The explosion of interest in indoor cycling in the last decade, fueled by rapid technological advancements, has meant that cyclists are now able to more easily conquer two of their worst enemies: weather and time. Today, it offers a powerful training alternative that can complement or even replace outdoor cycling. It's easy to start - all you need is an indoor trainer, a good cycling app like ROUVY, and a willingness to put in the work.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore seven strategies and techniques to help you maximize the benefits of your indoor trainer, turning each session into a highly rewarding and effective experience.
Are you cycling for pleasure or a purpose? When you do it right, indoor cycling can deliver both.
Choosing the Right Indoor Trainer
There are many options out there that might seem a little daunting for the newbie, so take your time and do some research before making a purchase. Ask someone with first-hand experience or check out online forums which offer great advice.
Look into the various types available, from classic wheel-on trainers to modern smart trainers. It's important to understand their features and then choose the one that aligns with your own goals, preferences, and budget.
Creating the perfect set-up
Having a dedicated and comfortable indoor cycling space plays a significant role in enjoying your sessions. Factors to consider for your 'Pain Cave' include optimizing your bike's positioning, setting up fans for airflow, and investing in a quality mat to reduce noise and vibrations. A well-thought-out set-up contributes significantly to the overall enjoyment of your indoor training.
Apps make it happen
Once your trainer is set up, a crucial addition is choosing the app that you want to use to take your experience to the next level.
This is where having a Smart trainer (as opposed to a non-smart or 'classic' trainer) makes a huge difference. Smart trainers can 'talk' to the app, allowing them to detect your power or cadence output and create corresponding resistance on gradients for a more authentic ride.
Smart trainers are more expensive but the bang you get for the additional bucks is really worth it.
Apps provide immersive riding environments that keep you engaged, motivated and entertained. Importantly, they also allow you to track your progress and provide valuable data on your activities.
There are several apps available, so again, do some homework and find the one that feels right for you. Most apps have a free trial period to check out all the features.
The most popular app is Zwift, which provides a computer-generated environment for riders with gamified incentives and a strong interactive community.
The second most popular app is ROUVY, which focuses on realism. ROUVY routes are recorded on high-quality video on actual routes around the world and enhanced with Augmented Reality features to create an authentic riding experience and also connect it with your outdoor activities using Strava Live Segments.
RELATED: ROUVY's Top 10 Bucket List Cycling Routes… and How You Can Ride Them From Home
Other apps include TrainerRoad, Fulgaz and BKool.
Once your trainer is set up, it's easy to switch between apps and, like TV streaming channels, riders often have more than one at a time.
Training Plans and workouts
If you want to get fit in the most effective way possible, then training plans are the way to go. Indoor trainers are ideal for workouts and training plans as the controlled environment and fingertip access to data enables you to stay focused and assess your progress on the way.
You can hire a personal trainer or most apps provide off-the-shelf plans devised by experts to help you. ROUVY has plans created by world-class pros like Andy Schleck, José Hermida and the Lidl-Trek cycling team - they are not as demanding as the plans used by the pros themselves, but they follow the same principles and are crafted from years of experience.
Alternatively, you can create your own to meet your specific needs.
You can tailor your workouts to align with your cycling goals, whether it's improving endurance, building strength, or preparing for a specific event in the future. Choose a structured training plan to optimize your time on the indoor trainer and understand the importance of balancing interval training, endurance rides, and recovery sessions.
How to stay motivated
Consistency is king, but staying motivated is crucial for pushing you to train consistently. Away from the stimulus of the outdoors, indoor cycling can become repetitive after a while, but thankfully, apps offer multiple strategies to keep your spirits up and your mind focused.
Visually, your eyes will be spending a lot of time on the screen in front of you, so try to get one as big and clear as possible. Zwift provides stimulating 3D graphics, while ROUVY focuses on the scenery of the world around you with realistic landscapes. If that's not enough, you can always set up an additional screen and watch a film or TV.
Music can also be a great motivator so be sure to have your cycling playlist on hand to listen to on speakers or headphones (don't forget to be considerate of other members of the household).
It's important to mix up your activities to keep it fresh. ROUVY has over 1300 real routes recorded around the world. With options that include Alpine mountains, city centers, and rolling countryside, you'll always be able to find a new route and never get bored. It's a great way to explore the world and travel to different places, no matter the weather outside.
Most cyclists use trainers during the winter months to maintain or improve fitness so set yourself some achievable but challenging goals so you'll have something to aim for and will be able to hit the outdoor season without missing a beat.
Consider participating in some of ROUVY’s online races to see how you fare against others or plan your own indoor cycling tour. You can challenge yourself to beat your personal best, ride longer distances, or increase your power and endurance.
Riding solo or with others
The choice is yours. Some people prefer riding with a community, others prefer the company of their own thoughts and focus on the road ahead. Both options are always available on apps depending on how you feel. Engaging in virtual group rides adds a fun and sociable element to your indoor training routine. If you have a competitive streak, there are races and leaderboards to let you push yourself to constantly improve.
Whatever your preference, cycling apps allow you to instantly connect with friends or a global community that you can join to get encouragement from fellow indoor cyclists or tips and advice.
Tracking your progress
To maintain regular training, develop a routine that fits your own personal schedule and lifestyle. The beauty of having an indoor trainer means you can jump on your bike for a 3 km sprint or a 300 km adventure. Getting in the habit of tracking your progress, whether through performance metrics, personal records, or virtual achievements, adds a sense of accomplishment and motivates you to keep pushing your limits.
Knowing your FTP provides an important benchmark to see how your fitness is progressing. It's also simple to monitor your PB on a favorite route that you ride regularly, so you can see if your hard work is paying off.
ROUVY also allows you to connect your outdoor activities with indoor, so you can sync TrainingPeaks, Garmin and other apps with your ROUVY account. You can also sync with Strava and Strava Live Segments allows riders to compete against their Personal Best (PR) efforts ridden previously on a route with segments using ROUVY or to compete with the King or Queen of the Mountain.
This crossover between indoor and outdoor riding is an exciting one and having the data instantly available to you throughout the year across multiple platforms really allows you to track your progress effectively.
Triathletes, competitive riders and Pro cyclists can also benefit from using an indoor trainer. ROUVY's new partnership with UCI WorldTeam Lidl-Trek enables their riders to train on routes ahead of upcoming races so they can get a genuine feel for the course. In the fine margins at the top echelons of the sport, it's the kind of edge that could give a crucial advantage.
Mastering your indoor trainer is about more than just putting in the miles. It's about creating an environment that fosters progress, enjoyment, and personal growth. By implementing the tips and strategies outlined in this guide, you'll not only maximize the benefits of your indoor trainer but also transform each session into a fulfilling and empowering experience.
With modern indoor cycling apps, staying fit and healthy doesn't have to be a chore. Thanks to rapidly evolving technology, bad weather or lack of time is no longer an excuse.
The road ahead is wide open for you.