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The Ultimate Guide to Indoor Bike Training: Maximise Your Workouts

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

One massive revelation over the past few years has been the development and uptake in indoor bike training... I spend at least 50% of my time training on an indoor bike. But is it sensible? What are the pro's and con's, and how can I make it easier for myself?

Before we get started, it's important to note that the easiest and best way to train indoors is to know what you're doing and why, and sticking to the right intensities... all of which I use my coach for!

Let's take a look:

The differences between indoor and outdoor cycling

Indoor and outdoor cycling both have their own unique set of benefits, but it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. In this post, we'll take a look at some of the key differences between indoor and outdoor cycling so that you can make an informed decision.

First, let's talk about indoor cycling. This type of cycling is done on a stationary bike, usually at a gym or fitness studio, or turbo trainer. One of the biggest advantages of indoor cycling is that it can be done year-round, regardless of the weather. This means you can still get your workout in even when it's freezing cold or pouring rain outside. Additionally, indoor cycling is often more controlled and structured than outdoor cycling. Many indoor cycling classes have set routines, and the resistance can be adjusted to match the difficulty level of the class or session.

Outdoor cycling, on the other hand, offers a completely different experience. One of the biggest benefits of outdoor cycling is that it allows you to explore the great outdoors get some fresh air and space from inside.

The terrain and weather can change rapidly, and you'll need to be prepared for it. You'll also need to be more aware of your surroundings, such as cars and other cyclists, which can help to improve your overall awareness and focus.

Indoor cycling is generally considered to be less intense than outdoor cycling, as the resistance is adjustable, you can take breaks or reduce the resistance when you are feeling tired. Also, the environment is much more controlled with no external factors like wind, rain or sun.

However, this isn't always the case... no coasting down hills and the opportunity to keep the resistance higher as you watch your numbers with more intent can sometimes mean that it's more intense.

When it comes to equipment, indoor cycling is generally less expensive than outdoor cycling. A stationary bike can be purchased for a relatively low cost, and you won't need to worry about maintenance or repairs. Outdoor cycling, on the other hand, requires a higher investment in terms of equipment. You'll need to purchase a bike, helmet, and other accessories, and you'll need to be prepared to spend money on maintenance and repairs.

How can i maximise my time on an indoor bike

There are several ways to maximize your time on an indoor bike:

  1. Set specific goals: Before you begin your workout, set specific goals for yourself. This could be a certain distance or time you want to cover, or a specific number of calories you want to burn. Having a clear goal in mind will help you stay motivated and focused during your workout.

  2. Use a variety of resistance levels: To keep your workout interesting and challenging, use a variety of resistance levels. This will help to target different muscle groups and increase the overall intensity of your workout.

  3. Incorporate interval training: Interval training is a great way to maximize your time on an indoor bike. This involves alternating periods of high-intensity exercise with periods of rest or low-intensity exercise. This type of training has been shown to be more effective than steady-state cardio in burning calories and improving fitness.

  4. Use a heart rate monitor: Using a heart rate monitor can help you to ensure that you're working out at the right intensity. It will also help you to monitor your progress over time and make adjustments to your workout as needed.

  5. Take advantage of technology: Many indoor bikes come with built-in computer screens or the ability to connect to apps that can track your workout and provide you with feedback on your performance. These can be a great way to keep track of your progress and stay motivated.

  6. Mix it up: try different styles of workout, like spin classes, virtual classes, and pre-recorded classes, to keep your workout interesting and challenging.

  7. Use your imagination: Cycling on an indoor bike can be monotonous, try to use your imagination to make the experience more interesting. Imagine yourself cycling through different terrains, like mountains, or even through different countries.

  8. Hydrate and eat well before and after your workout: Proper hydration and nutrition will help you to perform your best and recover quickly after your workout.

By implementing these tips, you can maximize your time on an indoor bike and make the most of your workout. Remember, consistency is key, so make sure to stick to a regular workout schedule and you will see results.

What kit and equipment do I need to comfortably cycle inside

In order to comfortably cycle inside, you will need the following equipment:

  1. A stationary bike: This can be a spin bike, recumbent bike, or upright bike, or turbo trainer.

  2. A bike mat: To protect your floor and reduce noise from the bike

  3. A fan: To keep you cool during your workout - (top tip - use a remote plug to turn it on and off)

  4. A towel: To wipe down sweat

  5. A water bottle holder: To keep hydrated during your workout

  6. A comfortable seat: To ensure you can cycle for longer period of time without discomfort

  7. Cycling shoes and cleats: To improve efficiency and control of your pedaling

  8. Heart rate monitor: To track your heart rate and monitor your progress

  9. A device such as a tablet or smartphone with a stand: To stream online classes or to watch movies or TV shows while cycling

Additionally, you may want to consider purchasing some additional equipment to enhance your indoor cycling experience. This can include items such as:

  1. Virtual training apps or a smart trainer: to connect your bike to virtual cycling software and get an interactive and more realistic cycling experience

  2. A mirror: to monitor your form and ensure you're cycling correctly

  3. A book or magazine rack: to keep your reading material close while cycling

  4. A music stand: to hold your music or tablet

It's worth noting that some of the equipment listed above may not be necessary for everyone. It depends on what you want to achieve from your indoor cycling, how much space you have available, and how much you're willing to spend. Remember to start with the basics and then add on as you see fit.

Where can I find good sessions to complete on a turbo trainer and give me an example of a threshold bike session

There are many sources for finding good sessions to complete on a turbo trainer, including:

  1. Virtual training platforms such as Zwift, TrainerRoad, and The Sufferfest which offer a wide range of structured workouts, virtual races and training plans.

  2. Online cycling communities such as Strava, where users share their own workout plans and training sessions.

  3. YouTube and other video streaming platforms where you can find cycling coaches and athletes who share their training sessions and tips. - Check out Entire or our the youtube channel - Josh lewis

  4. Cycling magazines and websites that often feature training plans and workout ideas.

Session Example: Threshold session

A threshold bike session is a high-intensity workout that is designed to improve your ability to sustain a high level of power output for an extended period of time. A typical threshold session might include the following:

  1. Warm-up: Start with a 10-15 minute easy ride to get your legs warmed up.

  2. Main set: 4-6 intervals of 8-12 minutes at threshold power (usually around 85-90% of your FTP) with 2-3 minutes of easy spinning in between each interval.

  3. Cool-down: Finish with a 10-15 minute easy ride to cool down and bring your heart rate back to normal.

  4. During the main set, you can use the virtual power meter or a power meter on the bike to measure your power output and ensure you're working at the correct intensity.

It's important to note that before starting a threshold session, you should have a good base of endurance and proper warm up, also, it's recommended to consult with a coach or a trainer to create a personalised plan that suits your fitness level and goals.

In conclusion, both indoor and outdoor cycling offer their own unique set of benefits. Indoor cycling is great for year-round fitness and structured workouts, while outdoor cycling allows you to explore the great outdoors and experience the beauty of nature. Ultimately, the choice between indoor and outdoor cycling will come down to your personal preferences and lifestyle. If you're looking for a controlled and structured workout, indoor cycling may be the way to go. But if you're looking for a more challenging workout and the opportunity to explore the great outdoors, outdoor cycling may be the better option for you.


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