Three Golden Rules For Indoor Riding May 30, 2019 13:14 Updated Not a Member yet? $25/month Get Purple Patch Education Membership, A complete performance education program for coaches and athletes. SUBSCRIBE You need to sign in to view this page. Optimizing Your Time on a Trainer In triathlon and riding circles, there is an ongoing debate about the value of riding on an indoor bike trainer versus riding outside. I have seen elaborate equations trying to equate a set time on a trainer, and its relative duration on a road. For example, quite often I hear: "60 minutes on a bike trainer is like 90 minutes on the road." As much as I appreciate that sentiment, I don't think in those terms. An hour on the trainer is an hour on the trainer. It is a tool, and a wonderful tool if used properly, but it is not riding on the road. Below we investigate a trainer's role in performance preparation, including some positive aspects of indoor riding and aspects of riding you simply cannot effectively practice by being inside. What You Cannot Achieve on a Trainer Rather than building a list of all the benefits of indoor riding, let's first acknowledge some aspects you can't effectively develop while bolted to the floor: Handling Skills: Interactions with the bicycle are not replicated while on a trainer. You cannot develop a sense of balance, braking, cornering, descending etc while you are stationary. These interactions are often lacking among triathletes, so we must realize that plenty of outside riding, with a focus on these fundamental skills, will be beneficial for you. Terrain Management: Using gears and pedal stroke to effectively manage rolling terrain, descents, and climbs cannot be developed by a trainer. With some of the software improvements, it is getting closer, but the true intuition and development of feeling are only achieved outside. Standing Out Of The Saddle: An important skill to develop to effectively manage terrain, short postural load, and also the counter-steering effect that is necessary in cornering, riding in the wind and other interactions, yet impossible to develop when riding on a trainer that holds the bike in place laterally. The Benefits of a Bike Trainer So you cannot work on standing or cornering, your terrain management, or standing out of the saddle. Still, that does not mean a trainer is a limited tool. In fact, far from it. Your trainer is a wonderful tool in your training arsenal. Here are some of the opportunities created by riding the trainer: Training In A Controlled Environment: Specific interval training becomes highly effective without the variability of outdoor terrain. There is no coasting on a trainer, which is why many like to make the claim that 60 minutes of trainer time is worth more than 60 minutes outside. On a trainer, you have a controlled environment where you can nail specific intervals without any coasting effect. Pedal Stroke & Posture: Without the requirement of managing your bike in traffic or variable terrain, the trainer provides the optimal environment to work on your pedal stroke and proper posture. Including a mirror in your set up for self-guided feedback can reinforce you do things well. This means form over force. This is so critical, as performance in triathlon cycling is all about retaining form under fatigue, and establishing a great habit of riding well, despite fatigue. Specificity of Intervals: We tend to prescribe training as a combination of effort (power) with a wide range of specific RPM play. A backbone of our training is what we label as 'end of range'. Many intervals are either very low cadence (strength-endurance as we call it) or very high RPM work at the top end of the range. While it can be a challenge to ride to suitable terrain outside, the trainer offers immediate and controllable intervals in which you can mimic sustained efforts to train physiology, without the limiter of terrain. Time-Efficient Training: We work with plenty of time-crunched athletes, who have limited opportunity to get outside and ride during the week. An indoor bike trainer eliminates the challenge of quality riding in a time efficient manner and allows you to avoid nasty weather days. The Three Golden Rules When adopting the use of a cycling trainer, we have a few golden rules for all riders to follow. Always Ride With Great Posture: There is no excuse for riding with locked elbows, tense shoulders, or hips rotated back on your seat. Ride like the rider you want to be. If you ingrain the correct postural habits, they will be there on the race course. Make Your Pedal Stroke Fluid: When riding inside, you have the chance to understand, appreciate and apply fluid and smooth pedaling. If you are a quad-focused rider, you can feel and "see" the chain bouncing. Execute The Intent: You have a controlled environment, so execute your training as intended. For me, this is the intended output, but also at the cadence (RPM) of an interval. Whenever you are riding inside, always keep a lens on "how does this apply to my outside riding." Your races and events are outside, so connect the dots on how your effort applies to become a better outside rider. In short, embrace the trainer. It is a wonderful tool in your performance arsenal, but remember that your ultimate mission is to become a better rider outside. Utilizing the benefits of the trainer, then applying those habits, lessons, and intervals to the outside world is your optimal performance lens to frame the trainers role in your overall development. 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