with a new client MP4 Video 4 min
16 week beginner programme PDF -
16 week intermediate programme PDF -
16 week advanced programme PDF -
Module 9 - Assessment Moodle Quiz -

What will I learn
  1. Learn the physiological determinants of cycling performance and how to apply these to cycling programme design.
  2. Understand the components of performance testing and how to conduct a performance test with a cyclist.
  3. Learn how to build a cyclist's training plan using evidence-based periodisation paradigms
  4. Gain access to a library of training sessions that can be included in future training programmes you design.
  5. Learn about the benefits of high-intensity interval training and how to incorporate it into a cycling training programme.
  6. Build an understanding of the key concepts of cycling biomechanics and how a correct bike setup can improve performance.
  7. Learn how to monitor a cyclist's training load.
  8. Learn how to create a cycling training programme.

Each module will have four multiple choice questions. Students will have unlimited attempts to answer these questions. A certificate of completion will be issued once all of the assessments have been completed.

Course description

This course is for the recreational to elite endurance cyclist, cycling coach, health professional or student who wants to learn about performance cycling physiology and biomechanics. We begin by teaching you the key technical terms and an overview of the determinants of endurance cycling performance, such as VO2max, cycling economy, threshold intensity and muscle power. 

In addition, we discuss what effects these physiological variables have in order to provide insight into how training can be structured to best improve endurance performance. We review laboratory testing techniques applicable to cycling and also how to monitor changes in cycling performance. We discuss both laboratory and field testing and the relative strengths and weaknesses of each method. In module 3 we discuss the various periodisation models and highlight the most effective way to periodise your cycling training to optimize performance. We show the details of how to create an annual plan, incorporating all the phases of a periodisation cycle. We present the evidence for why cyclists should include strength training as part of their overall conditioning,including detailed explanations of the type of strength training that should be incorporated and which exercises to perform. 

In addition we give examples of strength training programmes for novice cyclists and for those who are more experienced. In module 5 we present the rationale for including high-intensity interval training as part of a well-structured training programme. We discuss the variables coaches and cyclists need to consider when designing high-intensity training sessions, as well as the physiological responses to this type of training. We cover the basic principles of cycling biomechanics and some key steps in optimising bike fit. In module 7 we investigate how best to monitor the training load of cyclists and we discuss why recoding both internal and external load metrics are important and how to use these metrics to ensure that training load remains optimal. We also show you how to set up a monitoring sheet to record the most valuable data required to optimally manage performance. 

We show you how to put together a comprehensive training programme specific to cycling.We begin with a review of the most important information required when first meeting a client or athlete. We then assess how to stratify their ability and provide a training program.  Lastly, we provide a number of 16 week beginner, intermediate and advanced training programs as examples and templates for you to use.

No previous experience and knowledge is required. However, if the learner is familiar with endurance sports- particularly cycling- they will benefit more from the course.

About the instructors

Dr. Jeroen Swart
Dr Swart is a sports physician and exercise scientist based at the Sports Science Institute in Newlands, Cape Town.

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John Wakefield
John has helped guide numerous cyclists to National and International success.

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Dr Mike Posthumus
Dr Mike Posthumus is a research scientist with a PhD in Exercise Science. 

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Benoit Capostagno
Benoit Capostagno completed his BSc degree (cum laude) specialising in the Sport Sciences at the University of Stellenbosch in 2006.

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Videos in MP4 format
Animated PowerPoint Videos in MP4 format
Course content in book format
Additional resources
Certificate of completion
Accessible on mobile devices

Last modified: Tuesday, 29 January 2019, 12:28 PM