The Time-Crunched Cyclist

I’m not sure about you, but I suspect you might be a little like me: married, two kids, job, hobby that takes about as much time as a job, lots of personal interests that take up time and, oh yes, cyclist with aspirations of greatness that will never be realised because I don’t have enough freaking time to train!

Or at least I didn’t. According to the new book by Chris Carmichael, The Time Crunched Cyclist, I can be fit, fast and powerful (his words – I like them!) in 6 to 8 hours a week. Sign me up! I just finished the book (I recommend you get it) and I’ve come to a couple of conclusions about it:

1. I love it. I love what Carmichael has to say here about traditional ‘base building’ workouts being completely useless for time-crunched people.  I never felt I was really getting any faster or stronger when I was doing a that kind of stuff, and always felt that my biggest gains came after a period of lots of intense spinning bike, mountain bike or short road sessions. In fact, Carmichael says that intensity is the key to success and if you can manage 6 to 8 hours a week, with a high-intensity, 12 week programme that he’s designed, you’ll be a better cyclist. He outlines why this is the case, how to get there and how to use nutrition and sensible cross-training to make the most of your fitness. Plus, he’s got an understanding, world-view that says, “I know you want to be a pro cyclist. But you’re not. You’ve got a family and it’s OK if that’s your priority. Really. It’s ok.”

2. The Sufferfest is perfect for anyone following the Time-Crunched Cyclist training programme. Because the workouts in the book are all 60-90 minutes long, and involve high intensity intervals, they are perfectly suited for time on the trainer. Carmichael says it’s ok to deviate from the suggested workouts in his plan, as long as you’re doing the kind of intensity he’s looking for. If you’ve done one of the Sufferfest workouts, then you know it’s nearly impossible to fit more intensity into an hour. Unless you’re bionic. Then you probably could.

So that’s the ‘no time’ excuse for not achieving greatness gone…damn. Now if only Carmichael would write “The time-crunched, slightly lazy, pizza and red wine loving cyclist training plan.” I’d really be racing for the podium.

  • Napalm

    Any detials on what DVDs to swap for workouts? For example which DVD represents EM with 3 x 10 min SS.

  • Paul

    the SS sessions are the easy bits, put in for conditioning for the harder intervals I think. The TCTP is more scientific and SPECIFIC than the sufferfest videos, but I for one would like to build the two together. Maybe SF can come up with some substitute sessions?
    I’m guessing though that when you’re meant to be doing the VO2 max intervals you want the highest intensity SF sessions.
    I think that some of the TCTP sessions are harder than the SF videos, just becuase you have set areas within your own HR zones (or power) that you have to b at for set times. The SF videos make it more enjoyable though.

  • luke

    Just responding to Paul – I think you are right that TCTP is more specific, scientific which is great – the thing to remember is motivation. If you are motivated you are more likely to nail your intervals, more likely to push out bigger number and more willing to hurt yourself in the workout. I often substitute a hard race pace group ride for the UnderOver sessions as it keeps me motivated and essentially is the system the UnderOvers are meant to stimulate. I think using the Sufferfest in the same way is useful. Napalm, I recommend you get It integrates with the Sufferfest vids and you can see the target power outputs. This will help you match your videos to the program

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  • Rodrigo

    How i can find the videos that match with the charmichael plans?


  • DazlerD


    Where can I find a set of formula to change the intensity levels used in Sufferfest to correspond with the field test results from TCC above. TCC uses power ranges for his intensity’s (except PI’s which are all out). I’d like to use power ranges for sufferfest instead of Perceived Effort.