Indoor Cycling Guide For Triathletes

As the winter season approaches, it is prudent to examine the advantages of an indoor trainer as a performance enhancer for endurance athletes, particularly triathletes.

It is important to note that, while doing indoor workouts has its advantages, there are a few things to consider since all of our competitions are held in an outdoor environment.

Taking a spin on horseback outdoors is distinctively different from riding a horse indoors. To begin with, there are multiple dangers and situations you must take into account.

Inside vs. Outside Riding

There is a contentious discussion happening concerning the merits of cycling on an indoor bike trainer compared to cycling outside. There are complex equations attempting to calculate the difference between a certain amount of time spent on an indoor bike trainer versus the same period spent riding on the street.

An hour of exercise on a bike-training device is equivalent to an hour and a half spent cycling outside. Thus, an hour spent on a bike trainer is equal to 60 minutes of outdoor cycling. This device is an excellent asset if used correctly, but it cannot be used while driving.

The Limits of Indoor Riding

Before building a list of the benefits of indoor riding, let’s first acknowledge some aspects you can’t effectively develop while bolted to the floor: The experience of using a bicycle outdoors is different from using one on a trainer, as you cannot simulate all the same interactions. It is not possible to learn how to balance, brake, turn corners, and go downhill without actually moving.

Triathletes frequently lack considerable fundamentals, so it is recommended that they invest a decent amount of time and effort into additional cycling practices focusing on key skills. It is not possible to learn the techniques required to effectively handle hills, going down, and going up on a stationary bicycle. Recent advances in software are almost there, however, you cannot truly gain an understanding or develop emotion without real-world experience. Leaving the saddle or getting off of the seat whilst riding is an important skill to learn for navigating terrain successfully, lessening physical stress, and mastering the steering abilities necessary to manoeuvring in curves and gusts of wind. It’s impossible to progress as a cyclist when you are riding on a stationary stand that stops the bicycle from moving from side to side.

Maximizing your Time on the Trainer

A lot of individuals become overly fixated on the amount of power output they generate during an indoor cycling session. Do you have anything else to consider, or not? Indoor trainers create an ideal atmosphere for refining techniques.

You should not only be aware of the amount of force you produce but also of how the force is being produced. Indoor workouts are less stressful because there is no need to consider wind, traffic, or variations in the landscape, making it the optimal moment to learn how.

Removing these three aforementioned variables allows us to replace them with three alternate variables, the ‘3 Ps’:

  1. Your upper body should stay flexible, at ease, and still. Force is generated from the hip area, and the lower leg should be kept relaxed. Having a mirror in your personalized workout space can provide you with visual feedback to help you stay on track.

  2. The cyclist should maintain constant tension while they push down on the pedals with each stroke. No bouncing of the chain should occur. We get the greatest velocity and strength in exchange for our energy. Being able to maintain good technique while tired is essential for success in triathlon cycling. Skill is not the most alluring standard, but you will be astonished at how it impacts your achievements.

  3. Power: Cycling inside allows for precise workouts. It’s easy to hone in on desired efforts. Take this to your advantage — work intensely when it is necessary and also relax appropriately. Biking indoors permits making the most of the “extremes of pedal revolutions,” going hard at really high or really low speeds. This type of training is discussed in detail below.

Instead of just staying on your exercise bike and pedalling, think of a different strategy. Engage in the activity with your head as well. Indoor riding has a lot to offer in terms of teaching skills that will come in handy when competing.

Sample Workouts

  1. Riding with high levels of torque at a rate of revolutions per minute lower than 65.

    1. Increases muscle recruitment

    2. Develops muscular resilience and power potential

  2. Riding with a low amount of force at a rate exceeding 110 revolutions per minute (RPM) for Neurological Conditioning.

    1. Improves pedal stroke efficiency

    2. Enhances the dialogue between the brain and muscle

Our practice of trainer-based intervals largely concentrates on either one of two sorts of training, aside from when we ride with a low level of stress.

