Winter has kicked in. It's cold and raining outside but you want to go cycling. You need some exercise. So what do you do?
Winter weather and shorter days can make it tough for athletes to maintain their fitness levels, but that doesn't mean you should give up on your goals. Indoor training is a fantastic way to stay fit over the winter months, but it requires a different mindset compared to outdoor riding.
In this blog post, we'll share eight tips for maximizing your indoor fitness training so that your mind and body are ready for the cycling season ahead.
The winter months can be unpredictable, with weather conditions and light levels changing regularly. Add in kids & family, busy work schedules, and the attraction of a cosy, heated home to the mix and it's often hard to find the time to exercise. But to maintain your fitness levels, you should try to be consistent with your training.
Consistency is the key as it helps to sustain steady progress, develop aerobic and anaerobic energy systems, maintain muscle memory and create positive habits. If outdoor conditions are making cycling difficult, it's best to move indoors for your training. It's important to create a routine that you can commit to, whether that means training at the same time each day or setting aside specific days.
Create a plan… and then stick to it.
Structured indoor workouts can help you maintain your fitness levels over the winter months, and improve your performance when you're back on the road in the spring.
It's hard to beat the pure pleasure of riding outdoors in the summer but winter training gives you more time to focus on your own fitness, so make the most of it. Advance planning will ultimately make everything easier.
First you need to assess your current fitness levels, then you can either work with a coach, create your own plan or use one of the many online plans like Strava's that best suit your specific goals. Short, high-intensity sessions are a great way to get a quick, effective workout when the days are short and you don't have a lot of time.
Can you train without technology? Yes you can, but it's much harder and technology has now made it both fun and easy. The technology has radically changed in the last 15 years and the days of having to stare at a wall in boredom while you exercise are thankfully over. Getting an indoor trainer (or ideally a smart trainer) is an important step towards maximising your training and will open up a whole new world of possibilities.
Other important tech aids are indoor cycling apps that can provide immersive worlds and training support to boost your experience, fitness trackers to provide invaluable data for your activities, and nutrition and weather apps which can deliver support data for your training schedule.
Indoor training can often feel isolating, which in turn can be demotivating. But technology can help you stay connected to other communities, both local and global, and spur you on.
Create a dedicated training space
Constantly assembling and disassembling your bike can be a real hassle, so setting up a dedicated space in a spare room or garage can really save time and help you stay focused and motivated. Your 'Pain Cave' should be as comfortable and effective as possible so surround yourself with all the essentials you might need, such as:
Ventilation - a fan or open window
A monitor for your cycling app or entertainment
The more you make your personal mark on the space, the more you'll want to spend time there.
Diversify your training
If your indoor training begins to feel monotonous, it's important to mix up your workout routines to keep things interesting. Try different types of workouts, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), endurance rides, or hill climbs.
This is where cycling apps really play a role in making the whole training experience more exciting. They make the most of new technologies to transport you outside of your four walls for a next-level sensory experience. Some apps use gamification to keep you motivated while others like ROUVY focus on realism and variety for more authentic riding. Most apps offer free trials so try them out and choose the one that works best for you.
Also remember to participate in other activities so you use other muscles and get a change of scenery. Swimming, weights and yoga are great, but any sport always has a positive impact.
After sweating through a hard training programme, recovery is just as essential as the workout itself and often forgotten about. Make sure to prioritize recovery by incorporating restorative activity like stretching and massage into your routine. Foam rolling exercises are an exceptionally effective way of reducing muscle soreness, improving flexibility, and increasing blood flow, with different routines designed to help different muscle groups.
Take rest days when needed and remember that a rest day means exactly that: zero exercise. Resist the urge for even gentle exercise and give your body the chance to recover naturally.
If your fitness levels dip during the winter season, proper recovery is more important than ever to keep your muscles healthy and reduce the risk of injury.
Look after your mental health
Indoor training can be physically challenging but also mentally. It's important to recognize the holistic importance that both have on your overall well-being. The endorphins created by our bodies with training can improve our mood and lower stress levels, but there is no denying that our mood changes in the winter and we start to yearn for the positive effects of summer days. Try to compensate in other ways. Lighting and ventilation can help and our senses can be stimulated with music or video. Activities like yoga and meditation can have major positive effects and, if the weather does allow it, get outside occasionally.
If you miss travelling, cycling apps can provide a good substitute and allow you to go on a cycling holiday from your own home. Explore Monument Valley in Utah, climb the Alps or head down to the beachfront in Brazil. Sounds tempting? The options are endless thanks to ROUVY which has hundreds of routes around the world to help beat those winter blues.
And don't forget that you are not alone. Stay in touch with your friends and community and use that camaraderie to inspire and motivate each other.
Goals can help keep you motivated and focussed. What those goals are will vary from person to person and are entirely up to you. But aim to set achievable goals and tick them off one by one to keep you motivated and maintain a positive mindset.
Power Output Improvement: Increase average power output over a set duration (e.g. 20 mins.) by a specific percentage to up your cycling performance and endurance.
Endurance Building: Extend your longest continuous ride duration on an indoor trainer to improve cardiovascular fitness and mental toughness.
Interval Mastery: Complete a specific number of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions per week, gradually increasing the intensity or duration to improve both aerobic and anaerobic capacity.
Try to avoid unrealistic goals as this can have a negative impact if they are not attainable. Instead, be sure to take the time to celebrate the small victories and enjoy the real progress you are making.
Indoor training can be tough but it's easier than ever to make it rewarding. With these 8 solid tips, you'll be able to maximize your indoor fitness training and stay cycling fit over the winter. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, following these tips will help keep you motivated, healthy, and ready for the new cycling season ahead. What's more, do it right and it'll give you a big advantage over cyclists who have let their levels drop during the winter.
So, set up an indoor training space, diversify your workouts, stick to your plan and most importantly, keep going!
Join the ROUVY Strava Club where you can find lots more useful tips and be part of our super-friendly cycling community.