How Indoor Cycling Helps Cyclists Reach Goals

Peter Glassford
by Peter Glassford
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How Indoor Cycling Helps Cyclists Reach Goals

With weather, pollution, road safety — and viruses — at the forefront of everyone’s mind, it is not surprising indoor cycling makes up a large segment of the cycling industry. Online races and group rides you can join from the comfort of your home are trending. While technology is rapidly developing, there are a few key concepts that can help you make the most of your indoor time.

SAVES TIME

While indoor cycling is time-efficient, it can be complicated by technology. Ensuring you have a backup plan or two if your smart trainer technology fails helps avoid losing motivation or even the ability to pedal if your trainer or Wi-Fi fails. Many trainers work in ‘manual mode’ and/or will provide a base level of resistance that might work for a higher rpm coordination workout to develop your high-cadence pedaling if things go sideways.

BREEDS COMMUNITY

Online platforms like Zwift and Peloton can be an effective way to become immersed in cycling indoors. Spin classes via Peloton are done with high production value and can be hugely motivating with leaderboards and an opportunity to meet people and augment your training. For many people who thrive on a group dynamic but don’t have the freedom to get out on long group rides due to timing or location, these classes can be revolutionary additions to your training program, which might include outdoor endurance rides or cross-training on days you have more time.

Most group exercise classes or group rides emphasize high-intensity but it is wise to mix in a variety of intensities to achieve great training results. Using the group motivation to get in a couple of hard days and then using outdoor rides or lower-intensity workouts is a great strategy to maximize your consistency and help ensure exercise is not always painful.

BUILDS SKILLS

The indoor-trainer is like a batting cage. It is a great tool but it is not baseball. To ensure you are ready for your goal event, it’s worth including race-related skill work and training. Riding in your goal discipline (e.g., mountain biking or outdoor road riding) is necessary to prepare for when you can get outside on your race-bike and on similar terrain. Even if your main discipline is indoor riding or racing, there are skills related to cadence, position, shifting and standing that can be developed with specific drills and attention to the quality of your riding as well as using different intensities, cadences and workout goals.

ENABLES CIRCUIT TRAINING

Circuit training is an engaging form of exercise that rotates through a series of exercises to provide both strength and cardiovascular gains. Workouts might be done for a certain number of repetitions for each exercise or for a certain time for each exercise station. Workouts are usually done for a specific period of time (i.e., 5–20 minutes).

If you want to mix up your indoor cycling try using your bike as part of a circuit. You can do 1–5 minutes of pedaling and alternate with a more typical circuit of strength exercises. A spin bike or bike with flat pedals can be the perfect tool for these workouts.

OFFERS DATA

A nice effect of cyclists using indoor training for some of their workouts is having the opportunity to do a very structured routine and collect data that can help track progress and inform future sessions. If you have any data from your indoor sessions, you can start working on improving upon last week’s session. You might do 3 x 10 minutes hard one week and then aim to beat that wattage (or speed) the next week or increase the time by doing 3 x 12 minutes at that same output. By paying attention and repeating the same or similar sessions, you can harness a great source of motivation that keeps you training long-term and one that can be harder to use outside where there are more variables.

About the Author

Peter Glassford
Peter Glassford

Peter is a cycling coach and registered kinesiologist from Ontario, Canada. He travels frequently to work with athletes at races, camps and clinics. He also races mountain bikes for Trek Canada and pursues adventure in all types of movement. Follow @peterglassford on Twitter, or check out his online and in-person coaching at www.smartathlete.ca.

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