Ten tips for productive indoor training

Recently we’ve been talking a lot about winter training on here. That’s because the nights are drawing in, the days are getting colder and you’re thinking about dusting off the turbo. Training on the turbo can be a great way to give your fitness an extra boost. Unfortunately it can also lead to burnout as let’s face it – the turbo isn’t fun and it is hard work. Check out these tips to help you stay productive on the turbo trainer this winter.

Virtual training software

Virtual training platforms have really taken off in the last few years. Apps like Rouvy are very realistic and other apps are more ‘gameified’ like Zwift. Whichever app you decide to use the added enjoyment of being in a virtual world will help you stay motivated. This means you’re more likely to hop on the turbo in the early mornings and dark evenings. Many of them also provide analytics which can be helpful in spotting your own weaknesses. This will help you target your training in weaker areas and become a more well-rounded athlete.

Ten tips for productive indoor training

Smart trainer

This item is not vital but it will help. Having a smart trainer work in tandem with one of the training apps will allow you to feel the undulations of the ones and zeros of the virtual road in front of you. Anything that makes the turbo more fun will have you on it more! On top of this, erg mode means you will be riding your intervals at the exact power prescribed. Doing your hard sessions at the correct intensity ensures you’ll make the intended adaptations and helps avoid over or under training.

Temperature control

We know that training in the heat can make you faster, but training in an environment where you can decide the climate you train in will also improve productivity. It also means you can match your training environment to your racing environment as specificity is an important principle of training. Having your indoor set up in a space that you can tightly control the climate can help you be more productive on the turbo!

Nutrition

Known as the fourth discipline of Ironman, triathlon nutrition is vital for productive training sessions. Making sure to consume enough carbohydrates during your training will mean that you can train harder and recover faster. Aim for 80-90 grams of carbohydrate per hour for harder training sessions. Training indoors means you have no constraints on the amount of nutrition you can carry making it easier to control.

Hydration

Indoor training is synonymous with heat and heat means sweat. Consuming a high sodium product that matches your sweat sodium concentration and sweat rate will help you avoid those dehydration cramps and headaches as well as improving recovery. Hydrating and keeping on top of your nutrition can help you avoid injury and stay consistent.

Don’t race all the time, race sometimes

Zwift races are very fun. They’re also usually quite hard. I know people who never race on Zwift and others who race almost every day. There’s a middle ground – doing one race a week on Zwift is a great way to get some unstructured intensity in place of the local weeknight chain-gang, avoiding the monotony of intervals. Make sure to allow for sufficient recovery between hard races.

Test, train and re-test

Indoor training allows tight control of the intensity we ride at which cannot be matched outside. This means we can test our fitness levels using a ramp test or some other protocol. Many options are available cross-platform, and they all have their own merits and pitfalls which could make an article in its own right. Personally, I like to test, complete an eight-week training cycle, then re-test. Any shorter and it’s difficult to be sure adaptations have been made – any longer and I start to lose focus.

Embrace the pain

Indoor training can be a bit miserable. My worst session was a 3 hour 45 minute ride with two lots of one hour at 90% of FTP. This makes racing feel a lot easier though! Embrace the misery and race hard knowing you’ve felt worse on the turbo. Mental training is as important as physical training and nothing teaches you to suffer quite like the turbo.

Meet your friends

The internet has many merits and pitfalls but the ability to communicate with people we like remotely is wonderful. Meeting up with your pals for a group ride or group training session is a great way to stay accountable and ensure you are consistent. Having a bit of peer pressure to make sure you’re not shirking the hard work can make sure you get the most out of yourself every time you jump on Zwift.

Recover hard

Training indoors is extremely time-efficient, especially in winter. There’s less kit to wash and a lower probability of a mechanical. A two hour ride takes roughly two hours and fifteen minutes of your life instead of the three an outdoor ride takes. Don’t use this extra time to train more, instead use it to focus on recovery by having a post session meal high in protein and carbohydrate within thirty minutes of finishing. You can also use some of the extra time for strength training or yoga.

Indoor training is a great way to give your fitness a nudge this winter. By following these tips you can stay productive during your winter on the turbo! Given that you’ll be training in your house you might be interested in specialist home insurance for cyclists.