The trainer, for those of us that use a trainer either through the winter or year round, I would say that most of us start to develop a love hate relationship with it. As the cold temps come the trainer is usually the only option and quite honestly a very effective tool to add fitness to your cycling. Yes it can be boring, yes it is not as exciting as out riding with a group or by yourself on your favorite open road, but don't be mistaken it is a very important tool in your toolbox.
So here are a couple of tips that will hopefully help you through some of the lonely sessions spinning away in wherever you pain cave may reside.
- Vary the gears and cadence. If you are doing a short interval or a longer sustained set you can mix it up by changing up the gears and cadence while still sustaining the same wattage. For example say you have a set that is 3 x 10 minutes at 70-75%, try doing the first one at a cadence of 90, maybe drop the second one down to 85 and the last one at a cadence of 95. This will not only keep the set a tad more interesting but will allow you to learn how your body reacts to different cadences while maintaining the same wattage output.
- Work through the ranges. We like to assign ranges to our workouts; we do this for a couple of reasons. One is it is really hard to ride at in an exact number even if you have a really smooth pedal stroke. Second it gives you the opportunity to ride based on how your legs are reacting on that day. If you are feeling good, shoot for the higher numbers of the range for the duration of the entire workout. If they are feeling a little sluggish at the beginning try starting at the bottom of the range and see if they come around as you progress, if they don’t still hit the numbers but some days it just may be at the lower end. When doing a set that has a larger range, say 10% that can be 20 to 40 watts for some, try increasing your wattage through out the interval while still staying within the prescribed range. For example in the 3 x 10 minutes at 70-75% workout, break it up. For the first two minutes try and hit the 70% number, for the next 2 minutes try and increase it a little more and for the next 2 try and ride as close to 75% as possible and than repeat. By breaking up the 10 minutes in to smaller goals while still maintaining the purpose of the workout you would be surprised how much faster the time goes.
- Use the trainer time to concentrate on your biomechanics. There are no distractions to run into and you can look down and not have to worry about the distracted driver texting running into you so use this time to pay attention to your full pedal stroke. Are you finding yourself more dominant on one side? Are you pointing your toes on the upward pull of your pedal stroke? This is why we like to have our athletes do single leg pedal drills when on the trainer it not only teaches you proper form but allows you to mentally understand what is going on with your pedal stroke.
In summary embrace the trainer, if used properly paired with a proper plan you can make great gains in your cycling fitness through these cold winter months. It is not always the most appealing but trust us it works. #workworks