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Book Review: The Lance Armstrong Performance Program

lance armstrong performance program book

The Lance Armstrong Performance Program: 7 Weeks to the Perfect Ride

When this book came out on September 9, 2000, Lance Armstrong had only won two Tours de France. That seemed amazing at the time, but today, that is just a small part of Lance’s legacy. (Isn’t it crazy? Two Tour wins for nearly any other rider would be amazing, but with Lance, it’s “only two” of his seven total victories.)

The timing was perfect for me because I was beginning to get competitive in sports (one of them being cycling.) Buying a book by Lance Armstrong and his coach Chris Carmichael was a no-brainer!

The book turned out to be perfect for budding cyclists. There was plenty of training and racing advice, training plans for all levels, and lots of tips on nutrition, what the pros eat, bike fit, bicycle maintenance, stretching, etc.

It covered all those topics that beginners might overlook, so by reading this book, I probably took at least two years off my learning curve. After reading the book and completing a 7-week training plan, I was ready to race!

Speaking of those training plans…

While this book is a thorough resource for anyone new to cycling, the 7-week training plans are the real draw. There are three plans laid out in the book: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

Not wanting to label myself a beginner (I could already ride pretty fast when hitting little jumps on my kids bike,) I started out with the Intermediate Plan. This plan had me riding six days per week from 30 minutes to 2.5 hours per day.

The goal with the Intermediate plan seemed to be getting your legs used to putting in some serious time (~ eight hours on the bike) as well as developing a good aerobic capacity. There were no intervals in this plan, which made for enjoyable riding.

Moving on to the Advanced Plan, that’s where I ran into a variety of intervals, plus the concept of riding all seven days each week (there was one rest day out of the 49 days.)

Things were different, though – you busted your hump three days per week, then did four recovery rides. Being new to structured training, I thought four easy days was lame, so I added in some running and BMX workouts on the easy days.

It wasn’t long before I was burnt out and couldn’t recover properly. I should have trusted that Chris Carmichael knew how to put a training plan together!

But I learned my lesson early and from then on, knew that my intense workouts required quite a bit of rest afterward. (Sure, I burnt myself out a few more times over the next couple years, but what 16 year old kid doesn’t push the limits now and then?)

What happens when you complete the three plans?

You simply begin to create your own workouts! You can use a template similar to the Advanced training plan, but add in a variety of workouts depending on your goals.

There are many workout ideas in the “Expanding Your Repertoire” section, so if you put in a little elbow grease, you could get nearly a lifetime’s worth of training plans.

(But I’ll warn you – the Advanced plan is for an advanced recreational cyclist, not an advanced (pro) rider. That means if you’re not a beginner, you’ll be developing a lot of your own plans.)

And with a decent weight lifting section, you could develop some off-season training plans, too. (Some of the weight lifting, stretching, and nutrition stuff is getting a bit outdated, but it’s still helpful.)

My final verdict is…

If you are new to cycling and would like to train for some local road races, this is a great book to get you on the right track. It’s not too in-depth, but that’s what makes it so great – it’s easy to comprehend.

As you progress, you will probably want to pick up a copy of Joe Friel’s book (The Cyclist’s Training Bible,) and possibly hire your own coach in the future. But the Lance Armstrong Performance Program is a great book to start with, and for $10.85, it’s a definite no-brainer.

Buy online: www.Amazon.com

Product Review Details
Company: Rodale Books
Product: Lance Armstrong Performance Program Book
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 4.0 out of 5
Date last updated: 2009-07-06
Obtained Product: Purchased at retailer.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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2 Comments
  1. Great post, Levi! I’ve been wanting to start cycling seriously and this may be just the thing I need to push me over that hump (at least, when the weather drops below 104 and humid here in Oklahoma). I’ll definitely give this book a shot. Good work with the blog and keep it up!

  2. @Frank

    Yep, this is a good book for that. You can check out the plan and put it into action quickly, without too much thinking required.

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coach levi
Hi, I'm Coach Levi. I'm a USA Cycling Certified Level 3 Coach as well as Level 1 Certified with Precision Nutrition. Want to feel better, ride faster, and look great? Let's work together!

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Coach Levi is my favorite child and favorite cycling coach. I'd choose him over Christoper McCarmikael even. Did I mention that Levi can coach you to a healthier lifestyle where you look and feel your best?
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