Indoor Cycle Training Guide

by James Eacott

Indoor Cycle Training Guide

Since Covid, indoor cycle training has gained immense popularity among cyclists and triathletes looking to maintain and improve fitness regardless of what the weather is doing. This form of training offers a highly efficient and effective way to stay in shape and with the advent of interactive, smart turbo trainers, it has become even more accessible (not to mention enjoyable!). In this article, we'll explore what turbo trainers are, how they work and how to train for cycling events or triathlons using them.

What Are Turbo Trainers?

A turbo trainer is a device that allows you to convert your regular bike into a stationary exercise machine. Unlike traditional stationary bikes, which often lack the real feel of outdoor cycling, turbo trainers use your own bike, providing a more authentic riding experience. They are particularly valuable for cyclists or triathletes who want to train indoors while maintaining the same bike fit and geometry as their outdoor rides.

Turbo trainers and static bikes (like the ones above) provide an effective training stimulus

How Do Turbo Trainers Work?

Turbo trainers work by clamping your bike's rear wheel onto the trainer's roller, allowing you to pedal against resistance. There are several types of turbo trainers, each with its own mechanism for creating resistance:

  • Wind Trainers: These trainers use a fan to create resistance. The harder you pedal, the more air resistance is generated, simulating outdoor riding conditions
  • Magnetic Trainers: Magnetic trainers use adjustable magnets to create resistance. You can change the resistance level with a remote control or handlebar-mounted shifter
  • Fluid Trainers: Fluid trainers utilize a viscous fluid in a sealed chamber to provide resistance. The resistance increases as you pedal harder, creating a more realistic road-like feel
  • Smart Trainers: The most common type, these days, smart trainers have revolutionise indoor training. With a smart trainer, you connect to various cycling apps and platforms (like Zwift) via Bluetooth or ANT+ and can automatically adjust resistance to match virtual courses or training programs. They often include features like power measurement and can simulate steep climbs and descents.

Setting Up Your Indoor Training Space

Ventilation and a fan are a 100% necessary for effective indoor training

Before you begin your indoor cycle training, you'll need to set up a suitable space:

  1. Bike Setup: Ensure your bike is securely mounted on the turbo trainer and your tire is properly inflated (if on a wheel-on turbo) and in good condition
  2. Ventilation: Anyone who's ever ridden indoors know how hot and sweaty it can get! Ensure you have proper ventilation or a fan to stay cool and comfortable
  3. Entertainment: To combat boredom during longer sessions, consider setting up a TV, tablet or laptop with a cycling training app or a virtual training program

Structured Training Programs

To make the most of your indoor cycle training, it's essential to follow structured training programs tailored to your goals, whether you're training for a cycling event, triathlon, or simply looking to improve your fitness. Smart trainer programs on Zwift, for example, have structured sessions you can use. But here's a general guideline for creating your training plan:

When it comes to indoor training, a plan (and SMART goals) are key

Set Clear Goals: Define your objectives, whether it's improving endurance, increasing power output, or preparing for a specific race (more on Great Goal Setting here)

  • Plan Your Workouts: Include a variety of workouts, such as interval training, tempo rides and recovery sessions. Adjust the duration, intensity, and frequency to match your goals
  • Use Technology: Smart trainers and cycling apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, or Sufferfest offer pre-made training plans, virtual courses, and real-time performance metrics
  • Monitor Progress: Track your performance using data such as heart rate, power output and cadence. Adjust your training plan based on your progress and feedback
  • Recovery and Rest: Don't neglect recovery days, as they are essential for muscle repair and growth. Incorporate stretching and foam rolling into your routine.

Triathlon-Specific Training

If you're a triathlete, you can adapt your indoor cycle training to suit the triathlon's multisport nature and take things a step further:

  • Brick Workouts: Incorporate brick workouts, where you follow a cycling session with a run, simulating the transition between disciplines in a triathlon
  • Aero Position Practice: Use your indoor trainer to work on your aero position and pedaling efficiency to maximize speed during the bike leg
  • Interval Training: Mimic the race's intensity by including high-intensity intervals in your training plan
  • Nutrition and Hydration: Practice your race-day nutrition and hydration strategies during indoor sessions to ensure they work for you

If you're a triathlete, you could always jump on a treadmill after you bike session for a time-efficient brick session

Now you've nailed your indoor training setup, check out DB Max Events and get your name on a start list soon! We look forward to seeing you. 

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