Indoor training gets boring, we get it. But the training must get done, and unless you like to ride in cold, wet and dark conditions, riding an indoor trainer is the next best thing. You can always add great music, your favorite action film, Tour de France videos or a smart-trainer based virtual racing platform to these workouts, but having a targeted plan should be your first line of defense against indoor-trainer boredom.
These five workouts are quick and easy and provide the basis for a good indoor training program. Alternate or combine these plans to deliver focus to each rid. All you need is your bike and a trainer, and you are ready to go.
The workout: Start with your easiest gear and increase one gear every 3 minutes — or increase 20–25 watts each stage if you have a power meter. You could extend this by ramping back down or making the stages longer.
Why do it: I often use this as a morning spin and also as the warm up to most trainer sessions because it gives me basic test data (heart rate at a set wattage or output) and also warms me up gradually.
2. CADENCE AND ONE LEG
The workout: Try doing 1 minute at 110–120 rpm at a moderate (7/10) effort. Go directly into 30–60 second one-leg pedaling with each leg. Repeat for 5–10 rounds. Progress the time pedaling with each leg or the effort you use with one leg for the higher rpm once you can finish 10 rounds.
Why do it: I like one-leg pedaling drills because they make us interact with our bike differently, which requires some thinking as does the practice clipping in.
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3. THRESHOLD OR 20-MINUTE TEST
The workout: Start by warming up as necessary, then workout for 20 minutes at around 85–90%, or an 8/10 perceived exertion. Make it hard but repeatable so you can do another workout soon.
Why do it: The 20-minute test is the standard functional threshold test most coaches and programs use. I often say a race is a test and a test is a workout, so by practicing this test you are preparing to do better in your testing, which should also mean better races. Often nerves affect tests and races, so by doing this 20-minute routine you get used to going hard for 20 minutes.
4. 1-MINUTE ON; 1-MINUTE OFF
The workout: Ease into the first few minutes or ride easy for 5 minutes then do 10–15 x 1-minute hard/1-minute easy. If you have a way to gauge your output, try to keep it steady for the on and offs.
Why do it: This is one of my favorite quick, no-thinking workouts because it can be done anywhere with whatever equipment you have (exercise bike, rower, etc.) My clients traveling for business love this simple prescription for a hard, 30-minute workout.
5. TRAINER CORE
The workout: Start with 9 minutes of pedaling at 65–75% max heart rate (MHR) and then get off for 1 minute of core — do this three times for a 30-minute workout, or tailor it to your needs. I typically do pushups, lunges and pullups (on a door frame pullup bar). Dumbbells let you do presses and rows. The off-bike time can be slow and steady or add a bit of intensity so you have to recover on the bike. The bike portion can also focus on high cadence (5–10 rpm above your normal). For longer workouts, increase pedaling time to 20–30 minutes.
Why do it: This workout alternates pedaling on your trainer with time off the bike doing strength movements, which helps chunk up the time and challenge your body to use more muscle mass compared to just cycling. Flat pedals or mountain bike shoes are most versatile, but road shoes will let you do pushups, several dumbbell exercises and core exercises without taking your shoes off each time. Taking your shoes off isn’t so bad, especially for triathletes.