How to Spice Up Your Indoor Workouts

I've made the case in the past that it doesn't hurt to take some (or all) of your training indoors. Like learning anything new in cycling, training the body and mind to get quality workouts on a trainer or on rollers takes time and commitment.

If you managed to make it past the first two weeks of indoor training, you most likely started to see a reduction in boredom and restlessness, and an improvement in ride quality during your sessions.

So now that you've made the cross over, you might be wondering whether you can just continue with your training as usual, right? Yes and no.

You could very well continue doing the same effective workouts you did indoors on the road. Namely, these workouts include 15-minute threshold intervals, 10-minute muscle tension intervals, 30-minute high-spin intervals, three-minute VO2 max intervals, one-minute anaerobic capacity intervals and 45-minute easy recovery sessions. These are listed in more detail below, too.

You can continue to do these workouts indoors, but due to the monotony of stationary training, it may benefit your training, not to mention your state of mind, to spice things up a bit.

Interval Philosophy

Readers who have followed my articles over the years and have purchased my online training programs know that I subscribe to the simplicity principle when it comes to assigning intervals. I believe in smooth, consistent, steady-state intervals, no matter the duration or the intensity. Each type of interval I've listed above works a different energy system, or set of systems, and as long as the interval is done entirely within the suggested zone, then the desired outcome will be achieved.

So while I still believe in smooth, steady state intervals as the best way to improve fitness, here are some twists you can add to your standard workouts to make the time go faster on the indoor trainer. Keep in mind, all of these intervals can also be done in a controlled atmosphere out on the road.

Traditional Workout: Threshold Interval

These workouts are done to improve anaerobic threshold and endurance. Traditionally, they are done at a steady effort, mimicking that which you would run in a time trial effort for 15 to 45 minutes.

Indoor Twist – Over Under Interval: After a good warm-up, accelerate to anaerobic threshold heart rate or power. Maintain this intensity level for five to 10 minutes, then increase your effort to above threshold or to the point where your body goes anaerobic.

Hold this intensity for two to three minutes, then drop your intensity level back to threshold. Continue to go back and forth for up to 30 minutes. If you are just starting out, try three minutes under, three minutes over and three minutes under. Recover for nine minutes and repeat. You can increase the length and the number of "over-unders" as you become fitter.

This workout trains your body to process more lactic acid, preventing it from pooling in the muscles causing burning and fatigue. The over under intervals are especially good for teaching your body how to recover at  high intensities, which is often required in real life situations.

Traditional Workout: VO2 Max Interval

These workouts are done to increase VO2 max or the ability to achieve and sustain high intensities, above anaerobic threshold. Traditionally, they last three to five minutes and are paced evenly using power (they are too short to get accurate heart-rate readings).

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