8 Options for the Indoor Trainer

In the previous two articles, I provided tips on maximizing your cycling experience when attending indoor cycling or Spinning? classes at your gym. There is something very motivating about being in a class with an inspiring coach who can guide you through your workout.

However, attending classes isn't always an option, and now that we are firmly entrenched in winter and have fewer daylight hours, many cyclists and triathletes must resort to riding their trainers or indoor bicycles at home.

No longer do you have to suffer on your own or resort to just watching TV or movies—that's usually not enough to push you to the training levels you need to raise your cycling fitness. There are a plethora of options to motivate you on your bicycle this winter. You can opt to watch videos of cyclists riding through beautiful scenery in locations around the world, you can put yourself in the middle of a peleton or sprint to the finish line, or you can even have a coach guiding you through a specific training session.

There are a few things to consider when reviewing the various indoor training coaching options.

First, you'll want to make sure you have more than one brand of video or type of training; variety is a key element in helping you not only stay committed to your training, but also to provide the various levels of intensity needed to address all the cycling fitness elements. Too much HIT (High-Intensity Training) "suffering" is not good in the offseason. But neither is too little.

Some people get motion sickness/vertigo when watching cycling DVDs, especially when it's from the point of view of a helmet-cam or a video mounted on the handlebars or chest of the rider. This first-person point of view is challenging for some people, but others like imagining they are chasing a rider in front of them or pulling away from the pack. You'll have to inquire on each of the websites as to which point of view they produce their videos, and then watch a sample video to see if you have a problem with vertigo. The larger your screen, the less you will be likely to experience vertigo.

Other companies use a car-mounted video camera which still places you in the ride itself, but is much more stable. Often the view will change from the front, to the side, to the back of the pack. Still, other video producers use existing racing footage, and you aren't necessarily placed in the midst of the cyclists in the video, but have to use your imagination a bit more.

Music can be a challenge on some DVDs because of the difficulties and expense of obtaining music licenses. Music rights, when combined with video, are much more complicated and expensive than the rights one can secure to play music in a class. This is why you don't often find very good music on many of these videos; much of it is canned license-free or poor covers. One company, Cycling Fusion has approached this in a creative way by creating a very large library of pre-cleared music due to their need for a lot more music for their streaming digital classes (more on those a little later).

The following are several of the top DVD providers available. It is not an exhaustive list—more and more companies are creating training videos as this market grows. Keep in mind that many training DVDs tend to be targeted to high-intensity training. That is fine as long as you don't do the same ride or type of workout every time you get on your bike. Your indoor training should still follow a periodized program and be progressive.

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