Staionary Trainers

Unfortunately I am not lucky enough to be able to ride and train when i like. I work a regular 9-5 job in finance Excercise-Bikewhich means actually it is a regular 8-7 unfortunately. Add on my commute and i leave the house at 7am and rarely get back before 7.30pm. While this allows me to sometimes squeeze in an hours ride outside in the evenings during summer, in the depths of the British winter I leave the house in the dark and return in the dark. Add on the terrible weather and the odds on me riding midweek are slim to non existent.

As a result most of my midweek training is done either on a turbo trainer or in the gym on a stationary trainer. While nothing is as good as getting outside on your bike a stationary trainer provides a controlled environment you can use to do some laser targeted training aimed at improving specific aspects of your riding.

Caveats of stationary Bikes for Training

All stationary bikes are different in terms of readings they provide, how they are calibrated and the accuracy of the data they provide. Be aware that the distances or power output they display can be very misleading and will not equate to road riding with the same stats. Not only do you have these calibration issues but their is no air resistance in the gym and we all know what a huge difference that can make to our riding.

While the data produced by stationary trainers is probably wrong, it is hopefully consistently wrong. So long as you are only comparing these indoor rides with other indoor rides then the data should be perfectly valid. To try to ensure this consistency i always try to use the same machine at my local gym.

Endurance Rides

These are perhaps the most boring types of rides I do on the stationary trainer. I have a rule that if I want to do a endurance ride (typically at 70% MHR) I must do a minimum of 32km which equates to 20 miles. Some days I can happily spin away (on level 6/10 for what that is worth) for roughly the hour it takes me to get to the 32km mark. Other days however the boredom kicks in and becomes like a slow painful torture.

No amount of music videos, ipod tunes or mental tricks can help me get through the workout. I have to rely on my stubbornness not to quit before i’ve done the 32km. All i say to myself is that i would not have a problem riding this distance outside, with the air resistance and hills, so there is no way i should quit while indoors on a trainer. Somehow, usually with the help of some carefully chosen music, i usually resist the urges to either give up or burst into a spell of high intensity pedaling.

The only satisfaction i get from this type of ride is when i get back to the office and sit at my desk and notch up another 32km on the training log, smug in the knowledge that my regular training partners probably haven’t had the mental strength to survive an hour or more on the stationary trainer.

Stationary Bike Intervals

Stationary bikes are great for interval training. If you have an hour during your lunch break when you can get to the gym that has a stationary bike you have the perfect opportunity to work on some specific aspects of your riding.Interval training allows you to laser target specifics of your cycling such as speed, lactate thresholds, VO2 max, pedaling efficiency and improve specific aspects of your cycling.

Below are a few interval workouts i regularly use to help push on my riding.

2 x 20 Threshold Intervals

This is perhaps the most widely known cycling interval that is used to increase your lactate threshold or VO2 max. In effect these intervals will help you ride faster for longer, increasing the time and intensity at which your Stationary-Bikebody can fuel itself from stored fat rather than the limited quantities of glycogen.

Start with a 10 minute warm up riding at 60% of your MHR. Then you need to complete 2 20 minute intervals at 85% MHR with a 5 minute gap in between, again at 60%. Always ensure you have at least a 5 minute cool down at the end. The long length of these articles mean this is a tough workout but i have found it to be very effective.

Hill Repeat Intervals

I use these intervals is i am training for a hilly century ride or sportive. The aim is to simulate hill repeats that I might ride if i were training on my bike outside. After a brief warm up i turn up the stationary bike to level 10 (the hardest setting) and grind away for 5 minutes. At the end of the 5 minutes bring the resistance down and spin away until you are back down to 60% MHR then go again.

I aim to complete 4 or 5 of these intervals within the hour. This is a hard effort and i’ll usually end up out of the saddle with my heart rate over 90% of max. The legs take a pounding with this workout so always ensure the following day is dedicated to recovery ether with a day off or a very light recovery ride (a max of 60% MHR).

The Hour of Power

This is a workout i’ve just started experimenting with. I found it mentioned in an internet forum and many people seem to have seen a massive increase in their power output by integrating it into their weekly training routine. This is a killer interval workout where you ride at a steady 85%MHR (after a warm up of course) and every 2 minutes you put in a 30 second burst of all out effort. There are no periods of recovery in the hour, until your cool down.

Again this workout really stresses your body so ensure you factor in plenty of rest and recovery in the day or two after the ride.

Stationary Bike Summary

While many roadies dismiss the stationary gym bike as a waste of time, a machine only capable of feeding you misinformation and inflicting boredom, i believe they are missing the point. Sure riding outside on your road bike would be much more preferable but for many of us our lifestyles don’t allow many (if any) mid week rides.

I regularly use a stationary trainer in the gym to provide me with a very high proportion of my mid week workouts. The stationary trainer has provided me with a controlled weatherproof environment that has allowed me to develop aspects of my riding such as my functional threshold power and hill climbing ability.

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Training for Climbing - With no Hills — century training, endurance cycling tips and articles Bicycle Century Training
December 17, 2010 at 10:56 am

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