Using a home trainer is a fantastic way of maintaining your fitness throughout the winter months but it’s not always easy. We caught up with Sir Chris Hoy to bring you some advice and guidance on how to make the most of your indoor trainer.
Turbo training can be hard work, but having a goal to work for is rewarding.
“As with any training, you will feel much more motivated when you have a goal in mind. For me it was achieving at the Olympics, and I would visualise being on the track whilst on the turbo”, Sir Chris told us.
For you, your goal could be your longest sportive, a number of points on your racing license, or a PB in a time trial. Knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing will help you to do it better – keep your goal in mind and aim for that when you are tempted to stop pedalling.
Having a plan for how you’re going to reach your goals will be a big help. The sessions you do should be geared towards your end goal.
If you’re going to be climbing big hills, high gear bursts will help you, if you need to gain some speed, 60 second intervals with 60 second recoveries could be the order of the day. For a time trialist, a classic and popular session is the 2 x 20 minute race-pace effort.
These are just a few sessions you could do – the possibilities are endless! It’s best to look for sessions tailored to your event or goal, and you can find loads online or through reading training guides.
Sir Chris talked to us about the value of having a way to measure your improvement
“Objective measurements are crucial to know if you are getting fitter or faster and it is highly satisfying to see in black and white that you are improving. It’s great to have very clear data you can monitor.”
We understand that not everyone has a team of experts, but you can do a bit of data geek-ery yourself. If you fit a speed/cadence sensor, you’ll be able to monitor how you’re doing by speed and distance (compare turbo sessions to turbo sessions, not the road – the resistance on your turbo will mean average speed and distance is measured differently).
You could use a heart rate monitor to see if you’re training at the right intensity. Make sure it’s going down in the rest periods – if it doesn’t drop, rest for longer until you’re ready for the next hard effort. The next stop could be using a turbo trainer that measures power, or using a power meter – but just having something you can measure your efforts with will be plenty to get you started.
These key points: having a goal, tailoring your training towards achieving it, and measuring your progression are really important.
There are also some tips and tricks that will help you when you come to take your position on the bike indoors.
Here’s our Top 5 of Turbo Training:
1 ) Keep Cool
When you’re riding outside – you have the wind in your face to cool you down. On a static bike there is none of that. A big fan will help keep you cool – and if you’re indoors, open the windows.
2 ) Warm Up
Chris told us: “To get started I tend to cycle for 15 mins progressively increasing my intensity until my muscles are warm through and I am sweating.” It’s important to be ready once you start the harder intervals. Bear in mind if you’re doing 5 intervals, the first two might feel really hard – once you get over the first half, it’ll feel easier (we promise).
3 ) Accessories to save your bike
If you’re training indoors you can expect to get sweaty. Your sweat is not very good for your bike, so it’s best to use a towel to cover your headset, or invest in one of these handy ‘Sweat Catchers’.
A turbo tyre is a good idea to avoid the resistance unit wearing down your normal tyres. It might be worth having a cheap training wheel with the tyre fitted to save you swapping tyres between sessions.
The turbo will raise the back of your bike off the ground, to make sure you’re in the same position as you would be ok the road – invest in a raiser block, or, you could always dig out the Yellow Pages.
4 ) Adapt your media to your needs
Lots of people like to have music to train to. We asked Sir Chris on his preference, and he said: “Personally, I don’t train to music if I am doing a hard session as I need to remain very focussed, it’s me and the bike. However, if I am going for a longer ride I will have a playlist of fast and loud music.”
If you’re struggling with motivation, using music or video on the turbo might help to keep you going – and if that’s the case it’s definitely worth finding something that works for you.
5 ) Drink lots and Recover Well
If you don’t replace lost fluids and electrolytes during training, you’ll feel more fatigued. Make sure you’ve got a drink and take at least a few sips between intervals. You can go for a zero carb drink that will replace electrolytes without added calories, if it’s a short session, or go for a sports drink with carbs to keep you going through a longer session.
Good recovery will increase your chances of coming back stronger next time you swing your leg over the bike. You can refuel afterwards with a good meal that includes protein and carbohydrates. Alternatively, to make sure you get just the right blend of nourishment after your session, you could try a recovery shake.