Turbocharging Your Indoor Bike Workout

The thought of spending time on your indoor bike trainer for hours on end in the ‘pain cave’ makes many triathletes cringe over this mind numbing training session. Spending some ‘quality time’ with your stationary trainer may not seem like the most thrilling training session, however, there are some massive training benefits to be had within this form of cycling. The key with any stationary bike session is to keep it interesting by breaking up the ride into different efforts, drills and other kinds of various intervals, many of which are actually more beneficial to do on your indoor trainer as opposed to riding on the road.

First and foremost let us go back to basics on why training on an indoor trainer can be one of the most valuable bike sessions that you can do. The ability to ride completely focused, uninterrupted and in a controlled environment presents a unique opportunity for us to take advantage of. For interval efforts, the ergo trainer gives us the platform to ride completely free of the stop-and-go traffic, traffic lights, corners and descents that usually take away the focus from any bike interval training when done outside, on the road. This, in turn, allows triathletes to really focus in on maintaining steady-state power and eliminates the aforementioned variables that would otherwise disrupt the primary focus of the workout.

Hill training? Done correctly, there are many benefits to using the indoor bike trainer.

Depending on where you live, doing an indoor bike session can be a great workout to help make up for any geographical limitations that you may face while training outdoors. What I mean by this is that if you live in an area where there are limited hills or mountains for you to ride, then doing a session of over geared efforts on your indoor bike trainer can recreate the benefits of riding hills in order to build up strength. On the reverse, if you live in an area, which has predominately hills, and you have an easier recovery spin on your bike as part of your training plan, then you can simply do this session on your indoor bike trainer.

Taking this theory a step further for those with major races on the horizon, it is possible for us to replicate a course profile of a major race while riding on the indoor trainer to ‘train’ our legs to suit that particular race course. This can be done on a simplistic level by looking online at the course profile of the bike course and having this in front of you during your ergo ride and then adjusting your gearing according to hills, descents and flatter parts of the course as you tick off each kilometre. If you have the resources, there is some great technology at our fingertips with the invention of ‘smart’ trainers. It is now possible to download certain courses and have the ‘smart’ ergo trainers automatically adjust the level of resistance during the ride giving you an even greater level of specificity leading towards a major event.

Yet another unique proposition of riding indoors on your trainer is that it allows you to work on your pedal stroke efficiency. By unclipping one leg and pedalling with a single leg, you can really hone in on creating equal force throughout the entire pedal stroke. What this means is that you are pushing down and then pulling up during the pedal stroke and not relying on just the down part of the pedal stroke on each leg. While doing a single-leg pedalling drill on the road may be a difficult task, the indoor trainer gives you the ability to work on technical areas of your cycling such as this.

When it comes to indoor bike training, far too many people simply spend hours upon hours just spinning the legs with no real aim or intention but to ‘just ride’. However, this cannot be further away from what an indoor bike session should be if done correctly – it should be both interesting and beneficial to even the most seasoned triathlete. The key point is that whenever you jump onto your bike to start your indoorbike workout, you need to have a specific focus in order to maximise this kind of cycling training session.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY Rebecca Ohlwein

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Betten

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