Winter is here for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, and as we found out with the finale of Game of Thrones, it’s often a pretty grim outlook. Not least when it comes to keeping on top of your training whilst trying to dodge downpours, avoid icy roads and work around shortened daylight hours – and that’s assuming you’re allowed out at all, what with half the world in various forms of lockdown again.
Luckily, indoor cycling has advanced over the past few years, and as a result, it now provides a platform that can genuinely benefit the training cyclist looking to get faster, whilst simultaneously providing engaging social interaction that helps to occupy the mind while the legs are doing the work.
In fact, with the advancement in technology and the introduction of smart indoor trainers, smart bikes and indoor cycling apps such as Zwift, training indoors has become one of the most effective ways of preparing for an event, and many would argue it is now more effective than training outside, thanks to the controlled environment it enables.
One of the biggest misconceptions associated with indoor training is that each session has to be hard or fast. However, indoor sessions should typically follow the same structure as their outdoor counterparts, and a training plan should do likewise.
Training for an event indoors can be really effective, as it’s easy to replicate any session that you are able to do outside on a smart trainer while reducing the overall time. For HIIT, Threshold or Tempo efforts, the session can simply be copy-pasted to the new format. However, for endurance efforts, an amount of leeway can be applied.
As a coach, I personally allow for an endurance training session to be reduced by up to 25 per cent when performed indoors. For example, a two-hour Z2 ride (easy endurance ride) can be reduced to 90 minutes when you have to do the session indoors. The reason for this is that the best turbo trainers can use ERG mode, which controls the resistance to ensure the power output remains steady, no matter the cadence. With the omission of downhill freewheeling, traffic lights, junctions and other interruptions, an indoor ride can provide similar stimulus in less time.