Whenever you are riding indoors, always think about how the skills and knowledge you are acquiring can be applied in your outdoor riding. Remember that your competitions and events take place on an outdoor track, so make an effort to relate the lessons from your practice to how you can improve as an off-road competitor.

Making use of the instructor’s advantages, and settling on those patterns, exercises, and spaces in day-to-day life is the ideal outlook for evaluating the teacher’s job in your general improvement.

It is important to include a period of warming up and cooling down in your exercises if you have the time. These are two examples of main sets only:

Low RPM (Strength Endurance): 3 x 9 mins at a moderate-strong effort as:

2 mins at 65 RPM

2 mins at 55 RPM

1 min at 45RPM

2 mins at 55 RPM

2 mins at 65 RPM

(4 mins Recovery)

Practice deep, steady breathing while feeling the strain on your muscles. Make the most of your centre of gravity to remain balanced in the saddle.

Perform 6 intervals of 5 minutes of high RPM (Neurological Conditioning) at an intensity of Zone 1.

5 mins Z1 at 110 RPM

5 mins Z2 (‘recovery’) at choice RPM

You will likely find that your heart rate and rate of breathing are greater than normal, given the minimal energy output. Concentrate on your torso and avoid unnecessary movement in the saddle. These are just two illustrations of end-of-series workouts that present an opportunity to concentrate on an inactive top body, proper posture, and effective pedalling. This prescription sets up the most efficient course of action for maximizing the output of your training time. You will be prepared to apply the knowledge, techniques, and customs of riding to different situations. This guide will walk you through all of the necessary steps to begin indoor cycling. Once you’ve started, our best advice for indoor training will help you reach new heights.

Top Indoor Training Tips

1. Find the right training space

Your indoor training setup determines how enjoyable and effective your turbo sessions are.
Some people go all out, turning their garage into a ‘pain cave’ dedicated to hours of indoor cycling. If you’re only beginning, you don’t need to do an extreme amount. You should have a spot, best inside or at least covered, to assemble your bike and exercise trainer, plus a tiny rack or surface at the front.

Any area is suitable, but if you’d like it to be set up ready so it’s easy to jump on for a speedy exercise, it’s best to position it away from everyday activities. It is important to remember that the device is quite weighty and you are probably going to perspire a great deal, so a surface which can be easily wiped rather than a carpeted area is preferable. If you have a carpeted space, place a mat on it first to keep it from getting damaged. If you’re thinking of utilizing rollers rather than an exercise bike (we’ll explain later), you might want to set up close to something you can grab onto or a door frame, unless you are comfortable with starting on rollers. The other thing to consider is noise. Indoor trainers, particularly the more affordable versions, can be quite loud machines, and during your workout, you’ll be vigorously cycling while standing.

2. Choose your preferred type of trainer

There are a few different types of the indoor trainer. Usually, the options for cyclists are rollers, turbo trainers, smart trainers, or stationary bikes.

Turbo trainer

Your rear wheel stays on to ride cheaper turbo trainers.

Turbo trainers are the most common type available and come in a wide range of prices, from the most basic and economical to the most advanced and feature-filled models with every bell and whistle. All turbo trainers work with a bike. At the economical to average cost, the bicycle is connected to the trainer by sticking a skewer through the back axle, and the back wheel is placed up against a rolling cylinder which rotates as soon as you begin pedalling. A grippy racing tire can be worn down using this type of trainer, so it may be beneficial to use harder compounds of winter bike tires or buy a tire that has been made specifically for a trainer and attach it to an extra rear wheel. Unless you have a power meter installed on your bicycle, the most budget-friendly and feasible course to use data while doing training sessions on a regular turbo trainer is to work with your heart rate zones.

Smart trainer

You can obtain direct-drive smart trainers starting at the mid-range price level. The exercise device has a cassette connected to it; so you take out your back wheel and connect the chain to the cassette using the skewer that goes through the rear dropouts/thru-axle as well as the trainer. The benefit of this situation is you don’t need to concern yourself with your back wheel wearing down: you can instantly put your wheel back in when you’d like to take your bike out for a spin. Smart trainers typically make less noise and provide a sense of realism while cycling. You have the option to manually switch gears or use ERG mode, which maintains a specific power output. Trainers of sophistication can also spontaneously make the force stronger or weaker to imitate differences in incline or to give you a deeper and more participated exercise. It is best to use a heart rate monitor with a smart trainer when you want to focus on particular energy or pulse rate exercises.


