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Indoor Bike Training: Tips + Workouts

April 08, 2020

Cover photo: Velizar Ivanov

We all long for the perfect riding weather, but we live in places with seasons that have other intentions (ok, except you California). Some folks endure the cold, rain, and snow to continue to train outside but let’s be real when the roads really don’t want you out there or you don’t have a fat bike there are some great benefits to indoor trainers.

Done right, indoor training allows you to be productive, you can hyper-focus, work on your weaknesses, and be super-efficient (no coasting!). Get it done and hammer it out free of stoplights, cars, and nippy dogs.

Tips:

⇒ Set up in a room with ventilation and/or that is not heated (consider adding a fan). Roads bad but weather nice? Indoor training doesn’t need to be indoors. Put your bike trainer into a nice spot in the backyard near an outlet and enjoy the fresh air.

⇒ Make sure you have your hydration and fuel dialed. You can get just as sweaty if not more on an indoor trainer and if you don’t replace what you lose you won’t feel great after or recover as well to go again the next day. People generally need more hydration while training indoors. The science is pretty straight forward and comes down to one single factor – Air Flow. Even with a fan, you can’t replicate the speed of wind when outdoors. Airflow across the skin causes something called convective cooling, which reduces the need for sweat for evaporative cooling. So even at the same intensity and temperature, without convective cooling (i.e., airflow), you’re going to need to make up for the difference through more sweat and evaporative cooling.

⇒ Get creative with how you pass the time on the trainer, think group rides on Zwift, shows, movies, podcasts but also how you break up your ride with snacks, and segments. Save your favorite snack as a reward for when you make it to your last segment. Make something extra tasty to motivate you like rice cakes. It’s ok to take breaks. How many times are coffee shop stops a part of real-life rides? Go to the bathroom, eat a snack, drink some coffee, enjoy the process. What do you enjoy most about riding your bike? Find a way to incorporate those things into the indoor process.

⇒ You don’t need a $$$ smart trainer for this to work. Find something that works with your budget, and allows you to ride.

⇒ Set goals. Time, distance, HR, intervals, length of a tv show or movie, whatever fits your needs. If training for a long event are you going to segment into a few rides in the course of a day or crank out a multi-hour session? Define what you are training for, and create standards to track your progress based on that goal. Or simply set a certain number of days a week you are going to ride.

⇒ Understand the zones:
    

Let’s get spinning. We put together 6 different ideas for you to get started, depending on what you are training for you can do one, mix and match them up, or add them into your routine.

1. The Anna (After Anna Christian, 2019 National Collegiate Crit champ)

This is an hour-long block of over-under intervals, super-effective, quality, high-tempo with threshold intervals.

5 minutes at threshold/zone 4

5 minutes at tempo/zone 3

Repeat for an hour.

If using Zwift you can set your power output as your functional threshold power which is basically 95% of your best 20 minute power.

Essentially you are going hard, very hard, hard, very hard.

Challenging but efficient!

2. The Hollywood (After Daniel Holloway, track and criterium racer with 21 titles including: Gold Omnium - 2017 UCI Track Cycling World Cup - Santiago Chile Gold Madison - 2018 UCI Panamerican Championships - Aquascalientes, Mexico.)

10 minute Warm up

10 minute zone 2

15 x 30/30 - 30 seconds VO2 Max/zone 5, race pace: 30 Seconds zone 2/Endurance

10 minute cool down


3. The Workout Tejay VanGarderen Got From His Friend Rohan Dennis That Makes Him Suffer

A tough workout that blends threshold and VO2 max. If you want a “break” during your ride skip this.

Series of over-unders, with recovery at threshold… which isn’t really recovery. And gets progressively harder.

Set 1

8 x 20/40 - 20 seconds at max/zone 5, 40 seconds at threshold/zone 4

4 minutes at threshold/zone 4

Set 2

8 x 30/30 - 30 seconds at max/zone 5, 30 seconds at threshold/zone 4

4 minutes at threshold/zone 4

Set 3

8 x 40/20 - 40 seconds at max/zone 5, 20 seconds at threshold/zone 4

4 minutes at threshold


4. The Kitchen Sink aka a Lil Bit of Everything

A Tejay VanGarderen favorite and an all around good workout. This has it ALL, threshold, endurance, VO2 max, and sprint.

Think of this as a warmup for a time trial ramping through all intensity zones BUT not too hard that you blow out for your main effort. Touch the zones, order does not matter and just check they all feel good. It is a great way to test to know if you are “there” for a competition. We suggest you turn off your erg for this one.

Set 1

4-5 Minutes at threshold/zone 4

4-5 minutes recovery/zone 1

4-5 minutes threshold/zone 4

Set 2

2 minutes VO2 max/zone 5

4-5 minutes recovery/zone 1

2 minutes VO2 max/zone 5

4-5 minutes recovery/zone 1

Set 3

2 x 30 second sprint

2 x 15 second sprint

5. The Hills are Alive (A Ted King Favorite)

For a hilly sensation try this over/under combo.

30 seconds at threshold/zone 4

2 ½ - 3 ½ minutes tempo/zone 3

Repeat for the desired amount of time you would dedicate to rolling hills.

6. Group Ride

These help create community, entertainment, and a dynamic environment. Find one that fits your needs or who you want to cruise with. A great way to help break up the solo training.

Have fun and show us how you are training and Skratch fueling! #skratchlabs #skratchlete.

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