Sure, the original intent of cycling was to enjoy it outdoors. But when weather or a busy schedule get in the way of heading out for a ride, indoor cycling is your next best option — and it can really enhance your training.
Whether you’re interested in training during the off-season or just want to cram a ride into a hectic day, these tips will help you make the most of using a trainer inside and have a little fun in the process.
SET UP A SPACE
First, you’ll need to set up a dedicated space for your trainer that’s convenient and inviting. Whether it’s the garage, a spare bedroom or right in the middle of your man cave (or woman cave), having a designated space for your trainer that’s always ready to go will make you more likely get in a quick ride.
Once you have a space set up, here a few items you’ll want to have on hand to make the experience as enjoyable as possible:
- A front-wheel block: A front-wheel riser block will keep your wheel steady during intervals and allow you to increase the height of your wheel to simulate a climbing position.
- Ventilation: With no airflow, things will heat up quick on an indoor trainer. Make sure you have fans or a nearby window to ensure you don’t overheat during your workout.
- A bar stool: The remote to the TV, extra bottles of water and your smartphone are just a few of the things you’ll want to have handy while you’re cycling indoors. Use a bar stool or chair to keep them within reach. It will also come in handy when doing drill work, such as single-leg pedaling.
- Entertainment: There’s nothing worse than being bored on an indoor trainer. Whether it’s motivational cycling videos, music or an audiobook, have something in your space that will help you take your mind off the workout. You’ll ride harder and longer because of it.
READ MORE > 5 INDOOR TRAINER RIDES THAT AREN’T BORING
HAVE A GOAL
Each time you get on the trainer, it’s important to have a goal in mind. A workout with a specific purpose will keep you engaged much more than mindless pedaling, and perhaps more importantly you’ll get better in a shorter amount of time.
Here are a few goals perfect for the indoor trainer:
- Losing weight: Interval sessions or cardio workouts are both great for burning calories. Vary your workouts frequently if you’re trying to lose weight. This high-intensity interval workout is quick and gets the job done:
- Warm up for 5 minutes.
- Alternate riding for 20 seconds at an all-out pace (8–10 exertion level) with 10 seconds of easy spinning.
- After five efforts, recover for 1 minute with easy spinning. At the end of your recovery, complete 5 repetitions of 30 seconds on, 10 seconds off.
- Cool down for 5 minutes.
- Gaining speed: Interval workouts can be tricky on the road, when you’re dealing with traffic and stop signs. For really hard workouts where the goal is getting faster, the indoor trainer is perfect. Try this interval session when you’ve got the need for speed:
- Warm up for 10–15 minutes.
- Ride as hard as you can (8–10 exertion level) for 2–3 minutes.
- Recover with easy spinning for 2 minutes.
- Repeat 3–4 times.
- Cool down for 10–15 minutes.
- Pedaling technique/efficiency: Rollers are the perfect tool to improve your balance and pedaling technique on the bike. If you don’t own rollers, try these drills to improve your pedaling efficiency.
MAKE IT FUN
No matter what the activity is, if it isn’t fun you aren’t going to do it. Luckily, technology has made riding a bike indoors pretty damn fun to do. While you can join a gym or go to a cycling studio, you can also tap into one of these three indoor training apps that offer structured workouts, virtual training courses and the chance to compete against other cyclists from around the globe:
- Zwift: For a $10 per month membership fee, the Zwift app will allow you to compete against other cyclists in a “virtual gaming” atmosphere. If you have a turbo trainer with variable resistance and power metrics, resistance will decrease or increase automatically according to the terrain on screen. The Wahoo Kickr and Tacx Neo Smart Trainer work well with the Zwift app, but it can also be used with other options. While currently available for PC and Android devices, you can expect compatibility with Mac/iOS sometime in early 2017.
- CycleOps Virtual Training: Unlike the virtual graphics of Zwift, CVT uses a video feed of real routes from around the world. While CVT works best with a turbo trainer such as the CycleOps Powerbeam Pro, you can also use it with other, more basic trainers if you’re OK with a less immersive experience. Pre-programmed workouts, data tracking and online racing are included in the $15 per month fee.
- Trainer Road: Trainer Road offers customized workouts and training programs geared toward accomplishing specific goals. There are now over 800 interactive workouts available, and the app can be used with just about any trainer setup as long as you have a speed sensor and a heart-rate monitor. Choose between a $12 per month membership or a yearly membership for $99.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RIDE