Phil Welch is a well known masters athlete in Australia, with great results across events as far reaching as stage races in Poland, solo 24hr races, and the Crocodile Trophy. A recent broken wrist hasn’t really slowed him down – here’s Phil’s take on how to get the most out of training indoors, due to weather, injury or specific goals.
One of the main appeals of riding a bike is to become one with nature and to enjoy the wonders of the great outdoors. In Australia, we have vast tracts of natural beauty and a warm climate, which is conducive to fully exploring the spectacular landscape that encompasses us.
To many cyclists, indoor training is akin to running around in circles in a prison cell. Consequently, for many cyclists their first taste of indoor cycling is out of necessity, due to injury or inclement weather.
However, it is actually extremely beneficial to choose to ride indoors, making it possible to maximise training benefits while minimising training time.
It should come as no surprise that pro-cyclists incorporate indoor training into their training routines, where 60 minutes on the trainer is the equivalent of 90 minutes on the road. Without the distractions of traffic, red lights, hills, wind, or even animals, a controlled environment allows full focus and the ability to concentrate on specific areas of technique or fitness. This specificity allows training programmes to be tailored to individual needs which can combine power, heart rate, cadence, speed and strength. Rollers and magnetic trainers are relatively cheap and so a home trainer set-up is easily achievable.
Indoor Training Options
Nowadays, there are a plethora of indoor training options which can’t fail to convince even the most ardent of outdoor cycling enthusiasts of the benefits of training indoors. It is important that indoor training does not consist of long sessions or just intervals, rather that training is progressive and specific to an individual and this will reap the greatest rewards.
An initial fitness test will determine each rider’s power zones and, unlike a spin class, subsequent training is carried out specifically in those zones ensuring all workouts are specific to an individual’s fitness level and needs. Training, while out of the comfort of your own home places you in the right head space, while a coach cracking the whip means time passes quickly and motivation is provided by all the other class participants.
Developed by top cycle coaches, the Sufferfest videos are entertaining and professional training workouts ranging from high-intensity short intervals to longer, threshold workouts. The 20 videos cover all aspects of riding from endurance, speed and climbing, time-trialling and racing, fitness testing and technique and style. Intensity and gearing is controlled by following the programmes instructions in regard to cadence and perceived effort. The videos cost between US$5.99-$14.99 or purchase all 20 videos for $199.
After undergoing an FTP (Functional Threshold Power) or LTHR (Lactate Threshold Heart Rate) Test, the user is presented with a mind-boggling selection of training programmes covering all aspects of fitness, with varying durations, intensities and intervals. Once again the TrainerRoad software is user friendly and offers annual training plans which consist of three cumulative training phases, Base, Build and Specialty, to allow your body to gradually build lasting fitness and to make sure that you are progressing appropriately. At A$10 a month or $99 a year TrainerRoad is great value for money.
TrainerRoad also utilises the Sufferfest videos and combining the two means that a rider can be under no illusions as to what the required intensity level is, with either an individual’s power or heart rate threshold determining effort.
With so many companies now competing for the indoor cyclists’ attention, the training facilities, the equipment and the software is continually pushing the boundaries of quality. Workouts based on a specific fitness area or on an individual’s weaknesses are easily achievable although this is often impossible when we are on the road or dirt concentrating on all the other stimuli around us. Therefore, blending outdoor workouts with entertaining, informative and time-effective indoor training sessions is guaranteed to benefit your overall training protocol.