Winter is an annoying interruption to a cyclists training routine. The wet and cold weather and dark nights present new challenges that can lead us indoors to complete our training in relative comfort. Recreating that same outdoor ride feel in your living room can however be a bit of a challenge when after 15 minutes staring at the walls or watching the latest episode of ‘pimp my ride’ you’re either totally bored or absolutely unfocused on your cycling. Follow our turbo training tips to ease the boredom and get the most out of a winter riding indoors. Of course you are allowed to cycle outside too, but the option of some key sessions indoors will keep you motivated and keep your fitness improving as you max rather than miss your training.
Get set up
Set up your turbo trainer in an area where you won’t have to continuously clip in and out your bike. If you’re lucky enough to have 2 bikes, leave one clamped firmly into the turbo trainer at all times, so you don’t have the excuse that it all needs to be set up each time you plan to ride. Not needing to worry about temperature, terrain or other road users you are then ready to go as soon as your cycling gear is on, making these sessions ideal for shorter focused rides where quality is important. Make sure your bike is set up the same as your road bike to avoid injury and use a speedometer to motivate you in the knowledge of how many miles you’ve completed. Without this info it can be hard to spur yourself on. It may pay to also set up a fan. It can get incredibly hot indoors once you get those pedals turning and the cool air of a fan will be welcome once you have warmed up.
Long moderate effort sessions can be extremely laborious indoors so set reasonable targets of 30 minutes to 1hr 30 maximum for your turbo training sessions. Research clearly shows that fitness can be held by maintaining the quality of work, so performing high intensity work over shorter periods will pay dividends without sending you loopy with boredom. Listen to some music with a suitable RPM rather than watching TV. This is likely to keep your cadence up. Finally, make sure you’ve got enough fluid on your bike. With your sweat rate likely to increase indoors drinking Viper Active will help to keep you hydrated and drive your performance.
Include Interval training sessions
It’s easier to ascertain your progression from Interval training sessions on the turbo trainer than on the road. With a constant resistance and no change in wind or gradient you can see real improvements in just a few short weeks of including these sessions. If you’re new to interval training try warming up on the bike for 10 minutes and then progress in to faster intervals for 5 minutes a piece with 2 minutes spinning recovery. Aim to work at an intensity you can maintain for 5 minutes rather than working hard for the first 3 and then struggling to complete the last 2. This will take some practice. Begin with just three repetitions and as you progress you can either increase the number of repetitions or reduce the recovery time between reps to benefit from improved fitness. Remember to cool down afterwards. You will be surprised how such a session flies by in relation to a constant speed session on the turbo trainer, keeping you motivated and keeping the results coming.
Riding at a pace just below your time trial pace as is done with ‘Threshold training’ can help to lift your anaerobic threshold, allowing you to effectively race faster after a block of such training. To introduce a threshold training session complete a 5 to 10 minute low gear warm up and then after a short rest cycle for 20 minutes at a heart rate corresponding to 80% of your max. Take a 5 minute light cycling recovery and then repeat this 20 minute block. If you are new to this type of training you may want to begin with just one 20 minute block, progress by adding on a 10 minute block thereafter, and then move onto the full session over a period of a few weeks. After the last interval, warm down with a 5 minute cycle in a low gear.
To work on power and strength so you can power up the climbs in an early season sportive adding Hill work on the turbo trainer is helpful. Riding outdoors, you can often struggle to find a hill that mimics your intended session and this is where the turbo trainer is invaluable. For a great workout start with a 10 minute warm up on a low gear and then increase to a harder gear and climb seated for 5 minutes. This should lift your heart rate to between 75 and 85% of your maximum value. Increase the gear again and climb at 80% Maximum Heart Rate for another 3 minutes, follow with a further gear progression and climb standing continuing for 2 minutes. Your heart rate should be around 90% of max and this should feel hard. Take the gears back down and sit again to complete the last 2 minutes at 80% of MHR. Finish with a 10 minute warm down on a light gear. Again, this session can be progressed by increasing the time of each section or preferably working on a higher gear as your strength improves.
Fuel to power your sessions
It makes no sense putting all the work into these fitness building sessions over the winter if you hamper your progress with inadequate fuelling. Sipping on Viper Active during your session will keep you fuelled and hydrated with research showing vast improvements in performance for those cyclists taking on 30g of carbohydrate per hour, and maximum improvements when 60g is taken on per hour. This would equate to 500ml to 1 litre of fluid per hour mixed to a 6% solution. The addition of BCAA’s in Viper Active can also reduce muscle damage during training making lighter work of recovery and allowing you to train and recover at an improved rate.
After these tough sessions your muscles will benefit from some extra help with repair and refuelling with a formula providing 1g of carbohydrate per kilogram you weigh and between 10 and 15g of protein offering great benefit. Maxifuel’s Recovermax hits the mark and then over-delivers with an additional 5g of glutamine to rebalance your immune system too.
With your bike set up sorted, some key workouts on the turbo trainer and your fuel needs met there is every reason to be confident in some great outdoor riding and racing once the weather improves.