The winter blues have started to make an appearance in the Northern Hemisphere as temperatures continue to plummet and the weather takes a turn for the worst. For a lot of us, this means training outdoors begins to become limited, unbearable or simply not possible in some places! Not only down to weather, but also the dreaded change of the clocks and loss of that beloved after work daylight that so often provided the perfect opportunity to shoot out the office doors on an early evening spin or commute home. If you, like us prefer to on many an occasion avoid the dreaded winter chill, terrible conditions and riding in the dark, then the next best option is hitting the trainer for some indoor cycling.
Indoor cycling has considerably grown over recent years, down to the pandemic and a rapid development in smart trainer technology and virtual cycling platforms. There was once a time where it would be highly underrated; mostly for the profound boredom and lack of social interaction that came with it. However, these days, there are so many tools to better your indoor cycling experience; particularly when it comes to virtual cycling apps that offer the opportunity to transform your ride in the garage staring at a wall, to a ride with resistance on ‘real road’s, up climbs and beyond, joined by other people from all over the world. Most apps even have the technology to communicate with fellow riders, race one another, create private or public group rides and the list goes on…long gone are the days of trainer boredom!
For those that haven’t yet converted to a smart trainer, then rest assured, there are also now countless ‘indoor training’ videos and training sessions easily accessed for free online.
Still not convinced? Continue on to read our top indoor cycling hacks…
OUR TOP INDOOR CYCLING HACKS
Commit and plan your indoor training time. No one has time to wait about for the weather to turn around unless it’s the weekend. So, plan out your indoor training workouts throughout the working week. Whether it’s one session or four…before work or after. It’s always best to plan ahead to ensure you’re motivated, ready to go and to know in advance what sort of session lies ahead.
Invest in a smart trainer and get into virtual cycling if you haven’t already. If you’re a restless personality or simply cringe at the thought of sitting in your trainer space with only your own thoughts for entertainment – then it’s a no brainer.
Happy with a traditional trainer setup? Search for suitable indoor cycling workouts on YouTube to make the time fly by quicker and for a some added direction. Some great options can be found on GCN.
Stay hydrated. As cliché as it sounds, staying hydrated is extremely important when spending any amount of time on the trainer due to the often excessive amount you’ll sweat, almost as soon as your heart rate starts to rise. If you need to hit pause on a session to fill up – do it, or you’ll pay the price later.
Use a fan. If you don’t already have one, now might be the time. No matter how cool it is, indoor cycling will almost always result in overheating and a lot of sweat. A fan can really turn things around when you’re feeling the effects of too much heat, allowing you to ride longer and enjoy the experience more.
Have a towel handy. Ideally, place it over your handlebars to avoid sweat dripping all over your bike and to ensure it’s right there ready to use as frequently as you need.
Don’t overdo it, especially when starting out. Indoor cycling can be highly energy zapping, especially when getting started. Mostly due to the electrolytes lost (if not hydrating correctly), and the likelihood that you will push it a little harder than usual if you’re using a virtual cycling platform. As who doesn’t get competitive when Zwifting? Another reason to not overdo it is that you need to avoid ‘blowing up’ at the start of winter. You don’t want to be running low on motivation through the depths of the coolest months and particularly over the festive season!
Mix it up. Whether you’re on Zwift, another virtual platform, or a regular trainer, don’t stick to the same rides or workouts! Change things up every time you hop on.
Challenge yourself – Indoor cycling has some incredible benefits and can greatly enhance your fitness and performance when done right. Don’t be afraid to include some ‘challenging sessions’ when planning out your indoor training. The pain will be real, but you’ll reap the benefits and will no doubt notice when you get back to your local group ride or training route on the road. Note that a lot of virtual cycling platforms offer ‘workout sessions’ which can be a great tool to try out some intensive, specific training intervals.
Look after your bike! Remember to wipe your bike down every time you use the trainer. Excessive sweating can do some damage if you don’t take care of your equipment.
Make sure this is your ‘you’ time and don’t get distracted by what’s going on around the house! One problem we all have sometimes with indoor training is getting distracted by what’s going on around us. Try and schedule your trainer time to fit in with your family or flat mates – whether that’s 30 minutes, an hour, or more to yourself.
Get your headphones on and get in the groove. Music is a must in our books as it provides a great opportunity to zone in to your ride, forget about what’s on your mind, and can be highly motivating. Just make sure you create a separate ‘ride playlist’ to that of your Sunday chill!