By Coach Troy Jacobson
After spending all winter on the trainer, it’s hard to imagine forgoing a ride on a warm sunny day to crank out your intervals in the pain cave, right?
However, indoor (or stationary) training can and should play a key role in every competitive cyclist and triathlete’s training regimen, as proven by countless athletes of all levels over the years. In the fast-paced lives we all lead where every second counts, indoor workouts can get the job done with time to spare, and all you need is a little bit of motivation and a bike trainer or stationary bike. Following are just a few of the many reasons why it makes sense to ride the road to nowhere.
Reason #1: Indoor workouts are more time efficient
Once your “pain cave” – or workout area – is set up, it’s easy to put on your cycling kit, hop on the bike that’s already on the trainer and start your session. Heading outdoors requires more preparation and potential drive time if you need throw your bike in your car, not to mention that road riding requires that you obey traffic laws like stopping at stop signs and traffic lights. These stops and starts reduce the overall time efficiency and quality of your allotted training time. An argument can be made that one hour on the trainer = 1.5 hours on the road!
Reason #2: Indoor workouts are safer, and can cause less anxiety
Depending on where you live, training on the roads can be a challenge with fighting vehicular traffic congestion, ignorant motorists and torn up asphalt. That weekday post-work ride that’s meant to calm your nerves can actually have the opposite effect. Doing more of your workweek cycling indoors, especially on your “quality days,” can reduce your overall exposure to becoming yet another injured cyclist related statistic.
Reason #3: Indoor workouts are fun to do with a group
Sure, outdoor rides can be fun and social, but indoor riding enables cyclists of different abilities to ride with one another. After all, getting dropped on a trainer ride rarely happens! Invite your friends to join you in your pain cave for workouts, or seek other local indoor group cycling workout opportunities.
Reason #4: Indoor workouts are convenient
Whether heading down into your basement or to your local gym for an indoor cycling class, indoor workouts are generally more convenient than road rides. In addition to less prep time (see reason #1), you can also get other workouts done before or after hopping on the bike.
Reason #5: Indoor workouts can be very high in quality
All of the variables that can negatively affect an outdoor ride, including traffic, terrain, road conditions, wind, other riders, etc. are essentially eliminated when it comes to the indoor ride. When indoors, you have absolute control over the important variables of intensity and duration, so workouts can be of the highest quality over a given amount of time. Find a library of quality indoor training workout sessions, fire up the power meter and/or the heart rate monitor and get to work!
Here’s a sample workout you can try to get started:
From beginners to the Elite, indoor training has a place in everyone’s training schedule, even during the summer months. Introduce some high-quality indoor rides to your program, and watch your fitness take a leap to the next level!
A former pro triathlete and coach since 1992, Troy Jacobson is the creator of Spinervals Cycling and the Sr. National Director of Endurance Sports Training for Life Time Fitness. Learn more at www.lifetimeendurance.com.