Bicycle trainer workouts are an important tool for cyclists, particularly in the cold winter months, because it can be so tempting to let the weather be an excuse to keep you from working hard. If you wake up on a chilly, icy Saturday morning, you don’t really want to get out on your bike, and going to the gym sounds like a hassle too. If you have a trainer in the garage or the basement, you’re out of excuses.
“However, a lot of typical bicycle trainer workouts just consist of hopping on the trainer, throwing a movie into the player, and just go until your legs are about to fall off.”
It’s true that riding on a trainer is tougher than riding outside, because the roads don’t give you as much resistance as a trainer. It’s true that you don’t hit those killer hills you’ll find outside, but the resistance is indeed harder. Instead of just riding as long as you can, though, you can build your strength more efficiently.
Choosing workouts that are short but difficult in terms of effort helps you solidify your aerobic energy system while spending fewer hours on the bike. Try one of these workouts two times a week, and select another to give yourself a third tough day. Give yourself a day of cross-training, rest, or an easier ride between the sessions. No matter which workout you choose, begin with 10 to 15 minutes of easy spinning, and wrap things up with a cooldown that lasts 10 minutes.
The purpose of this type of workout is to boost speed and power and assist you with recovery from other hard workouts.
Begin with four intervals of one minute each of fast pedaling. Keep the cadence as high as possible, and stay in an easy gear. Bring your effort to 5 out of 10. Give yourself a two-minute rest between intervals. Then, pedal easy for five minutes. Then, alternate between 30 seconds of 95 percent effort with 30 seconds of easy riding for 12 intervals.
This sort of workout helps you answer attacks when you are on hills. Create a simulated hill by lifting the front wheel of your bike. Ride for 10 minutes at a reasonable pace that you can maintain for an hour, or at about 80 percent of effort. Every two minutes, give 15 pedal strokes at almost 100 percent effort. Then ride easy for 10 minutes. Repeat the cycle three times.
This type of workout mimics the work of racing. Pedal at 80 percent effort for four minutes, and then take it up to 90 percent for three minutes. Finish with a minute of total effort. Spin easy for five minutes, and then go in reverse for the previous workout. Ride easy for 10 minutes, and go through the sequence again.
If you replace your endurance test trainer workouts with some more dedicated effort using these workouts, you will see results in a matter of weeks. Even better, when the spring comes and you’re not having to spend all your cycling time on a trainer, you won’t hit that wall that often strikes those who spent the winter just watching TV while they were “training.”