Read time: 4min.
By Coach Yan Busset
As an endurance coach living in Finland, and having owned one of the coolest indoor bike studios ever (The Triathlon Corner in Helsinki), I like to think I know a thing or two about indoor cycling training. Let me share some tips to optimize your indoor bike training, even if you're not as lucky as us, living in the amazing Finnish winter wonderland. Indoor training can be a great way to keep up with training, as it’s time-efficient to hop on and off the bike. In the era of road rage we live in, it’s also a safer way to work out.
The Triathlon Corner Helsinki Bike Studio aka "The Pain Zone"
Head Position, Clear Vision: Raise your head out of the optimum position. Don’t keep your head down to check your iPad or phone all the time, as it will be painful for your neck and shoulder muscles to readapt to that position when going back outdoors. So, raise up your screen position so you can adopt indoors a realistic, road-like head position.
No Erg Mode: If you're not racing online, don’t overuse the erg mode. It will kill your skill of feeling the pace. You’ll become a 'zombie rider' unable to pace yourself without a tracking device. It's important to learn what different zones feel like.
No Racing All the Time (Dangers of training apps): The very cool thing with indoor training apps ( Like Zwift, Mywoosh, Rouvy…), is that you can race with others. The not so cool things is that you race with others… It same if you are taking spinning sessions, is that you often end up pushing yourself to the limit too often. While it's tempting to give athletes their 'fix' of feeling drained and exhausted, what you want isn’t always what you need. Pushing too hard too often means you’ll never push hard enough. You’ll plateau and miss out on the great value of base endurance Z2 training.
Easy Setup: If it takes more than 5 minutes to set up all your devices and bike, you're losing precious training time. Your time is precious; you want to spend quality time with your family or friends and continue this great hobby. Start optimizing your training station so it’s hassle-free to hop on and off the bike. A small pre-ride checklist can ensure you don’t forget anything before starting. As it suck to have to stop you workout middle way and walk around with your bike shoes because you forgot something that is out of reach. I made for you a short PDF checklist, so you won’t have to interrupt your workout again:
Testing Position: The indoor training period is a great time to test and fine-tune your bike position. Remember that the most aerodynamic position is not the most extreme one, but the one you can hold for the entire race with ease. So, indoor training is the perfect way to get used to any changes you or your coach find optimal.
Temperature Affects Power Output: Depending on where your indoor training rig is located, the temperature can vary greatly. This difference in temperature can drastically change the power you can sustain over training. Remember, when producing energy, the biggest loss of it is dissipated in excess heat. So don’t be surprised if you can’t nail the same targets outdoors in warmer seasons, as you might have been training in a very cool room. Same thing other way round, if you are training figuratively ( or literally as we are in Finland) in a sauna.
Indoor Zones are Not Outdoor Zones: Your power zones will vary when you train indoors versus outdoors. Depending on your setup and the trainer you use, some may not realistically simulate road conditions, especially inertia. Also, power gauges can be tricked by the fact that the bike is stationary. Often, real-life road power values can be greater than indoor ones. It's best to test yourself for the way you train: do indoor tests and use zones based on that, and perform outdoor tests when training outside. This will make your training numbers more accurate and relevant.
Sweat Rate: When training indoors, you will sweat more than outdoors. Performing a sweat rate test could be beneficial. Weigh yourself before and after a ride (minimum one hour, the longer the more accurate). Take into consideration what you drank, to add it to the calculation. Divide by the time of the ride, and you will get your sweat rate per hour. This will give you a good estimate of your fluid needs to restore it, helping your workout performance and post-workout recovery.
Happiness tears or sweat? pics: Jaakko Kangas
Protect Your Precious: Talking about sweat: it’s the enemy of your bike. Having run a bike studio/bike workshop, I’ve seen the crazy damage caused by sweat that corroded bolts and ate into the carbon epoxy resin, often unnoticed, causing very dangerous weaknesses. This can lead to bolt, handlebar, and seat post failure. So protect your bike with towels, use protective spray ( like the Mud-off sweat protect), don’t let your wet towel dry on your bike, and clean it after each ride! Best if you use one towel for your bike and one for you. You'll greatly extend the lifespan of the parts, save money, and avoid dangerous bike crashes due to corrosion.
That what happends if you don't protect your bike. Pics: Muc-Off, @kuntotupla
Especially for Triathletes: Use each of these indoor rides as an opportunity to work on your mount and dismount skills. By simply leaving your bike shoes on your bike, each workout will train you on how to put on and take off your bike shoes while on the bike. It will make it second nature and easier to do it afterward IRL .
Nothing replace the joy of riding outdoor but indoor training offers a unique and effective way to enhance your cycling performance, especially during the challenging winters. use this tips to make your training at home more enjoyable and efficient. Happy cycling!
Looking for More Tips?
Check out some of my past articles that are in connection with this article:
Thank you for reading and see you next week!
Whenever you’re ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:
1. If you are in the Helsinki area and looking for the best training group check here
2. If you are looking for an online coaching service check here.
3. If you are looking for support for your triathlon journey, I recommend you book a 30min 1on1 video consultation with me here.
Join our newsletter subscribers and
get actionable training tips every week