The pins turn as you pedal, requiring you to maintain the bike’s stability. Rollers include two parabolic cylinders that can rotate freely while the bicycle is positioned on them. Once you begin to pedal, the cylinders turn to imitate the surface scrolling beneath your bike tyres.

The bike has no support other than the thrust that comes from pedalling, which makes the ride more natural. Having two sides to this can be beneficial and detrimental: increasing core strength and balance is fantastic, however, getting into it can be tricky. If you lack experience riding on rollers, it’s advisable to practice in the vicinity of something you can use for support. Rollers are convenient and easy to store, especially if you lack space in your residence.

Indoor bike

A smart bike requires a big budget and space.
 If you want to splurge on your setup, you can buy a high-tech smart bike that’s designed solely for indoor cycle training. These are not the usual exercise bicycles or spin classes you may find in the fitness centre, they generally offer the capacity to record your strength output, keep track of your pedalling cadence, and pulse rate, and even can automatically change resistance levels and a whole lot more.

An illustration of this is Wattbike, but further firms such as Stages, Wahoo and SRM have come into view.

3. Get the right indoor training accessories

As indicated in our guide explaining the top turbo trainer accessories, indoor cycling is rigorous and you are likely to sweat profusely. Make certain you have one or two containers of water within easy reach so you can take sips during your workout. With prolonged and hard exercise or competition on Zwift, you may have to consume energy food. Take into account having power bars, energy gels, and/or an energy beverage on hand. Once you have a water bottle sorted, having a fan is the next most important item. Without wind from the outdoors to provide a refreshing breeze, you may become uncomfortably hot while exerting yourself inside on a chilly day, leading to an undesirable and unsustainable increase in internal temperature. A fan assists the body in regulating its normal processes to stop excessive sweating and is, in our assessment, an essential tool for indoor cycling. You have the option to buy mats to put your trainer on, which has several advantages: it will maintain the balance and stop it from sliding on a slippery surface, and it will safeguard the floor from any water exposure. This can also decrease vibrations and sound, specifically if you have hardwood floors. Think about laying down an old towel beneath the bike and exercise apparatus if you don’t own a special mat for it. Have an extra towel on the handlebars to catch any drips and wipe away the sweat you worked so hard for on your face (and neck, and chest, and back…). You may purchase a protective sheet specifically designed to fit over your handlebars and top tube to prevent any unwanted drips from coming in contact with your bike’s paint.

4. Find a workout

You can use your bike for leisurely entertainment, but if you want to make the most out of it, a structured training session is recommended for a productive and specific workout. We’ve prepared recommendations for the ultimate one-hour spin bike workouts as well as High-Intensity Interval Training routines. Even though there are advantages to exercising on an indoor bike, the experience can be tiresome, especially if going through an intense workout. Conveniently, there are various solutions you can attempt to make the matter more enjoyable. Virtual cycling apps like Zwift reach maximum effectiveness here, as mentioned before. A user-friendly training program can offer the encouragement and structure required for a successful outcome. You can choose to ride at your leisure around the virtual worlds provided by Zwift, or you can opt for pre-programmed interval workouts and tailored training plans. Zwift is on the rise in the world of professional athletes, which means you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a renowned cyclist as they whizz past.

5. Do a fitness test, then repeat

We won’t deceive you, this is going to be painful. A standard fitness evaluation can be quite advantageous in understanding what your own energy or heart rate levels are, so you are aware of what objectives you should set while exercising. You can use it as a way to evaluate your physical condition in comparison to prior experience and then fine-tune your standard exercise schedule to get the maximum benefit from your riding. Fortunately, it is not essential to keep your pedal to the metal for a full hour to calculate your FTP. Virtual training applications provide a selection of brief assessments. You can quickly set your starting point by doing an FTP assessment on Zwift.


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