Make the Most of Your Indoor Cycling Sessions

Except for those hard-core commuters and the ride-in-all weather cyclists, most triathletes and cyclists will need to ride inside more than once each year—or not ride at all.

Although indoor riding lacks many of the visual and physical stimuli that accompany outdoor rides, there are some things you can do to combat the monotony.

Whether it's weather, darkness or an out-of-town trip that has you spinning your legs and going nowhere, these tips can help you make the most of your time on the trainer.

Reflect on Why

For most people, it is easier to get motivated if you have a reason. You might recognize at least one of these reasons to do an indoor cycling session:

  • You want to maintain a certain level of fitness and not lose hard-earned gains by doing no workout at all.
  • Aerobic sessions are a way to manage your body weight.
  • Cycling sessions are one of your strategies to maintaining good cardiovascular health.
  • You have signed up for an event, or want to sign up for an event, and indoor cycling will help you successfully complete, or compete at, the event.

Have a Plan for the Session

Once you're motivated to do an indoor training session, determine the purpose of the session. How does this session fit into your overall training plan? Are you trying to maintain aerobic fitness or boost lactate threshold? Do you need a recovery session or does it need to boost your hill climbing power? How does this session fit with the other workouts planned for the week?

Do you have a plan?

These training plans are proven
to help you succeed.

Commit to Duration

Before you open the door to the gym, have a session duration in mind. Do you plan to ride 20 minutes or 120 minutes? Unless an athlete has a long distance event in the near future, seldom will I assign more than two hours on an indoor trainer. Indoor sessions that are too long tend to squash enthusiasm and lead to burnout.

Recovery Sessions

Indoor recovery sessions need to be sixty minutes or less. Most of the time I prefer that recovery be only 20 to 30 minutes of easy spinning. Use enough tension on the bike to break a sweat, but make the pressure on the pedals light.  

Aerobic workout

If your training plan calls for an aerobic session, or intensity Zones 1 to 2, try to do something to avoid getting bored. Even aerobic riding sessions go faster with structure. For example, if you listen to music, make one song Zone 1 and the next one Zone 2. If your indoor bike has power available, this is a great way to change your power production with every song.

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