3 Killer (But Fun) Indoor Trainer Workouts
There’s no excuse for not riding your bike because it’s either too hot or too cold outside. So head indoors. It doesn’t have to be dull – and it can put you on the fast track to fitness.
Chances are your typical indoor ride goes like this: Hop on the trainer, get Tour de France highlights on YouTube, pedal as long as you can stand it. But spending hours on the trainer can be overkill. Indoor workouts ‘are harder than riding outside because you’re fighting the resistance of the trainer,’ says coach Andy Applegate of Carmichael Training Systems. That’s why he recommends short, hard efforts. ‘You’ll build your aerobic energy system – in less time,’ he says. Applegate suggests doing one of the workouts below twice a week; choose another for a third, hard day. After three weeks, try one of the more challenging variations. Allow one day of rest, cross-training, or easy riding between sessions.
Spin easy for 10 to 15 minutes before each workout. Finish the session with a 10-minute cooldown.
Speed intervals improve power and speed and help you recover from repeated hard efforts. Do four 1-minute fast-pedal intervals: Use an easy gear and as high a cadence as possible. Keep your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) low – 5 out of 10. Recover for 2 minutes between efforts. Pedal 5 minutes easy. Do 10 to 12 intervals of 30 seconds on/30 seconds off. The ‘on’ portions are 95% effort (RPE 9 to 9.5) at as high a cadence as possible. Stand or sit as needed. For the ‘off’ parts, spin easy.
Make it harder: Add one on/off interval, up to 20 total.
Climbing bursts help you respond to attacks on hills. Simulate a hill by raising the bike’s front wheel. Ride 10 minutes at a pace you can hold for an hour (90 to 100% of threshold power or heart rate; RPE 8). Once every two minutes, stand and attack for 12 to 15 pedal strokes – a near all-out effort. Spin easy for 10 minutes. Repeat (do three fast efforts total).
Make it harder: Try 2 x 15 minutes (10 minutes recovery), then 3 x 12 (six minutes recovery), then 2 x 20 (10 minutes recovery).
Ladder Intervals simulate the demands of racing. Pedal for 4 minutes at RPE 8 (90 to 100% of threshold power), then 3 minutes at RPE 9 (100 to 110% of threshold), then 1 minute all-out (115% of threshold). Spin easy for 5 minutes. Pedal 1 minute all-out, then 3 minutes at RPE 9, then 4 minutes at RPE 8. Spin easy for 10 minutes. Repeat the sequence.
Make it harder: Add 30 seconds to each rung of the ladder, then a minute.