Indoor bike riding has the reputation of being boring. And while there are ways to make the time go faster, you’ll have to work harder to get the same effects as riding outdoors. Why? Simply put, outdoors you have road friction, wind and hills to contend with in addition to changing gears. Because of this, you’ll have to pedal faster in a bigger gear to get your heart rate up into training zones that have an adequate training effect.
On the other hand, because there are no stop signs, lights, or downhills in your living room or basement, indoor training is actually more efficient. Many equate an hour of riding indoors to an hour and a half of riding outdoors.
If you have access to a spin class, it is one option to get through the winter months while maintaining fitness. Be sure that the spin instructor focuses on proper bike as well as heart rate zone training.
If you choose to ride at home on your trainer there are several types of training intervals that you are able to add into your ride. These not only serve to improve speed and power, they also help the time to pass a bit faster.
This workout is designed to increase your power and speed. Warm up for 15-20 minutes in a medium gear gradually increasing your cadence. Keep your weight on the saddle and try to avoid ‘bouncing’ as your leg speed increases.
Perform one-minute intervals using an easy gear and spinning your legs as fast as possible.
Keep your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) low—5 out of 10. Recover for three minutes between efforts.
Complete at least 10 intervals and then a cool down ride.
While you can’t quite simulate the stress of climbing on an indoor trainer to perfection, by raising the front wheel of your bike (on a pile of books, for example) you are able to strengthen some of the muscles that are used for powering up hills.
Begin these drills with a warm up and gradually progress to 10 minutes of tempo-pace riding. Tempo is a steady pace you can hold for about an hour. Every 4 minutes stand and power out of the saddle as if you are attacking the climb. As you gain power, decrease the interval to every 2 minutes. Finish the ride with a cool down.
For endurance at race pace, perform a series of 3 minute on, 2 minute off drills. The “On” should be slightly harder than tempo, at about 85-90% of your maximum output. The “Off” should be recovery with a fast cadence.
While putting in the miles is important in the cooler months of the year, once you have a base adding in interval sessions throughout the week helps to stave off boredom while increasing your power.
Remember to add music or even movies to the mix as a way to keep you motivated. Even better, get your training group together in your basement or garage and spin together while watching old race videos. You’ll be surprised at just how fast the time passes.