This article was written by QR Athlete Matt Hanson.
I know that many of you have mixed feelings about indoor training. Some cannot stand the monotony of grinding away for hours on end without moving anywhere, others can tolerate it, while still some of you might actually prefer to do the bulk of your training indoors. While I certainly prefer to do the bulk of my riding outdoors, I’ve never shied away from getting the work done the pain cave. I really believe that the indoor trainer can be a valuable tool that can help make you a better cyclist and a better athlete. I also believe that it can be used as a crutch at certain times as well - like the times we are in now.
One of the many benefits of the indoor trainer is the time efficiency. You throw on a pair of bibs and your shoes and you are ready to roll. You can get a 90 minute workout done in about 91 minutes. Definitely a win. You never have to interrupt intervals due to stop signs (yes you need to stop at stop signs!). You typically don’t have to worry about flats, dogs, rogue drivers, etc. All good things. You can also really take the time to focus on your pedal stroke mechanics since you don’t have to worry about other distractions. One metric that Coach Bottril and I have been focusing on as I have been recovering from the sacral stress fracture is L/R pedal balance. On many of my recovery style rides, we are incorporating drills where the focus for the interval isn’t on power but on “pulling back/scraping through the bottom of the pedal stroke on both sides try to add a little kick at the top - as if trying to roll a barrel.” Another component we add to most of the indoor rides I do is cadence work. I’ll do multiple intervals with different cadence instructions for each. Again, something you can very easily control on the indoor trainer.
As mentioned earlier, I believe the indoor trainer can be used as a crutch as well. Obviously, there are a number of skillsets to riding such as holding a line, cornering, etc. that cannot be learned while being held in place. Another component of the indoor trainer that I feel is very overused by many is ERG mode. The phrase, "Power is nothing without control,” is something that has been drilled in to me by my coaches and something I focus on with the athletes I work with as well. Using ERG mode from time to time is fine. There are some workouts where it is preferred. However, you need to develop the skill of learning to hold a steady power without relying on the erg to do it for you!
Here are two of my favorite indoor trainer workouts. One is more recovery/drill oriented and the other is definitely a tasty session!
3x6 mins @ 110% - 70 mins total:
20-25mins @L2 cadence 90-100
4x10 secs - maximal sprint w/ 3:50 easy riding between
3x6 mins@ 100-110% ftp- first 70-80 rpm, second 80-90rpm and third 90-100 rpms
4mins recovery between each with high cadence
10 mins easy spinning w/ high cadence
Cadence changes @ 68-72%
I hope this helps with your indoor training during these times. Stay healthy, friends!
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